Chris Moore is a very busy man, apart from having a job, he is organising shows and plays in three bands (sludge warriors Meadows, black metallers Jøtnarr and the experimental Mother Sky). Despite being incredibly busy, I was tremendously lucky and grateful he agreed to do this long interview about his multiple projects. Chris was a funny, interesting and friendly interviewee and it was an absolute pleasure.
Jack: Apart from being in Mother Sky, Jøtnarr and Meadows you put on local shows and have a job. How do you juggle all your commitments?
Chris Moore: (Laughs) Well sometimes I’m quite tired. Fortunately, it’s rare that all the bands are practicing every week and gigging regularly so it’s not too bad, and I’m only putting on about one gig a month at the moment so it’s definitely manageable. Often, I’ll use my lunch breaks at work to do the more admin type stuff of contacting bands to try and get line-ups booked, or for making flyers and posting on forums and all that stuff. When the bands are active I do have quite a lot of late nights, and my girlfriend sometimes has a word with me about taking it easy – but honestly it isn’t that hectic most of the time, and I love all of it anyway so it’s not a pain in the arse.
Jack: Do any of the bands you’re in take priority over the other?
Chris: Not really, no – I tend to have set days of the week for practices with Meadows and Jøtnarr so Mother Sky, where the practices are less regular, will often just fit around those when we want to get together. Other than that no one band takes priority over the other, I enjoy each one so I’d always want to make the time and room for all three.
Jack: All your projects are different, is it refreshing to jump between different genres?
Chris: Definitely, and I think it helps me make the stuff I bring to each band a bit more focussed – because I have different outlets I don’t clutter one band with a big bunch of different ideas. When I was just doing Meadows I think I sometimes had a tendency to try and shove too much into one song. It’s especially nice having Mother Sky because that’s all completely improvised, so I really enjoy just sitting in a room with Mick, Pete, and Jeff and having no riffs to remember or no pre-decided agenda, and just switching off completely. It’s really relaxing and quite therapeutic in a way.
Jack: Do you consider gigging and putting on shows a hobby or a job?
Chris: I don’t make any money from it or utterly resent every moment of it, so I definitely consider it a hobby. But I do think of the music stuff as “what I do”, and my job as just giving me money to live and pay for guitar gear, and enough money up front to get shirts printed for the bands or whatever else.
Jack: Mother Sky supported Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. in August, how was it to support such a legendary band?
Chris: Ah man, utterly incredible! It was such an ideal band for us to support and they were just mind blowing to see – honestly one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, so it was amazing to have been given the chance to play on that bill too. I was really pleased with how it went too, I think it’s the best reception Mother Sky have had – certainly since I’ve been in the band anyway. That show was at Colchester Arts Centre which is honestly one of the best venues, and Staff who books the bands has always been extremely supportive of us – we’re really fortunate that there’s someone like him that gets what we do and books acts like Acid Mothers Temple so that we have decent gigs to be a part of.
Jack: You played with a Hawkwind type background; do you think this added to the show?
Chris: Well, that was entirely down to JV from the Arts Centre, but I’ve seen videos since and I think the visuals were great and definitely added to the show – again that’s just a case of playing in a great venue where the people understand what you’re about and so they make your performance that much better.
Jack: When will we see a release from Mother Sky?
Chris: That’s hard to say… we’ve just put up some recordings online, and I think we plan to go through a big backlog of recordings and decide on a physical release. As for doing a studio recording and calling it an album – that might happen at some point but there are no firm plans to do so at the moment.
Jack: Now let’s talk about Meadows, how did Meadows form?
Chris: Before any of us went to university or moved away from the area, we were all in a stoner rock band called Crawling Kingsnake – the name was taken from a John Lee Hooker song, I think it was recorded by a bunch of different blues artists but that’s the one we all knew. Meadows formed when we were all back in Suffolk. It was the same people but we wanted to play different heavier stuff by then though so we just decided to start a new band rather than resurrect Crawling Kingsnake.
Jack: Your drummer Jack is also in Old Man Lizard and has played for Slabdragger in the past, can these other commitments cause scheduling issues?
Chris: Honestly, not really no. It’s proving difficult at the moment to organise enough rehearsals for the shows we have coming up in October, but that’s only because we’re all busy around that time and there’s a small window when we’re all at home at the same time. But yes, if I was to blame one person it would be the drummer – as is tradition.
Jack: What are the main influences of Meadows?
Chris: Pro wrestling, Sega Mega Drive, a human engineered apocalypse, beer, and hash. Musically, it’s difficult to say really; there are classics we all love – Black Sabbath, Napalm Death etc. but the four of us like a lot of different stuff between us. I think Meadows has a lot of stuff going into it because we all contribute riffs, lyrics, and ideas.
Jack: On Facebook it says your genre is Power Drunk. Can you explain this to us?
