For lovers of Americana and alt-country, let us introduce you to Sean McMahon & The MoonMen.
You’ve just released your new album “Shiner”. Did you approach the recording process differently compared to previous albums? Yes, the last album was all acoustic and totally live with practically no overdubs, where as this time there was a lot more time spent on production. We recorded live as a three piece over one night and a day and I took that away and spent months adding and subtracting, trying this and trying that. The pedal steel of Ben Franz features quite heavily throughout the record and this was added on top of that original session. In the case of track 2 ‘Broken Hill’, once the steel was added and I was mixing, listening to just drums bass and steel hearing how it sat I decided to delete the original guitar track and do something entirely different because that steel part really shifted the song and i heard it in a whole new light and i was into that.
Speaking of the album, if you had to pick one song that best represents you – what would it be? That’s hard to say, but i picked ‘Broken Hill’ and ‘House Of Mirrors’ as singles so thats saying something I guess. They’re the songs that were sent out to represent the record. ‘House Of Mirrors’ is probably my favourite of the two.
When did “The MoonMen” join the band? And how have they influenced your music and live performance? The MoonMen has been the name I’ve had for this project for a while. I’d been playing these songs at a few sparse gigs and rehearsals but with different players. The session that made the base for the record was actually the first time Mick, Josh and myself ever played the material together! The three of us however played together for years in Downills Home, except with Mick on lead guitar instead of bass. Josh and I grew up playing together so we’re tight, we know each others groove really well.
Can you share with us some of your favourite Melbourne acts? Every time I’ve seen Big Smoke I’ve been blown away. I play in a band called Jemma and the Clifton Hillbillies as well and our bass player Call just launched a record with Tyrannamen. It’s an ace record and apparently they killed it at Golden Plains. I love Goatpiss Gasoline for some good juke joint greasy blues and Lost Ragas are awesome.
And Melbourne venues? I saw Tweedy at the Recital Centre the other night and that was amazing. The Croxton’s a great room. I’m looking forward to playing at Bella Union, I love that hall but haven’t played there yet. As far as bars go I love the Gem, the Labour in Vain, Some Velvet Morning, the Retreat, the list goes on.
I’m interested to know what you were listening to growing up? Was your family musically inclined? I only got a few picks from my folks collection. A great double LP of the Byrds and a cassette of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and they’re still two of my favourite albums. It’s pretty easy to hear how much those two albums have influenced me. I used my dad’s acoustic guitar for the record, the one I learned my first chords on. I remember dfalling in love with ‘Workingman’s Dead’ when I was 16 or 17 and thinking all my friends will hate this, it’s too country, too hillbilly or something. I still loved jamming Dead Kennedy’s songs with my mates though.
What does the remainder of the year hold for you? I just want to get this new album out to as many ears as I can. We’ll keep gigging, a bit of touring is being planned and then I’m heading to the US in September. I’m looking forward to getting back to writing more too
Shiner is out now through MGM. The band launch the album on Saturday April 16th at the Bella Union with Luke Brennan (Big Smoke) and St Jude. Tickets here.