Moniker | Good Bye Waste Land
Moniker's Good Bye Waste Land covers loss. I struggle with understanding loss, grief and managing the emotions that go with both more often than I like to admit. Loss is something unavoidable and yet the thought of it makes me feel like running away. I find comfort (and keep myself from sprinting toward the sunset) in other people's art. This record is another beautiful example of a person working through the grief process. I feel deeply thankful for all the people who feel brave enough to put their fears, thoughts and emotions in a public space. Good Bye Waste Land has been incredibly helpful to me. It doesn't just cover the loss of a person but an idea of a person, a time of life, a town, a feeling... a memory. As I work through these things for myself I listen to the words of Fallouts. I want to quote the entire song because S A M E. I especially love the line All my fallouts, are they all my fault? The lines that hold us together are falling apart. I must admit I found it easier to live with a little hate in my heart. Woah, right? That is just one of many powerful lines on this record.
I highly suggest reading the lyrics as you listen. You will feel everything.
You can come home expecting something like a parade—
Packed days, long nights, no fights, always with something to say—
But as before, evermore, everything was the same
So I just took a seat, no one new to meet
And nothing to be done
Jordan Scott - vocals | guitar | keys | songwriting
Austin Ruhf - guitar | vocals
Ro-Derrick Branch - bass | vocals
Christian Weber - drums
Moniker began right after college while living in New York, in 2015. I studied music in school in Virginia, and I started it as an outlet for a lot of the music I was working on in college and immediately after, to work on songs and albums and put them under one cohesive project. With some of my friends there we formed the first live version of Moniker, as well as the band that played on the second full Moniker album, MONiKER LP (the first, All Things Excellent, was mostly a self-recorded album). In 2016 I got a job teaching in France and decided to leave New York, having written Good Bye Waste Land and recorded the drums with the original drummer, Matt Shuham. I wrote a couple albums while in France and then returned to Virginia last fall to form a new lineup. I met up with Austin, a friend who I’ve known since 4th grade, and Ro and Christian joined the live group this year. We’re currently working on a new record and playing as many shows as we’re able
Bowie, Frank Ocean, Blur, Gorillaz, Kate Bush, Serge Gainsbourg, Caetano Veloso, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Beach Boys, Beatles, Prince, Julia Holter, Pulp, The Clash, Mitski, The National, The Who
We all went to the same college, in Virginia. Ro is from the DC suburbs and Christian from Philly suburbs. Austin and I are actually both from Lynchburg, VA. We all live in Richmond now, which is interesting because, while Virginia is very familiar to all of us, Richmond is pleasantly surprising and I think most of us feel pretty new here, in a good way. The scene is really vibrant here: the venues here are great and the bands are all really good (to a degree both inspiring and intimidating). I think supporting local art is extremely important, and living in Richmond has really taught me a lot about how healthy communities operate: there’s local radio, local media, and local labels all working to get good music out there, so it there’s a sort of palpable excitement around a lot of acts and shows in town. It’s a pretty cool place. A few great bands we know, from Richmond, to check out: Newscaster, Dad, Minor Poet.
I would also add that I think the internet creates scenes and communities as well, and those can be just as important, or even overlap with, local scenes.
Good Bye Waste Land
It’s called Good Bye Waste Land and was released in Sept 2017. It was written in Spring 2016, though, in a feverish burst lasting about a month and a half. One of my best friends from high school, who I hadn’t seen in years, died that spring and the record became my way to process it. I went back to my hometown briefly, and had the sense, while revisiting my old friends, that I no longer had a place there, I had failed my friend in some way, and that things had changed irrevocably and I had missed it, or had become such a different person as to not have a right to be there—the album was written from inside that moment, more or less, dealing with a lot of grief and shame, and trying to process a lot of regrets. I structured the album around the track “Going Home For A Funeral”, which addressed most directly what had happened. Each of the other songs ended up flowing from that same headspace, manifesting different aspects of the situation. To me, it’s not a record about a friend so much as it is about the thoughts and memories around them, as well the memories about one’s hometown, both the good and the bad.
I made the drum tracks first, while still in New York, and the rest I recorded by myself in Virginia, right before leaving for France. While making the album, I ended up revisiting the music that my friends and I grew up with and had shaped the way we saw the world—which, in suburban Virginia, meant rock music, either classic rock from the 60s/70s or 2000s indie rock. I decided to make the album reflect that, going for some of the looser feel and directness of that music, while trying to reflect a world steeped in the language of that music (it’s not essential, but for interested listeners there are quite a few lyrical quotations from older rock songs that pop up throughout the album). The album was mixed by Alan Weatherhead and I at Spacebomb Studios—Alan was great to work with and I felt like he knew what I was going for. Plus, in the studio he let me use an old mellotron with a bunch of great orchestral sounds to augment a several of the songs and really expand them sonically, which was great.
For this album specifically, a few music/lyrical touchstones were Aladdin Sane/Ziggy Stardust/Heroes by Bowie, Dark Side of the Moon/Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, Born to Run by Springsteen, The Who Sell Out/Quadrophenia, and Alligator by The National. Mostly classic rock records I grew up with, as well as things that dealt with mental illness and/or losing friends.
My friend R.E. Parrish did the cover art, you can find more of their work at reparrishcomics.com
I felt like it had the prettiest melodies, and I was able to indulge some of my inner Bowie-stan in a way that fit the lyrics of the song and the tone of the album. Also there's a reprise of a song from the movie "End Of Evangelion" that I really love, and felt like fit into the world of the album really well. Or “Sea-Shore”, because it has a conscious development in tone as it goes along, and I was able to augment that mood change with a bunch of orchestral instruments and go after a big sound.
The first line from “Sure-Seems”: “There’s no saving anything/but I still remember everything”, because I feel like I was able to sum up one of the album’s biggest themes in a concise way. Everything passes, but nothing ever completely disappears.
Whatever the listener feels about the record is accurate, I think. For me personally, I think of it as a dark record. It has the memory of teenage years and teenage emotions imprinted on it, but is also cognizant that those are only memories, and that things and people disappear from your life whether you’re ready or not.
We’re currently recording demos for the next couple projects, which will be a long EP with songs a bit like Good Bye Waste Land (plus an Austin-penned tune!) but recorded in a real studio, and then a longer concept album that will have a bit more of a pop/dance style going on.