“Mmoss-ical Mystery Tour”
There’s a sense of mystery moving throughout the music of Mmoss – a sense of something familiar perhaps surreptitiously altered, or of traveling a well-worn path only to arrive at a destination previously unknown.
It’s a mystery not to be solved but rather a mystery to be enveloped by. On their debut album – the enigmatically titled “i,” available on the cheap at the group’s Bandcamp page – this mystery is evidenced best by spectral stunners like “And I Do Set My Bow In the Clouds” and it’s immediate follow-up, “So Below” (which itself, less mysteriously, connects directly with the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it opening tone-poem titled “As Above”), which accurately and appropriately adopts the seagull-squeal of “Echoes” before launching the listener into the macro and micro-cosmic stew of the album’s second act, encountering flutes, Farfisa and fuzz along the way.
No mystery at all, then, to declare we are fully invested in following Mmoss wherever the next journey leads. On the verge of heading out on tour, vocalist-keyboardist-flutist-far-out-ist Rachel Neveu was kind enough to answer our questions and show us a little bit of what lies beneath the Mmoss.
Your song “Wander” is simply one of the most memorable and moving songs we’ve had the great pleasure to hear this year – or any other, for that matter. What can you tell us about the creation of this song? What does this song mean to you personally – and does it mean any more or less than other Mmoss music?
Doug and I were trying to start a goth band last year and realized the songs we were writing would translate well as Mmoss songs. We’ve been pigeonholed with this 60s garage revival whatever and this song really bridges our record “i” with what we are really about – spacey shit, not sixties shit.
The act of wandering itself seems initially counter to the image conjured up by moss in a physical sense – we’re often reminded that a rolling stone gathers no moss. What lead to choosing this name to represent the band’s music? Is there significance to the extra “m” apart from providing a bit of symmetry to the word?
Moss is the perfect form to wander upon; it lines the forest and many back yards. Mmoss formed in 2007 out of a realization that everything has been done, said and named. When trying to decide on band names, only hilarious jokes and laughter came out of it and we settled on the word MMOSS and it really is just about symmetry, or maybe a/symmetry.
What circumstances led to your coming together to play music under the Mmoss name? What experiences did you have beforehand playing with other groups – or perhaps with each other – and how did those experiences impact the formation of Mmoss?
Doug came to my house in the middle of the night as a stranger, while we were both living in Boston, inquiring about my flute playing. Due to my 18 year old drug incoherence or nervousness, I told him to leave and we met up another day. We’ve been together every day since, playing music and living together. The band started with a pretty shaky parade of band members until we moved to the seacoast area of New Hampshire and met Justin and Brian – then we were finally able to record our first record, “i”.
Was there any particular sound – or collection of sounds – that provided a central point for the members of Mmoss to explore outward from? Was there anything as concrete as a “vision” for the band, expressly stated or not? What has been most surprising and pleasing for you when you think of how your sound has evolved over time?
There wasn’t as much as a vision as much as there was common musical interests. We all really like a wide variety of tunes and I’m not sure what magical string ties them all together. The exciting thing is watching the music we make grow, incorporating all the different things we learn about or remember.
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Rolling Stones song and why?
That “Forge Your Own Chains” comp is awesome. Alice Coltrane has been blowing my mind a lot recently, along with Trikolon and Jo Ann Kelly. Doug’s favorite Stones song is “Gimme Shelter” tied with “2000 Man.” Justin’s is probably something off their “Satanic Majesties Request.”
Have you had any contact with or are you at all familiar with the U.K. band Moss? What bands or artists have had the greatest impact on the sound of Mmoss that you believe would be surprising to most listeners?
We have made no contact with the doom band Moss but Wikipedia tells me they are influenced by H.P. Lovecraft and the occult and I would say that is equally accurate for us as well.
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that you will soon record a cover version of all 35 minutes of the Moss song ,”Gate III: Devils from the Outer Dark: Walpurgis/The Coming Of 13/Exitus,” featuring back up vocals from Kate Moss and Randy Moss?
I cannot confirm or deny this rumor, but I can confirm this: that Primal Scream cover of “Some Velvet Morning” featuring Kate Moss is one of the nastiest things I have ever heard.
What do you try to bring to the live experience of Mmoss that is difficult to capture in recording? Is it ever difficult to find the right amount of energy – the right amount of “letting go,” for lack of a better term – to perform your songs? What live performance that you’ve seen has had the greatest unexpected impact on how you view live music?
Well, we drink a lot more beer when we play shows and smoke a lot more weed when we record. That might be it, or maybe it is that we tend to have some really mellow, straight-up drone shows and then some really upbeat krautrock happenings – so it is really challenging to gauge our energies before shows and anticipate the crowds, ya know – sitting or standing. And video of Pink Floyd in ’67 captures some of the coolest performances I have have seen or maybe the clips of The Monks playing in Germany.
Author Rebecca “Drive It Like You” Solnit says the following in her book, “Wanderlust: A History of Walking”:
“Musing takes place in a kind of meadowlands of the imagination, a part of the imagination that has not yet been plowed, developed, or put to any immediately practical use … time spent there is not work time, yet without that time the mind becomes sterile, dull, domesticated. The fight for free space–for wilderness and public space–must be accompanied by a fight for free time to spend wandering in that space.”
Your thoughts? What is your favorite device for letting your mind wander?
We have lots of meadowlands in Mmoss; our backyard doesn’t even have a fence, just a few trees along the perimeter. We spend all our time here, planning our lives around it. Good lighting and mist are key for wandering.