Me and the Major - Moonlight Fanclub EP

Owain Paciuszko 21/09/2008

Rating: 3/5

Currently based in Cardiff Me and the Major began as The Strange Ones back in the seaside town of Aberystwyth. I was at that University at the time and have thusly been witness to the development of this 'student band' as their contemporaries have either remained behind or fallen by the wayside.

The only difference to the line-up is drummer Matt Goodling. They are a quartet with Adam Robbins on vocals and guitar, Sam King on guitar and vocals, Jamie Keir on bass and the aforementioned sticksmith. They produce spiky, jangly indie-pop tunes than hang off of catchy riffs, confident playing and really well written lyrics.

How did you get into music? (Both as a listener and creator of!) Was it something that was always around you, or that you were drawn to independently?

Me and the Major: I think we all felt like we didn't like most of the music on the radio, and then discovered that there were people who felt the same and made music that was more interesting. It sort of crept in gradually - you discover a band like Oasis or Radiohead, and then from there you look into their influences and a whole new world is opened up! As creators we just feel inspired by those bands

On this EP the influence has shades of The Strokes via a lot of the North of England music scene (The Zutons, The Coral, et al); but it doesn't stray quite as colloquial as their wannabes may wander. Instead it manages to have its own identity, clearly influenced though from roots in the strange atmosphere of the retirement home/student village that was Aberystwyth.

What is easy and difficult respectively about your collaboration as a band?

Me and the Major: We all get along really well which makes it pretty easy to manage. We enjoy going out as mates and having a few pints, it's not like when we practice it's work. Having said that, we have quite a wide range of influences which can be difficult to manage at times! We all have different ideas about where we want to go, but the diverse influences help us to create a sound that we feel is different to anything else around at the moment.

EP opener 'Step Into Your Mind' is a superbly produced pop nugget, it sets things off with the confidence to not try and 'blow your mind' or 'melt your face', it is a baggy, smart track that dances around with a sort of sunny-day festival freedom before launching into a truly glorious chant twisting the nursery rhyme 'Seashells on the seashore...' into a pre-hangover anthem. Not to belittle their former guise as The Strange Ones, but the skill and craft of this track really genuinely surprised and impressed me!

How difficult is it maintaining a band? Or having a group level of enthusiasm when playing a gig?

Me and the Major: When we're playing gigs it's easy - it's pretty much the reason we're in a band. Whether we play to 5 people or 100, it's always fun. As long as we're all committed, it's pretty easy to maintain. It becomes a bit frustrating when you're trying to get gigs or exposure that you feel that you deserve, but you've just got to accept that it's not easy, and it'll be worth it in the end.

Second track 'My Favourite Films Are Overrated' has more of a Libertines flavour to it with some of the swagger of early Oasis thrown in for good measure. 'Billy the Kid' is a loose-limbed dance around before the epic final track 'Power of Your Dreams'.

How do you feel about the music scene in Cardiff? Do you think there are enough platforms for emerging local acts here?

Me and the Major: We feel pretty lucky, there are lots of good venues in Cardiff - obviously Clwb Ifor Bach and Barfly but smaller ones such as 10 Feet Tall and Buffalo give great opportunities for bands just starting out. There are loads of great promotions companies as well to help bands out, Granddad Promotions and Steering2Music amongst many others. There are loads of great bands too, and there's not really just one sort of style, there's quite a lot of variation, and all the bands support each other. Our best gigs have been in Cardiff, probably because there are lots of people who are willing to support live music, which is great for the city's music scene.

This final track really showcases the new level of confidence in the band, showcasing the musical talents of all four players and sending this short, smart, energetic EP out on a note that perfectly encapsulates the careful balance between forward-thinking and retro that earmarks Me and the Major as a band to follow closely.

Me and the Major: When you play a gig and you know how well it's gone, and you have new people coming and saying they genuinely like our music, that always makes us feel proud. Even though it's not a massive achievement, it's nice to know that people appreciate what we do. We've got a good group of friends who always come to our gigs too, which makes it a lot easier for us!

We're proud that we are writing better songs all the time, but one moment in time we all look back on would be playing Clwb Ifor Bach, which was actually Matt's first gig with us. It was for charity and it was full of people we didn't know, but we got a great reception.

We get inspiration from seeing other bands, everyday life and our friends. The reason we press 'record' is because we love making music, and we're proud of it, and we want to show that to other people too. An underlying theme in our songs tends to be the women in our lives, so our songs speak to pretty much everyone who knows what it's like being young and in love!