Chris: That’s just us making up a genre. Lots of bands about two years ago were calling themselves power violence. We just said that as a gentle mickey-take about genre labels, but also we do like to get extremely pissed.
Jack: You released a split with Sky:Lark!. Did you approach them about it or they approached you?
Chris: I can’t actually remember whose idea it was, but it was discussed for a long time before it actually happened. I know Sky:Lark! from university, and we played one of our first gigs with them ‘cause John put us on. We love Sky:Lark and from what they’ve said I think the feeling is mutual, so it just made sense to do a split record. We’re lucky that Kunal from Superfi likes both bands and agreed to put it out, otherwise it might never have seen the light of day. (The split is reviewed here).
Jack: On your split with Sky:Lark!, the song ‘Super Thunder Blade’ sounds like a retro computer game, considering there is a game called ‘Super Thunder Blade’, is there a relation?
Chris: Yes, it is called that because it is the name of that computer game – but the song isn’t actually about the game, we just thought that title was cool… I think we prefer to imagine some huge mythical sword rather than a helicopter video game. Most of the lyrics for that song are taken from Sega games; and the other song on the split “I Am Stone Head” is all about the Alex the Kidd.
Jack: You’re supporting the very unique Vodun in October. How well do you think the people of Essex will take to them?
Chris: Yeah, I’m actually organising that one. They’re a bloody great band and a top bunch of people; I think the people of Colchester will love them – people have already been telling me how much they’re looking forward to seeing them. Because members have been in bands like Invasion and Do Me Bad Things there’s already a bit of buzz about Vodun.
Jack: Meadows haven’t had a line-up change in your career yet, how do you maintain a healthy relationship?
Chris: Well, we’re just mates – we weren’t strangers that put up adverts about starting bands in the window of the local music shop or whatever so that probably helps. We’ve pissed each other a few times with stupid shit like being late for practice, but we’ve been friends for ages so we get along really well.
Jack: When can we see a full release from Meadows?
Chris: I’m really hoping next year. We’ve been “on hiatus” for a while, but we’re starting up again now and I think we all want to record a full length as soon as we can.
Jack: Moving onto Jøtnarr, you mix black metal with crust. For those who don’t know the genre, can you explain how crust sounds?
Chris: I think there’s a tiny bit of crust in our sound – somebody described us a mix of Darkthrone and His Hero Is Gone once, and I was dead pleased about that because I love those bands. People can get a much better understanding of crust by looking it up and listening to some records than they can by asking me about it, but as a band we like Disrupt and Discharge and stuff like that so I think some of that is bound to come through. We’re way more into black metal and Sabbath than crust though really.
Jack: You also don’t have a bassist, was this decision intentional?
Chris: Well we talked very early on about maybe getting a bassist, but the three of us clicked pretty immediately without one, and we play in drop A# so it was a pretty easy decision to carry on as a three piece just with two guitarists.
Jack: What bands influenced your sound? I detect early Mayhem and Immortal.
Chris: We do love Immortal! We listen to Sons of Nothern Darkness almost every time the three of us are in the same room. I don’t really listen to much Mayhem; the other guys might be more into it but we never talk about it. We love Black Sabbath and King Diamond, and apart from that we listen to lots of different stuff… All sorts of black metal, the classics and newer stuff… Oli and I have gone a bit mad for that Myrkur album recently – Simon is on tour with Telepathy at the moment so I’ve no idea what he’s listening to.
Jack: You’re being championed by The King is Blind and you were made band of the day on Terrorizer. Are you surprised by the success of Jøtnarr?
Chris: We’re very grateful to anyone that shows any support or says nice things. I wouldn’t like to label what we’ve done at this point a ‘success’ because that sounds like we’ve achieved more than we have, but I think we’re pleasantly surprised and very pleased that people like our music.
Jack: How has the reception to Divide the Growth and Stone (reviewed here) been?
Chris: Really positive; we actually sold out all of our CDs in the space of two shows – we’ve taken the very last few tapes and CDs from the label so that we have something to sell at upcoming gigs.
Jack: How do you plan to build on this debut?
Chris: We’re recording a much longer EP over two days with Jason Frye (drummer from Harrowed) at Son of Sun Studios in Kent early next year. It was supposed to be end of November, but I had to cancel that because it clashed with a gig I’m organising.
Jack: You’ve transitioned the shows you put on from the recently closed The Hole in the Wall to The Waiting Room, how has the scene taken to The Waiting Room so far?
Chris: Well I’ve only done one gig there – Slabdragger, Grey Widow, Earthmass, and Goat Monsoon (reviewed here) – but I was really pleased with the turnout. It’s an awesome space and project, and I think it works really well for the sort of shows I do. I have 3 more coming up before the end of the year so hopefully they’ll go just as well.
