interview with Moth
by Alexander Laurence
is an exciting new band that was born in a garage in Cincinnati,
Ohio. They started out as an aggressive punk band, but now
have more of a pop punk sound and are sometimes compared
to Weezer and Pavement. Moth is a good looking band ready
to start some noise.
Despite newfound success, the band has been around for
a few years and have definitely paid their dues. They were
dirt poor for years and toured America in a broken-down,
yellow school bus. They also recorded three independent
records in a basement. As their fanbase grew, record companies
finally took notice.
The new album is called Provisions, Fiction and Gear.
It is a mix of intelligent rock and aggressive humor. Their
live shows have a power of their own. Moth uses melody to
expose the light and dark of their lives. Their music is
sensual and meaningful.
Recently, they have added the members Atom Willard, who
played drums with Rocket From The Crypt, and Ted Liscinski,
who played bass with the stage show of Hedwig and The Angry
Inch. Moth have been touring and spreading the word. They
are a band to be on the look out for. I spoke to Brad Stenz
(third from right) during their recent tour in the Spring
of 2002. They will be touring extensively throughout the
How is the tour going?
Brad: We have been playing for three months and it's going
great. It's been on an even keel. Every night lots of kids
come out. Every night we put everything we got into it.
There's a lot of dancing and people seem to enjoy it.
AL: What do you think
about aggressive slamming? That may send some of the hot
girls to the back if they feel they are in danger.
Brad: It doesn't matter to me as long as everyone is having
AL: What is Cincinnati like?
Brad: It's the same
thing as any other city that size. The music scene is relatively
small. But there are bands that have broken out of there.
AL: What bands did
you grow up being a fan of?
Brad: When I was very young my mother was forcing Willie
Nelson and Billy Joel on me. I was really small. I didn't
have a choice. As I got older I was into punk rock. I was
into Minor Threat, The Misfits, and The Sex Pistols.
AL: What are some other things that inspire you besides
Brad: Lyrically I get a lot of influences from Charles
Bukowski and David Lynch. I like some Beat generation writers
but there is something more about Bukowski that I get into.
Bukowski has a romance with disaster. He's constantly teetering
on it. Yet he can maintain this high level of creativity.
AL: What do you like about music?
Brad: That it has no limitations.
AL: What about "Emo"? What is that?
Brad: I don't know. I don't know what it is. I am not familiar
with it. I don't consider Moth a punk rock band. I call
it "Nervous Rock."
AL: What was it like when you first formed the band?
Brad: We did our first three albums ourselves. It is still
the same in many aspects when we were independent and local.
We work just as hard. Now it's more exciting because there
are so many people involved working towards the same goal.
Moth was a three piece for five years until Bob Gayol joined.
AL: You released your albums yourself. How did you get
them out there?
Brad: By touring. We would place them in any music store
in any city that we were playing at.
AL: In 1995, you had two guitars. How did that change the
sound of the band?
Brad: It made me open up a lot more as a songwriter. It
made me write more parts. I am constantly collecting parts
and ideas. Sometimes they fit and sometimes they don't.
I have a small studio in my house. I usually record them
as demos and present them to the band. I write all the songs.
AL: The producer, Sean Beavan, has worked with Marilyn
Manson and Nine Inch Nails. What was it like working with
Brad: It was real cool experience. I learned a lot. It
was like having a round band member in the studio with us.
Sean is really talented. He brought a lot to this project.
He's very laid back and insightful. We did the drums and
bass on two inch tape, reel to reel. And we did everything
else on Pro Tools.
AL: What does the title of the album mean?
Brad: I have heard some people's interpretations. Some
people are calling it a modern metaphor for sex, drugs and
rock and roll. Some people think it's the touring essentials
for a band. For me, it's the lyrics for a much older song
that have a deeper meaning.
AL: Many of the songs have to do with the senses and mental
Brad: I am into the big "what if?" questions.
I am curious and intrigued by death and the state of dreams.
What they mean.
AL: Do you have goals?
Brad: I am trying to stay free of goals. Once you start
to set goals you compromise artistic integrity just to reach
that specific goal.
AL: Some of the new members were in the bands Rocket From
The Crypt and one played in Hedwig. Are you familiar with
that band and the movie?
Brad: I didn't know much about them prior. I am a big fan
now of their previous albums. I didn't see Hedwig either
until Ted joined. He was a recommendation from Tommy Stinson
who was in The Replacements. Tommy played bass on the album.
We hit it off with both members right away.
AL: What is the song "I See Sound" about?
Brad: I wrote that
at a time in my life when I was loosing focus about what
the band and myself were about. I had to sit down and reevaluate
the situation. Once I did that, the answer seemed really
clear to me. The answer boiled down to the music. That is
what I am about. As far as what I see, that is my vision.
Sound is another word for the music.
AL: "Burning Down My Sanity" is sort of a Bukowski-esque
Brad: That wasn't a conscious influence. That song is about
meeting that specific person that you didn't plan on meeting.
It always comes at the wrong time. They are such an incredible
individual that they break down your life and you can't
maintain control. Whatever I go through is a proper subject
for a song because it is based on real life experience.
AL: "Cocaine Star" what is that about?
Brad: That is my take on the whole 1980s rock star musician.
AL: One of my favorite Moth songs is "Not Really."
It has a nice melody and some really great vocals. How did
that song come about?
Brad: To be perfectly honest with you I was sitting on
the couch one day and I said I am going to write a song.
That song took about fifteen minutes. I don't know where
it came from. Lyrically it was about how I felt that day
that was totally out of touch with reality.
AL: Do songs come to you in dreams and you write down a
few lines in a notebook?
Brad: That happens. That is when I wrote the lyrics to
"Last Night's Dream." That is a step by step account
of a dream I had. At the end of the dream I come to realize
that I was already dead. I was in this dream state of the
last night that I was alive. I was in the cycle. It happened
over and over.
AL: What is the song "Plastics Campaign" about?
Brad: That is about my utter discontent with people who
perform and people who receive plastic surgery. I am completely
against it. Unless it is some reconstructive surgery as
the result of a horrible crash or accident. I can understand
AL: Are you a spiritual person?
Brad: No, I am not.
AL: What are you going to do in the next few weeks?
Brad: We will probably take a week off. I will go home
and start writing some songs for the next album. We are
going to stay on the road for the rest of the year.
AL: Do you have any advice for younger people who want
to play music?
Brad: Yeah. Be patient. Wait for the right opportunity,
not just any opportunity.
AL: Do you look at your website?
Brad: I am in contact with people on the website. We want
to leave phone messages in the future and updates.
AL: What should people expect when they go to a Moth show?
Brad: People should
expect each band member to give everything they have. That's
what we do every single night. I think that the same freaks
that come to our shows are the same freaks that we have
in our houses. To me it's not like work or a job, it's like
Moth Website: www.mothematics.com