Out of sunny Southern California (Santa Clarita to be exact), the melodic punk trio Moonraker is making waves and catching attention in the punk community. The band has released a hefty catalogue of music, all leading up to this Friday (10/14/16), which marks the release date of their highly anticipated debut LP “Fail Better”, being put out through Felony Records. The new record is a follow up to their “String Theory” EP, released in 2014.
I was able to catch up with drummer and founding member David Green about the new LP, the band, and all the bullshit that life throws your way from time to time.
Check out the full interview and stream “Fail Better” in its entirety below.
DS: “Fail Better” seems to be very self-reflective; the first track, “The Horse I Rode In On” makes this apparent with the catchy “What my reflection said…” chorus. What can listeners expect to hear you talk about in this album?
DG: Yeah, it’s very self-reflective. To me, the album is a conversation with yourself. You’re looking in the mirror, and the you in the mirror doesn’t really like what he sees. But that’s only cause you don’t like what you see. It’s a stroll through different situations you’re uncomfortable in, and a documentation of your reaction to your surroundings. So you can expect to hear a lot about jealousy and incompetence, and reversely, trying not to be so jealous and telling yourself you’re not as incompetent as you think you are.
DS: “Wax Bath” is your first single. It’s a clever, cynical look at failure. Lots of people will connect with this one, myself included. I can’t help but think that this song is a bit of a true story. Am I right?
DG: Haha, definitely! I’m glad you dig it! Yeah, it’s all factual. I didn’t have a checking account for about a year cause I didn’t have enough money in my account for them to not take a fee out of and then that would cause an overdraft and so on. Nothing sucks worse than seeing your friends do great things while you’re stuck in a shitty job you’re overqualified for, but you have to work there, cause they’re the only people who will hire you who will give you weeks/months off at a time to go on tour for no money. Yeah, it’s all based on real stuff. Definitely spent the night passed out on my friend Kreig’s bathroom floor. I feel like we’ve all been there at one point, haha. But yeah, I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Wanted or not, but the song is supposed to be a little sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek cause they use these wax baths to heal their stab wounds and bullet holes and broken bones and how maybe if we could just get our hands on one, maybe it can heal your jealousy and emotional and financial wounds too. But you know, less pretentious sounding than that.
DS: Every band has a different approach at songwriting. Was there a primary writer for this record? Was it collaborative? How did it all come together?
DG: Me and Nick wrote all of it together. I would say it was equal parts both of us. I wrote a lot of the lyrics, but I would bring him a page I had written, and then Nick would read through it and figure out what the melody would be for him, like how he’d want to sing it, then write out the skeleton of the structure, then we’d both play through it a bunch of times and arrange it til it was a finished song. We’ve done it a bunch of different ways before, this is just what ended up being what we did the most on the record. There were a couple songs Nick brought in that he’d worked like 90% out on his own before he showed me, and then we worked on them together to finish them up, and I really like those ones a lot. But for the most part, that’s how we did it. I sort of had a specific tone I was writing in and we both knew what kind of vibe we wanted it to have.
DS: How was Moonraker conceived? You guys (David and Nick) seem to have one of those timeless friendships. What’s the history there?
DG: We were both in other bands that played a lot of shows together. Local stuff, mini tours and what have you. Me and Nick connected cause I think both of us kinda saw the other one as “oh, that guy’s the ‘me’ in their band.” So we started hanging out a lot outside of shows. Then when our bands broke up, we started hanging out more and I think we bonded cause we both felt like we were being isolated and stuff like that. When me and our old guitar player were talking about starting Moonraker and we needed a bass player, it was a no-brainer. He’s the first person I thought to call. But yeah, Nick’s one of my best friends. I joke with him and call him my work-wife, but we’re friends first and then band-mates. I’m a little naive, so I think that most bands are best friends with each other, but I’m always surprised when I find out that some people can’t stand each other. Like it broke my heart a little when I found out the Mythbusters never hang out outside the show. But I think that the core of our band is Nick and my friendship. He’s metaphorically, and at times quite literally my partner in crime.
DS: Employment, or lack there of at times, seems to be a common theme throughout the album. Where’s that coming from?
DG: Haha, yup. It’s coming from a few different places. Over the period of time we were writing the record, I was sort of running the employment gambit. I had two jobs, one of which payed much more than the other and was where our band practiced at night after hours, and the other was delivering pizzas (or more accurately, washing dishes in the back of a pizza restaurant while waiting to occasionally deliver a pizza). I wasn’t very happy at either. I was let go from one and my hours got cut at the other one. It was a little bit of a relief actually, but also a bummer, mostly cause we lost our practice space and I really could have used like one more paycheck from that other job at the time. Then I got an interview at this job I was perfect for. I had everything going for me: I was super qualified, i sort of knew the owner of the company from back in the day when we played in community college jazz band together, I had an in cause my friend’s dad knew these people, they really liked my hilarious resume (there’s a word search in it), I straight up aced the interview questions. It was like the most confident I’d ever been in a job interview. They ended up not going with me and I had to go back to the pizza place after already mentally checking out of it, convincing myself I’d be able to quit. Then I ended up working a couple soul-crushing temp jobs through a temp agency. Yeah, shit was pretty miserable for a while there.
DS: Tell me about “Bronze Boys”.
DG: Bronze Boys is one of my favorite songs on the record. It sort of became a little bit of a thought process for me or like a mental rallying cry. I think we’ve all been in the situation before, where you’re at a show watching a band full of guys that seem like they never had a problem for one second in high school and never had a nay-sayer, never short on friends (there’s like 6 guys in their band, so automatically they’ve got at least 5 friends, meanwhile you can’t seem to find a third guy to be in your band to save your life, haha), they spend like 3 minutes on stage giving shout-outs to all their homies’ bands and then start singing a song about how nobody understands them and how it’s them against the whole world to a packed room full of people wearing shirts with their faces on them. The blogs and message boards can’t get enough of them and their heads get all big about it. Meanwhile, me and Nick are just gonna be over here drinking and talking shit about all of it and quietly doing the same thing as them, just more of it and on a smaller scale.
DS: Despite the theme of “Fail Better”, what would you guys pride yourself in the most as a band? And what are you most proud of with this record?
DG: There’s definitely been some times where we’re playing in like Montreal and I’m like, “Holy shit. they invited us to come here! We’re on the opposite coast and we’re in another country, and there’s people we know here, and we know them cause we play music.” Or like, one of the times we played in Manhattan and I snuck up onto a rooftop and it was like, “Wow, I wrote some stupid songs and now I get to come here and look at this cool skyline.” Any time we’re far away from California, and someone’s there who knows the words or is wearing a Moonraker shirt, that’s the thing I’m proud of the most.
With the record, I’m super proud of everything. I think we wrote the best songs we ever have, I think we captured the desperation and disenchantment we were feeling all last year, I think in writing it we might have made ourselves feel a little better about being where we are in our lives and not having real jobs and what not. I couldn’t be more proud of it and I couldn’t be more terrified for people to hear it and judge me based on it. We put all we had into it, I hope people will check it out.
DS: Finally, for readers that haven’t listened to Moonraker yet: What ideal lineup would you guys choose to be included in, if you could play the show of your dreams?
DG: I think it would be us, American Steel, and then Alkaline Trio and The Lawrence Arms co-headlining.
“Fail Better” is out this Friday and can be pre-ordered through Felony Records here.
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