MOOON are a fantastic Dutch three-piece band that I’m a bit amazed that I’m even aware of. It’s surprising that they popped up on my musical radar because they’ve only ever played in Holland, Belgium, and Germany. However, they supported Hidden Charms (a British band whom I’ve written about before here and I really love) while they were playing in Holland, but to my own amazement, this wasn’t even how I first found out about MOOON. Someone on Facebook posted a link to a music video for a song called “Mary You Wanna” by MOOON and for some reason I thought the thumbnail image for the video (which had three guys with long hair and instruments standing in front of a blank background) looked interesting and I decided to watch the clip.
Having no idea what I was in for, I watched the whole video and absolutely loved it. I was really impressed by the band’s 60’s and 70’s retro sound and pleasantly surprised that I had stumbled upon this hidden gem of a band. I was also mildly amused that the song title sounds like marijuana, so to me it was obvious that the trio had charm. After doing some research, I discovered the Hidden Charms connection and I listened to the rest of their music that they’ve put out thus far. As it turns out, they’ve only officially released two singles and an EP. Though their two singles, “Mary You Wanna” and “Where Money Goes” are their finest works to date and they’re more along the lines of psychedelic blues, their self-titled EP, which is a bit punky and surfy, has a lot of great stuff on it as well. Those two singles are due to appear on their debut album, which they hope to release some time next year.
I caught up with the members of the band (pictured above from left to right) — Tom de Jong (vocals, bass) and Gijs de Jong (drums) who are brothers and their cousin, Timo van Lierop (vocals, guitar) — to talk about the band’s formation, their influences, and what’s in store for the future.
You guys formed MOOON in February 2013. Were you all in bands before this and how long have you all been playing music?
Gijs: We’ve been playing for almost 4 years now. Tom and I started playing music around that time too, so we haven’t played in other bands. We started everything in MOOON. Timo however had some experience with playing in bands and played guitar for a long time already.
Were there specific artists and albums that changed your life and that made you all want to play in a band when you were younger?
Gijs/Tom: For us, not really. However, at that time, we discovered the records from my parents, with stuff like Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, etc. That did make us want to play music.
Timo: I remember the first time I saw and heard The Who live at Woodstock and it was stuck in my mind. That turned me on to rock and roll.
Since Tom and Gijs are brothers and Timo is a close relative, did you all grow up in a big musical family?
Gijs/Tom: Our dad plays guitar. He always wanted us to play too, but we weren’t really paying attention. At the time he gave up trying, we started picking up the bass, drums and also guitar (laughs).
Timo: I think I am a bit responsible for that. And our parents played in a group together back in the day, so there was always music around in family parties and such.
Does playing in a band made up of brothers and their cousin make it more fun or difficult? Bands like Oasis and The Kinks certainly haven’t had the easiest time.
Gijs: We do have some difficulties now and then, but after a few minutes we’ve all forgiven each other.
Timo: I think it really helps being related. No issues with money or trust. We’re operating more like one than three totally distant musicians would.
How do you go about writing new music? Do you all write and is it a collaborative process?
Timo: A lot of times we’ll be jamming and when something is special or really cool, we make it in to a song. Sometimes, however, one of us has kind of a plan or a lyric and we work that out with each of us adding their personal thing.
Your website says, “A new and loud sound was born in a little backyard barn in a far away town called Aarle-Rixtel.” What can you tell us about life in Aarle-Rixtel, Holland and do you think it shapes your music in any particular way?
Timo: Aarle-Rixtel is small, the people are simple, it’s quiet, and there is not a lot to do. We’re young and full of motivation, so we just go out and do it. I think the lack of modern influence helps us to do our own thing more.
You’ve played shows in Holland, Germany, and Belgium and you’ve supported bands like Hidden Charms and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Has gigging a lot in the last few years and seeing other bands play live helped you guys?
Gijs: It helped us a lot. As I said, Tom and I didn’t had any experience of playing music, so we learnt almost everything from playing live.
Tom: Seeing bands play live helped us on how to build a good setlist and how to present yourself on stage.
Although it still sounds like psychedelic/garage/blues, your self-titled EP (which came out in March 2015) takes influences from surf rock and even skater punk (“Surfin’ With You”, “It’s Okay”). Do you think those sounds still influence you or is that phase of your music over now that your newest releases, “Mary You Wanna” and “Where Money Goes” sound pretty different?
Gijs: We’ve still got the surf vibe, but the skater punk is slowly growing over. On our upcoming album you can hear a mixture of our old stuff and what you can expect from our second album.
Your newest song, “Mary You Wanna” (which came out in September this year) is nearing 50,000 views on YouTube, which is a stark contrast to the rest of your videos. Does it blow your mind that one really great song can gain so much traction so quickly and from all over the world?
Gijs: Yeah it really blew our minds. It has been shared on Reddit, and there it’s been picked up by a lot of people.
Your sound has been described as psychedelic blues/garage rock of the 60’s and 70’s (your sound particularly reminds me of bands like The Sonics). Do you think that’s a fair assessment and are there any bands that MOOON tries to emulate?
Gijs: We don’t try to emulate anybody, but I do have a lot of inspiration from old bands, but also newer bands.
Tom: Well, for me, that’s a compliment because I like The Sonics! But we actually make a lot of stuff just by jammings and ideas mixed with some old and new influences.
“Mary You Wanna” reminds me of bands like Temples and on Reddit, people commented that the song reminds them of newer bands like Django Django, Allah-Las, and The Growlers. Do you know any of those bands and do you agree with those comparisons?
Timo: I know some of them, and yeah, sometimes we’re on the same page. But it’s still our own thing.
If I’m not mistaken, Tom sings lead vocals on “Mary You Wanna” while Timo sang lead vocals on the rest of the band’s music. Is this something that’s going to continue in the future?
Timo: I don’t mind singing so much, but we’re with the three of us. Any variation is welcome. If a song sounds better with someone else singing, than thats the way to go! So yeah, why not?!
You’ve said that “Mary You Wanna” and “Where Money Goes” are from your upcoming debut album. When do you plan to release it and what else is planned in the near future for MOOON?
Gijs: We want to release our album early/mid 2017. The writing for our second album has already begun, and we are planning to make a Christmas single too.
Thanks for taking the time. Good luck with everything and I can’t wait to hear new music from you guys!
Gijs, Tom, and Timo: Thank you too!
For more on MOOON, you can buy their music on their Bandcamp page here, you can check out their official website here, you can check out their Soundcloud page here (which includes an unreleased 45 minute jam), you can like them on Facebook here, and you can check out their YouTube page here.