Recently, I got the opportunity to talk to Landon McGee, one of our past musicians in residence, on his new project, Moonbeamer.
In the past, your main focus was on your solo career, what made you want to start this new collaborative band?
There’s some really good stuff about playing by yourself, mainly the flexibility. I was able to change the plan during live shows based on the crowd and I loved the intimacy of that. The flip side is that it can be really lonely and ultimately limited my creativity. I was looking to start this project for one main reason: the need for community. Music can only go so far when it is alone. The guys in Moonbeamer have different skills sets, have played in different bands, and bringing more people together has been helpful. It has made me rethink and brought out new sounds that I haven’t explored. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I made this shift, I wanted to explore new sounds that I couldn’t do alone.
Have there been any difficulties in adjusting to a new band?
It’s been a fun experience, but there has been stuff I didn’t anticipate. I have written everything up to this point for the band but teaching the songs to the other guys has been hard. Especially teaching on keyboard or drums since I don’t play them. Also, it’s been a fun process to get help to write parts that I would have never thought of. I will have written a folk song and Matt, on the drums, will come back with a samba beat that I would have never put with the song. It pushes everyone to go out of musical comfort zones. Chandler has been my main collaborator and in contrast to me, is a creative writer. I write conventionally, think about boxes and structure. This way of doing it can be bad because I can get stuck and do not have as wide of a range because I am working in lines already established. Chandler’s approach is to be vulnerable and let the music flow. We just jam together and play the music we have written. We help each other with unfinished songs or songs that just aren’t great. Sometimes I feel I missing a spark of unfettered creativity, while Chandler can find musical moments out of thin air.
As a band we have chemistry and that’s exciting because we’ve only just started.
Where did the name Moonbeamer come from?
It’s a secret.
What are your inspirations for both the sound and lyrics you write?
As a songwriter, music and lyrics come from a patchwork of places depending on what I am writing. When I am thinking about lyrics, I am usually writing about something I can connect emotionally to so I can get a center for the song.
As for the sound, we’re going for country/rock/folk vibe. We wanted to take a time machine back to a time when the genres could coexist, like The Eagles or Neil Young.
What are you most excited/nervous about performing for the first time as Moonbeamer at the Stafford?
Nervous since the first time playing the music for a paying audience, but not really worried. I am pumped to get the first run through done. It’ll be fun.
Do you have a date for the release of the album yet?
We are still tracking more songs in the studio, and about to have another round of writing. Currently undecided as what we want the final sound to be so we are still messing around with songs.
Come check out Landon and the rest of the guys in Moonbeamer on August 19th at the Stafford! Doors are at 7 PM and tickets are $10 online and $12 at the door.