The Moonrakers I Mid Career Retrospective Cass.
Mid Career Retrospective
No Label (NZ)
"Is it just me? Am I becoming tired of music towards writing the end of this column, or has everything turned to shit? I mean, The Moonrakers are great if you enjoy listening to bands rehearse when half the members are stoned and railing against the injustice of the local bussing system and the other half are trying their damnedest to drown the whining fuckers out … but. There again (the writer shrugs, and tries to see the bright side of everything), the splendidly titled ‘Inferior Television/Superior Television’ sounds like that bonus Subway Sect track at the end of The Slits’ second (‘bootleg’) album – you know, the one without a title or cover – and, fuck, I love that bonus Subway Sect track at the end of The Slits’ second album. A righteous TORRENT of noise. They say, “rock garage rock new zealand rock rock and roll seafoam the moonrakers New Zealand.” I say, FUCK YEAH TURN UP THE MOTHERFUCKING VOLUME YOU MOTHERFUCKING MOONRAKERS. Particularly awesome is the stream-of-consciousness noise/rant"
"The whole project of The Moonrakers was/is basically a vehicle for me to deal with my anxieties by throwing it all at a wall and recording it, which is how I approach most of my practice anyway. It’s more interesting to make things and move on and not look back, which is precisely the approach Karl Lagerfeld took with clothes design -- he wasn’t interested in archiving or preciously preserving everything in some hyperfetished way. When people do this with their art it becomes boring. Like -- Moonrakers was what I was doing then, and we made most of the EPs and songs in one setting. Most of the lyrics are two liners which are sometimes perversley koan-like or just stupid or catchy. I wrote them like that as a kind of discipline, to limit myself to saying exactly what I wanted to say. I grew up worshiping Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and I still love them even though it’s unfashionable to do so, but writing lyrics which were two lines at most felt freeing, especially after writing so many awful, turgid and dense lyrics as a teen.
A good amount of Moonrakers lyrical material deals with feelings about gender and feelings about being trans and wanting to be pretty or cis-looking. A lot of the early press about Moonrakers missed this, and it’s not something I ever made super obvious, though the song titles are a dead giveaway -- “trashwhore panties!” is about cheap k-mart panties with leopard print mesh, the kind that die in the washing machine on the third wash, “(she’s got) power thighs” is about wanting to have thick thighs, “I wish I bleed (I don’t bleed)” is about wanting to have a period. I don’t like art which shoves it down your throat. I never felt a need to advertise what it was about or to “sell” the music on that basis. A lot of ‘queer’ musicians now explicitly advertise themselves on that basis, and there are festivals which are for queer musicians, but when most Moonrakers tracks were made (2012-17) that framework did not really exist yet. I can’t count the number of times I got called “dude” or someone compared me to Kurt Cobain for wearing a dress. I loathe words like “dude” and “man” and “buddy”, not because they’re gendered but because they’re so corny.
When I was younger I had a lot to do with fashion and most of my friends were well known fashion bloggers and I wore a uniform of jeans and t-shirt not because I wanted to but because I felt too ugly to wear anything else. Moonrakers was kind of like -- you can wear what you want and make things real with your words. I was living at my ex’s parent’s house, which had vintage Turkish rugs and bone handled knives and a vintage Italian coffee machine and Linn speakers and I loved listening to Nicki Minaj really loud when everyone was out of the house. Lines like “I'm Angelina, you Jennifer Come on, bitch, you see where Brad at” are killer. I was in another band (The Trendees) and interviewers always thought I was trolling when I said how much I loved Nicki. But it’s like, no -- she makes things real with her lyrics (“get on your knees/say pretty please”) and is unashamedly feminine-signifier obsessed. So is Moonrakers. Like -- people diss Phil Spector but they fail to remember that Spector’s music is so feminine. It’s about worshiping the feminine voice, the feminine phrase, the feminine exemplified. There were so many things about Moonrakers that played on 60s girl groups (The Ronettes, et al) like I would wear sparkly dresses at gigs and I painted my guitar seafoam and all the songs are short, in the pop idiom of Spector.
The Moonrakers exist only by the grace of Austen, who drummed on almost every track save “brat” and “judge” (a Casio keyboard served as the drum for those tracks) and “HUMANS” (a logic X drum, from memory). I love Austen. He was my drummer, one of my best friends, and my father in law. We don’t talk anymore. He drummed with me for Moonrakers, and my band before that, The Carpet Floor, and also in The Trendees. He can read my mind. There wasn’t really any thought in any of the tracks -- we didn’t stop and go OK, let’s try this riff. Playing with Austen renders some ineffable magic accessible. We spent a lot of time together, drinking coffee in the mornings, listening to music, driving in the Citron. Going into the garage and recording a few songs and then drinking more coffee.
“Jimmy’s gone to Prison” is about a sushi chef called Jimmy who fucked every waitress who worked for him -- once I walked past the shop and he was fucking a waitress on a table out front. And he went to prison. I don’t know if he did. He made good sushi. His wife divorced him.
“2 bit tiramisu” is about my friend who got very famous. The line “now you’re on the TV/and I’m on the shelf” is a reference to Fats Waller’s classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’”. She did get very famous, she was a bit of a shit for a while, now she is fine.
“Let’s go to video ezy” is about the last Video Ezy in Oamaru. We would often go there and get the five DVDs for a dollar each deal, and watch them curled up in front of the TV covered by an alpaca blanket drinking tea (who said “punk” isn’t bougie?)
The other thing I used to hate is people typifying the music as coming from “rural” “provincial” New Zealand. People love to fetishize this shit. When Trendees or Moonrakers would tour city folk would treat us like a kind of prize animal, or a particularly interesting freak show. It might surprise them to know that in the provinces we have internet and sex toys too. And even ketamine."
Pre-Trendees skronk excess from Eden Bradfield and Austen Mcmillan
Compiles almost all of the previously unreleased material from this infamous posse