The Moondoggies are playing two shows this weekend at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard to celebrate the release of their new album, Adiós I’m a Ghost. KEXP had a chance to chat with lead singer and songwriter Kevin Murphy about Seattle music, his favorite places to drink and what’s in store this weekend!
KEXP: The Moondoggies are playing two shows this weekend at the Tractor Tavern to celebrate your new album release. But I want to talk about another venue: you’ve played a handful of secret shows at the Blue Moon Tavern under different monikers – what is the impetus for these shows and why the Blue Moon?
KM: Well, the Blue Moon was kind of our home for the first few years of playing in Seattle as the Moondoggies. It has history, characters, and the environment for musicians is more laid back than, say, a hip bar on Capitol Hill. Half the people in there might not even care or won’t remember. I think it’s something you have to experience rather then explain; it’s one of those places. I love it there and I hope it’s there forever. While people are coming out to shows, we also like to take the opportunity to do it for ourselves. Maybe try out new songs, or if we want to play live but have blackout dates. We try to do it at least once a year, if not a couple of times. It’s a real shit-kicker spot.
What do you have in mind when you’re writing a Moondoggies song? Any visual representation, other artists as inspiration?
I think every song is different. I’ve heard it said that inspiration isn’t something you can call on, it appears at certain times and it’s up to you to take it and run with it. I think that’s very true a lot of the time. For the Moondoggies, there’s a few different approaches. There’s the song I wrote on the couch, there’s the jam in practice space, there’s the one I forgot about that Caleb happened to find on his recorder, there’s songs that just appear out nowhere (those are my favorite).
The process changes from song to song, it might be a happy accident, it might take 2 minutes to write or 10 years. There are no rules, rhyme or reason to music (well, yeah, rhyme, but…) it’s all about getting it out of you and putting it together in a way that you feel truly reflects you and your sensibilities. I’ve had people tell me they think certain aspects of my writing are better then others – acoustic over electric, or whatever, but I feel like it’s all me… or mostly US.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Seattle? Places to eat, spots to get a beer, areas to walk around or sit and think?
Teddy’s in the Ravenna area is my favorite watering hole, Dan the owner is a great guy. I like to go there with my brother and his wifey. When I lived closer I could go get my baseball and football fix. Obviously the Blue Moon is great. I’m not really a foodie. I need my friends to drag me around to try anything new. When it comes to good bar food, Hattie’s tacos get the job done. Mr. Gyros in Ballard is fucking legit, too. My wandering-around areas I guess are typically Ballard, Ravenna or lower Queen Anne. We practice on the hill, but that isn’t really my style, although Mario’s has the best pizza so it’s a good trade off.
What are some of your favorite bands these days? To both listen to and be inspired by, creatively?
Locally, I like Le Sang Song. It’s a project from Craig Chambers and his wife, Adria. Craig was the singer of the Lights, one of the best Seattle bands there ever was. Case Studies, Rose Windows, Unnatural Helpers, Gold Leaves, Country Lips, Gabriel Mintz. Oh, and Lonesome Shack is fucking rad. They have this sort of bluesy Captain Beefheart groove that is really sweet. Our brothers the Maldives are working on some great new stuff. I know that because I live with Jason Dodson and they’re writing it in the basement. So look out for that.
As far as new stuff outside Seattle, I enjoy Tame Impala, Shovels and Rope, Baptist Generals, Shannon and the Clams, Jonathan Wilson. I don’t know, right now I feel like when you’re in a record store and your mind goes blank…
What do you hope to happen this weekend at The Tractor? Any surprises in store?
Well, it’s not a surprise if I tell you… but no. Just the Moondoggies playing Moondoggies songs, new, old, middle with great local openers! I hope people can come out and celebrate this record with us, I think it’s our best yet… my mom can back me up!
The Moondoggies play at The Tractor on Friday, August 16, with Country Lips and The Quiet Ones, and on Saturday, August 17, with Gold Leaves and Kevin Large of Widower. Get tickets here.