Interview: Allison & Moon
By: McKayla Dyk
“Puppy Love” and Pop-Rock
Pop-rock group Allison and Moon are branching out with their new single “Puppy Love.” While Allison and Moon we’re pairing heavy beats with the innocent concept of first love, they were also busy booking a tour through the northeast. I had the chance to speak with them regarding this new single and their plans for the future.
HEM: Hi Allison & Moon! Why don’t you introduce yourselves first! What are your names and what roles do you play in the band (vocals, instruments, etc.)?
A: I’m Allison! I play guitar, and I sing!
M: And I’m Mike, I play bass, and sometimes guitar, and make noises with my mouth sometimes!
A: Courtney couldn’t join us today, unfortunately.
HEM: So how did the band form and what inspired the name “Allison & Moon?”
A: To be honest, I never wanted to be the lead singer of a band named after myself… that sounds like the worst! haha But I hit a certain point and I wasn’t able to join any other band with friends as a guitarist, so I went on Craigslist, found Mike and Courtney, and it all fell together perfectly. The name is left over from my solo project, and is a play on “the sun and the moon” if you really emphasize AlliSON & Moon. People think Mike’s name is Moon all the time...
HEM: I see that you’re doing a short northeast tour! Do you find that this area is a good home base for the pop-punk genre?
M: Yeah! Boston in general has a really great music scene for all types.
A: Sure! I’m not sure about pop-punk specifically, as Puppy Love is really our first song that is dipping into that genre. Boston has been really great for us in general, and getting down to New York will be exciting because a lot of great emo music came out of there. So, we’re looking forward to it for sure!
HEM: What about this genre intrigued you and pushed you to pursue it instead of others such as rock or acoustic?
A: Well, we still love both of those genres and are definitely not running away from them. I think it was just a natural progression for us to blend all of our favorite styles into some sort of emo pop rock mix.
M: With a flair of ska! Not really… but I do love ska.
HEM: What are you most looking forward to on this tour?
M: Performing outside of Boston for the first time.
A: Yeah, I’m excited to dip our toes into tour life, and play places I’ve never played before. I have some friends and family that will be coming out that have never seen us play before, so that’s exciting!
HEM: Your newest single “Puppy Love” is set to release on February 15. As a group how would you describe the difference in maturity of sound and life in general between this track and your earlier releases? What are the track’s distinguishing characteristics?
A: Sound-wise, this track is much fuller than things I’ve done on my own in the past. It actually sounds like “us” rather than just me. And recording with Chris Curran from Reclaim Studios was incredible, and he produced this flawlessly. My favorite thing about this track is that it feels like something I would’ve listened to growing up. The bass is a driving force in the song, and the drums hit hard. Beyond that, I really like the story as it is really personal, but a unique take on a common idea of “Puppy Love”, and I love how the music reflects the emotions in the words.
HEM: I was able to listen to the track before its release date and I find it interesting that you address such a traditionally gentle topic like “puppy love” with the heavy beats and instrumentation typical of the punk genre. Was it difficult to reconcile the two ideas during the creative process? How did you go about finding the balance?
A: It came kind of naturally actually. The emotions I was feeling were very much gentle and heavy. The way our process works is I write the song in full on guitar, usually acoustic, and I may have some parts missing. Then I bring it to Mike and Courtney to add bass, drums, and play around with song structure a bit. So when I wrote it originally, it sounded much lighter, just being my voice and an acoustic guitar. But I love playing with dynamics, and bringing it to the band really emphasized those. I think the music enhances the topic I’m singing about.
HEM: The title of your tour is the “Puppy Love Tour.” I’m thinking the song may be a title track? Can we expect an album with the same name in the near future?
M: We’re not sure of the title yet, but we are recording a new 5-track EP. We’d love to record an album! To be honest, in the world we’re living now it’s way easier for a DIY band to put out singles and EPs. And since we’re a new band we just want to get our sound out there, because it’s changed since we joined Allison.
HEM: Are most of your songs inspired by real-life events or are they typically an exposition on a relatable feeling?
A: It can be either or a combination! A lot of older songs were sparked by real-life events, and I extrapolated into new ideas with relatable stories or feelings. For example, “Caught” was about how I was relating to spirituality and life...kind of an existential crisis, I just painted it into a relationship picture. These days I’ve been more explicit in writing about exactly what’s going on in my life, rather than painting the feelings into lyrics you have to pick apart a bit more.
HEM: What’s your go-to activity when you’re experiencing writer’s block?
A: Lately I’ve started to write “found songs” kind of like how people write “found poems.” If I’m struggling, I’ll put my guitar in a tuning of my favorite song, and then I’ll take lyrics from other songs and try to mash them together into a new song. This gets ideas flowing, and it also helps me learn from my favorite artists in a unique way.
HEM: Who are some artists you look to for inspiration?
M: Individually, Paramore, Taking Back Sunday, Blink-182, and Streetlight Manifesto influence my writing for this band heavily.
A: Yeah, I think collectively too Paramore and Taking Back Sunday are big for us. I’ll say it everywhere that Paramore is the best band in the world...and Mike and I covered Taking Back Sunday as one of our first practices because we love how they work vocal melodies. Musically, Daughter and Tegan and Sara heavily influence my guitar parts.
HEM: What are some of your goals as a band? Any dream venues to play or fantasy collabs?
A: Beyond anything, sitting down with Benny and Bjorn from ABBA would be the best collab I could think of. I’d truly be learning from icons!
M: It would be cool to play Fenway Park! And goal-wise, I would love to have music as my career, making music that makes people feel something.
A: Agreed, full time music would be the dream.
HEM: I believe music always has a message. What message do you hope listeners take from Allison & Moon and from “Puppy Love” specifically?
M: For me, I like how our songs are high energy and get people moving. Song to song, the themes and messages change, so in general I just hope the realness of them reaches folks on an emotional level where they can connect. Even though they’re not the most intense issues, they’re still pretty raw and relatable.
A: Adding to what Mike said about the themes changing song to song, I hope listeners can simply relate to what we’re saying, and also realize that they could do this too if they wanted to. I always thought music, and my dreams, were inaccessible until one day I realized I could just do what I wanted. From “Puppy Love” specifically, I hope people can recognize that even in exciting joyful times, there can be tension, and vice versa, and think about how cool and complicated emotions are.
HEM: What is the best way for listeners to hear new music and connect with you?
A: We’re on all the major streaming platforms. Spotify and AppleMusic will be easiest. However, buying our music on Bandcamp supports us directly, so there’s that option too!