Interview with Matt McCraken (Guitars) of China Moon and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
Matt: We are an indie/alt rock power trio from Manchester! We have John on vocals, Matt on Guitars and Ellie on Drums.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
M: China Moon began when me and Ellie met on a dating app called Bumble. We had our first date in a practice and room and things just blossomed from there! A lot of our peers think its pretty cute that we’re in a band together and from my perspective it’s amazing having someone to share a hobby with. Me and Ellie share a lot of influences and interests so it made sense to make a band. We found John on an app for musicians called Vampr and loved the idea of having his more pop vocal style go against the heavier guitars and drums. As soon as we had the first rehearsal with John we knew it was meant to be and after having gone through several bassists and keyboard players we collectively decided to just stay as a power trio.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
M: Muse, Rage Against The Machine, Radiohead, Oceansize, Between the Buried and Me to name a small number. I can’t speak for the others but we’re quite diverse in terms of our influences, I tend to live on the heavier side of things though! I also listen to a lot of alternative hip hop acts like JPEGMAFIA, clipping, Tyler the Creator and Injury Reserve. Basically anything that’s dark, progressive and has interesting sound design.
For non-musical influences I read and watch a lot of sci-fi and my search for spacious, otherworldly sounds and love of tech must stem from that. I’m a big tech geek and I love messing around with soft synths and VSTs to incorporate weird sounds and crazy noises into my music.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
M: As a band we primarily want to write and record music. I feel earlier in my music career it was all about ‘making it’ but the music industry has changed so much since then the goal posts have been shifted significantly. I’m happy writing and recording songs and watching them all come together. My ultimate dream is to one day have my own studio and spend all day making music, if I can achieve that I’ll be very happy!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
M: Our songs are a collaborative effort that usually start with me and Ellie jamming riffs and beats. We’ll then bring our ideas to John for him to put his lyrics over and spend some time chopping and changing things until we’re all happy. Saying that sometimes inspiration strikes when we’re all together in the practice room, which was the case with our new single ‘Forget’. I started playing a chord progression I’d been working on, Ellie came in with the drums and John just started singing and the rest is history as they say.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
M: We promote across all the usual Social Media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Our YouTube channel does really well, although obviously of late we’ve not been able to play any shows! Here’s hoping for a fresh start in the new year and in the meantime I’ll shamelessly plug our socials @chinamoonmusic 😀
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
M: I used to be a serial downloader of music. I grew up not having much money in the pre-Spotify days and it was the only way I could listen to new music. On the rare occasions like birthdays and Christmas when money was more abundant I would buy the music I really enjoyed. Reading liner notes and seeing all the effort and personnel that goes into making a professionally recorded album was always interesting to me. I used to love seeing little tidbits from the bands in there as well, something you don’t get nowadays.
I pay for Spotify and it makes me extremely happy to have pretty much every song ever made just a search away. I use it every day without fail! But that is juxtaposed with the fact that I myself make very little from my music. On the one hand I have a platform to put all of my creations to the world but on the other hand it’s very difficult for a band to make a living from it. I do feel Spotfiy/iTunes etc. could put more money in the artists pocket and still make a profit, but I doubt that’ll change in the age of the shareholder.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
M: There’s so many! It’s like asking who’s your favourite band. Off the top of my head I’d say No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age. It’s groovy, heavy, a bit indie, catchy, it’s got a killer guitar solo and fantastic drumming. It’s become such an influential song that you know straight away what it is from the first chord. There’s plenty more songs I wish I’d written though!
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
M: I’m primarily the band’s driver and I can get quite frustrated on the road. I absolutely hate it when people don’t go when the lights are green because they’re looking at their phones. Not only are they holding me up on the way to the show but they’re breaking the law as well it’s infuriating!
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
M: Again there’s so many! Learning to play the fifteen minute prog-metal epic White Walls by Between the Buried and Me, the first time I nailed sweep picking on guitar, writing my first solo album, playing drums at a show and holding it down was amazing! As a guitarist getting compliments on my guitar tone always gives me a sense of pride. More recently China Moon sold out The Castle in Manchester in our first headline show and that was an amazing feeling, to see the room full was incredible.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
M: We have a single releasing on December 4th called ‘Forget’. We’re all really happy with it and feel it’s our strongest offering yet. It was recorded at the amazing Blueprint Studios in Manchester by Tim Thomas and it was an incredible experience. We also shot a music video for it which we all star in, that was crazy and slightly intimidating! The video has some seriously creepy vibes it came out better than I ever could have imagined!
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
M: You can buy all of our music here – https://chinamoon.bandcamp.com/ and of course find us on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google, YouTube, etc.