Interview: Moon Hooch

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Remember that terrible Drake song where he “raps” about starting from the bottom and now he’s here?

For the three-piece outfit known as Moon Hooch – they literally started at the bottom – as in underground, beneath where the hip cats of New York City tramp about. Yes, the three men who met at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, began their careers playing in the New York subway system (in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) before being banned by the NYPD. The band took their show above ground and within a short time began touring and opening for the likes of They Might Be Giants, Lotus, and Galactic. Their 2014 album This is Cave Music made it to the Top 10 on the Billboard charts for Jazz. Take that, Drake.

Over Christmas we traded e-mails with saxophonist Michael Wilbur to talk about the band’s upcoming performance on Saturday January 3 at Old Bay in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The band and the venue are perfect for each other. The NOLA-inspired bar and restaurant has been home to years worth of groove-based, funked out and soul-driven original music; perfect for the three-piece outfit and their infectious “demonic dance party” sound. While talking with Michael we reminisced about the band’s 2014 success and what food he describes as the “paste of Zeus.”

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

It’s a question I’m sure you’ve been asked this a question a million times, but can you talk about why you describe your sound as “cave music.”

Caves are where the bats are at. They don’t see with their eyes but with their hearing.

You guys are two sax players and one drummer – definitely not a traditional structure for a band. Can you talk about why you decided to create Moon Hooch this way?

Moon Hooch was decided for us by forces we can’t see. There wasn’t any conscious decisions made by us to form a band with two saxophones.

You have come a long way from performing in the subways to performing at music festivals and clubs around the country. Do you ever miss the days of subway performing? How did performing in the subway shape you guys as a band?

I don’t tend to miss the past. The present is where we can do it. Flying through the whole thing. Once there, once here. Subways get you places but so do your feet. We learned a lot and continue to do so.

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This Is Cave Music ended up on The Billboard Top 10 for Jazz. Can you talk about the experience of having a record appear on the charts. Was it surreal? Exciting?

It’s all very surreal. What a gift to have bodies with lungs and hands! I’m very happy and grateful that people took our music home with them.

Outside of this, what was your favorite experience on 2014?

I can’t pinpoint favorites. If I try to it sucks the beauty and significance of all the other moments I experience.

You guys have been described as “enthusiastic vegan locovores.” Can you talk about your go-to food on the road?

Peanut butter is the paste of Zeus. Fuel for a god, good enough for a man.

Can you describe the Moon Hooch live experience? What can people expect when they see you perform?

Forceful saxophone dance music and a lot of fun!

Moon Hooch performs with Cocktail Party Phenomenon at The Old Bay Restaurant in New Brunswick, New Jersey on Saturday January 2nd. Tickets are $5.

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Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beauty daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom

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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites