A.M. Boys is a current project of John Blonde from House of Blondes a Gay NYC Techno band, and Chris Moore, who’s fingerprints are allover the current techno industry. Established past the “Rising Star” phase, Chris and John formed A.M. Boys pre pandemic, and this is what the electronic music world has been waiting for. In our interview, we geeked out relentlessly about old school musicians and music history. Enjoy
Jeremy Hinks: John, and Chris, thanks for your time. Looks like we are covering something you have dropping this week.
Chris Moore: Yeah, the new track “Give Me Time” comes out this week.
JH: So we have John Blonde from House of Blondes,
John Blonde: Yes that’s right.
JH: And Chris who is the younger version of Jeff Lynn from ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). See, Chris, I told John that my wife wishes I was just a little bit gay, so I could be a better dresser, and pay a bit more attention to detail around the house. Then he hit me pretty hard and said that if I was gay I would have a less than stellar taste in music.
JB: Well, let me explain that, as of late, the music in gay clubs, the nonsense when I walk into these bars. It’s usually shrill, I don’t like the fact that a lot of it is mindless, there isn’t a lot of thought behind it as of late. No one is thinking of the atmosphere, people just put on a playlist, and don’t think about it audio-wise. Music can set the entire tone for the night, a good record changes the atmosphere in the room. People don’t pay much attention to the music, and it’s more of an afterthought (he just affirmed that we are both total snobs about music).
JH: Well, if anything, yes, you guys do look to produce a very clear feel and ambiance with your music. I will point out John, you look like you just came right out of Kraftwerk with your hair like that. You could be up there singing “Tour De France”.
JB: That is the greatest compliment I could ever have.
JH: Then Chris is ELO, and your music is the clash of all of that. I got the record from your publicist and when I heard it I have to say, I thought it was if Shriekback and Underworld made the “Blade Runner” soundtrack. Which one of you is the Vangelis fan?
JB: Yeah I love all of that, great.
CM: I would say both of us are Vangelis fans.
JB: I think one of the things you are hearing is that it was 81-82, he was using analog synthesizers. My main synthesizer is from 1978, it’s a Roland SH 72. I think that makes a HUGE difference, from the first note, I can hear if it’s a digital or software synthesizer, that is something you can’t replicate any other way except to have your hands on the equipment.
JH: I was thinking that I am one of those neurotic jerks, that will cross-reference the gear, etc on each production. I remember looking at the gear list for “Dark Side of the Moon” Alan Parsons said he couldn’t re-create that album today, because so much of it is extinct.
CM: You would have to be a millionaire to do it.
JH: Yeah to do that these days, to get the tubes for the amps. Someone else like that, do you guys know Editors?
JB: Yeah, from the UK right?
JH: Yeah, they do the same thing, they collected and got all these analog synthesizers, I bet some guy who had them in his basement was glad to sell them.
JB: I just bought an SH 101, it’s an 80’s synthesizer, like the Depeche Mode first album kind of keyboard, Chris knows it like the back of his hand. I got it from a guy online, from Philidelphia, he was so excited that I was buying it, he drove it up to New York. He showed me all his gear, it was like a museum. We have chosen our instruments, we have about 6 or 7 synthesizers, I think it’s good that we have a certain limit to what we can get our hands on. Cause now you can do anything with what you get ahold of. For us, these instruments are our sound, and as soon as the album begins you know it’s us, the first note, the first song, first side, you know it’s us. It’s limiting in a certain way though.
JH: You have your sound though like Editors nailed theirs down with this same idea. They are the guys that if Joy Division stayed the course would have sounded like Editors. Using the analog gear is where it’s sounding good these days. It’s not that we have the kids with the small keyboard and the software synth, they just do that, and it kind of loses what made the synth world so exciting in the early days.
CM: Yes, there is no experimentation with the new stuff, you can just get a software synth, and make something instantly without having to learn anything. So I feel like it makes it harder for people to develop something on their cause they just grab something, and they have all the tools to make the exact kind of techno that they want. It just makes it easy for them, and people often don’t take the time to develop their own style.
