THE BLOG

Andy Crofts of The Moons On Music's Tide of Change

23/04/2014 18:15 BST | Updated 22/06/2014 10:59 BST

The writer Barry Miles, one of the most authentic chroniclers of the Sixties, once called the decade "a supermarket of ideas", adding "everything was up in the air. We were just trying to make sense of it and not be conditioned by the 'British Way of Life'".

2014-04-23-Moons1.jpg

How curious, then, to realise that the same conditioning persists 50 years on with the wise among us still attempting to fight it as the UK splits itself broadly into two camps: the staid and the progressive. The latter comprises the thinkers and artists, the former those who cling inertly to a dead empire.

Not so Andy Crofts (pictured second from left), a singer-songwriter at the helm of The Moons. As a band signed to Schnitzel Records, with Crofts out front and backed by Ben Gordelier, Chris Watson and Ben Curtis, their sound is described by Crofts as "diverse and full of melody and texture".

While informed by the likes of Bacharach, Bolan and The Animals - as heard on The Moons' Jan 'Stan' Kybert-produced album Fables Of History (2012) - Crofts has taken a pop classicism and updated it without having mired himself in the black hole of revivalism.

"We're influenced by music, film, photography and art," he tells me. "I listen to all types of music from electronic to classical to psych. I don't think a musician should have to question staying interested in music. It's in your blood or it isn't.

"Those who dabble in music will end up in a normal job with a Land Rover and Labrador. For those who keep dreaming, the world is constantly feeding us inspiration to write and be creative."

Which brings us back to Miles who spoke of today's commodification of art that "has become so extreme that it's hard to imagine any radical ideas surviving the process of marketing". With this in mind, it is incumbent upon Crofts and cohorts to embrace a hipper kind of artistic nous.

"The music business is a tough place," he says. "It's run by corporate power and money. Much of it is corrupt and this kills the dreams of indie record labels, although it doesn't stop these smaller labels sticking to their guns and fighting the system. It's not all a bad place, but money tends to make decisions over quality of music."

Crofts is in an ideal position to comment on the industry's health. "Trying to be something you're not and selling your soul for a shot at fame is the biggest mistake a band or performer can make. It's a lie to yourself. True art comes from the heart and if you are not telling the truth, people will sense it." 

But isn't it also a case of needing more men of vision like Alan McGee to help inform the majors? "Always, because people who believe will triumph in the end."

Both Crofts and Gordelier are also in Paul Weller's band, so one might expect Crofts to be biased by the association, but the opposite is true. When asked who the greatest living songwriter is, he says: "Brian Wilson. He wrote Pet Sounds and that's enough for me."

Was the Sixties the greatest decade of inspiration? "It seems that way. Most of my favourite artists peaked in that decade. Fashion was great and art was hip. Maybe it's because people started seeing in colour for the first time."

The question of strategy is one that is either embraced or ignored by a band busy writing and gigging. "It's good to think things over but it's good to not care too much and just get on with it. I mean, for a long time I have been thinking about making my own solo record as a side project from The Moons so that I can take a breather from writing for one thing."

The Moons were formed by Crofts after he had amassed a collection of home demos. "I did a deal with my local recording studio where I paid them back monthly because I had no money for studio time. I recorded demos played by myself and it was from this that I put it all together. I lead the band and write the songs but I listen to everyone. I make the final decisions and the other lads trust my vision."

He describes fans of The Moons as having "the hearts of punks and the souls of poets. I'm always for the working class songwriter. That's the world I'm from. I don't think rock'n'roll will ever disappear. I think it's still more than alive but it's not the leading music anymore because people believe what they're force fed. If the media made a big fuss saying "Rock'n'roll is back" then people would believe. Things are so mixed up that there's a lack of direction. There's fantastic music out there but I don't see anything good enough to make it a golden age. I think we're all in search of one."

So the men and women of inspiration are in our midst, but in the absence of arbiters of culture - such as Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, or indeed Brian Epstein (and not forgetting a healthy economy) - the onus rests with the artists themselves to ensure they have their voices heard.

Photograph by Emil Monty Freddie

Click here for more information on The Moons

Listen to the band's new single here