All in the family
BY: DALE JOHNSO
Some things are better kept in the family. Private secrets about a first crush, (remember Amy who lived at the corner house?) embarrassing moments, (peeing the bed until first grade, anyone?) and baby pictures in Spider-Man undies are best restricted to those who you share your surname with, but for the Wardell family of Huntington Beach, something new has been added to that all in the family list: a blues infused indie rock band. Three brothers, lead vocalist and guitarist Patrick (a current freshman at CSULB), drummer Brian and vocalist and bassist Sean along with friend and guitarist Scott Zschomler make up Moostache.
Think the Jonas Brothers without the Jonas part and Hanson without the "MMMbop" part, actually Moostache doesn't really sound like either of those brotherly pop "bands." Though young, the boys of Moostache have more of a classic rock feel than Top 40, drawing from bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones that, surprise, the boys were fed a steady diet of from a young age thanks to their parents.
"We came from musical families and we kind of just grew up doing it," says Sean, sitting slouched down low on a couch in the DIG office.
Take those classic rock influences from mom and pops and spice in some more modern acts like The Kinks, Pavement, The Walkmen and top with some hints of Wilco and now you really have something growing (like a Mus- er, Moostace,) in to a sound that the band describes as "bluesy-indie rock."
The band began playing together quite a few years earlier under the Moostache name, a name that seems to beg for a humorous origin, "I'm working on a story that I can make up and use," says Patrick of the band's moniker. But in reality, the then pre-teen Patrick created the name on a whim before a show at a dingy local sports bar.
"We always wanted to get around to changing the name," recalled Sean. "But it got to a certain point where we couldn't, but then everybody decided they liked the name."
Though the boys were playing together, apparently on the crappy local sports bar circuit, it wasn't until Sept. 2008 when the band started to get serious, and headed in to the studio to record their first album, "The Body Disagrees," though the process didn't come without hiccups and frustration.
"We ended up tracking a lot of the CD and deciding it didn't sound like we wanted it to," says Zschomler of the recording process for their first disc. "So we scrapped all of the guitar takes and some of the vocals and ended up redoing it. We wanted more of a live, raw feel."
Tracks like the album's closer "Children's Minds," and band favorites "Sisters," "Windows," and "Commons" greatly benefited from this more raw and live feel, but the band was still dissatisfied. So much so, that after the wrapping of the recording of "The Body Disagrees," Moostache almost immediately returned to the studio, new tracks in hand, to record an acoustic album, appropriately titled "Acoustache"
"By the time we finished recording that ["The Body Disagrees"]," says Patrick. "We didn't play any of those live and we didn't like that while we would play live, we would pass out a CD that didn't have anything we were playing on it, so we made the acoustic EP."
The EP is filled with infectious songs, especially the first track "Hands of Steel," (see the video above for an exclusive acoustic performance by the band) with its building and driving acoustic guitars and dual vocal harmonization by Patrick and Zschomler, perfectly blending soaring vocals and beautiful stripped down pieces, making the most of the acoustic atmosphere, along with adding in soft tambourine and other accents in the background to give the song considerable depth.
Lyrically, the EP is a major step forward for Moostache as well.
"When you live with everybody you're writing the lyrics for," says Patrick. "Especially my dad who's really into it and always looking at stuff, I can't really write any provocative lyrics or anything because he'll just read them and be like 'Oh. what's wrong?' But for that album I kind of just said screw it, I'll write what I want."
And while most of the "Acoustache EP" was lyrically based upon the time of Patrick graduating from high school, he has a whole new set of emotions and stories to tell as he begins college at Cal State Long Beach as a biology major.
With the completion of their latest EP, Moostache are continuing to write, and despite the acoustic sound of their current disc, they aren't moving toward a stripped down side.
"Right now we are moving toward a more danceable sound," says Patrick. "I don't like how going to shows has sort of evolved in to people just standing there and watching, where as it used to be the band was there to play so people could dance and have fun, now its less about them having fun than it is the band having fun and I don't really understand that."
Moostache have already played locally with bands like Portugal. The Man, but the boys are looking to expand their fan base with a summer tour that is already in the works. In the meantime, Moosatche will continue to play locally, for the first time at the House of Blues in Anaheim on Dec. 11 with The Living Suns and Feb. 3 at OC local music hot spot Chain Reaction.
Future plans for the band include the aforementioned summer tour, along with yet another return to the studio when time and funds permit for Moostache to record again and be able to record in a way that will completely satisfy them.
And after that, who knows? Not the band, and they like it that way.
"I'm just excited to see where it goes," says Zschomler. "I just want to keep playing, and be able to play live shows, and then maybe eventually do it for a living, that would be awesome." "I plan on writing songs forever and this will always be the best way to play them," continues Patrick. "Who knows about the future, but if we were ever doing like bigger shows every night, I would for sure let dad come on stage, it would be hilarious."
That might be taking the all in the family mantra a bit too far.