JB: Yeah, it’s good that… well that they have something in their hand that they can do something with, it’s kind of PUNK in a certain way. That you can be your own band instantly with it and a laptop. I like that, but the problem is that everybody has that, and like Chris was saying it doesn’t allow for as much originality as much as having something in your hands. Like a trumpet, you’re playing the trumpet, you are going to learn how to use it with your mouth and fingers. If you have a synthetic trumpet on a synthesizer you’re not going to get that. It will be very difficult to stand out. I hear it on the radio and online all the time. Everybody is using the same presets, it’s kind of boring.
JH: So, it’s like when New Order got their first ones, they bought the kit, and had to solder the boards together, then they are getting the emulator. But when you’re saying “PUNK” if you know the performance art Punk band “The Residents”, I think they got the EMULATOR, number 2 on the resale I think, and New Order had the same keyboard and made totally different music with it.
JB: Whatever you have to make music with, if it’s inspired, it’s going to come through. Stanley Kubrick once said, “It doesn’t matter how you film something, as long as what you’re filming is interesting”. So you could have the greatest camera in the world, but if what you are filming is boring, you can have an iPhone, and get a great film. Music is the same, you can have great gear, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are someone with a vision.
JH: Speaking on New Order actually, your song “Give Me Time” off the new album I put it on and thought this is fabulous. It is great for doing yard work, and for soldering components, this record is great for that, cause I have ADHD, and it helps me focus. I was putting some electrical gear back together the other day, and this was great to listen to. And I noticed it had this feel to the New Order album “Movement”.
JB: That’s awesome.
CM: Yeah, I LOVED THAT ALBUM.
JH: Well, it had this feel of that album with a more dance-able beat, and who sang on that one?
JB: I sang on all the tracks.
CM: Well, we did a jam, and figured out what was good about it, listened to it, and said “Ok I like this bass line” “the drums are good”, what John was doing was good. I think you even have some scraps of the lyrics.
JB: Yeah, I have some journals with lyrics, so I usually have them at my fingertips when we are at the studios. I think that night, we were hanging out, just very loose, it could be just one note, and a chord, or a beat, it doesn’t take much, but in 5 minutes I feel like there is a song. What I like about the lyrics is it speaks to the beginnings of things, I think the key is to keep trying and never give up sort of an idea. Chris and I had been friends, but we hadn’t made tracks yet, we were just beginning to. I was so excited that he and I in the studio together could whip up the music so easily. It still feels great, that’s when you know you’ve got chemistry. So that track is speaking that chemistry at that moment. I think it has wider applications with the lyrics. It felt electric.
JH: Well, I could “Feel” that, the experience of it, it’s not just ok, a catchy song, it felt like it had a life of a song. I read that you had some Truman Capote in that one.
JB: I think as any creative person would say is that everything feeds into your art, so I happened to read a short story that day, so the ideas were all kind of at the front of my head. I had no idea what we would get to in the studio like that. I can’t stress this enough is that Christ set up the studio so that it’s always ready to capture whatever we might do. Not that every time it’s “Genius” but it’s there to capture the moment. I think all the songs are that spontaneous moments captured in a sonically professional way. That is all down to Chris, I have NO idea what’s going on in the studio. “Turn it on” is about all I know how to do.
JH: Well, Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gee’s said “I learned very early, as soon as you’re in the studio, it doesn’t matter how expensive tape is, just push record. There is far less regret in having to sift through crap recording, that was useless than it is to say “I wished I had pushed record” when we did that”. So I am sure they had miles of tape they could circle the earth with all the useless stuff they got, BUT.
CM: Yeah, Tape isn’t even being used anymore, it’s so much cheaper these days.
JB: I have nothing but love for Barry Gibb and the music they made. You should be dancing still sounds like a million bucks.
JH: Man, the disco, like Tragedy, that was a garbage man.
JB: Hey, let’s not get into the disco lyrics…
CM: Yeah, there is not a lot there.
JH: So you pulled the Truman Capote line in there.
JB: Yeah, I used a final line from a short story “Never shut the final door” which is flipping his idea from the short story. Taking it and making it a positive. I just like the idea that there is no end to possibilities, no matter how long you go on a path, the key is to keep going. His cynical idea inspired me for that, and keyed up something in me, “Don’t shut it” I felt like that is what Chris and I are doing. We have done different things in our lives before A.M. Boys, and the key is that we are both filled at every moment with possibilities. I feel like that is what “Give Me Time” is about.
