Biography / Info
Moon Dial Bio April 2015
Discussing music theory with Moon Dial's vocalist/guitarist Jon Atkins might begin at the beginning - with construction, chord progression, and 1's, 4's, and 5's - but soon technicalities give way to superlatives and the transcendental ride music takes you on if you have the ears and the soul to hear it. Moon Dial's three piece, stripped-down guitar pop is straightforward yet rich and complex, owing in large part to the individual proficiencies that Atkins, drummer Garrett Croxon, and bassist Jeff Anderson bring to the mix. Sometimes components surge and spasm, other times retreating into a soulful hush, fusing familiar elements in unexpected combinations. Moon Dial's twists and turns inspire the listener to pay attention, feeling the way the road changes while listening intently to every word.
Atkins is adept at conjuring a scene on Moon Dial's debut EP; flashes of boyhood and memory move into suggestively darker territory but quickly move on, the ghosts of fathers, mothers, lovers and the past eclipsed by flashes of beauty and joy. If there's a message at all, it's the wildness of feelings and the gorgeous release found in letting go. "Observing it is letting go," explains Atkins.
Atkins grew up in various parts of Southern California, digging enthusiastically into musical influences from The Beatles to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness era Smashing Pumpkins, drawn in by the sound and lyrics but also captivated by the little drawings and phrases in the triple album's inner sleeve (when inner sleeves were solitary places a young listener could indulge in dreaming for hours on end). "I wanted to model my whole life after that", Atkins recalls. From there he immersed himself in his parents' Jane's Addiction records and early 90s classics, giving way to Beck, Radiohead, and then backwards into David Bowie and Neil Young. The richness and depth of music was endless.
Transplanting to Seattle, Atkins rented a practice space on a whim before he even had a band together, eventually meeting Jeff Anderson and later, Garrett Croxon, both accomplished musicians who had played together in previous projects. The trio clicked, ideas flowed quickly - and an energetically collaborative sound took shape. "Ninety percent of what I do is chords and lyrics. I don't really understand melody at all, it's a mystery to me. At practice you focus on mechanics and singing," Atkins says, "Live, you let it all go and go to that place. I love doing that, I become almost meditative in the midst of a song. I mean if I'm humble enough to do it correctly, it’s really almost like asking the song to sing itself, to go to that place."
Keeping the concept of 'honest expression' in mind, the band has recently taken to occasional jazz breaks during rehearsal to clear the air. When trying out John Coltrane for the first time, Atkins says he felt lost. "You can't start there, a friend told me," Atkins remembers. "And when he said that, then I was really intrigued. I thought jazz must be big, and deep, and layered...and so I started listening to Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Duke Ellington. It floored me. When I heard "Prelude to a Kiss" while riding the bus one day I thought what the fuck is he doing? If all I ever did was study what he was doing, forever, I would have a long, healthy, and happy musical life."
Moon Dial's debut EP was released in December 2014, their LP was released December 2016 and is available on Bandcamp.