13 May 2016

THE BIG MOON: "I WANT TO START A BAND CALLED ANTISEPTIC WIPE"

Meet The Big Moon. With songs full of enough hooks to hang your entire wardrobe up on and the personalities to match, this London quartet are destined for big things. We snuck backstage at one of their shows with Mystery Jets to have a chat to lead singer and guitarist Juliette to find out about life on the road, side projects and why being a girl in a band is no big deal.

Juliette Jackson

So, you’re on tour with Mystery Jets currently, what’s it like?
It’s cool. They’re one of those bands that I used to dance to when I was a teenager so it’s really cool. They’ve been to see us play before and we’d met before we came on tour with them, it’s really nice. 

We’ve known about you guys since you were ‘The Moon,’ when you played a few shows with Peace. What was it like having some of your first shows being that size?
It was really scary! Those shows with Peace were probably our tenth gig? We felt like we were totally amazing at that point, and I was like “We’re gonna nail this, we’re gonna be better than Peace, it’s gonna be so cool.” I got onstage and there were so many people there and I got really scared. But it was good for learning to perform. You’ve gotta be thrown in at the deep end.

How did the band form?
We formed because I was really doing nothing. I was waitressing and the only thing I could really do was play guitar, so I thought I should probably have a go at being in a proper band. I ran around asking everyone if they wanted to be in a band or if they wanted to learn an instrument or knew anyone who wanted to learn an instrument. I was really desperate. It took about six months to find everyone. 

How did you find the other three members?
Fern is a girlfriend of my friends friend, Celia is a friend of a friend’s friend and Soph is a friend of a girl who wanted to play guitar but she couldn't because she had too much work on, so she was like “Oh, you should meet Soph!” 

Sophie Nathan
Why did you have to change your name?
Oh it’s really boring, legal reasons etc. Basically, there’s loads of bands called Moon, or The Moons so we started emailing them saying “Hey, do you mind if we’re called The Moon?” and one person was like, NO! So we just had to change it. I prefer it now. It’s got a nice trio of syllables.

What do you think the best and worst band names are?
I always thought U2 was a pretty shit band name. My friends in a band called Warm Brains, I think that’s one of my favourite band names. I want to start a band called Antiseptic Wipe, but the name doesn’t work for our band right now. One day. 

You’ve toured with loads of people. Yak, The Maccabees, Ezra Furman, The Vaccines, VANT and The Magic Gang to name a few. What were the highlights?
I can’t compare them at all, they were so different. I’d like to have a party and invite them all. A picnic in the park with a disposable barbecue. Matty from VANT could be turning the sausages, as long as they’re veggie sausages! Oli from Yak would be on the bar, he’d have a thermos with some cocktails. The Vaccines would organise the sports, bring a volleyball net along. 

What was touring with Ezra Furman was like? He’s very different to the other bands on the list.
He’s amazing. I actually found him really inspiring. Watching him play every night, the show is always different. Every single time. It’s so rare that a show is always different, you see the bands tell the same jokes and he didn’t do that. He would stop in the middle of a show and give a big speech on something and it’s never the same. He’s also really shy offstage. Onstage, he’s so energetic and exciting.

The rest of that list is a bit of a boys club. We wanted to talk about if you feel you get put in a box by being a “girl band”.
People definitely put us in a box. I’ve read reviews of our shows where people have done it. I read one where someone said we were “expressing our femininity through rock.” That really made me laugh. Honestly for me, it doesn’t really feel like an issue. I don’t really want to be anything, any kind of figurehead in that respect. I find it kind of exhausting that people ask the question, “what’s it like being a girl in a band,” and it’s like, I have to think of an answer. I can’t be bothered! I just am in a band and I’m a girl. I love both of those things but it’s not a big deal. 

I imagine it’s quite patronising always being asked that.
It can be. But, I can also see why people point it out because it is unusual, which is a shame. But, I think it’s getting less and less unusual, and I think the less of a big deal we make out of it, it’ll keep being seen as more normal for girls to be in rock bands. 

Fern Ford
What do you guys do together when you’re not playing music?
Go to the pub, play pool sometimes. We like watching Bob’s Burgers. What do we do? A while ago, our friend Max organised a choir that we took part in. We went an performed the sound of a dial-up-modem. It’s one of our hobbies. What else do we do? I did some sewing the other day, I made a cushion cover. We also go to gigs! We went to see Car Seat Headrest about a month ago. Loads of stuff went wrong, but it was still so amazing. 

Who’s idea was the “Cupid” video? 
I think it was Celia’s! We all sat around and tried to come up with something. She was just like “What if we were standing there and someone was throwing shit at us?” The idea didn’t really evolve much further than that. We decided what we’d throw, filled up balloons with paint, we employed lots of friends to come throw stuff. There was about eight people. Of course though, we only had one take. That first shot with the first water bomb that hits me, we only had one chance to do that. It was like, “Don’t flinch. Don’t flinch.” The first two times we filmed it, Louis (the director) he threw the paint bomb and it didn’t explode. It just hit me and bounced on the floor! The first chorus where everything just goes crazy, we only had one chance to do that as well. It felt crazy to be standing there and just have people throwing all this shit at you. I couldn’t open my eyes!

What could you see when it was being filmed?
We filmed in this really grimy dungeon where apparently they film actual kidnapping scenes, somewhere in East London. I could see loads of damp, mould and people with cameras. Then all our friends, some people on the floor, some people at the sides, there was a guy was up behind the background with buckets of flour. It took 2 hours to clean up after, and that’s just the room! We went home with still everything on us. There was no shower at the location. I went home in a taxi because I didn’t want to get on the bus, my hair was glued to my head with flour and paint and it had all solidified. It was half green and half pink.

That’s a standard look for East London.
True! Have you ever seen Nathan Barley? It was a TV series about East London hipsters. There’s a haircut called Geek Pie. It’s like half a hair-do all green, we looked exactly like that. 

Do you have a specific art direction for the band or do you just take each song as it comes and go with a video that fits to each individual song?
They’re definitely more tailored to each song. For me anyway, the song is much more important than anything else. Even the thought of recording an album scares me a bit because I’m far more interested in a four minute long song. I don’t really wanna make it join onto another song before it or after it. We want it to be a collection of memories and we-wrote-this-song-in-this-moment as opposed to a concept album. 

Celia Archer
You put out a single with Flying Vinyl. What does vinyl mean to you?
I actually listen to loads of records, but they’re all in Holland. I tried to move there about a year ago and realised I couldn't because I have a band in London and I have to be here to rehearse, obviously. So I came back, but left most of my stuff there. It’s still there. It’s really annoying. But since then I have been moving regularly. Because it’s London. And it’s impossible to find a place to live that you can afford in London. Sorry,  a question about vinyl turned into me ranting about a place to live. I love vinyl a lot. I like that you can hold it, it always feels like when you put it on it becomes your main focus. 

Final question. What have you got planned in terms of releases? 
There will be an album. We’re gonna record it in the summer. I’m so excited to finally go and record it, it feels like we’ve been on tour for a year. We can go and spend some time making things sound really lovely. We won’t be re-recording singles I don’t think. It’s like having a baby. You can’t go back and change the way it looks or sounds. But yeah. We’re gonna do an album. I don’t know when it’ll be out, maybe towards the end of the year, or beginning of next year. We have signed a record deal though! So we are definitely doing it. Because we have to. We signed a contract. 

Words: Alex Cabré
Photos: Poppy Marriott