16th Annual Artist Survey: Moaning

Sean Solomon and Pascal Stevenson on 2018's Best Albums, Social Media, #MeToo, The Muppets, and Childhood Birthday Parties

Feb 05, 2019 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Sean Solomon and Pascal Stevenson of Moaning. The Los Angeles shoegazers/post-punk trio released their self-titled debut album back in March 2018 via Sub Pop.

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 9 Albums of 2018

Sean Solomon's picks:

1. The Breeders: All NerveIt's rare that a band gets back together and makes an album as good as their old ones. Kim Deal's voice will forever be perfect.

2. Jo Passed: Their PrimeJo Passed are our label mates and new friends. One of my favorite albums off of Sub Pop this year. Extremely creative and smart.

3. Preoccupation: New MaterialWe toured with Preoccupations a few times now and seeing these songs live every night was amazing. These guys are truly inspiring. I never get sick of this record.

4. Numb.er: GoodbyeNumb.er are a cool new post-punk band coming out of LA. They are all great people, which makes me like their music even more. Also, the singer Jeff [Fribourg] is an amazing graphic designer and does all the art for the band.

5. Death Valley Girls: Darkness RainsThe singer of Death Valley Girls is my roommate Bonnie [Bloomgarden]. She's the real deal and it's like living with Ozzy Osbourne. This album rips and it's one of Iggy Pop's favorites of the year too. The only authentic rock and roll in LA right now.

6. Landline: LandlineThis is my friend Zoe Zag's new band. She runs a store in Echo Park called Bad Dog. She has some of the best taste in music and is a punk rock encyclopedia. Her and a friend made all of these songs together while they were living in different cities. I wish more people knew about them!

Pascal Stevenson's picks:

1. Tirzah: DevotionMy friend Sasami showed me this record and I really love it. The vocal melodies on this album are great and the production is super interesting. Some of these songs are really sparse but super effective.

2. Yves Tumor: Safe in the Hands of LoveThis album feels like a sort of calculated chaos. It goes off the rails just enough to disarm you but doesn't feel like it loses itself in trying to be too "difficult."

3. Oneohtrix Point Never: Age OfThis album really feels like it's pushing MIDI to its limits. The slap bass sound, or whatever it is, on "The Station" really made me smile the first time I heard it. Plus the album cover rips.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Sean: I think an obvious highlight for me was when our record came out on Sub Pop. We got to tour all around Europe and the U.S. Those things were life long dreams of mine. They were amazing experiences. I had more of a spiritual low point when I realized I still was unhappy even though those goals were met. I think that's pretty common. People think their lives will be better once they accomplish something. It doesn't really work that way. Lately I've been focusing on personal accomplishments instead of public ones. I've been doing a lot better.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats' chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

Sean: There are some major wins for the Democrats that I was extremely excited about. I was proud that we took over the House. It still is sad to see so many people in America with such twisted values and morals. I hope the next election is reactionary and we have someone who is liberal make some long lasting change. I've heard people compare politics to a pendulum. We keep swinging in more and more drastic directions. I hope the next election reflects that and the president is the complete opposite of Trump. I'm really tired of seeing his ugly face.

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn't believe Ford's story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018?

Sean: The Kavanaugh thing is completely disgusting. It's no surprise when the president himself has sexually assaulted women. My only hope is that the media influences future generations to be better. I think it's great that the #MeToo movement is encouraging men to be accountable for their actions and question their behavior. I am concerned with the co-modification of the movement. It loses meaning when it's co-opted by a bunch of click-bait companies cashing in. I hope the #MeToo movement becomes more than an Internet hash tag and actually inspires people to change their behavior outside of saving face online.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things have gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

Sean: I think things are slowly getting better. I've seen festivals making an effort to evenly showcase both men and women. I think that is great. But there are still a bunch of problems. Men need to educate themselves and each other.

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

Sean: Great follow up question. Yes. I also have been flossing my teeth. It's very important. Otherwise you have gross food stuck in there.

Which Muppets character are you most like and why?

Sean: I haven't seen the Muppets in forever but I want to say Kermit the Frog. I remember him being sort of neurotic. I also remember a YouTube video where he is sad and covering an Elliott Smith song. Sounds like me.

Are you less of a fan of Kanye West now that he's visited the White House and has in other ways supported President Trump?

Sean: I really wish that Kanye would shut up and just make music. It makes sense that these two misogynist egomaniacs would get along.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

Sean: Our community needs to stop glamorizing drug abuse and mental illness. There isn't going to be another Kurt Cobain. Everyone just scrolls by the news and moves on. Tortured artists are cliché. I'd be more impressed with a musician who has figured out how to solve their problems and communicates that with their audience. It's depressing how many kids are getting face tattoos and taking xanax because of role models like Lil Peep. These people aren't martyrs. The music community needs to communicate, listen to each other, and be there for people who are struggling.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

Sean: I really don't think musicians are the problem here. We need people in power who care about humanity and not just themselves.

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses.

Sean: It sounds great. We can focus on art instead.

What's your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

Sean: I use to love the Wizard of Oz. My mom got a Tin Man impersonator to come to my party. I was really young. I thought it was actually him. I've always been a dork.

What's been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

Sean: Playing shows with The Breeders was pretty neat. Kim Deal was my first crush. I hope she doesn't read this.

When you die, do you think you're going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

Sean: I don't believe in that stuff but I imagine anyone playing in a rock band is probably going to the bad place.

Where do you stand on social media in 2018, is it uniting humanity or ruining the world? And which platform do you find most useful and which one do you think is doing the most harm?

Sean: Social media is voluntary market research and it's so bizarre to me that everyone embraces it. It's owned by giant corporations who want you to be addicted to it. It lights up and buzzes like a slot machine. It's sad that people think it matters at all. Being Instagram famous is the equivalent of being a scene kid on MySpace. I hope it goes out of trend soon. Also, if you see me posting on social media, remember it's only because I'm trying to brainwash you into buying my new album.

Which musician would you most like to write a diss track about you?

Sean: Father John Misty. What an idiot!

www.moaningmusic.com

www.moaning.bandcamp.com

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