Updated: 06/23/02

One look and listen to Moth, and it's hard to believe that this band has been toiling around LA and Cincinnati for over 10 years looking for a big break. These guys play with the passion and energy of a brand new unit. After three independent releases, Virgin Records gave Moth a chance to spread its musical wings, and they have not slowed up on their flight since. Their single I See Sound is beginning to see action on the radio and incessant touring has demonstrated their musical prowess to the masses. But who is this hard working band who goes by the simple name of Moth? Highwire Daze interviews vocalist/guitarist Brad Stenz to find out...

Highwire Daze: How long has Moth been together and what made you decide on that name for the band?

Brad Stenz: Moth has been around for about 10-11 years. And I think it was a real haphazard thing. It was our first gig, and the band we were opening up for - he called me and asked me what the name of the band was. I told him and he didn't like it and he said, "I'm not going to put it on my flyer." And then I said, "Oh, what about Moth?" So that was it.

HD: What was the name he didn't like?

Brad: Bug.

HD: You just changed from Bug to Moth. Okay. So what is the current scene like in Cincinnati?

Brad: I've been living in LA for about two years, but previous to that, it was just a small knit group of people. Over the years, a lot of friends who lived in Cincinnati wound up playing in Moth as well. They just come and go. It was just an understanding that it was just for fun. Bob, our guitar player, has been in the band the longest - ever since 94.

HD: Since you've been here in LA for two years, what do you think of the music scene out here?

Brad: I don't know, to tell you the truth. I really haven't made up my mind. Which bands do I really like the most - James Hall - I really like him - I think that he's awesome. There are a lot of great clubs and a lot of great sound systems. It seems like people are fans of music in general - they're critics but they're also fans.

HD: How did you wind up getting signed to Virgin Records?

Brad: It was our third record that we had put out that was independent. There were no independent labels or anything - we just did it out ourselves. We had been doing everything ourselves for that ten year period - booking our own tours and everything. Tony Berg, who was the A&R guy at Virgin at the time - he got a hold of the record - and I guess he liked what he heard and called me up. And that was it.

HD: Being around since 1989, what kept you from becoming discouraged after all that time?

Brad: I didn't have many choices. I made the decision way early on while I was in high school that this was what I wanted to do. And I dropped out of high school to pursue it. I put a three-piece punk band together and I was booking the tours. I was out there doing that whole circuit thing and I didn't have much of a choice. It was the one thing that I wanted to pursue in my life - it was the only thing that I wanted to do. I was so happy doing it - touring and sleeping on people's living room floors. I was having the time of my life. I never really got discouraged - sometimes I got confused but I never really got discouraged.

HD: Are people able to get these three previous releases?

Brad: Well, just get in touch with me, and maybe we can work something out.

HD: Okay. So how do you feel about these Weezer comparisons that people are beginning to make with your band?

Brad: I think it's completely uncalled for. There doesn't seem to be any basis on the comment. I understand it's everyone's need to compare and categorize things, but I think it's unsubstantiated. I think Weezer is a great band. I think Moth is a great band. That's the only similarity in my mind.

HD: The name of the new album is Provisions, Fiction And Gear. Where did you come up with that title and what importance do those three words have to you?

Brad: There are many different meanings to me. It came from a lyric from an old song of mine actually. Obviously I have my own personal interpretation of it. People have been telling me what their interpretations are, which is cool with me. Some people say it's like the modern metaphor for sex, drugs and rock and roll. Someone else said it's basically what you're going to need for a touring band - the essentials of a touring band really.

HD: I can see the provisions and the gear, but what about the fiction?

Brad: The fiction? You know, anything that you're going to take with you to keep you entertained. Like a big influence for me is Charles Bukowski.

HD: Where do you get some of the other ideas for the lyrics you write?

Brad: Everything is based on what happens to me - real life experiences, real people, real events. David Lynch is another huge influence. I love the way he makes me feel and the way all of his characters are portrayed - the moods and the heavy vibes. Everything like that is so cool. So it's basically those three things - Charles Bukowski, David Lynch, and my own day to day life.

HD: How did you connect with Atom of Rocket From The Crypt? Is he a permanent member of your band now?

Brad: Yeah, I consider him to be and I think he considers himself to be. He was actually coming to the studio while we were tracking. He was coming and hanging out and basically we just befriended each other. We made immediate plans that the first time we get free and wrap things up, we've got to get together and play. And we did. And you know it was funny - I use to hear bands talk about, "When we first met and got together, we knew…" and I always thought they were full of crap. And then that happened, and now I totally understand where they were coming from. From the first, we couldn't stop from smiling. We were really confident about it. It was the same with Ted as well. When he came in, it was the same thing all over again. Not only do they do the album justice, but they take it so far beyond that. I think what they put into it - their own personal musicianship - is very special. I think there's a huge chemistry there that can't be denied and it's awesome.

HD: What did Ted do in Hedwig And The Angry Inch?

Brad: Well, he did quite a few things. He played bass on the soundtrack for the movie. He was also involved in the stage performance of it, playing bass. And he was in the movie-playing guitar.

HD: On the recording on the album, it looked like you worked with some pretty cool people. Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle) and Tommy Stinson (ex-Replacements) and Sean Beavan who produced Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails. What was it like working with all of these people?

Brad: It was really cool. When I first met Sean Beavan, we talked for two days just about music in general. We really felt good from the get go. There was a person who understood what we were going for, and we understood what he wanted to capture on the record. It was almost like having another band member in the studio. I trusted his opinion so much. It was a collaborative effort. Like working with Tommy Stinson, that was an honor because he's a huge hero of mine. I almost forgot how to play the guitar - I looked over and there was Tommy Stinson playing bass on Moth songs and I was totally freaking out. And who can deny Josh Freese's talent? Josh is just amazing. It was a lot of fun.

HD: How did the tour with Finch go?

Brad: We're still on it. It's going well. A lot of young kids are coming out and they seem to get what we're doing. Finch is actually headlining this tour right now, so we're basically playing in front of strangers - and we're strangers to them as well. But I think it's going really well.

HD: Have you had any problems with your band being different from the others on the Finch bill?

Brad: I always like problems - because the more problems that we have with not fitting in, then we're doing something right.

HD: If Moth were invited to participate on a KISS tribute album, what song would you do?

Brad: 2000 Man - that's actually a good song - one of the few that I like. I'm not a big fan of KISS, but I think that song is a great song.

HD: What's up next for Moth?

Brad: I've been watching MTV2 every single day now because I heard they accepted our video. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for that - I want to see that. I think we're going to finish this tour - and then hopefully try to get a tour with maybe Remy Zero or White Stripes or somebody like that. But just stay out on the road for the remainder of the year and work the cycle of the record.

HD: Do you have any messages for people who have not heard of Moth yet and might want to check out your music?

Brad: I think that if they enjoy aggressive music that is not angry, and they want to sample what I call "nervous rock," then they'll definitely enjoy what we're doing.

Check out Provisions, Fiction and Gear by Moth, now available from Virgin Records!!!


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