JH: What was it that brought you guys to work together?
CM: There is a studio that I worked at that had a collection of vintage synthesizers I had worked with another artist there, and I posted pics on Instagram, and John said “That looks AWESOME” and I said we should book a day and record something. I had no idea whether it would be a waste of a day, but it turned out great, we recorded several songs that day.
JH:There is this silly hip-hop act that calls themselves “A.M. BOYS” I don’t want people to confuse you with them.
CM: Yeah I saw that, we were already established, and they set up a youtube channel.
JB: Let them find those guys, that’s fine. We were together for 2 years, and we waited for 2 years to release it before we could do an album we couldn’t play live.
JH: So, that song “I don’t know about next year”, I was listening to it, asking “Where were they going with this?”. was that what this was about?
CM: No, that was written way before the pandemic.
JB: I guess it was prescient that we had that song in the can before the pandemic hit, but at the moment we recorded it, I was having doubts cause I was leaving “House of Blondes” and Chris and I were beginning A.M. Boys, and there was this moment where wasn’t sure if everything was going to work. It hit me around that time when we were recording that song. What I like is that it’s repetitive, and the more I say those words the doubt leaves the song, so by the end of the song it feels very positive for the future. When the Pandemic hit and we couldn’t play, we were asking “Will we ever release this music?” we didn’t want to release it into a void.
CM: We had the record mastered in January RIGHT before the pandemic.
JH: Yeah, I imagine your live shows are very intense and focused, I would have to ignore every one and just get into the music.
JB: That sounds like you would be the best audience member.
CM: Yeah, when we recorded, they started out with jams, and we thought about how we should not just keep adding stuff, always thinking about “We could add this, but how are we gonna play it live?” so the live performances can be pretty true to the vibe of the record without exactly recreating every note in the right place that it was played. But nothing is missing.
JH: So it’s gonna be like a New Order gig, where they play, and often they weren’t on time with each other, and out of tune sometimes. That was why they were so charming.
JB: I would like to say that we are NEVER OUT OF TUNE, ever. We’ve got two gigs in New York, June 9th, at the album release party at “Transpicos” then we are playing July 9th we are playing at “Berlin” (east village). We are putting a real tour together. There is nothing like plugging in and playing for people that have never heard us before.
JH: Ok, that House of Blondes, John your song “Tilted Earth” was like a Moodswings meets New Order, that was really cool, then I saw your video for “Slow Motion Tourist”. You are the 2nd person I’ve interviewed who rented a NASA spacesuit for the video.
JB: There is humor in a lot of our music, we don’t take ourselves seriously, but we do take the music seriously. That track was the most overt humorous song I have ever done. Having a friend walk through Manhattan in an astronaut costume, you didn’t need to do much just film it.
JH: Yeah, the only people who really “looked” were the tourists, the locals just walked by, this is New York. SO, my fave song on the new album was “Still On First Bliss”.
CM: Oh wow.
JB: NICE. That’s our “You Should Be Dancing” song.
JH: It was the most captivating piece, not just the beat, but that there were so many layers in there. IT was the one where I hear enough there to say “This is what we have to offer”.
CM: We did that playing off each other’s tracks, and building that. When it works, it works.
JB: The key is to not be afraid to fail, keep playing till you click. On that song, EVERYTHING we have to offer is in there.
JH: So, when will we be blessed with the Vinyl?
JB: ‘Distance Decay’ will be out June 3rd.
JH: So I saw the video for Traveler, it was really weird, I knew the song, then I watched the video, and it took me in a weird direction, then suddenly it was done. It felt like 30 seconds. Somehow I felt like it was a time warp. The only thing that makes me anchored, is the lyrics. It was like Major Tom or the Martian.
CM: I think cause there is so much going on, your attention is divided.
JB: That’s great that the song added an unexpected element, that’s great for any artist to hear something like that, thank you. For me playing is escapism, the video was a very sci-fi approach to that. There is no way that I would compare our music to those bands you mentioned. I feel the way that we use those drum beats, we are bringing a contemporary use to these old ideas. I don’t feel like we are a retro band.
JH: Well guys, thank you for your time, and I wish you all the success on this new album, congratulations again.
For a complete audio experience and musical tangents, you can hear the full audio of this interview here.