There is a part of me that is a sucker for a good folk tune. There’s just a feeling I get when I hear a good folk tune…it energizes me as if it’s a good ol’ fashioned rock song.
This feeling came over me the first time I listened to Mahoney & The Moment, a band straight out of New York City. With an incredibly strong and unique sound, Mahoney & The Moment instantly became a band I shared with my friends…I couldn’t stop listening to their debut album (set for release this week).
Fortunately, I had the chance to sit down with Steve and Emily and chat about their music and new album.
Mahoney & The Moment…What’s the story behind this name?
Steve: When I first met Emily, I referred to her as ‘The Moment,’ so it’s in keeping with that vibe, it’s basically our last names together (Steve Mahoney & Emily Moment).
Your biography says that you play “melodic progressive folk music.” What makes your folk music “progressive” over other folk tunes?
Emily: I don’t actually think we are…
Steve: I used to be in a band with a friend back in London and he always described our music that way to people who hadn’t heard it.. to be honest I think it just sounds good in a bio! However, I do think it’s progressive in a way in that we’re trying to forge traditionally British pop melodies with North American roots structures…so kind of like if you imagine a mix of Paul McCartney with Neil Young.
September 9th marks the release of your debut album. Here’s a loaded question: What went on in the making of this album?
Emily: We had quite a lot of songs for this album, but what we ended up choosing were the kind of ‘Greatest Hits’ songs, which was sort of a joke when we were discussing it because it’s our debut.
Steve: It’s basically the songs we do in a gig…almost even in the order of the songs, it’s the ones that go over well live.
Where did you record? Who did you work with?
Emily: I think it’s fair to say we had a bit of a bumpy road with the album; we wanted to pay homage to both London and New York…a lot of the songs were written in London…and we ended up going to a couple of different studios.
Steve: We basically knew exactly how we wanted to record it, which was almost completely live, but not all producers are comfortable with that so we had to cancel a session.
Emily: We only had a couple of days left in London and in the end we got a last minute day in Wendyhouse Productions, which is a great studio where Adele recorded recently…I also got to play a Rhodes organ that Stevie Wonder played on his last album.
Steve: Wendyhouse was also near enough on the same street as where I wrote a few of the songs like ‘Roadtrip’ and ‘Chelsea Fling’ so that was a weird fitting.
Emily: Then we did 3 days here in New York at Saltlands Studio in Brooklyn. We worked with Jim Smith, who recorded some of Josh Ritter’s album, the studio lent itself really well to how we wanted to make the album.
Steve: Those sessions went really well and we got some musician friends in to play with us, adding mandolin, fiddle, and banjo, which was great to hear.
How long has Mahoney & The Moment been making music?
Steve: We both did solo albums last year just after we met that we each contributed to.
Emily: We have been performing together for over a year.
Steve: But we decided to become a joint act with a band name at the beginning of 2011.
You say you love city life. There’s no better city than New York. What sort of inspiration do you find here?
Steve: It was a sort of immediate inspiration, a lot of these songs were written very shortly after I started living here. It’s a hugely cinematic place, some songs like ‘Manhattan Girl Again’ are just descriptive of what you see out on the street; the lyrics come quite easy…we’ve even got the subway on this album!
Where else do you find inspiration? What artists do you draw from?
Steve: From a performance perspective, Springsteen is a huge influence for me. He gives it everything and really puts on a show Also Josh Ritter…people that have fun onstage and make it enjoyable for the audience. This album is influenced by the songwriting of Neil Young and Ryan Adams, simple folk songs about relationships. It’s an album about love and travelling.
Emily: I’ve spent a lot of time on the ‘Anti-folk’ scene in New York, so Laura Marling and Wakey Wakey are big influences.
What can fans expect from your live show?
Emily: People usually laugh quite a lot, onstage and off…it’s also very spontaneous, songs can change, the set list isn’t usually written in stone.
Steve: It’s a fun, entertaining gig…we embrace the audience. The songs are pretty much recorded live so it’s not an amazing departure musically, it’s got the same energy…sometimes we play just two of us with a variety of instruments, but we’re getting more into performing with a full band which is what we’ll be doing the next few shows.
Do you have a favorite venue in New York?
Emily: Rockwood Music Hall is our favorite place to watch a gig.
Steve: Sidewalk Cafe as well, which is lucky as that’s where we’re doing the release show!
The new album drops September 9th…What else is on the horizon for Mahoney & The Moment?
Emily: Oh man…
Steve: Live Aid III…
Steve: We’re going to the West Coast; we have a couple of gigs in LA then we’re going to playing in Portland and Seattle, then we have some more New York gigs in October…we also have another album we want to do in October.
Emily: In October we plan to START another album.
Steve: We’re going to have it out for Christmas with a Christmas song on it…it’s going to be even more fun!