SCAD Radio’s Abby Loden sat down with punk rocker Billy Moon.
Abby: So, your new album Punk Songs. I feel very surprised by this album. Originally when the music director at SCAD Radio pulled up your music, I could see how I would vibe with it. But after really sitting down and listening to it, I felt that Punk Songs tells a very cohesive story. Each song really makes up a greater part of a whole.
Billy Moon: Oh, wow.
A: What, are you surprised by that?
B: Well, it’s just interesting because I had an interview with a guy last night, and he said “Oh, each song is so different, like “White Shoes” is really aggressive and “Tangerine Dream” is really melodic.”
A: I like “Tangerine Dream” a lot.
B: Oh, yeah thanks. Yeah, I don’t know. Because I wrote White Shoes a couple months before we recorded, and then “Tangerine Dream” I wrote back in like…2010?
A: That’s crazy.
B: Yeah, it was about a girlfriend. “Tangerine Dream”, “Bicycle”, and “Big Black” are fairly old songs. They’re at least 4 or 5 years old.
A: So, that’s kind of interesting. I always thought the creative process for music was working from album to album and starting from scratch every time.
B: That’s how some people work. For me personally, I’ve had a long year. So I’ve been in kind of a creative slump. But I make sure to keep writing and working on new stuff.
A: I’ve read you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person.
B: I don’t record on my own, someone like Mac Demarco would. He writes it, he records it, he plays all the music himself. For me, I’m not that great of a musician. So I need to find a drummer at least. I played bass on one song on the record. I play guitar and I sing and the piano sometimes. You know, kind of. But I can’t play drums.
A: So the album is kind of a patchwork of different times in your life.
B: A little bit, yeah.
A: You mentioned you had a rough year. Do you tend to throw yourself into your work in those times?
B: I do and I don’t. I love performing, and I love this. So much of the work is planning on the road. It’s like… planning a vacation constantly. Where are we going to sleep, where are we going to eat, on and on…it’s a work vacation. But in terms of throwing myself into work: yeah, I do. The property we live on is big, so it’s very demanding in its upkeep. A lot of my time is taken up with just daily chores. I have a lot of responsibility in my “non-music life” that I can’t just walk away from.
A: What is your overall interpretation of the message you put out there with your music?
B: I really don’t know. I’d love to ask other people what they thought. Someone said it’s about expressing vulnerability and kind of admitting to your own faults, which is really something I hope comes through my music. There’s a lot of artists that became activists that I think are really amazing. But I’m also a fan of people who just write these beautiful songs, and just let them be.
A: I just wanted to say, your lyrics really struck a chord with me. I really liked your writing in the song “Dingus”. Especially in this verse: “Same faces staring back / same faces haunting me / for all my efforts, and what they may lack / I was only demanding my own autonomy”. Autonomy defined as: ‘freedom from external control or influence, independence.’ That’s some heavy stuff. I was just wondering, what is your relationship like with writing?
B: I try to keep writing. I’ve been in a slump, but I would always have a Moleskine journal and I was always going and writing in it all the time. But it does kind of spook me that some kid in Los Angeles is currently making an entire album on his cell phone, and it’s just crazy because cell phones are only meant to distract us. We have a whole economy based on what can get our attention the longest. It’s very spooky.
A: Yeah, that makes sense. Because I see a lot of themes of yearning for freedom and criticism to those people who are ‘blind’ or ‘just don’t get it’ in your music.
B: Oh, yeah. Well, I always grew up being the weird kid. Like, I always felt alone, I still do in a lot of ways, and I just felt like a weirdo! And I think that’s something everybody feels like. As you get older, you realize how universal that feeling of loneliness is. And I think sometimes when you’re able to touch it, and you can kind of understand that feeling… you can write really impactful stuff because you can kind of tap into those emotions that everyone shares, but they don’t necessarily know how to articulate.
A: I think the most important thing you can do as a creator is to put art out there that help people feel a little less alone. As a fellow artist, I really respect that.
B: I feel like I’d be doing my friends a disservice by saying I was alone or didn’t have any friends in high school, because my actual friends would be like, “I’m right here!” But despite everything, I’ve had a very privileged life.
A: I mean, despite life’s tests, you’re doing pretty great. You’re making awesome music.
B: You know, that’s funny you say that. The other day my friend told me next year is going to be the ‘year of Billy’. Later that day, our septic tank erupted. And I responded with, “Dude, I better be. I’ve literally been carrying buckets of sh*t.