At its core, Moondog Matinee is unadulterated rock ’n’ roll.
Armed with swaggering guitar playing, a relentlessly driving rhythm section and ever-confident vocals, Moondog’s new album, “Carry
Me, Rosie,” is two parts musical powerhouse and one part time machine. “Rosie” unabashedly evokes the golden age of early ’70s rock,
but carries a sense of modernity that can only come from a band that keeps its eyes and ears open to new ideas.
The long awaited sophomore release was at the forefront of a very busy few months for Moondog, which teamed up with Reno Live for a series of engaging live videos, and also packed Reno’s Cargo twice for both an album release show and the filming of the PBS special, “Cargo Live at Whitney Peak Hotel.” Since then, the group has not stopped scheming and with rousing show at Tahoe’s new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on March 13, the band took the first step into its own bright future.
I recently caught up with bassist Adam Carpenter and guitarist Steve Widmer to discuss their new album, their influences and their plans for maintaining momentum.
“Carry Me, Rosie” is much dirtier than the band’s debut album, “Vacancy at the Wonder Lodge,” and Widmer was clear that it was, by no means, an accident.
“That was by design,” he said “For this album we fuckin’ set up in a barn and tracked everything live.”
Carpenter explained that their sound had also developed through years of playing live. They learned to feed off of the crowd and gain a
better understanding of what songs would work and what songs wouldn’t, noting that it was a goal of theirs to have “the album mirror the live show.” These factors played an integral role in having the finished product sound cohesive and focused, alive and uninhibited.
One listen to “Rosie” puts the listener on a clear path to the band’s influences and while Carpenter and Widmer were quick to mention Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, the duo also mentioned names that may come as a surprise to the group’s fan base. Widmer was especially candid when talking about how John Mayer, in addition to Jimi Hendrix, was a big source of inspiration.
“It sounds really stupid to say John Mayer, but I steal so much shit from him,” Widmer said. “I’m constantly ripping him off.”
Carpenter admitted his fandom of bassists include Flea and Victor Wooten. The list went on as they mentioned lead singer Pete Barnato’s affinity for Tom Waits and David Byrne followed by drummer Ben Ingle’s love of Jamiroquai and Kansas.
Throughout the conversation, it became apparent that although Moondog Matinee specializes in heavy rock and roll grit, it’s a musical awareness and open-mindedness that has made it the band it is today.
As it prepared for its show at Vinyl inside Lake Tahoe’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the band also took aim at some long-term goals. Carpenter said the band has been rapidly writing new material and that they need to release another album “fairly quickly” in order to capitalize on its recent success. The band is also in the process of booking multiple mini-tours throughout May and June and has a handful festival appearances in the works. With Summer fast approaching, Moondog Matinee is eager to move forward.
The band has been together more than five years and even as members get married and invest time in other endeavors, it shows no signs of slowing down.
“None of us really gave ourselves any backup plan,” Widmer said. “We don’t really have anything else to do. This is how I define myself.”
It’s clear that the members of Moondog have their sights aimed higher than local stardom, and with their visceral sound and do-or-die attitude there is little doubt that their goals are well within reach.
– Tahoe Onstage writer Spencer Kilpatrick graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in English. He fronts the local garage-soul group, Failure Machine, and can often be seen wandering aimlessly around downtown Reno.