Reality Check with KT: Michael Moeller goes out on his own with new release!
In April I was invited to play a show with local, country boy, Noah Smith. I really enjoyed the show and the energy of the crowd. Michael Moeller (who also plays in Noah’s band) opened the night with a really great set of acoustic tunes. I caught up with Michael to talk about his first solo album, which is being released, this Saturday, at The Southgate House Revival. Check it out, y’all!
I know you are currently in Noah Smith’s band, so this is your first release as a solo artist?
Yes, I have been a solo performer for some time, about 5 years. I started as a cover performer and over the last 2 years, slowly building into more of an artist performer. (The Beatles and The Stones did it, so why can’t I, right? Ha) It has been a really interesting growth for me because I feel like I am easily influenced by a particular artist or band I am listening to in the moment. Then I put a bit of that style or sound into my own music and writing, and repeat that process again with the next subject.
Have Noah and your other band mates been behind the solo project?
They have been amazingly supportive. I started in this band with it being the first band I have ever been a part of. I have sung and performed with other people before, but never as a solid position. After the first couple of trips with this group of guys, I realized I hit the jackpot in the band lotto. We are all very compassionate of one another and ready to jump in at a moment’s notice for each other.
Noah was a co-producer on this record, along with our keys player and multi-talented sound engineer Joe Dunlap, at Joe’s studio, “The Bongo Tree”. This was the very first time I stepped foot in a recording studio, so they had their work cut out for them. I had our electric guitar player, Matt Simpson, play on Almost Kentucky and Thoughts on Faith. We had a vision for these songs to be able to stand alone as a solo acoustic album before we even started adding any other instruments to the tracks. I think we achieved our goal and I am proud to offer this record to everyone.
What is the difference between being the supporting character and the main character musically?
To me, there are many big differences being a supporting character and being the main character on stage. First off, there are huge responsibilities to each role. As a supporter, I have to do everything I can to be unnoticed in a negative light, and do everything I can to "lift" the main character in a positive light. I have found when doing that, people start taking notice of you as an artist of your role on stage. In the band, we talk about Jason Aldean’s band a lot. And regardless of musical preference, each person in that band are so good at what they do, they are just as much a part of that show as Aldean is, without anyone even realizing that. As a main character, my perception is different because just up until recently, I have never had a band to support me and more importantly, my songs. I have always been a solo performer, so I had to make sure I was doing the “lifting” myself. I never have considered myself to be a “Main Character” as a solo act because there is no one else to be the adverse character. With the last couple of months, it has become challenging to me to have a band that is depending on me to be that main character. I am being held accountable for hitting the right chords and stops. I am putting trust in them that they know my songs, all the while, they are trusting me just as much. Not having any musical freedom is a little foreign. So for me, the different forms of accountability are the big differences.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
To start, there are so many people in my family that influence me on a personal level that have shaped me into who I am, and I am very fortunate to be able to say that I have that.
On a musical level, I could go on for days so I will give you a shortened version. Growing up, the first time I started really concentrating on lyrics, I was listening to Gordon Lightfoot. He has such a way of taking a simple subject and expressing every little detail and emotion about it, without it being mundane or tiring. He wrote a 9 minute song about a railroad in Canada, and you hold on to the song after the last chord. (At least I do!) I got to see him at the Taft about 10 years ago and it was him and his guitar. I had never seen that done, and it blew me away how that could be accomplished and done so gracefully.
I think I am engrained with rock and roll from car rides with my dad on Sunday mornings to the flea market listening to “Breakfast with The Beatles”. I think that is where I got my passion or, I’ll own up to it, snobbery about “B-Side” tracks. (I do enjoy The Stones also. I never get into that battle, EVER!)
I grew up in a time of Country Music where Garth Brooks, John Michael Montgomery, Alan Jackson, and Clint Black ruled the top 40 stations. So I have a very big influence from that era of country music that shines very bright in my songs, structure and lyrics.
As the last 5 years have gone by, I think everyone has such an amazing opportunity to find bands that are like soul mates, with dating sites like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, iHeart Radio. I was able to find mine. (And yes I know it is quite ironic to talk about those sites in an indie music article talking about a small artist record release…) My “Sonic Soulmates” are The Avett Brothers. I have borrowed a lot from them. They are what I was looking for. I lean a lot on their songwriting, every now and then for my writing, but more for the time when I’m not writing, but “studying”. I listen to as many interviews as I can, and as most Avett fans, I have seen them multiple times.
I have learned that me seeing them live multiple times, means I must have enjoyed the show, which means I dissected their show later and found things that I can add to my stage act, whether solo acoustic, or in my supporting role in Noah’s band.
Jason Isbell, Andrew Combs, Cory Branan and William Clark Green are my most recent inspirations, all for self-explanatory reasons once you listen to them. (Yes, that is a challenge to the readers)
What can people expect at the release show on Saturday?
I have been a part of a couple of record release shows before. I look at this night as a way for me to give back to my supporters, my friends, and, most of all, my family. I see Saturday as an opportunity to celebrate and thank everyone else that has been a part of this journey so far. I don’t want it to just be another show that I am bugging people to buy a ticket for, or drive an hour just to watch me sing my songs. I want to personally give them an event that they can remember every time they come across my EP in their binder of CD’s or scroll past my name in their iPod.
For the my family, my Kickstarter Backers (which this record would not be available without) and the fans attending the release, we are going to have a BBQ dinner that is provided by “Landmark Ministries BBQ that Rocks” out of Batavia, Ohio. I would like to stress that the BBQ will be available with a donation, but all are welcome to make it out for a nice community gathering as the doors open at 7:30PM.
If I could make sure that everyone could take away two things from my release night, they would be the fact that The Carolines, Noah Smith, and myself provided a night of lights out music. And secondly, the fact that this whole game we play, as musicians, artists and fans, is all about fellowship and community. Without that, we don’t have anything to do on September 6th. To finish up, I want to thank you for the interview, it was a blast digging deep. I will leave with a quote of John Lennon that I hope that somewhere within my inspirations I fall. “One’s originality comes from your inability to emulate your influences.”