When I last saw Moonwalks at Sunnyvale about a month ago alongside Sun Abduction, the Deadly Vipers and the Junk Boys, I was so mesmerized by the primal drive of their music that I just needed to know more about them. Their expansive sound is reminiscent of what one would imagine space to sound like.
True to the illusiveness that runs through their art, there isn’t too much that can be found about the Detroit based trio. The band which is currently Jake Dean on guitar and vocals, Kate Gutwald on bass, Kerrigan Pearce on drums has had three releases since 2014, and their latest 7” “A little Touch of Gravity/ Steam Train” was released on Greenway Records in January 2017. They have toured extensively throughout the US and Europe for much of last year. And wear tons of glitter and have killer style.
Dripping with dark romanticism and western themes with a slightly theatrical air, I would say that they are masters of illusion, disciplines of sound. If you like the sounds of TOY and Temples you will surely appreciate their concoction. Even so, I can’t quite figure them out and that’s exciting. We spoke to them in a veiled effort to shed some light on the people behind the curtain.
How did you guys meet and how did the band form?
Kerrigan: We all kind of grew up together, went to the same school.
Kate: Kerry and I have known each other since I was 9 and she was 7.
Kerrigan: We all joined the band at different times.
In the past Detroit has had an especially rich musical history, with bands like the White Stripes, MC5, and the Stooges being based there. A few years ago Patti Smith said that “New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling,” and that Detroit would be a great place for artists to build. What is your experience playing in Detroit? Would you say it’s a great place to be creative and do your own thing?
Kerrigan: It’s a good place to be based out of financially, there’s space to have creative outlets and places are really cheap to rent out.
Jake: A lot of people have been saying that so many artists are moving to Detroit just for financial reasons. I think that’s true. As far as being in a band in Detroit, it can be difficult, considering there’s not many major venues in Detroit, maybe a handful. As opposed to New York City, I feel like there’s a new place opening up every week in Brooklyn.
Kerrigan: It’s way more compact than New York or any major city. You kind of see the same people at your shows or even going to other bands’ shows.
Jake: Luckily we’ve been able to get shows out of the city and we love traveling as a group, it’s something that we all enjoy, traveling. Being on the road.
You guys have toured quite a bit in the past year. How has that affected your sound and were there any aspects of a live performance that you have explored on that journey?
Jake: Playing together as a three piece [editor’s note: The band lost a member and transitioned to a three piece right before their European tour in January] it’s all about listening to each other. The more we play together the more we can do that. I think our sound has become a lot more, maybe, spacious or minimal. There’s a lot more openness to our sound now as opposed to what we’ve done in the past which is much more like a cluster of sounds.
Kate: Playing that many shows it was like a whole new band as a three piece, so it was very helpful to have that long tour after the change happened.
Your music has a very spacey tone to it and with all of your time signature changes within a song, each change feels like you’re going into a different room of a house. In addition on “In Light” you refer to gravity, dust, and the element germanium. What does space or the idea of space mean to you?
Jake: People stick to what they see. We’re exploding in space.
I liked what you said about, our songs kind of feel like changing from room to room. It’s kind of like how we compose songs, more like scenes in a film, like vignettes. And, we like to give fresh air to songs by changing it up like that. We like to make songs that kind of flow, similar to, like a movie or something. I think a lot of modern music, the songs get stale really quickly.
What do you see as the next step or evolution of Moonwalks? Are there any places that you want to tour in particular?
Kate: I want to play in Croatia.
Kerrigan: South America. Really just everywhere that we can, because it’s such a good opportunity to travel, especially when you have a purpose.
Jake: We want to spread the sound.
Kerrigan: It makes traveling a more fulfilling experience when you have a purpose while doing it and you’re not just kind of lounging around in different places.
I agree. Even from when I saw you guys a year ago (at Shea Stadium), I remember walking up a hill, and I vividly remember seeing Kerrigan and Kate carrying these blue glitter toms, and you had glitter all over your faces. I remember thinking, “they look so cool.”
Jake: We kind of think what’s the point of being up on a stage and all these people looking at you if you’re just going to wear jeans.
Kerrigan: Might as well give them something to look at.
Jake: It’s a performance.