Matt Billings and Grant Stevens from San Diego’s Mothlight answered a few of our questions and promptly fluttered away into the night sky.
Hugger: There is very little information to be gleaned about Mothlight, even on the great expanses of the internet, so can you give us a short bio?
Matt Billings: Mothlight came about when I first started to gain confidence in my abilities as a song writer. I’ve performed music since I was 5 or 6 years old and I’ve always been in bands, but this was my first attempt to write and record my own material without any sort of collaboration. Initially it was just a project I did in my spare time while studying film in Santa Barbara, but eventually I started playing shows with friends filling in on various instruments. After college, I sort of put the band on the back burner as I struggled to figure out what to do with the rest of my life (I haven’t figured that out yet), but eventually I decided to turn some of my stuff I’d been loosely writing into what is now the American Spirit EP. When I wanted to play shows again, I enlisted my friend Grant to help out and we found that we worked extremely well together so he officially joined the band.
H: Do you have any plans to record a full length or are you destined to be an EP act?
MB: This new iteration of Mothlight is working on the first full length now. We are nearly done demoing and will hopefully have a physical release by the end of 2012. We have been pretty excited about it and will release a few demos from the album before it’s finished.
H: Each of your releases to-date have been consistently strong, have you had any label interest?
MB: Nothing besides friends suggesting they’d want to put something out, but nothing has ever come to fruition.
H: Do you have any thoughts on the role of a record label today?
MB: Record labels are sweet in terms of distribution and financing bands. Obviously the landscape of the industry is drastically changing and record labels aren’t the all important entities they were even 10 years ago, but I think they still are a necessary aspect of the industry. Never having been in a band that had serious record label support leaves me somewhat apathetic or at least uneducated about labels’ relevance in contemporary music.
Grant Stevens: Agreed, but I also have some strong opinions about piracy, since it’s a closely related subject. A lot of smaller bands who are just starting out tend to victimize themselves too much. Just as there are new ways to pirate music, there are new platforms for supporting new musicians, like Kickstarter.com. Make music if you can and want to and people will support you if they can and want to. Best chances of that happening is by making good music. Or just don’t care about the money and have a solid day job. I don’t know… the “starving musician” is not a new concept. I think we would both be excited if people cared enough to be ripping our songs onto torrent sites. Sorry for the rant.
H: You tend to space your records at least 2 years apart, is that a conscious decision or do you come from the Kevin Shields school of recording?
MB: In the past, the amount of time between releases has been an attempt at perfecting the songs while also having very little time to record while going to school or having a full time job. Now that I have a collaborator who isn’t as lazy as I am, we are making a conscious decision to release more and perform more. Maybe I should continue on that note though if it’s going to get us Kevin Shields comparisons though…
H: Do you have your own studio or do you record in-house?
MB: It has varied from EP to EP. The most recent release was recorded entirely at my mom’s house in San Diego with about $100 worth of recording equipment. The previous Skin Graft EP was worked on and mixed by my frequent collaborator Andrew for months in a studio. I guess short answer is in-house.
GS: Most of the new material has been written in my garage or living room. We are both TV junkies, so when we get stuck on a song we just take a little Mad Men or Fringe or Adventure Time break and return to the song after one of us has an idea on the john or grabbing a beer from the fridge and then it clicks and that’s the most exciting part, for me at least.
H: We find that people who make interesting music have equally interesting tastes so could you give us a rundown of your 3 favourite new bands?
MB: Three 2012 releases that have been getting played a lot by both of us are Mac DeMarco, Here We Go Magic and Chairlift. Also, we both just heard Com Truise for the first time and are definitely digging that stuff.
GS: Not sure if they could be considered “new” but there is always a fair amount of Stereolab playing as well as older Animal Collective or Pinback. I think it’s good to listen to a little of the old with the new so you don’t end up subconsciously copying whatever sound is hot at the moment.
Mothlight – Autumn Frost