It was early on a Monday morning when I plugged in my headphones to watch the music video for Moscow Metro’s single, “Spirit of a City”. The sun was rising over the lake just outside my office window, and a single hot air balloon drifted across the horizon, backed by the silhouette of the mountains. Despite the beauty of the spring morning, I was instantly struck by the realization that the song I was listening to would sound infinitely better just after midnight.
“Spirit of a City” highlights the dark yet strangely uplifting sound that is enhanced by feeling the wind through your hair as you careen down a darkened highway in your car. I was instantly hooked. Striking out to find the narrative behind their debut album, I was also delighted to hear the story of the band itself.
Moscow Metro’s own Sean Corcoran was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of my more pressing questions, including whether or not those of us in the U.S will be lucky enough to catch the band in concert.
1. When you met originally, were you looking to form a band or did it happen organically?
SC: It happened organically. I had been in bands before but wasn’t really looking to be in another. I had continued writing music though and myself and Barry met Dylan and we were all into what was being created so it went from there and after we had a few songs on demo, Holmes joined us. I read an interview once where someone said that music can be like a poison in the blood, that it can be always part of you whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, I think this makes sense to how Moscow Metro came together.
2. Tell me about the storage warehouse where you spent your formative years. Do you look back on it fondly, or are you glad to be out of there?
SC: We are back there again, that seemed to just happen organically as well. It’s where we started out, where we got our name from, so it makes sense to be back there. We seem write our best music there. We had left because it was extremely cold and we were all getting sick, the metal walls shook there when we played and then when we recorded ‘Spirit of a City’, those metal sounds created by the walls weren’t there, and it sounded great. We have carpet on the walls now and it helps with the cold in winter. These days we are on the same floor but in a different storage unit.
3. Your new EP explores some dark themes. Are any of the songs personal — that is, are they based on elements of your lives?
SC: Yeah they are all personal. I have said before that writing these songs is like a release. You can channel experiences into your music that you wouldn’t really talk about in your everyday life.
4. I see that you’ll be touring Ireland & Germany this year. How much territory are you aiming to cover?
SC: Yeah, the tour is starting in Germany and we are playing clubs and festivals in places like Berlin, Nuremburg, Dortmund and Mannheim and there is talk of some shows in Austria and France that aren’t confirmed yet, so yeah we will be covering some territory.
5. I’d love to see you in concert. Any plans to cross the pond at any point?
SC: Yeah, you will more than likely come across us.
6. How much input did you have on your music video for “Spirit of a City”? Were you instrumental in choosing the story line? Why is that poor girl bleeding?
SC: Yeah we were heavily involved in the concept and story board. We wanted imagery that connect with the opposing forces in the music, and a concept that was perpetual. So the girl dressed in white with the blood pouring over her is the visual contrast but she is not bleeding, the blood is coming from an unknown source. Its intentionally open to interpretation.
7. I’ve read that you were influenced by bands such as The Cure and The National. What about these two bands in particular appeals to you the most?
SC: Yeah that has been said about us, but it depends a lot on the listener’s frame of reference as regards to what influences they are hearing, as in, the average listener may hear the National because they are contemporary but someone with a wider knowledge of music may hear The Sound, The Chameleons, or My Bloody Valentine, someone said they could hear The Go Between’s once. I would say we are compared to The National because of baritone vocal style and The Cure musically, people have mentioned a hearing a disintegration vibe. This is our first e.p. so naturally you will be able to hear our influences while we are developing our own sound, but we didn’t chase a sound, or a style, at the end of the day, you have to do what you love, the music you create is internal, it’s influenced by everything that have identified with in your life. It’s not a clothes shop that you can walk in and take whatever clothes people say are in fashion, there are bands doing that and reviewers, who treat music like it’s a fashion. What really appeals to in particular us about The Cure and The National is the sheer volume of music they have created to arrive at what we now know as their signature sound. I have read Robert Smith talking about his obsession with the Cocteau Twins and how it influenced his writing, and Matt Beringers love for Leonard Cohen. Your influences are something you will transcend in time.
8. If you could play with any band — living or dead — who would you choose and why?
SC: I would say the The Specials or Dexys Midnight Runners, would have been an experience to play with such a melting pot of great musicians.
9. What are the most embarrassing songs on your MP3 players/phones?
SC: I don’t have an mp3 player. Every bands have some bad songs, that are just embarrassing, most bands I love have tracks I skip.I’ll give you some examples of bands I love instead of obvious stuff like Oreo Speedwagon or something. I love The Buzzcocks, great band, but they wrote some awful songs, ‘Orgasm Addict’ comes to mind, always found that song embarrassing to listen to, fair play to them. In saying that, by no means are they the worst culprits, The National ‘looking for astronauts’ or ‘A Reasonable Man’, I wonder what they were thinking. The Joy Division ‘Remains’ compilation has some stuff that understandably didn’t see the light of day on albums.
10. Last question, probably the most important: Marvel or DC?
SC: Moscow Metro would be DC.
Jack Stokes is the kind of music aficionado that insists on organizing his LPs by genre. His wife says he needs professional help – you know, the “men in white coats” kind. He writes on behalf of Zu Audio, manufacturers of high-quality hi-fi speakers.