Interview: The Moods
Having recently released their new album ‘Missing Peace’ we got the chance to catch up with Phil, Mark and Dave from Manchester hip-hop band, The Moods
There’s 10 of you in total isn’t there? Why do you have so many people?
Different elements for different parts of music really.
It’s for the live experience, we’re all about live. We make music and you can record stuff, but for us, it’s about getting out there and playing it live and when you’ve got musicians on the stage who can play it all, it looks good and it sounds fantastic.
In terms of practising and creative writing, do you all meet up or is it some of you here and some of you there?
It’s different each time really. Sometimes it can be 10 of us in the room with a certain amount of songs and then we throw different elements on. Sometimes it can start with a couple of us, it depends.
We all just bring our own little bits and bobs to the band room and see where we end up with it. But we obviously use messengers and Dropbox and stuff so we can all drop a beat in there then someone will but a bit of violin over it for example, or put a bit of a rap down, then we throw it all together and do it live.
How do you think then, obviously there’s the communication, but how do you think today’s technology has helped you as a band compared to if you were doing this 50 years ago?
Massively. It’s so easy now to record music now compared to how it used to. With digital now, it’s quicker in analogue so we get down tunes pretty quick and the expense has come down over the years.
Personally, I’m just getting used to coming off pen and paper and that’s only happened to me in the past 6 months.
It’s nice to have a physical copy though sometimes.
Yeah, it is. A friend of ours did all the lyrics to ‘Keep Your Powder Dry’, one of our songs on the album, and he put on Facebook this morning that he’s found them under his bed. And that was probably about 3 years ago them lyrics.. probably more.
So when it comes to using the studio, do you use studio sounds and modifications or is it all instrumental and how does that translate to your live performances?
It’s a bit of both. Like, we could start of digital and use some sounds off the synthesiser but you end up adding band elements anyway.
That’s why we added trumpets and violins and stuff in, for the live experience. You can sample everything all you want, but you still need that live acoustic. Computers are great, but it just ends up too computerised and lifeless.
We try to keep it as real as possible.
So you’re very much a live performing band, you’re about the experience and all-round vibe of it?
Yeah exactly, and we find we travelled all up and down the country last year, we’re going to do it again this year, but from Scotland all the way down to London we had crowds. Imperial College London rammed out, 6 to 8 hundred people and we’re lucky to be able to write music that lifts the room. The vibe in there was just crazy we love it, we just go off the crowd and put on a show.
I guess with Dj’s and bands, there’s a very different experience and you’re very much into the live aspect. Do you feel like there’s a competition nowadays? Because it’s becoming a lot more popular.
Not at all, because at the end of the day everyone brings their own art to the stage don’t they. If you can get that crowd to move then you’re doing a good job.
Like if you’re entertaining, you can juggle chainsaws can’t you, while they’re on fire and people enjoy it
That’d make a sick show, maybe you should add that in
So when you’re out there doing a show, the 10 of us absolutely love what we do and I think we are a party ourselves on stage.
I think our lyrics make us stand out as well because they’re so poignant.
So you definitely hit realism
Definitely, the lyrics are so important. The music’s got to be there but secondary the lyrics. That’s what sticks with you, with those great albums it is the music that grabs you, but the lyrics stay with you forever.
Definitely, I mean politics and social/economic situations have always had a big influence on lyrics. But I kind of feel rap went through a stage of being all about drugs, chicks, parties all kinds of stuff like that. Whereas now, it really goe big into politics, big into backgrounds…
Well, it started off that way, and then the 90’s destroyed it.
Rap and hip-hop were definitely about social injustice and stuff like that. People were writing about this stuff and they were being downtrodden. But that is very much our thing, the social injustice of the world. But we wrote about that before we wrote hip-hop tunes. Like we had the same ethos.
I think you’re right with the hip-hop thing, like in the 90’s. We are trying our hardest to stay away from all this women and bling and stuff. Like 1 it’s boring and second it’s old and people are still doing it and getting away with it.
It’s not what rap was is it, it’s not what it was about, it’s about to educate. We try and educate with our words as well at the same time, that’s how hip hop should be really. We want people to think for themselves.
So there is quite a lot of you.. Where do all your influences come from?
Mainly mine (Phil) is hip-hop like Public Enemy and all that. Then I got into all the gangster stuff when I was younger and Eminem and Kendrick Lamar he speaks me to. there’s load like Brother Ali, Tech N9ne, I could sit here all day and reel them off.
