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Zeelley Moon

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with  Pat Molesworth  of Zeelley Moon from 2018

MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

I started out in my teens by experimenting on piano, writing and recording music, influenced by film and TV themes and pop and rock songs I liked.  As an adult I gigged solo at various events. I got my first band together as a house band at a regular open band night and wrote more band-oriented songs.

I continued gigging as a band with the name "Touchwood." Eventually we split up because of "creative differences," and I got fed up with limiting my writing because of the tastes of my bandmates.

Zeelley Moon was born after gaining more confidence in my writing style and playing with musicians who were more in tune with my ideas.

Recording old and new songs started around 2013, but the first Zeelley Moon album wasn’t finished until July 2017.

My personal relocation from England to Wales has meant that currently more time is being spent promoting the album and writing for the next one.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
I would have to pretend I wasn’t interested in it and probably be causing mischief as music is, for me, a big outlet for expressing my thoughts and my creative energy, but I am lucky that I live in a place where I get to spend a lot of time outdoors in a beautiful place. This is also very important to me.
MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?
I thought about inventing some really cool story, but the truth is actually very dull;

I loved the name "Supertramp," but that was taken. I liked the name Moon (Keith, Paper, etcetera, etcetera), and I wanted a two-syllable word to precede it. My ex-boss was talking one day and mentioned his ex-daughter in law’s husband whose sir name was Zealy. That was it. That was my word, but spelt with two "E"s, two "L"s and another "E" after the "L"s. It looked a lot better when scribbled on a page in italics! A quick Google confirmed this was a unique word.

Zeelley Moon: A unique name for unique music.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
I guess the obvious ones are Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Genesis and Yes, but I have been influenced by everything musically that’s ever moved me. A certain augmented chord, chord progression or melody in a song or orchestral piece can really make me well up.
MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
A Radio host here in the UK, who has played Zeelley Moon tracks over the months, described how he’d put on my album, whacked it up loud, sit back in his sofa in his studio and said on air “this is what it’s all about." My partner and I were listening live. That was very nice. Various Radio hosts have been publicly pretty consistent in their appreciation of this album.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
What’s ahead is continuing promoting the current album; It’s getting great reviews and comments. Sales are steady in the UK and US plus a few sold in Europe.

I have also been asked to contribute in a writing role on another band’s project.

I will look at playing live with the band again late this year or next, but another album is definitely on the cards.

MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labelled, but how would you describe your music?
Hmmmmm…

The prog enthusiasts seem to like what I’ve done so far.

I regard it as progressive in nature, but the influences are not necessarily “prog."

There’s a Facebook page on which people constantly ask if this or that band is “prog,” but frankly this misses the point. Surely “progressive” can be a prefix to any genre. Pure prog as defined by many is not my cup of tea. Where does this leave Zeelley Moon? I’d quote the description given in a magazine in 2017:...”an album that takes the smoky melancholia of blues and rock but stretching it into longer, more expansive dreamscapes, engulfing you in its wake." (Progression Magazine US) "Echoes of Pink Floyd & Supertramp but owning its own identity with weighty songs and melancholic instrumentals.”

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
Guthrie Govan played a solo on Steve Wilson’s "Drive home" that was like a million heart breaks in every phrase....maybe Chris Squire, too. I would definitely be the weakest link in the band then, though!

Luckily I also have some excellent musicians as lovely friends.

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
It’s theft basically, though in the old days we held a microphone to the TV when the chart music was playing to compile our own favourites albums.

It’s hard to know; on the one hand maybe, musicians get more exposure, but then maybe because it’s "free" the downloaders don’t appreciate it. Maybe there are more musicians getting known, but on average have a shorter career as audiences are fickle, have no loyalty and a very short attention span. I like the more emotional investment you make by buying an album maybe because of a recommendation.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
It’s a bit crappy.

If someone can’t afford to buy an album or DVD, then I like to think although most artists would appreciate their wanting to hear it at least but trading, it is another thing completely. It’s like donating your old stuff to a needy friend then seeing them list it on eBay. If I discover a song or album I like, I might recommend and tell people why I like it using words. It is simply not mine to sell or trade. As a musician, I respect the other musician’s property.

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
That’s a weird question! Having alluded to the idea that I like the old school ways when a musician could make it big time and fans had loyalty and fondness for him or her, it’s usually been a male artist way later in their career who brings out a lame song which, frankly, without the history, wouldn’t get listened to outside his own home.

I won’t mention names but someone like that might fit the bill. Alternatively a musician whose career seems constructed. Actually no, because it’s not his or her fault. It’s the business.

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
I would create a band and really mix it up. I’d write the material and get Oleta Adams on vocals or someone and combine a bunch or prog band members and hire the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ooooh, and of course Rick Wakeman on keyboards!

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
That’s really hard. It would be all the bands that have meant something to me and the mix of bands and their music would demonstrate where my taste and influences come from. There would be a very eclectic mix. Would Pink Floyd fans stay around to listen to Peter Skellern? I like to think they would. It’s my festival isn’t it?
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I visited Cob Records in Porthmadog in North Wales and asked for some suggestions based on my past preferences.

I came out with Folklore by Big Big Train, some of which I really liked. Stereophonics and errrr Matt Monroe.

Really liked "London Plane" on Big Big Train. The Matt Monroe album was something I’d just fancied listening to for ages. I was disappointed with Stereophonics, actually, as I really like his voice but not really the songs.

I’m bad really as I’ll pick one or two tracks on an album that really do it for me and dismiss the rest.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Actually no. I’m not much of a reader.

The last book I read was a Richard Scarry masterpiece called, “What do people do all day." It’s a beautiful book that should be law for all children to read.

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
The last time I really properly enjoyed a concert was Focus playing at a relatively small venue in my old home town.

They casually wandered out the front door before the gig to get some very dodgy looking kebabs across the road!

The music was just amazing.

MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
In my teens a neighbour had a very typical British band with little or no influence from anywhere but England.

They were awful, but my friends thought they were great. Perhaps it inspired me to do something better.

After that, James Brown at Wembley in London was brilliant, but not as good as Prince, who just made me feel like giving up!

MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
My Nord Stage 2 is amazing, but life really is too short to master its programming. Why make it so hard?

I actually have used the same keyboards for the past few years with no updates at all but never used the Nord for gigging as it’s too complicated (for me!)

I’m likely to buy a new keyboard in the next few weeks, actually.

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Okay, I admit to using a harmoniser in the home studio. Practically speaking it can help me to write backing vocal parts, but actually I really enjoy just messing with it when nobody can hear!
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I really thought a lot about this one but we’re all just too English and unpretentious!
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Paul McCartney, Prince and Winifred Atwell.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Shepherd’s pie as it’s one of my favourites, and it’s easy to eat so we could talk a lot more.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
I, of course, hope people like my music. I hope people can relate to some of the ideas and sentiments being written and sung about.  If people get some of the same enjoyment from it as I do from other band’s music, then it means I’m doing my job.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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