Even before this pesky pandemic struck, I didn’t get out much, which is my primary excuse for not having heard of Swedish four-piece Moon Coven before they signed to Ripple Music. I picked up their third album Slumber Wood to review out of curiosity and was totally blown away by the avalanche of awesome stoner-doom riffage contained therein. It’s unusual to come across an album in such a crowded genre that sounds completely fresh and delivers such quality tunes from start to finish. How had Moon Coven managed to pass me by for so long? Fortunately, the band agreed to answer some questions for the Shaman to fill in the many gaps in my knowledge.
Hello there and thanks for agreeing to an interview. For the uninitiated (myself included) could you give us an idea of how you guys came to form Moon Coven?
We met through school. Before Moon Coven some of us played together in a couple of death metal and hardcore bands. After a while, when we grew up, we wanted to do something else and something closer to our musical roots. So we formed Moon Coven sometime during 2012.
What would you say your main musical influences were (and are)?
Our sound is influenced by the 70s rock era, 60s psychedelia and obviously 90s stoner. With bands like Dead Meadow, Black Sabbath, early Pink Floyd, Fuzz, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Black Angels, Acid King, Sleep and many others.
We put the pedantic approach to the side and tried out new sounds and scales…
How would you describe how the band has evolved musically over your three albums?
When we recorded the first album, we just wanted to play something very lo-fi, slow and repetitive. None of us really listened to stoner or doom that much. It was a reaction to all the insanely fast and difficult things we tried to play in our bands before that. We recorded everything ourselves with shitty equipment in our shitty rehearsal room. I like the record; I think it’s rough and real.
We evolved when we moved to Malmö and started to write songs for our next album Moon Coven. We had a clear picture of how the record should sound like. Everything was recorded in a professional studio, and we made sure not to choose a metal producer since we wanted to keep the organic feel to the production. In the writing process we were very pedantic about everything, ditched songs and rewrote riffs a lot.
When starting writing songs for a new album we always have a different approach. With Slumber Wood everything went fast (even though it took us five or six years to release it). When we wrote the songs, we just did whatever we felt like during the time. We put the pedantic approach to the side and tried out new sounds and scales. If Moon Coven were more psychedelic, bluesy and stonerish Slumber Wood turned out be more dark and doom sounding. During this time, I think we came to the conclusion that it’s more important to let the creativity decide what to do.
The first thing that struck me with Slumber Wood was the sheer quantity of amazing riffs on display. What’s the band’s song-writing process? Did you do things differently this time around?
Thanks for the nice words! We put a lot of effort into making riffs. Our goal is to make melodies that’s not too complicated and that sticks to your head. We also try to do combinations of tunes in the melodies that sounds kind of fresh. I don’t know if we succeeded but we try our best. Also, on this album we didn’t just go for minor or blues scales, we tried out other scales as well. The guitars are really loud in the mix so you can really hear the riffs.
When we write songs we picture a whole album, not just the songs for themselves. All the songs should make a good complement and add something to the album. It almost always begins with the riff or the drum grove. After that we add solos, ambient parts and vocals. If the song lacks dynamics we try to make room for that as well.
On each record, we always try to make a song that sticks out…
Slumber Wood is such a consistently strong album that it’s hard to pick a favourite. At a push though I’d go for Bahgsu Nag, which I felt was a bit different from the rest of the record. Could you tell us some more about it?
When we listen to heavy music, we want it heavy, but we also want it to have just a little bit of something else to keep up the interest. On each record, we always try to make a song that sticks out. Amanita Kingdom has We Were Conquerors, the Moon Coven album has The Third Eye and Slumber Wood has Bahgsu Nag. This time we wanted to do something that we had not tried before. It’s influenced by the psychedelic 60s era with oriental vibes. Bahgsu Nag is a waterfall we found somewhere in the wild in India on a long journey we did together.
Moon Coven seem like such a good fit on Ripple Music (whom I strongly suspect of trying to monopolise heavy rock by signing all the good bands). How did you guys hook up?
We wanted to find a good record label so we emailed Todd at Ripple Music. Thankfully he knew of us from before and wanted to sign us. It was a really good fit for us as they helped out with a lot of things and we had a great flow working together. He’s just such a driven and awesome guy and I bet he will monopolise heavy rock some day – haha.
How has the pandemic affected the band? Have you got any plans to tour the new record when restrictions ease?
We haven’t played live yet to promote the album. We wanted to have a big release party but that will have to wait a while. Once the restrictions ease our plan is to play live as much as we can. Also, because of the pandemic, we got time to start writing on a new album.
What can we expect from Moon Coven in the future?
We’ll just keep making music that we enjoy and keep playing together. Maybe another record in 2022 or 2023?
Once the restrictions ease our plan is to play live as much as we can…
The sheer volume of quality bands coming out of Sweden never ceases to amaze me. Are there any bands local to you we should keep an eye out for?
There are a lot of good bands from Skåne. There are of course Alastor (which you already know of), Hedda Hatar from Lund, Suma, Ormarr and Den Der Hale from Malmö, The Dahmers from Kristianstad, Guenna from Hässleholm are some of my picks.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Are there any words of wisdom that you’d like to leave us with?
I just want to throw out a big thank you to all who support us and listen to our music. As long as it means something to them, we will continue making music.
Moon Coven‘s current album Slumber Wood is out now via Ripple Music.
Interviewed by: Liam Blanc