Moontower's new song "State of Mind" perfectly intertwines a sunshiney melody with thoughtful lyrics that have this incredible depth. We caught up with Moontower to talk about their new music and how they're building a community.
Tell me about "State of Mind" - What's the story behind it?
Jacob: State of Mind was the last track we wrote for our debut album. When we delivered the first cut of the record to our team, our manager (Carina Glastris) really challenged us to inject some live energy into the album. We started making the record in quarantine, and a lot of that contemplative energy was really at the forefront of the first cut of our album. The music we want to make is the kind that makes you dance at first listen and then maybe cry at the second or third. We wrote a really beautiful record that might make you shed a tear, but it was time to take care of the first part. We kept the songs but re-produced a lot of our records after that, but before we went back, we wanted to write some new songs to see what else we could find, and that's when we wrote State of Mind. That became kind of our North Star for the rest of the record going forward. That some came together in about 15 min. I was almost frustrated sitting down at the piano. I was tired of feeling stuck, and I wrote this tongue-in-cheek song about waking up to find everyone had gone to heaven without you and finally having the freedom to let yourself be exactly the person you wanted. I think, for me, the undertones of this song are about coming to terms with the confusion around my own gender identity & expression but more broadly, it's about giving yourself permission to be selfish as long as you are kind and take care of others.
What's your message to any fans who are struggling with their gender identity?
Jacob: We are all on our own timelines. I used to feel so much pressure to know, to have an answer to every question...it took a long time, but the place that feels best is trying to find comfort in the daily confusion. Waking up and asking yourself, who am I? and then honoring what you need to express that identity. That could be the clothing you pick or the pronouns you use...or a whole host of things that change EVERY day. Of course, there will be painful moments, but if we can find joy and playfulness in getting to know ourselves, we can also find acceptance in both the good and not-so-good that comes with confusion. Of course, we can change AS MANY times as we need. We are never one thing. Just try things on (both literally and metaphorically), and be kind to yourself when something doesn't feel right or when something that felt right before does not anymore, but also make sure to celebrate when you find something new that you love and try not to take things for granted when something that once felt exciting becomes a simple, pleasant part of your every-day.
I love how you emphasize making a safe place at shows. I think something we missed during Covid was that kind of communal feeling. How does it feel to be back performing again?
Tom: We've always felt the most at home when we're on stage, but, especially after these past couple of years, the shows have felt extra special. Not just the actual performance aspect either. It's the whole to-do. Hanging with the other bands and venue staff during soundcheck, talking with everyone that came early to wait in line, staying after the shows to hang with until security kicks us out, even counting the merchandise and playing Tetris to get everything back in the car can feel like a religious experience-- the Moontower family has always been about sharing these show days together. We absolutely know not to take them for granted.
What has been one of the biggest challenges for you in the music industry?
Tom: There's a lyric on Weezer's OK Human album that I love: "numbers are out to get you." The way that metrics are so publicly broadcasted these days, it's hard not to fall into a comparison trap. "Well, they have THIS many monthly listeners on Spotify, they have THIS many TikTok views, THIS many, THIS many..." We've been lucky to have numbers that are quite high, and numbers that we wished were higher, but it's really hard not to mistake either of those for success and failure when the stuff that matters is really unquantifiable- the warmth of the community, the feeling of the room when everyone knows the words at a show, the similar roles we get told our songs play in otherwise disparate lives. Sometimes we'd do a lil better to ignore all the numbers.
How do you stay motivated?
Dev: Overall, when anything is in service of the Moontower project, it's all stuff we're happy to do.
As a group, our collective to-do list almost always has items to check off! From specific live-set mechanics to catching up with fellow musicians, to press photoshoots, to making new music, or finishing music – 9 times out of 10, the to-do's are all really fun things to stay on top of! It's part of the reason we love being in music so much; when every day is so wildly different, our job rarely gets monotonous. If there's ever a sense of feeling a lack of motivation, we'd be remiss to not mention how grateful we are for the people we meet every day on the road when we're touring or the people we're talking to about the project when we're not on the road – all of these individuals (sometimes without even knowing it!) fire us up to keep going and imagining what could grow Moontower to bigger and greater heights. And, if all else fails, Tom, Jacob, Carina, and I are lucky to have a healthy personal & business relationship where we feel like we can say anything in the room – having that space where we can lament or inspire is where we've gotten some of our best ideas, which have in turn pushed us to keep going.
What's the one piece of advice you would go back and give your younger self?
Dev: Individually, we'd all have different answers for this – and those would probably relate to personal life anecdotes that make their way into Moontower, given we love and adore this project so much that it's made a focus of our lives. As a team, though, we've been fortunate to have made a lot of great moves in making Moontower a project that someone would really wanna dig into. We also feel lucky to have not made any publicly obvious mistakes too! With any of the mistakes we've made, a common thread might have been making a decision under stress or with the notion that there was not really a better option. And with that, hindsight is 20/20 – there are some (few!) things we would go back and change, but those mistakes also paved the way for really good things moving forward, so it's hard to say! All of us as individuals have been trying our best to make positive individual changes in our own lives so that when we take a seat at the Moontower table, decisions are being made with clear & open heads, and that's when Moontower is able to fire on all cylinders.
Music aficionado and editor-in-chief at The New Nine. I'm most at home at festivals and concerts. I would love to start a band of all Kanye covers all on keys. I'm a dedicated Jack White fan and when I saw him in concert it changed my life. I'd never seen someone so passionate about music and preserving its history. Every project he does I just worship. Follow me on Twitter and Insta: @etreadgold