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Moonkisser: Portland Band Explores Post-Hardcore + ‘90s College Rock on Debut EP

Moonkisser's Augustus Bowman performing in Forced Forward. (Photo: Aaron France)

Moonkisser is a new band with a sound that appeals to many of my musical interests. Their recently released eponymous debut EP brings to mind a similar sonic space as Handsome, Rival Schools, and Shiner. "The band formed in May of last year, with Tommy [Anthony, ex-Ipecac and Over My Dead Body] and I just talking about getting together and playing music for a while, and finally nailing down a time to do it and commit to it," says Moonkisser guitarist Augustus Bowman over email earlier this week. "It was just us writing music and practicing for the better part of the rest of the summer then Mason [Juve, ex-Young Turks, Climate] joined on bass. When looking for a singer, we tried someone out, and while they had a great voice, it wasn't exactly what we were looking for.

"While we were at practice one night discussing who would or could sing, Mason just kinda said 'I'd like to try to sing.' We had never heard him sing, but he sounded very confident he could. The EP is his first time singing in a band."

Everyone is obsessed with musical genre tags, including me, sadly, so where does Augustus stand on this in regards to Moonkisser after I tell him that I think their stuff sounds like a mix of post-hardcore and '90s guitar pop? "Describing our sound is weird for me, only because I can hear all the things that are thrown in the blender. Obviously the term 'post-hardcore' has been used, and I think it appropriate. I'd like to think that anything that pops out a bit was unintentional and just the result of having listened to some of my favorite records thousands of times. You mentioned '90s guitar pop and post-hardcore, I'd say Dinosaur Jr. and Quicksand factor in very heavily, with some Lungfish and weird Pixies touches thrown in.

"If you ask my wife, I listen to too much Lungfish and Van Halen [laughs]. I don't think those are super evident, but someone did say the first song was very Van Halen influenced. I don't hear it, but I'm not mad at it."

Augustus has previously played in Desperate Measures, Pulling Teeth, Never Enough, and Unrestrained, so there's a lot of that "ex-members" thing going on with Moonkisser. The guitarist addresses it: "The past bands don't really factor in too much, in my opinion. When Tommy was finishing his run with his last Portland band, he was a bit disillusioned with some of the fighting and other negative aspects of hardcore at the time, coupled with the fact that he's an amazing drummer and wanted to really stretch out and explore something different. I've never really done a band that sounded like an older band of mine, with the exception of Unrestrained, which kinda picked up on the band I was in right before I moved to the West Coast, and went in a darker heavier direction.

"I hadn't picked up a guitar in about 8 years before Tommy and I started jamming on these songs, and I'm my own worst critic, but enough people told me what we were doing was cool that I kept at it. I'm not trying to be self aggrandizing, because I think I'm an adequate guitar player, but I was determined to get my dexterity back and play more, and I think the sound really kind of took on a direction of it's own after a few practices."

Moonkisser's Tommy Anthony, 2018.

Are there any plans to release a proper Moonkisser full-length in the near future? "Who knows that the future holds. I'm typing after band practice, and we got the bones of 2 new songs down tonight, so for sure, new stuff in the future. As far as if it's a full-length, the material will dictate that. I think EPs are a great medium. A small group of songs that have a cohesive link, and then on to the next batch. We're not opposed to a full-length, for sure, it's just these 6 songs we just released had the benefit of a year of stretching them out and letting them develop. I think throwing songs away that you don't think are up to par is important. If someone approaches us about doing a record, I'd rather give them a strong 7" than an OK full-length, especially since touring will be pretty limited. We're going to try to hit the West Coast where and when we can, but we all work full-time, and Tommy is a dad, so when we can, we want to do what we can, for sure." 

Moonkisser's EP is available for download on Bandcamp. The band can also be found on Instagram.

Upcoming Moonkisser shows:
July 19 - Portland, OR @ Black Water Bar
August 18 - Portland, OR @ Papa G's

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