New York’s “progressive, aggressive” Rock fusion Moon Tooth continue their odyssey through sonic realms with a sophomore album ‘Crux’, released via Modern Static Records earlier this year. We talk to vocalist John Carbone and guitarist Nick Lee about the band’s epic new chapter, which sees them chomping at the bit and hurtling towards their destiny at the speed of light…
When and how did you form and how did you get the name Moon Tooth?
[Nick] Our drummer Ray and I have been playing music together since we were thirteen. Our first band (Exemption) released three albums together and did some regional touring over the course of seven years. When that band broke up we immediately began working on what came to be Moon Tooth. I had known (bassist) Vincent Romanelli through the local scene here on Long Island and (vocalist) John was playing drums for another band I was in called Rice Cultivation Society. I knew he could sing his ass off and he was passionate about being the guy for the job. It was only a few months later that we were gigging and recording our first EP, ‘Freaks’.
The band name was just the one that stuck out of a long list of names. I always thought it accurately described the sound we were looking for: grandiose and mysterious, otherworldly and aggressive!
How would you describe your sound and vibe to those as yet unfamiliar with your music?
[John] Ferocious, wild, heavy, soulful, poetic, fun, Rock ‘n’ Roll!
[Nick] John summed it up nicely. We used to say “aggressive progressive” but that’s starting to not fit as well… Soul Metal? Haha!
You released your sophomore album, ‘Crux’, on 29th March of this year – what is the album about?
[John] Being at the cross point of the life you’re trying to end and the life you’re trying to begin. Particularly dealing with the hardships of such a journey.
[Nick] Yes, it’s like looking down two paths… Do you take the easier road that might yield some things you WANT out of life, or do you take the treacherous road because therein lies the things you NEED to live as your true self?
How do you think you stand out from other bands in your genre?
[John] While you can hear Metal, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Prog and the Blues, you can’t quite pin us down to any one thing. Like the greats that came before us, you can hear our influences but we’re pouring our own strange magic into this to make something you won’t find anywhere else.
[Nick] Yeah, we very much strive to make our own sound and our own musical vocabulary. We have toured with Prog fusion bands and we have toured with Death Metal bands. We have something for every kind of listener. We do not limit ourselves in what we write or play. The sky is truly the limit with Moon Tooth.
What is the Rock and Metal scene like in New York right now?
[Nick] Incredible! You have venues like Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn or Amityville Music Hall on Long Island that are bringing in world class bands to these smaller, up-close-and-personal type rooms and they are sharing those rooms with a thriving local and underground scene. On Long Island alone you have bands like Johnny Booth, Cryptodira, and of course Car Bomb originally hails from here. Brooklyn has bands like Netherlands & Husbandry pushing the artistic palette of “Metal”… You constantly have these intense, hard-working, trailblazing bands around you in NY. It is very inspiring!
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
[John] A recent highlight was playing to a sold out crowd at Irving Plaza, NYC. We’ve all attended shows there growing up. After dreaming about playing those bigger stages for years, to finally be up there was overwhelmingly surreal. We’ve sacrificed a lot to pursue this, all the while people around you are worrying about when you’re gonna hang it up and get a “real job”. So walking out to cheers of over a thousand people was incredibly vindicating – and it’s fuel to chase even bigger stages.
[Nick] Yeah that was a huge one. That whole ‘Animals As Leaders/The Contortionist’ tour was a massive highlight. Also getting to not only tour with Mark Morton of Lamb of God but actually work on our music with him and get his input while staying at his house was a tremendous experience for me. Ray and I were learning LOG songs in high school and jamming the riffs together when we were 16 and there we were ten years later debating how many times the main riff should go around in a Moon Tooth song with him!
What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and into 2020?
[Nick] We are doing a short headlining run with our friends in Cryptodira & Johnny Booth supporting at the end of October in the Northeast US. We have a longer tour in December I cannot reveal yet and we have some other big news coming in the next couple of weeks! We are already demoing out ideas for the next album and writing, writing, writing… Hopefully we will be in the studio around Spring of 2020 recording the follow-up to ‘Crux’ if all goes as planned!
If you could tour with any band, who would it be and why?
[Nick] I mean, Metallica would be pretty sick right? Haha… I’ve always really wanted to tour with Mastodon. They are a huge influence on Moon Tooth and I have looked up to them as musicians and artists ever since Remission. Brent is still one of my top favourite guitar players. Also, for me I would love to tour with the Melvins because they’re legends obviously, but also just so I can watch them every night! I’m sure King Buzzo has a lot of wisdom to share…
[John] There’s a bunch, but to name one, Coheed and Cambria, because they’ve been heroes of mine since I was a teenager. First and foremost, I love their music and though they’ve shown that they can make a great album without it, the fictional concept is amazing (I was an insufferable nerd about it in high school). There’s definitely a musical bridge between us and them, plus I naturally feel a kinship to fellow New Yorkers as they are.
In which country, town/city and venue would you most like to play?
[John] When I close my eyes, I see a packed house from the stage of Madison Square Garden. No one knows how their life is going to pan out but I know one thing: nothing’s going to stop us from getting to that fucking stage! Aside from that, I want to play everywhere. One of the most amazing things about all this is that it’s taken me to places I never thought I’d go, showing me things I never thought I’d see. I live for that adventure. Oh and also the ancient amphitheatre in Pompeii that Pink Floyd played in. Fuck yeah, let’s do that!
[Nick] I want Moon Tooth to play everywhere! With other bands I have been all over Europe and Japan. I want that for Moon Tooth but I would also love the opportunity to play South Africa, India, China, and those types of places that are harder to get to just to play Rock and Roll…
What’s “The Dream”?
[John] “The dream” for me is making this my career. I don’t care about making money, but the goal is to have this financially sustain us so we can wholly devote ourselves to it and ideally support a family someday. Though ironically, this may be the very thing that prevents me from ever making a family of my own, hah!
[Nick] I want to be able to provide and support a comfortable life for myself and my loved ones, based on the work I put into the art and music I care about. If I can do that while seeing the world and creating meaningful music with my best friends then I’ll never get old!
Stream the new album’s first single ‘Trust’ here:
Watch the official music video for ‘Omega Days’ here:
Moon Tooth are:
John Carbone – Vocals
Nick Lee – Guitar/Vocals
Vincent Romanelli – Bass
Ray Marte – Drums/Vocals
WORDS: ANNE ESTELLA
PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTHONY BARONE