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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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.)

Stick Men with Ray Guns interviews, Part 2: Grave City interviews Clarke Blacker

This is the second of three interviews Grave City is doing with former members of Dallas cult punk band Stick Men with Ray Guns. (As I write this, I’m working on getting drummer Scott Elam for the third and final interview.) The first interview, posted yesterday, was with bassist Bobby Beeman and is here. Three new collections of Stick Men with Ray Guns material have come out in the past year and that’s the direct impetus for my wanting to do this.

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Clarke Blacker

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Clarke Blacker was the guitarist for Stick Men with Ray Guns and performed a vital function for the band as its oldest and maybe most musically accomplished member, with a broad appreciation for various styles of music coupled with an intellectual understanding of punk’s place in modern music history. (And as I mentioned in the previous post, I also interviewed Clarke over a decade ago for my old radio show and podcast, Radio Schizo, after Some People Deserve to Suffer had come out.)

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Stick Men with Ray Guns Interviews, part 1: Grave City interviews Bobby Beeman

Within the past year, three new releases have been put forward that collect material from cult favorite Texas punk band Stick Men with Ray Guns. Below is the first of a series of new (2016) interviews with former members. This site, Grave City, is based in Stick Men’s hometown of Dallas and is obviously named after a Stick Men with Ray Guns song. Below I interviewed Bobby Beeman, who formed Stick Men with Ray Guns with the late singer Bobby Soxx in late 1980.

But first, a little back story is in order: Over a decade ago I interviewed Stick Men with Ray Guns guitarist Clarke Blacker for my old podcast and radio show, Radio Schizo (RIP) and at that time the band’s well-received CD collection Some People Deserve to Suffer had just come out, produced by Blacker. At that time, I wanted to pick Blacker’s brain about that collection (and I did!). Some People Deserve to Suffer is still a defining document for this notorious hardcore punk band that existed from 1980 to 1988.

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Stick Men With Ray Guns in Dallas. Bobby Beeman is on the left.

A little bit more info about SMWRG is in order before getting to the interview. It’s well known that among the bands Stick Men with Ray Guns would influence were the Butthole Surfers. The Surfers’ King Coffey, in Steven Blush’s American Hardcore, stated:

“Stick Men with Ray Guns, one of the best I’ve ever seen. They were fronted by Bobby Soxx, a manic Buddy Holly-type, scary motherfucker who’d pick fights with the audience. He shoved the mic up his butt during a show and the Buttholes [sic] had to play after that, so Gibby sang with the mic from the kick drum. […] Stick Men with Ray Guns had such intensity about them.”

Other reminiscences of the band are shared in the interview below.

Bobby Beeman of Stick Men with Ray Guns was interviewed by Oliver/Grave City in September, 2016.

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Stick Men with Ray Guns’ new album on 12XU Records.

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Oliver: Bobby, congratulations on the two new collections that have recently been put out by 12XU. Can you give some background about these releases, what material they include, and how you came about doing them? I know my friend Jack down in Austin helped with mastering some of them.

Bobby Beeman: Jack Control at Enormous Door is really the reason these albums and the Grave City album (released last year on End of an Ear Records) came out. He took our old material and remastered it so that it sounds better than it ever has, and the best it possibly could. Then Jack found labels to release it. He helped with the covers. He is the one that made this happen.

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Grave City interviews Dallas goth rockers Garden of Mary

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Garden of Mary are a newer Dallas gothic rock band that cite the influences of Sisters of Mercy, Asylum Party, and Midnight Call. Below is Grave City’s Garden of Mary interview. Containing members of Dallas hardcore act Modern Pain and Narrow Head, GoM already have a cassette-only mini-LP released on Louisville, Kentucky’s Funeral Party Records (no relation to the former Dallas postpunk event of that name). Although the LP came out in May of this year it was actually recorded two years ago in 2014  in Austin at Bad Wolf Recordings.

I mentioned Garden of Mary in a previous Grave City post about local gothic rock and deathrock bands. (That post is here.) I wrote: “[Garden of Mary singer] Ryan’s vocals are downright narcotic, and Noah’s bass pins the music down — gives it its anchor — in true trad gothic rock style, a la the Sisters of Mercy. There are elements of dreamy shoegaze and hallucinatory 80s UK dark underground stuff at play in the mix, too.”

You can stream Garden of Mary’s 5-song release, The Agony in Memory, below.

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