You Want moyamoya

by Jon Bosworth
Rarely will you find a more self-effacing, humble band than moyamoya. That may be because I only had the chance to interview two of the three musicians in the band, but as for the guitarist and drummer, they don’t speak too highly of their abilities.
Which is a smokescreen, because they are among the best musicians in town when it comes to live performances, which is all we have to judge moyamoya on since this five-year old band doesn’t have any recordings.
“I still have that complex that I’m not a drummer,” says moyamoya drummer Scott Madgett.
“It’s nice to have a bass player so I don’t have to hold down everything all the time. That’s a pain in the ass because I wasn’t that good at guitar anyway,” said guitarist Richard Dudley.
Don’t let their modesty fool you, moyamoya ain’t no slouch.
Among Jacksonville’s elite few “post rock” bands, moyamoya is an instrumental outfit that doesn’t fit any of your preconceived notions of an instrumental band.
“We always get compared to other instrumental bands, but there is no similarity. We get lumped in because we don’t have vocals so we must sound like ‘them,’” said Dudley.
Their music is meticulously crafted rather than born of free-form jam sessions, and incorporates strange time signatures, making it easy to think of moyamoya as math rock. However, their equations don’t really add up. Their songs intentionally avoid traditional structures. That is what makes their music so exciting. It is something new.
“A lot of times we will have a part of the song that just switches and it never comes back. I like that. Sometimes it flows and sometimes it’s just a bizarre change. I like that. It’s more interesting,” says Dudley.
Dudley calls himself “the quiet one.” Certainly the least vocal of the three-piece, he plays with Scott Madgett, who also hosts a local podcast called The List, and Brennan Hamill, who DJs on Wednesdays at the Loft on King Street and has played in some of Jacksonville’s most talked-about indie rock acts, including Dang! and Lackawanna Carriage Works.
To appear on The List, a no-holds-barred podcast wherein Madgett and his co-hosts discuss every issue under the sun with crass abandon and provocative banter, would be political suicide for anyone with aspirations toward ever running for office. On The List, Madgett leads discussions that range from racism and misogyny to embarrassing sexual situations. The conversation frequently goes into dark and dangerous waters, but they do it all with the flippancy of comedy and in the end produce a hilarious hour of great music and fascinating, albeit often offensive, repartee. Check out the latest installment at http://thelistfm.podbean.com.
Madgett has played in several Jacksonville bands over the years, but usually as a guitarist. In moyamoya he plays drums. Bringing a deep love for hip-hop music, Madgett plays breakbeats in odd time signatures, creating an interesting combination of math rock and hip-hop that sets moyamoya apart from other post rock bands. And Madgett isn’t the only one not playing on his usual instrument. Every member of the band is playing an instrument that is new to them. Dudley played bass with Tracy Shedd, but switched to guitar for moyamoya. Brennan has always been a guitarist, but plays bass and keyboards with this outfit.
“Scott had always played guitar but wanted to switch to drums. It seemed kinda normal. I switched from bass, he switched to drums,” said Dudley. “I like that, when everyone is switching instruments to get a different take on stuff.”
They took to practicing three times a week, improving on their instruments and writing incredible new music. In fact, writing and playing music became an obsession with them that took over all other vices.
“We would go out to a bar to get a drink and we’d be like ‘dude let’s go play.’ We became addicted to the music,” said Madgett.
Over the past five years, the band has carefully structured a handful of masterful songs. They are dreamy, they are invigorating, they are destructive, they will, without a doubt, take you places.
“We just never added vocals so it made sense to just keep making the music crazier and crazier,” said Dudley.
Their meticulous writing process includes an ego-less and absolute democracy, a unique feature in a music scene often built around single singer/songwriters.
“I haven’t been in a lot of bands, I’ve been in a few, but I’ve never been in one where everybody’s opinion is not only important, but if anyone doesn’t like a part, we will figure that out. We work on it until we are all psyched about it, until we all really like that part,” says Madgett. “It’s meticulous and it makes the writing process really long, but in the end, Richard taught me a lot about quality. When we finally had our first two songs I was like ‘let’s record them.’ Richard was like ‘not yet.’ I got to the point I was frustrated with him. I was like ‘we’re never going to do anything.’ But looking back, he was so right. The level of junk we made. I’m glad we haven’t put anything out yet, because looking back, I’m so much more psyched about what I’m playing now; even the parts we still play have gotten so much better.”
But the only way you’ll ever know is if you go catch them live, and they don’t play in town all that often, so get out to Burro Bar for Cinco de Mayo and watch moyamoya live. They may say they are still learning, but you will find yourself feeling schooled after watching their live set.

About FOLIO

april, 2022

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