To begin, rarely does an act catch your ear the way Moostache does. Hard to classify, their sound seems to come from American folk rock roots comparable to the likes of the Shins mixed with Fastball-esque pop influences, with notes of British rock influence sewn throughout. The band has a distinct sound which can’t be pigeon-holed into any one genre due to their constant experimenting with transformations of style and their utilization of an abundance of musical tricks. Complete with one of the most impressive ranges on a lead vocalist this critic has seen in the local scene, a tight rhythm section, a mastery of harmonies and seamless transitions, Moostache is a band to be reckoned with in and out of the local scene; their most recent release, and first full length album, Anything, Alone represents this fact without dispute.
On Anything, Alone Moostache takes the listener by surprise from the get go. In their opening track, “Guarded Place,” the band throws so much at the audience in the quick three and a half minute number that by the time it’s over you’re left in need of a cigarette and a glass of water. To explain, what begins as a pleasant lullaby-like introduction quickly transitions to a blistering, mind numbing rock number, which showcases the incredible skill of lead vocalist and front man, Patrick Wardell. Wardell effortlessly delivers the ‘what should be female-ranged’ vocal parts, as he takes the song from 10 to 11. Another key notable feature in “Guarded Place,” which is also a Moostache staple throughout the album, is their ability to transition effortlessly through different sections of their songs. For instance, their ability to nonchalantly slide from the wailing rock portions in the verses into a driving, yet lighter, harmony-based refrain happens, seemingly, with little struggle and no loss of momentum.
“Guarded Place” is a perfect indicator of what direction the rest of the album is headed. Listeners should expect a surprise around every corner. Just when you think you can expect something, the opposite occurs. This idea of expecting the unexpected derives from the wide array of styles withheld by the band; not only can they rock your ear with catchy hooks and rhythm, but they can also break it down with equal potency. On one hand they deliver cradle rocking, head bob inducing, introspective numbers with poignant meanings and strong hooks like “EOS” and, the title track, “Anything, Alone” (also my favorite on the album). Both songs, though lacking in tempo in comparison to their harder or louder counterparts on the album, do not lack momentum, meaning, hooks, or layers. In fact, the instrumentation and layering of parts on these songs make them the most listenable and most universally themed with ideas of heartache, insecurity, and finding one’s place in the world.
I’ll let the lyrics, like these from “EOS,” speak for themselves: “Well I can’t find a reason to believe in me. And if I need a reason then why should she?”
I was given a chance to sit down with lead singer and frontman Patrick Wardell to discuss the album and the band in general. What I learned is, what started years ago as a realization of the Von Trapp musically-inclined family dream, is now known to the world as Moostache. The band is composed of 3 brothers, Patrick, Sean, and Brian, plus a fourth non-Wardell, Ryan Radcliff, guitarist of Honeypie. We talked about the 2-month conception of Anything, Alone, what they have been up to, and their recent tour with the currently blowing up band, AWOLnation.
MIP: How do you like playing with your brothers?
PW: I enjoy it thoroughly! It’s a lot more honest. There are no real barriers, we just do what we want.
MIP: You played together while growing up?
PW: Yeah, we’ve always jammed within our family. Play covers and stuff. We’ve been in different bands together.
MIP: So, are your parents musically inclined?
PW: Yeah, my dad taught us all. He plays everything mediocre-ly. He is a jack of all trades, but no master of anything.
(As mentioned before, one of Moostache’s notable features is Patrick’s vocal range. His range is on the same level of Mars Volta and At the Drive-In front man, Cedric Bixler-Zavala; a compliment I don’t mindlessly throw around, mind you. I asked Patrick how he came to realize the true potential of his great power, which he wields with great responsibility).
PW: During puberty I noticed a disconnect where I had to have technique in order to get to where I wanted to be. So I struggled with that for a few years because I had bad habits that didn’t affect me in the past, but now that I had a truer voice it did affect me. I took some lessons and worked at it a lot.
MIP: So I heard you guys recently finished a tour with AWOLnation! How did that go?
PW: It was really fun! We hit Seattle, Eugene, Chico and Sacramento. They have a great fan base and they were really into it.
MIP: How did you land that gig?
PW: We share management with them. AWOLnation was the first band and we were the second they picked up. We were recording an EP with these guys and Aaron was recording the first AWOL EP at the same time and that was how we met.
MIP: AWOLnation is doing amazing right now; you guys must have played to some huge crowds.
PW: The first night we played to 2,200. It’s funny because an audience that big cheers for everything. I usually take my shoes off during our set, so at these shows I would take my shoes off in front of this huge crowd and everyone would cheer and go nuts. They were easy to please.
MIP: So they seemed to receive you guys pretty well?
PW: Oh yeah, they were a great crowd, and seemed to like what we did.
MIP: I love the new album. I think it’s apparent that you guys put a lot of work into it.
PW: I really like the album. I am really critical on the stuff we make but I am actually happy with this one. It feels good for a change. I can listen to it and not feel ashamed.
MIP: What are you most proud of on the album?
PW: For me I really like all of the lyrics. I like how they flow. I feel like I wrote a lot better songs, lyrically, than I have in the past.
MIP: 2 months is pretty quick to get a full length out there; I assume there weren’t any snags?
PW: The whole process was smooth. After Brian and Sean laid down bass and drums, I went in there a lot. Since we don’t do any writing in the studio it was just a matter of getting the right take. The finalizing of everything was probably the most tedious and longest part.
MIP: Plans for future?
PW: We are looking to expand to LA in the summer, with a few shows in Santa Ana and probably the Detroit Bar. I would like to jump on a tour in the fall. Going to go and bug our managers about it!
The success Moostache has received thus far has been from hard work, time and a passion for song writing and music. If Moostache is any indicator for what the Wardells are capable of, it is clear that the group is meant for great things in the future. Being that Anything, Alone is the bands first full length, second total, album reveals that they have an immense amount of potential. They nailed a very universal sound with substantial meanings and musical mastery sewn throughout and I strongly doubt they’ll stop there. I for one, look forward to what Moostache will be doing next, and though I don’t know what it will look or sound like, I am sure it will be unpredictable, substantial, and unique; but, more than anything else, I can guarantee it will sound like music I would want to take my shoes off to.
Good work Moostache; looking forward to the future.