There’s so many of us, but I come from the Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin Jimi Hendrix type place when I grew up. The Smiths as well for me like the Manchester scene.
Yeah, I think everyone in Manchester now is dead into the music, there’s a very big creative scene. So it’s nice to see how everyone’s come together a bit more in all these different places where maybe it wasn’t before.
Yeah, I think the music should be fresh, that’s where we started. The music should be as fresh as all these new buildings and bars.
When did you guys start up?
Well, it started years and years ago but this essence now is from about 2014 basically, from when we built the studio and started inviting rappers. Like having our own studio is great, because you can invite musicians down to jam with you and then they turn up again because you’ve given them a base. So the people we got on with ended up in the band, it just worked like magic.
There was 5 of us originally but them we wanted to experiment musically, change things around. So we changed the music and brought people in that we thought might have worked, and more or less every single one of them clicked with each other.
You’re quite a hard band to pin down when I’ve been listening to your music and you were in our ‘To Watch 2018’. So when I was listening to that, you’ve got a load of reggae, you’ve got pop, you’ve got dance, dub, hip-hop. How do you fit all of these in?
It’s because of the number of people in the band like no one person writes a song everyone adds something different. So it’s just all those elements isn’t it really. It’s as long as we all like it basically.
It’s about the album, not the songs, it’s all become a one song world. We want it to stick with you as a piece of work and grow on you and give it to your kids. We had a record signing in Manchester and there were about 11 6-10-year-olds at the front singing ‘Live free or die by the rules’. We aim to educate adults, but I love the thought of children in school turning round to their teachers when they’ve told them something which is ridiculous and say “live free or die by the rules!” Because even though you’ve got the big powers there, sometimes they need telling, ‘no I’m listening and I know what yous are up to’.
For me personally, the reason I’m into lyrics and writing stuff that means something to me is Pink Floyd when I listened to it as a kid. Some of the lyrics on that “kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown waiting for something or someone to show you the way”. My aim is to inspire kids who think there’s nothing out there, to get up and go. The world is beautiful, it’s magical and amazing.
I also think with the rise of technology and people who are just head down on their phones, it’s very easy to be brainwashed into one way of thinking. So with music, as you say it’s written to educate, and it’s so important or the younger generation to be listening to this kind of music and rap and listen to how people are kind of made and their way of thinking and to break out of that to be a bit more creative
I think we’re all important. Each individual in the world is an important person and they need to believe in themselves. It’s so easy today to be ground down by the rules and the system and it’s your own individual spirit that I believe the education system tried to break down and just sends you into work, just to be happy. You know, paint pictures, make a band in your spare time, break out!
That’s what the album screams. Even the name you know, ‘Missing Peace’, it’s political and positive.
We had a gig to release it (Missing Peace) and we’ve done a full tour to push that an like I said before people have loved it. It’s been received so well, the socialist star picked it as their album of the year.
In terms of 2018, brand new year what have you got lined up for us?
We’ve got almost half of a tour sorted, starting off in Blackpool in February 9th at Waterloo. Then the 16th & 17th February in Glasgow and Edinburgh and we’re doing our own fest at the Breadshed, Moodsfest, and that’s in May. And there are talks of going to Isle of Man and Ireland.
The only place I want to play to Montego Bay in Jamaica. I went to a festival there once, it was amazing, out of this world. Like you know how big they have the sound systems with all the reggae music and stuff. That’s where we need to be, in the sun, because I think our music would go down.
There’s a film coming out with Michelle Keegan, we’ve written the soundtrack for it. It’s a Manchester based film, it’s all based around Salford. It looks like a good film, our music’s all over it.
Where do you see yourself going in the future, sound wise?
Anywhere and everywhere really. Just build on what we’ve got and nothing is out of bounds.
It’s the big dream of creating something that lives on after your death, a legacy. And I want our music to become the new sound that came out of Manchester. That might be dreaming big but if you don’t dream big why not? I want us to be known as in the future as, when you think of Manchester you think of The Moods.
So at MCR Live, we’re very much about supporting upcoming talent. Who do you have your eye on at the minute?
Bobby Enzo’s pretty sick, the rapper. Reminisce and Grim. Yoko Pwno and The Girobabies, for me the lyrical content for them is a bit like Frank Zappa. Like he’d write about everything and anything and nothing was off limits.
It’s been lovely speak to you guys, thanks for coming in.
For the full interview with The Moods, check out the audio below.