Tearful Moon on surviving Hurricane Harvey and releasing a new LP – the Grave City interview

Grave City’s first band interview was with THEM ARE US TOO, way back in July of 2016. I had had the privilege to book Them Are Us Too’s first show in Dallas the year before (under my Wardance moniker) at the sadly now-defunct Crown and Harp. At that point, TAUT was a Bay Area band; vocalist Kennedy had not yet moved to the North Texas area and/or started her excellent Denton-based SRSQ project (another band Wardance recently had the honor to work with). So Grave City’s first feature violated its self-imposed rule to only cover bands in the DFW area. This feature about Tearful Moon will be the second article on Grave City to do that.

Houston-based Tearful Moon came to my attention in 2015 mainly thanks to social media. Later I saw a great performance of theirs at Texas’ annual DIY dark postpunk/punk/deathrock fest, San la Muerte, in San Antonio (members of Aztec Death interviewed them at that show here). Impressed by their minimalist approach to darkwave, I asked them to come to Dallas in the Fall of 2016 to play with Eva O, a show  that took place at Double Wide with iill and Static of Masses in October, 2016.

 

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Manuel Lozano and Sky Lesco of Houston’s Tearful Moon. Photo by Angel Mavarez.

 

Tearful Moon’s second LP, Evocation, was announced and posted onto Bandcamp just as the band was being battered by Hurricane Harvey last month. “We were both out of work for two weeks during Harvey,” singer Sky Lesco explains. “And we hunkered down in our home in fear of our loved ones.” As the flood started to abate, the band incredibly decided to remain committed to a previously agreed upon tour, but the devastation they left behind affected their mood on the road. “While we were on the road we heard it started raining again back in Houston, and people were freaking out. It was a ‘we may never get out of the woods’ sort of feeling. I think we were all suffering from PTSD.”


Although the material on Evocation was written before the hurricane hit, the tone of the new album is reminiscent of the mood during the storm. The music is itself like the stormy weather — dark and tempestuous: “The world is ending now/Crumbling upon the ground/Madness is all around/This cruel, ole town,” the band sings on the dark dance track “Conviction.” A mournful atmosphere pervades the LP’s twelve songs thanks to Manuel Lozano’s work on the synths. Keyboards linger at the lower end of the scale and are used to embellish the gothy duo’s songs with a ghostly, cinematic texture.

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The LP as a whole is built on a skeleton of dancey, drum machine-driven, eerie minimal wave sensibility. The iciness of coldwave groups like Das Kabinette and Kas Product provides the main sonic reference points for the band’s brand of electronic gloom. Track 5 on the LP, “Cold and Burning Truth,” would get play at dark dance clubs in a world where djs were not afraid to play new bands (but, alas, it often seems that we do not live in such a world).

Interview with Tearful Moon is below, below the cut!
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Grave City Interviews New DFW Deathrock Band Blood Bells

About a year ago I wrote about goth and deathrock-type bands in the greater Dallas area (“Gothic Rock and Deathrock in DFW in 2016 – Grave City’s Quick and Dirty Guide,” from Sept., 2016 — that article is here). A few of the bands I wrote about have since broken up (e.g. Ritual Order, Slimy Member), and a few others are on temporary hiatus (Garden of Mary). But some new bands have also arrived. BLOOD BELLS is one of the new ones, and they’re a darned good new one.

I had the privilege of booking BLOOD BELLS to play their first show in Dallas at a collaborative Wardance/King Camel event with Jeffrey Brown at Armoury DE on Friday, September 15. It was a good show. Although Blood Bells are named after the Current 93 song “The Bloodbells Chime,” the Denton duo do not sound like Current 93 or any of the other neofolk and post-industrial bands in Current 93’s orbit.

Instead, Blood Bells play a type muscular trad gothic rock inspired by the classic acts of the genre: the Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry — that whole smoky, 80s Leeds UK sound that has also been explored by current revivalists in bands like Terminal Gods and Golden Apes. Singer Clint’s vocals have a more decidedly Andrew Eldritch sound than was put on display in some of his previous bands, which included Pink Smoke and the Damned cover band Stab Yr Front (damn, that was a fun cover band). Bassist Matt Stewart’s basslines have the classic appeal of Patricia Morrison‘s clean, driving bass on the Sisters of Mercy’s Floodland opus. As singer Clint says below, “I’d say we fall under the deathrock/post-punk umbrella if we had to slap a label on it. I think we’d like to let the listener decide, ultimately.” And with that being said, here is the band themselves, in their own words:

Interview below the cut!

