From saxophones in subways to performing onstage, Moon Hooch slated to visit Columbus
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 11:02
Common associations with the word “band” might include guitars, drums or keyboards. One band set to come to Columbus, however, adds flavor to its sound with only saxophones and drums.
Moon Hooch is slated to perform Saturday at Newport Music Hall with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Moon Hooch consists of three graduates of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan. Saxophonists Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen and drummer James Muschler did not originally intend to form a band.
“We had no idea we would ever form a band together. We started playing to make money for rent,” Muschler said.
The name “Moon Hooch” came to be when a subway passenger asked for the band’s name, to which Wibur blurted out “Moon Juice.” To the members’ dismay, that name had been taken by multiple bands, so the synonym “Hooch” replaced “Juice.”
“We really like the double O’s in the name,” Muschler said.
The members of Moon Hooch draw inspiration for their own music from genres such as dubstep, jazz and swing. With their combination of such contrasting genres, it can be difficult to categorize their musical style.
“Mixing pop, which is known for using the newest technology, with different instruments that haven’t really been known for that genre is a very interesting dive,” said Jim Palmer, a fourth-year in landscape horticulture.
Muschler said they call it “Cave Music.”
“It is sort of house music but more jagged,” he said.
This sound, which resembles dubstep, is created when McGowen inserts a cardboard tube into his saxophone to create the warped bass sound dubstep is recognized for, according to the band’s website.
Some students said mixing these sounds isn’t easy.
“They’re bringing two opposing genres together, which is difficult because what tends to happen is it alienates the two groups instead of bringing them together,” said Oliver Pontius, a second-year in jazz studies.
After graduating high school, Pontius played in a jazz band himself prior to his education at Ohio State and praised Moon Hooch for its sound and technique.
“The drummer is really good at keeping time, he never misses a beat,” he said. “They are very electronic-sounding for two saxophones and a drumset.”
Moon Hooch made a name for itself when its songs began to stir up “subway raves.”
“Playing in subways is always a unique experience. You never know what to expect,” Muschler said. “The energy is very exotic, I mean, there is a wide diversity of people in New York City,”
Although the dance parties once became so out-of-control they were once banned from performing at the Bedford Ave. stop off the L line in Brooklyn, a subway show is where the band received its big break. Singer-songwriter Mike Dougherty heard them play in the subway and asked the three to go on tour with him in 2011.
But music isn’t the band’s only passion. Muschler said the group is also passionate about promoting positive solutions to problems in today’s society, including localized consumption and sustainable food industry.
“We like to contact businesses (associated with those issues) in each city we play in and let them sell their product at the venue as we play. After the show, we’d eat their vegetables while talking to fans to help promote the cause,” Muschler said.
Although Muschler isn’t from Columbus, he said the show hits close to home and he’s excited about it.
“We are excited to play in Columbus, and I’m originally from Cleveland,” he said. “Playing in a venue is going to be very different than playing in the subways. The crowd is larger and people tend to dance more. They sort of feed us energy as we play.”
Tickets are $18 in advance through Ticketmaster and $20 the day of the show.