Smile Politely

That’s No Moon strikes back

That’s No Moon makes its triumphant return to Champaign this Saturday at Mike  Molly’s for an out of this world album debut. (Well, maybe.)

Nearly three years since their latest release, the band of self-proclaimed nerds have spent the time putting together their most complexly layered project to date. The album, Hyperion, mixes the old and new ways of music production while giving life to a galactic odyssey that skims all along the spectrum of human emotion. I had a chance to speak with Kyle Prillaman, drummer for That’s No Moon, about the band’s approach on songwriting and studio time.

This recent one here, we were really ambitious on it. We went all out! It’s a concept album, so we really put everything into it. It’s really produced, probably way more than anything you’ll hear coming out of our area.

What struck me first while giving the new work a listen was the dramatic increase in production quality. The layers of each song are sharply executed and blended to perfection. Prillaman explained to me how mixing together different methods of audio recording helped achieve the album’s unique sound.

We stayed at the studio for like two weeks when we originally tracked the thing. We actually tracked guitar, bass, and drums to tape. Then we transferred that to Logic Pro to record everything else. So the album has a more unique sound because it’s analog and digital all combined.

The digital aspect of the music is there, but the use of synths and samples never overpowers or interferes with the raw instruments. Rather, those two aspects work together to enhance the overall experience and allow the lyrical aspect of the concept album to come through and paint a detailed picture in the listeners mind. A pop-punk sound isn’t something you’d typically expect to find in an album with science fiction themes, but That’s No Moon seamlessly pulls it off. The instrumentation and pacing of the songs makes the listener feel as though they are gliding among the stars, which is exactly what is happening to the characters in the story of the album. Prillman provided me with a paragraph, written by his bandmate Ben Wilson, which encapsulates the story within the songs and is a telling snapshot of the minds behind the music:

The album is about a group of people being forced to deal with their fragile humanity and trying to save the human race while fleeing from a dying planet earth. The journey takes them to the far reaches of the solar system which also forces them to deal with the extreme conditions of deep space exploration. It’s pretty fucking stupid. We hope you like it.

A sci-fi narrative seems like an odd creative approach for an album, but as Prillaman explained, the process felt all too natural.

We grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek. It’s definitely something that works its way in. That’s the fun stuff to write about. Other bands write about losing girlfriends, which is awesome I love that too. This new album, it’s about people deciding to leave earth and go into space because it’s become too fucked up to live on. Along with that comes the same feelings of losing your loved ones and things like that. It incorporates those same types of concepts in this larger theme.

Expressing feelings of loss and sadness is not a new concept in music, but tapping into that emotion through the context of humans on a mission into deep space is, and Prillaman made it clear that it was no easy task.

Some people have asked us why it took so long to complete the record. The point we want to get across is that’s because we were really ambitious with this and we wanted to get exactly what we wanted out of it. We’re just really stoked to be done with it. We really hope everyone likes it.

The hours spent recording and mixing were done with a very clear vision in mind. The album never strays far from its central concept and each song manages to convey a powerful message without sacrificing the merit of the tunes themselves.  The band knew what they wanted, went for it, and as you’ll see this Saturday night, definitely pulled it off.

Check out That’s No Moon’s album release show tomorrow night with Rusalka, Daukis, and Cassius at Mike ‘N Molly’s.

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