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Moon Sounds: Grave City Interviews the Dallas Shoegaze/Postpunk Label

 Dallas label Moon Sounds will celebrate its 5th year in 2017. With about 30 artists on its roster, Grave City decided to interview the shoegaze and postpunk imprint.

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In person, Jacques Urioste is quiet and unassuming — even reserved. But the label owner’s humble in-person demeanor belies the impressive years-long accomplishment of his Dallas imprint, Moon Sounds Records. Later this year the Texas shoegaze and dream-pop label will celebrate its 5th anniversary, and Jacques is well on his way to marking that achievement with a showcase next week (March 13) at Club Dada and a new EP by electronic dreamwave act Lunar Twin on March 17.

With about 30 artists on his roster — including acts from as far away as Sweden, Denmark, and Australia — and four previous label showcases behind him, I asked Jacques if anyone in Dallas had interviewed him before. “No one has officially. Or formally for that matter,” he responded. “Someone tried to once, but I had a feeling they did just to get free stuff. They never posted about it.” Well, Grave City to the rescue!

Below, I caught up with Jacques about Moon Sounds’ past, present, and where his noteworthy venture is headed in the future.

moonsoundsrecordslogoJacques Urioste/Moon Sounds Records was interviewed by Oliver/Grave City in March, 2017.


When did Moon Sounds start? How long have you been around?

Moon Sounds Records started in December of 2012, on a whim. I needed a healthy outlet to cope with the stresses of all that I had going on at the time and one day, on my way home from a particularly bad day; I looked up and saw the moon. It was in its waning crescent position so it appeared as though smiling. I’ve always had a fondness for the moon. So when I got back to my place, I was sitting on the floor with a pen and napkin, doodled out the logo, thought of the name, and told myself that I would follow through with a passion project. Most of my friends were in bands or working on other cool things so the label was definitely something different. I had no idea where to start and then a band posted on FaceBook, “Who’s going to release our seven inch record?” I chimed in and almost four and a half years later , still here.

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Deep Ellum in the 1920s

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Deep Ellum in the 1920s. The photo looks north from what is approximately today’s Hall St., at the intersection of Main or Elm. In the background is the Texas Baptist Sanitarium, located at today’s Baylor Hospital. (Thanks to Steve Bozich and the Traces of Texas Facebook page for this photo.)

 

It was about 15 years ago at the Dallas Public Library’s downtown location that I came across, on their 8th floor, an original copy of the New Deal-era Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State. FDR’s Works Progress Administration compiled this guidebook through the work of the Federal Writers Program (with help from the Texas Writers Project and the Texas State Highway Commission), and the book is nowadays available to freely read online. The first edition was published in 1940.

There is a wealth of information on Dallas. The guidebook’s entry on Deep Ellum is also noteworthy. The language reflects white attitudes at the time:

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Dallas, the Anti-Trump City

By about 2 to 1, Dallasites voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. That is, 459,000 Dallasites voted for Hillary and 262,000 voted for Trump, according to official polls. All major cities in Texas voted against Trump, too. So how did Trump win all of Texas last November?

The same reason he won the electoral college: Sparsely-populated rural areas that are over-represented in congress. Not only did 459,000 Dallasites vote for Hillary, 24,000 Dallasites voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson.  6,000 voted for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. As in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and El Paso, the “please, no Trump” ticket carried the vote easily. All of Texas’ major cities chose anyone but Trump in the big election of 2016. Trump was the least-liked in all Texas’ cities.

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As well, Hillary won the national popular vote overwhelmingly by almost 3 million votes — a record number, by anyone’s standards. But Trump won the electoral college. The electoral college favors rural, sparsely populated areas. And rural counties carried the day in Texas, too.

Most of Texas, in fact, is comprised of rural counties — broad stretches of farmland with few people inhabiting them. It’s incredibly important real estate: the people that work this land are the backbone of American agriculture.

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Dallas post-industrial band Awen appears on PBS Antiques Road Show

Long-running Dallas neofolk/post-industrial act Awen, who are on Dais Records, and who’re labelmates with Drab Majesty and Them Are Us Too,  appeared on PBS’ Antiques Road Show January 9, 2017. It presents a rare time a Dallas band has had national exposure. Grave City felt it had to be documented!

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The band had a Freethinker volume from the 1880s that was valued between $200 – $300. Freethinker was a radical 19th century periodical that presaged the 1910s-1930s free speech movement.

Awen have been around in the North Texas area for about 17 years now. They have tried to bring the occult spirit of Current 93 and Death in June to the Republic of Texas for many years.

You can read an interview of mine with Awen and Gabhar (later called Dying and Rising) here.

(Thank you Andrew Neal for the screen shots.)