When I ran into MOON DUO guitarist/vocalist, Erik “Ripley” Johnson backstage after the Pickathon Music Festival in 2016, he informed me that, by playing the fest, he and partner, Sanae Yamada, were somewhat diverting from the promise that they’d made to themselves to take a break for a while. Ripley originally made his name fronting the San Francisco‘s Wooden Shjips, but while wikipedia would still have you believe that MOON DUO is just a droned out “side project” of his other space-psych outfit, project with Yamada has clearly pushed its way to the forefront of his creative endeavors, after the pair moved to Portland, Oregon a handful of years ago. Once the new year came around that dedication to MOON DUO and to continue producing became more evident than ever. Along with pushing out Occult Architectures Volumes 1 and 2 — a pair of critically acclaimed full length studio LPs intended to operate as 2 separate sides of the same coin — they also embarked on multiple international tour dates, including a set at the Sacred Bones Records 10 year anniversary celebration accompanied onstage by filmmaker/musician, Jim Jarmusch (Down By Law, Ghostdog, Coffee And Cigarettes, etc.) But of all the things that I saw them do last year, my favorite was when they and their drummer got into a full on light saber battle with my then-5-year-old son, during a meet and greet at the Light In The Attic Records store here in Seattle. On top of being great musicians, they are actually incredibly genuine people.
This year is already starting off strong for the group, as they announce a brand new limited edition 12-inch that consists of a pair of covers. The last couple of years have brought us some tragic losses in the music world, including the 2016 passing of Alan Vega from the groundbreaking electronic proto-punk duo, SUICIDE. One might expect that Johnson and Yamada could have been influenced by an act like SUICIDE, but their choice to pull the opening track from Vega‘s self-titled 1980 solo debut is a welcomed surprise, as they put an infectious spin on their extended version of “Jukebox Babe.” Vega‘s passing was, of course, tragic, but he did make it to the age of 78 before drifting off in his sleep and, for the flip side of their new single, the Portland group chose to pay tribute to another septuagenarian, by covering “No Fun” by Iggy & The Stooges from their 1969 debut.
I first heard MOON DUO while working at a coffee shop, when a co-worker left his MP3 player on, after recently downloading their music the day before on suggestion of some music blog. At the time, it reminded me of Spacemen 3. Fittingly enough, for this 2-song cover album, former Spacemen 3 member, Pete “Sonic Boom” Kember, handles production.
The following statements come from the band, regarding this new release.
“We started playing ‘No Fun’ after BBC6 Radio asked us to record an Iggy song for his 70th birthday. We added it to our set to work it out for the session and kept playing it every night because everyone loves that song. We worked up a version of ‘Jukebox Babe’ because our sound engineer Larry got it stuck in his head and was singing it all the time. We figured, we may as well play it if we’re going to hear it all the time.”
“The Stooges and Iggy, and Suicide/Alan Vega/Martin Rev, are all huge influences on us. But we never want to do faithful covers of great songs, because what’s the point. So we tried to push both of the tracks in less obvious directions, incorporating other influences, like California psych and cosmic disco, giving them more of a summer vibe. We knew Sonic Boom was working outside of Lisbon, so we asked him to produce the tracks, recording them in August for maximal summer heat.”
MOON DUO‘s Jukebox Babe / No Fun 12″ is available for pre-order now in a limited edition one-time pressing of only 2,000 copies. A white vinyl edition exclusive to the Sacred Bones mailorder (pictured above) will be limited to only 300 copies and come with 20 x 20 poster of the cover art. Those interested in a digital version can grab that through the MOON DUO bandcamp page HERE.
MOON DUO TOUR DATES:
Jan. 26, 2018 – Dublin, IE @ Button Factory
Jan. 27, 2018 – Belfast, UK @ Black Box
Jan. 28, 2018 – Cork, IE @ Crane Lane
Jan. 30, 2018 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds
Jan. 31, 2018 – Edinburgh, UK @ La Belle Angele
Feb. 1, 2018 – Manchester, UK @ White Hotel
Feb. 2, 2018 – Liverpool, UK @ District
Feb. 3, 2018 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell
Feb. 4, 2018 – London, UK @ XOYO
Feb. 7, 2018 – Istanbul, TR @ Zorlu
Feb. 9, 2018 – Braga, PT @ Gnration
Feb. 10, 2018 – Coimbra, PT @ Salao Brazil
Feb. 11, 2018 – Leiria, PT @ Texas Bar
Feb. 12, 2018 – Lisbon, PT @ Musicbox