Wednesday, April 13, 2011


In 2009 Ripley Johnson, of the uber-rad Wooden Shjips, and Sanae Yamada formed the incredible psychedelic band Moon Duo.  With Mazes, their new record available here and at Slowtrain, they have let some light into their drone jams that populated their first releases.  I was able to interview Ripley about the band and about coming to Kilby Court on Friday night (ONLY $10!!) through the magic of electronic mail so check it out:

Bad News Bear: Are you originally from San Francisco or did you migrate there to be around like minded folk?
Ripley Johnson: I'm originally from New England and moved to California to go to college.  But there was definitely a romantic notion that California would be full of like-minded people, being a big fan of the beats and all things psychedelic at the time.
BNB: San Francisco seems to be producing all my favorite bands lately, from Fresh & Onlys to Thee Oh Sees to you guys I just seem to love anything made out there.  What do you see in the community that seems to inspire such amazing creativity?
RJ: It is a community that is very supportive of the arts, even though financially it is now a very difficult place for artists to survive.  But it is a very open and free place, a comfortable place to let your freak flag fly.
BNB: So you formed Moon Duo in 2009 and have been incredibly prolific since with two incredible EP's, a couple of singles and your first full length, Mazes, which just came out at the end of March.  Is this a pace you plan on keeping up?
RJ: I hope so.  We'd like to continue to release smaller records in between LP's.  I like to maintain that flow of creativity, unhampered by label release schedules.  I was reminded on the radio yesterday that Creedence released their first four albums in the span of two years.  Pretty incredible.

BNB: Were a lot of these songs already kicking around in your head before the band started or was the chemistry just super strong right from the start?
RJ:  The template for the band, which is very basic, was there but not the songs.  It's Sanae's first band so it was easy to establish a good working process from the start.  There was no baggage and lots of enthusiasm.
BNB: Mazes is great on its own but seems intended to be consumed with an intoxicant or two, which would you recommend for optimal enjoyment?
RJ: I'm no doctor but right now I'm really into iced tea.
BNB: As a fellow beard enthusiast, what recommendations would you have for any of our readers about beard upkeep?
RJ: Shaving requires effort.  Growing does not.  Eat your vegetables.

BNB:  What would make for your ideal concert here in Salt Lake?
RJ: Lots of happy folks dancing. 
(Editor's note: That's on you folks!  Come to the show.  Info here.)
BNB: What bands led to you becoming a musician?
RJ: My dad had a huge and varied record collection.  It seemed completely random.  Lot's of good stuff but lot's of complete crap too.  I picked out the early Stones, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, ? and the Mysterians.  It was the Stones mostly that made me want to play guitar.
BNB: What are the bands today you're most excited about?
RJ: Cave, Purling Hiss, Coconuts, Fabulous Diamonds, Peaking Lights, Sun Araw.
BNB: and finally, will my dream of a Wooden Shjips/Moon Duo tour ever happen?
RJ: We've done a couple of shows together out of necessity over in Europe but it's way too much work for me.  So it's very unlikely.

Don't miss this show.  Every song these two have put out so far have been incredible so I expect that the show will live up to that standard.  Once again, it's at Kilby Court on Friday.  It's $10!!!

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