Jack: A lot of people claim it’s easy to put on a show, how hard is it to actually put on a local show?
Chris: I think it’s probably easy to put on a shit show where nothing runs smoothly and the turnout is crap; but to book bands, book a venue, make sure sound and a backline are sorted, feed bands, have them sleep at your house, make flyers, hand those flyers out, promote it online etc etc. – I personally don’t think it’s that easy to do it well. I imagine it’s somewhat easier promotion-wise somewhere larger like London, because you can pretty much always rely on a decent size interested audience – but Colchester isn’t huge, and I think you have to try a bunch of different ways and really push it to get as many people as you can to attend the shows – especially when it’s not “mainstream” music, or even mainstream metal.
Chris: Some have been much more stressful than others – like when Monarch were stuck on a ferry in the middle of a storm and were impossible to contact. Some have been much easier to organise and smoother to run, but I’ve loved them all really.
Jack: Does the DIY ethos appeal to you more than bigger productions?
Chris: Absolutely! I mean, I think it’s just part and parcel of the music that appeals to me. And as far as bigger acts like Napalm Death or Dead Meadow or whoever go, we’re really lucky to have Colchester Arts Centre for those sort of shows – so I feel like I’m doing something slightly different, and therefore viable, by putting on something like Lentic Waters at The Waiting Room, where it’s £3 entry and I can squeeze 5 bands on the same bill.
Jack: You sell vegan food at your events, why specifically vegan?
Chris: Well, the short answer is that I’m vegan so that’s the food that I make. But also lots of people in the bands that I put on tend to be vegan or at least vegetarian – and it’s a simple way of providing food that everyone can eat. I’ll do things like onion bhajis too so that even people who might be intolerant to wheat can eat something. It’s just the easiest way to feed everyone – even if you eat meat there’s no reason you can’t eat food that isn’t meat, so it’s just the best option for feeding a big bunch of people as far as I can see.
Jack: Do you think touring is harder for vegan bands?
Chris: Only in the sense that there might be certain places where it’s difficult to find something suitable to eat. Maybe I live in something of a bubble surrounded by like-minded people, but most of the food at the gigs we play elsewhere is vegan so it’s not a problem.
Jack: Do you think Colchester’s profile in the metal community is growing?
Chris: I couldn’t really say for sure, I think it’s always been pretty good. We’ve had a great venue in the Arts Centre for ages, and there have been some truly awesome metal acts playing there – I went to my first heavy gigs there when I was 14 so it would be wrong of me to say that Colchester’s reputation as a good place for metal is only now growing; I think it has a long history of being a great place for heavy and alternative music. I’d say that there are a lot of really good bands coming out of this area at the moment so maybe that’s pushing the name of Colchester a bit more.
Jack: The next show is Lentic Waters, what can we expect from this?
Chris: You can expect some bloody good bands – I saw Lentic Waters at Cry Me A River fest in Germany earlier this year and they were brilliant, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them again, and excited that they’re playing Colchester. The supports are great too. You can also expect a bunch of nice people and some vegan food for sale.
Jack: Jøtnarr are also playing this show, can we see anything special from this?
Chris: Absolutely not.
Jack: The genres put on at your show are all quite similar, will you ever expand to include different genres?
Chris: I’ve never had that criticism levelled at me before; it’s quite gutting to hear you say it now. (Winks) I think I try to put on a fair mix of stuff – something like Conan is very different to The Atrocity Exhibit for instance, and then I’m putting on Vodun who I think are very different to either of those, and then there’s The Abominable Mr. Tinkler which is something on another planet compared to those bands … I could go on. But yes, I stick to what I know really – it’s all heavy guitar based music for the most part – I’m not going to start putting on Hard Trance nights or whatever ‘cause I don’t know enough about it.
Jack: Will you ever put on a festival type event someday?
Chris: Some friends and I have put on one-day festivals in Ipswich called “Wallop Fest” – we did a Wallop Fest with Weekend Nachos from the US headlining, and we followed up with a Winter Wallop. But I’d like to do something in Colchester over two or three days, and perhaps over multiple venues.
Jack: Finally, I have to ask, why are Eastenders characters on the poster for the Vodun show?
Chris: (Laughs) Well, you’ve sort of answered that for me – it’s a talking point isn’t it? I think flyers need to be striking, and with so many people putting on so many gigs these days I need my flyers to stand out. I make them all myself because it’s the cheapest way to do it, and I’m a bit obsessed with EastEnders at the moment. I’m particularly taken with Dot, Ian Beale, and Mick Carter – all of whom are pictured on the flyer – and I just had this idea for a collage that I thought would catch people’s attention… I hoped anyway! I’m actually really pleased with it; it’s the flyer I’m most proud of – and the fact that you were curious about it means I’ve succeeded in making a flyer that people notice. Well done, me.