Fans of rock, dust off yer trusty gig shoes ‘cause Cellar Door Moon Crow - two energetic brothers with a penchant for high energy tracks - are coming to Rock City this month. Will Ryan speaks to Phil and Tom about their sound, their album and life in the music industry ahead of their performance.
ZZ Top, White Stripes and Beastie Boys have been described as your influences. That's quite a big range - how did you combine all those sounds together?
It didn't start with putting those together initially, it just evolved over time. We've both been in different bands before, and while we look identical our music tastes are quite different. I (Phil) had quite a rock background, rooted in guitars. Tom had a more hip hop and urban influence. He only moved over to playing drums when we formed this band.
We started jamming something out and we wanted more from it, more variation. We were putting tracks down to demo sounds and we liked the energy of our pieces but we were looking to experiment, gradually putting more keys down and adding the bass and the guitar. We got branded with that label of influences, we thought “yeah we'll take that”.
Could you describe your song making process?
We don't stick to a specific routine, but we do like to give ourselves challenges as well. We deliberately set ourselves tasks, like putting some sort of electronic beats down and thinking “right let’s make songs with keys and the vocals”, or songs that deliberately don't have the guitar in. The last thing we want is to get stale.
So constantly evolving your style keeps you motivated?
Yeah definitely, we keep wanting to bring something new to the table but at the same time, something that people can relate to. There is a mashup between vintage old-school equipment and then some modern techniques - we do a hybrid back and forth between the two.
You say you're always evolving, are there any similar artists that inspire you both as a group?
We like Jack White and the different projects that he has had. He's even gone down an urban road with rap, for example. We take stuff from that. We believe that you can take inspiration from everything; we might be inspired by films or characters in life and then before you know it, we've come up with a few lines (for a track). We're also big fans of boxing too...Tyson Fury’s positive attitude throughout the way he has evolved and the different challenges and battles he faced is also the type of thing that inspires us.
Is there an underlying message in your new album You Got This?
We wanted to make it about positivity. Being proud of yourself, your own accomplishments and just being confident. We have some stuff that is fictitious, and we made some characters that we can kind of associate with but overall as a collective, it's about being positive. The album title You Got This is about that moment when you've got to do something that's daring and you take deep breaths and just go for it.
Have you played in Nottingham before?
Tom actually had a stag there, and we stayed in a couple of Travelodges on Maid Marian Way. We got really involved in the music scene - we ended up at a gig at Bodega, then went to one pub on the canal with a boat floating through the middle of it (Canalhouse). We drank a lot of Castle Rock beer which is brewed there.
We like Nottingham, it's just got that nice city vibe but it's not too big so you can go ‘pub ,pub, pub, kebab, hotel’. Rough Trade stocked our first EP too. It has a really good history.
You have a rock n roll sound from your shows, do you live a rock n roll lifestyle?
Well, we are having a beer right now...I think when we were in our early 20s we definitely lived that lifestyle, but when we came up with Cellar Door Moon Crow we did look at it more like a business too.
There are tours where we’ll start on stage drinking and over the course of a week we become completely burned out. There are many bands who will have a good run and put some singles out, but for us to get that album completed, we do have to have a certain amount of discipline. It's work hard play hard.
Where did you come up with the name Cellar Door Moon Crow?
Erm... it looks good on paper. Nah, we came up with it so we could get asked about it. We wanted a name that we could abbreviate and we wanted something unique.
Basically, one night we were practising in a cellar and there was a really big full moon and when we went outside to have a look, we were blown away by the size of it. It was so big that we actually had to turn to Google to find out why it was so huge. It turns out that each full moon has its own name and that one was ‘the moon of the crow’.
Cellar Door Moon Crow perform at Rock City on 14 November, supporting Airbourne.