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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Moondoggies talk sleepless songwriting in Seattle

The Moondoggies. Beard rockin their way to a town near you.
  • The Moondoggies. Beard rockin' their way to a town near you.

From the Pacific Northwest, the Moondoggies (Wednesday, 1/26 @ the Earl) are an on-the-rise quartet from Seattle that delivers a solid blend of lushly harmonized, upbeat folk rock. Not far removed from a tour with regional torchbearers Blitzen Trapper and with an acclaimed sophomore record (Tidelands) in hand, the Moondoggies are beard-rocking their way to a permanent spot in your iPod. (Sidenote: Someone should open a L5P joint called "Beard Rock." Any takers? No? Moving on...)

I know Northwestern bands sometimes get tired of being lumped into a certain sound and aesthetic. Still, you've got to have a sense of being part of some greater and larger musical fabric, I imagine?
Kevin Murphy: With the way people get music these days, it’s just harder to [attribute] a specific “sound” to a region. [But] I think there’s regional pride in the sense that there can be a feeling that some see it as a little removed. I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming or intimidating, but it’s more of an appreciation for what’s happening there. There’s not much separation between generations — the older people that were there before are still there. It’s a great support system.

Sonically, I’m sure you can see the link with some other buzz bands from that region right now and how people classify your sound in that sense?

KM: I understand the implications as far as americana and rock ‘n’ roll and country-rock. But I don’t really try to classify anything. To me, it’s just as simple as sitting with your friends and singing songs.

Describe the evolution of your sound as it pertains to the first two records, and where you see things heading for number three.
KM: You never want to write the same record twice, so that’s something we were going for on Tidelands. The songwriting approach is something that everyone individually has their own way of going about. It doesn’t change too drastically for us — but you never want to write the same song more than ... four times (laughs). [The writing was] done pretty much the same way — most of them hashed out in the garage and others taking on sort of a more bedroom-like demo feel. The better songs that you have are the ones that excite you, in terms of your own sense and musical desire.

As a songwriter, who are some of your inspirations, or some songs that you always wish you had written?
KM: There are always those timeless ones you’ll never get tired of and will never get old. There’s an artist who’s done that for me recently, where you hear it and there’s an intangible connection to the way it sounds: Ted Lucas. We heard [him] over a loudspeaker at one of our shows. There’s something about that record that stops you in your tracks. But obviously you get plenty of those from your Dylans and your Neil Youngs and all those guys.

What are some of the most important things you’ve learned in the early stages of your career in respect to how you can sustain this music thing through what some people see as a currently impassable industry?
KM: You can’t do this if you’re not happy and not having fun. You can’t have too many expectations, because maybe this won’t be there tomorrow. So that aspect of it I guess has to be a little bit selfish in terms of a necessity to communicate certain things. You watch other people "strike it big" and I think you’ve gotta not let that become a big part of it, because you’ll probably be disappointed (laughs). For our sake, we’re just looking forward to developing the next record and touring, shooting to go to Europe in late spring. New roads, new opportunities and new people. We’re excited to be creating.

Listen to the Moondoggies' song "Black Shoe".

The Moondoggies with Quiet Life. $10. 8:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 26. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.

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