Fife, a sprawling region with a musical legacy spanning 60s folk via punk and new wave and back again to revamped traditional sounds. New trio The Moon Kids keep the flag flying, albeit with a more conventional line in catchy, sparkly guitar pop that is pricking up ears beyond The Kingdom. Dave Barr filled us in on the band’s past, and future…
David Barr – vocals, guitar
Connor Whyte – guitar
Rory Buchanan – drums
We’ve known each other a little while – Rory was previously in Sergeant, who’d recorded an album with Public Image/Stone Roses producer John Leckie. Around the same time, David was writing songs and rehearsing with a revolving line-up of musicians in a deserted cinema. The band’s name is inspired by a movie – so that seems like a pretty appropriate venue really. Then, just as David decided it was time to stop the revolving line-up thing and establish something more permanent, Sergeant came to an end, so he and Rory decided to work together. They found a place to rehearse, spray-painted the walls with Basquiat-style graffiti and got on with the business of becoming The Moon Kids. You can see that practice pad in the video for Luna Park. Connor arrived a little bit later. He turned up one evening and basically rattled out the whole of The Smiths back catalogue from start to finish. His hero is Johnny Marr, so it was a no-brainer – we had to get him involved.
The deserted cinema, the spray-painted practice pad and Sergeant’s HQ were all in Fife so The Moon Kids definitely emerged from there. Two of us are from Dunfermline – which has an amazing musical history – and one of us is from Glenrothes, which has produced some great bands too. We recorded The Moon Kids EP with producer Michael Brennan Jnr – who we knew from his work with Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals and Mogwai. We wanted to make music that was as exciting as a three-minute rollercoaster ride. Michael totally understood where we were coming from. He specialises in music that’s visceral and direct. And since we love music that grabs you, takes you for a quick spin and then gets under your skin, he was really the perfect producer for us. After the EP, we went back into the studio with him to record the Strange Thoughts On Sunday single. Michael has worked with The Cure and I wanted to get that woozy, slightly psychedelic feel that Robert Smith was so great at putting in The Cure’s pop singles. We’re big fans of Ian McCulloch and Echo & The Bunnymen too. They did a similar thing, putting really left-of-centre ideas into songs that were just irresistible pop classics.
“Thrills, adrenaline, excitement … and guitars.” Or maybe, “melodies, bangin’ drums and choruses”. We describe our sound as fairground pop because we’re fascinated by that world – the flashing lights, the electrifying thrills, the heart-stopping moments and the possibility you might get your head kicked in round the back of the waltzers. It’s entertainment and excitement in its purest form and we want to capture that in our music. So the emphasis is always on strong hooks and melodies and the tunes tend to zip along pretty fast. Our first recordings were very minimal in terms of instrumentation so it was all down to the strength of the songs themselves. We’ve been compared a lot to The La’s because of that, which is very flattering – There She Goes is just about the most perfect pop song ever written and it’s a great example of the type of songs I wanted to write back when the band was first starting. The Moon Kids EP is a solid introduction to our world but the single, Strange Thoughts On Sunday, is probably the first step in taking that rootsy guitar pop sound forward. I think the more you hear from The Moon Kids the more you’ll hear a wider range of influences coming through. I’m really obsessed with the art of songwriting. I get inspired by listening to people like Bowie, Lee Mavers, Damon Albarn, Morrissey and even Prince – songwriters who really push the boundaries of what’s possible in a pop song – but for The Moon Kids, I’m pretty hung up on creating a three-minute classic. It’s that punk rock approach – get in, make your point and get out quick.
We have to. Making music is in our DNA. It’s who we are and what we do. No matter what people say about the state of the music business – all the debates over streaming and downloads and all the rest – there’s no quicker, more direct way to connect with people, not painting, not sculpture, not anything. Nothing else feels that way when a song really grabs you and makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. That’s one of the secrets all the showmen understand – walk through a fairground and, as well as all that kinetic energy of machinery whizzing around you and lights flashing and people shouting, there’s always music, there’s always beats and the volume is always cranked right up. In fact, we’d rather have our music being played on the waltzers than be No1.
The band play Sneaky Pete’s on 29th May, launching single ‘Strange Thoughts On Sunday’, which is out now. More at www.facebook.com/themoonkidsfife