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Stardate: Rock

Four reasons why Moon Tan are the retro-band of tomorrow, today


Music | by Chris Morin

Moon Tan
Thursday 25

High expectations are of little concern to Nicholas Kula. Kula, the drummer of Moon Tan — a Winnipeg trio that calls itself an “intergalactic space freak band” — knows his group’s audiences expect a grandiose rock show that blows away performances by lesser Earth-dwelling, guitar-plucking primates.

Kula isn’t worried about disappointing them.

Boasting guitar solos that shred like phasers through the hull of an errant space cruiser, Moon Tan’s live show doesn’t skimp on the elegance. Along with plenty of technical wizardry, the group also packs on the face paint and the leather pants.

It’s an out-of-this-world spectacle that has to be seen to be believed.

But Moon Tan weren’t exactly born a trio of interstellar warlords — the original plan was to be a cover band. And yet Kula, along with vocalist/bassist Adrian Dyer and guitarist Brady Mitchell, have launched a full-on rock crusade that takes cues from progressive funk and rock — right down to their volcano-hot pants.

Still unconvinced? If the mere idea of long-haired, stargazing, prog shredders isn’t enough to convince you — and it should be, but I’m saying if it isn’t — then here are Four Reasons (capitalized!) to love Moon Tan.

1 They Really, Really, Really Like Rush. Really.

Have you even listened to Rush? These Can-con kings of retro radio laid down a blueprint that has been studied by prog-rock disciples since the release of the group’s dystopian album, 2112.

They might never have better students than Moon Tan. After playing “Spirit Of Radio” live for years, the group eventually recorded a video of the song — something that’s since become a fan-favourite.

(In case you weren’t aware, nailing a Rush song is like winning a gold medal in some otherworldly Olympics event that hasn’t even been invented yet. So, yup.)

But it’s not just all about Geddy Lee worship, says Kula.

“I’ve always loved the music of another era,” says Kula. “The music of the ’70s and ’80s was what I grew up listening to. We aren’t trying to sound like that, necessarily; it’s just something in our musical lexicon and that’s what you get. We do have some contemporary influences.

“We just want to play the music we love,” he says.

2 They Have A Killer Album

Moon Tan’s latest album, New Age Renegade features six songs that sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers met Rush at that cantina in Star Wars — but with all the amps (and droids) cranked to 11.

Featuring pummeling drums and an aggressive bass style that anchors the rhythms, it’s perfect pub fare.

(The album art rocks too. A glowing, winged horse flying out of a cityscape that looks like Inception meets The Matrix? On point.)

But while the band has a bunch of songs ready, fans won’t see a new release until late 2017.

“We plan on hitting the studio in October and hope people dig the new stuff,” says Kula. “With each album we hope there are signs of something more progressive. There’s always going to be something that sounds like us, but we are always looking into something new.”

3 Moon Tan Are Snappy Dressers

It’s not just the music that takes you on a journey filled with lasers, warp drives, Venusian volcanoes and flesh-eating spiders from beyond the stars. Moon Tan are dressed for success. Also, space travel.

“When we started out as a group, we wanted to [take in] as many shows as possible — to make connections and see what else was happening in the local Winnipeg music scene,” says Kula. “When we got home, we would feel like some of the bands weren’t necessarily giving it their all. So we decided we wanted something that was a big presentation.”

When you see Moon Tan, you’re going to get that big something. Influenced by Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and Alice Cooper, a Moon Tan show is a happening and an experience.

“Especially nowadays with the Internet, it’s really easy to access the music,” says Kula. “But for anyone coming to the live show, we want to give them more than that — something you can’t get online. We want something that’s happening in the moment.”

That moment includes white and black leather pants, an accessory that tends to get moist during shows.

“I don’t use them as much anymore. They look pretty awesome but they’re a pain to play in,” Laughs Kula. “You have to be a slave for fashion sometimes.”

4 Get On Board This Cosmic Space Train Before It Takes Off

Having maintained a rigorous touring schedule for the past five years, Moon Tan look ready to blast off.

“The last time we played in Regina we had a really good-sized crowd come out and see us,” says Kula. “I think our reputation is building, and the audiences have been getting really crazy.”

It’s not just Moon Tan either, says the drummer. Across Canada there are similar pocket prog scenes popping up, with bands with similar aesthetics.

It’s a sound audiences are increasingly turning on to.

“We have people dressing up for our shows,” says Kula. “We did a show in Winnipeg and this guy had painted-up his whole body. He had all this crazy stuff all over his chest.

“I guess people are getting into the vibe of what we are doing. It reminds me of people going out to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and dressing up as those characters,” he says.

“I really hope that this becomes a thing.”

Transmission received. Make it so, Saskatchewan.