Vandal Moon / Wild Insane + Interview
Wild Insane is on the cusp of release, and Vandal Moon are poised to become one of 2018's hottest bands. I'm not saying that with any sense of hyperbole or lip service. One track into this album and you're going to be impressed. Two tracks in and you're going to be hooked. Three tracks in and you begin to wonder where Vandal Moon have been your entire life. If you aren't completely slack-jawed at the brilliance on offer here, you're obviously reading the wrong article on the wrong website. Wild Insane is not just one of the best synth albums of 2018, it's one of the best albums of the year, no matter the genre.
I've been impatiently waiting for this album for some time, as I've become a big fan of Vandal Moon over the past year and a half. I knew that this was a talented outfit, no doubt. I expected a lot from Wild Insane, probably more than most albums (unfairly so, I admit). Not only have Vandal Moon blown me away, I've been humbled in the process. Writing about music is sometimes a challenging task...you have to put into words the way an album makes you feel. I don't know that I have the right words to communicate how Wild Insane has affected me. It's an album that I think about when I'm not listening to it. It's an album that makes me realize how dull and boring modern radio has become. It's an album that makes me excited about music, and in turn, more excited to write about it.
I've often discussed music as a bit of a magical medium. In this case, Vandal Moon have shown themselves to melting pot wizards. Take the best that new wave, goth, and synthpop have had to offer as genres. I mean the real cream of the crop. I'm talking names like The Cure, Bauhaus, The Psychedelic Furs, The Human League...you get the idea. Vandal Moon have created something that encapsulates all of the things that made these bands so brilliant while maintaining a creative streak that is their own. Wild Insane is nothing short of a stunning musical achievement.
It's not often that I'm presented with an album that is as well crafted and technically sound as this. Wild Insane deserves every single accolade it's going to receive. It's a modern classic cloaked in all that was grand, glorious, and dangerous about the 1980's. Keep scrolling down for my interview with Vandal Moon!
Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to us. I'm a huge fan, so it's quite an honor to have you on the site!
Thank you. Happy to be here!
What is the Vandal Moon story?
I’m hugely inspired by the late 70s and early 80s synthesizer and punk movements. But I grew up in a small beach town. The thing about Californian beach towns is the music culture can get really dull in a Jimmy Buffett kind of way. A pretty stale blend of whitewashed blues, reggae & whatnot. To me, it always felt very inauthentic. Luckily, around my high school years, there was a pretty powerful underground punk movement. Local places like the Vets Hall and house parties were filled with kids just going nuts - a small community of DIY artists & musicians. It didn’t last long, but those couple of years had an impact on the rest of my musical life. Seeing those kids up on stage really planted a seed in my mind. Vandal Moon is spun out of that web of DIY and individual self-expression. The synthesizers, 80s, post-punk stuff came a little later. But the foundation was all there.
Your new album, Wild Insane, is about to release. What is it like having a completed record just waiting to be heard?
I’m so excited, it’s almost anxiety-inducing. This album is a huge leap forward for me in terms of production, style, and songwriting, I think it’s something special. We’ve really accomplished what we wanted by blending together new wave, post-punk, synthwave and darkwave music. And I mean darkwave in terms of the original, late 70s movement. The reception of our first two singles has been nothing short of outstanding. I think people really get what we’re doing with this record. The vibe is coming through. I fully expect it to take on a life of its own once it’s released. You never know what sort of fan base a record will tap into until after it’s out. I never expected to have a synthwave following for example. Same with the goths.
The pre-release buzz is extremely positive. Comparisons to some of the best bands of all time are being mentioned. How do you handle that kind of praise?
It doesn’t feel real. When people start comparing you to artists like David Bowie and Robert Smith, it’s hard to take that seriously. I’m just a person who loves music and does his best to create something beautiful.
What was the writing process on Wild Insane? Did you have an idea in mind before you started?
I wrote a lot less on guitars for this album and more on synths. I’ve been writing songs on guitar for years and years. I wanted to focus more on starting with piano chords or bass lines. I try to get a basic structural foundation of the song skeleton. Maybe some verse and chorus chords, but the song really doesn’t gain an identity until I start singing on it. Once I get a vocal melody going, then I really begin to learn what the song is about and how the mood should evolve.
What inspired you both to get involved in music?
A lot of things. But I found my very first guitar in a toy chest at my Dad’s house. A little kids guitar. I have no idea where it came from. I had a dual cassette recorder with a mic on it. I started dubbing some tracks one day. In reality, it probably sounded like shit. But to me, it sounded like Sonic Youth. I didn’t even know how to tune the guitar. But there was no turning back.
Favorite song of 2018 so far?
QYURRYUS by The Voidz is amazing and wreaks of the future.
Anything you'd like to mention before we go?
Make art not war.