Q&A: Moonface’s Spencer Krug

The ex-Wolf Parade man’s latest project plays Neon Reverb Saturday night at Beauty Bar

Krug (center) and his friends in Siinai are headed Downtown.

Wolf Parade. Sunset Rubdown. Frog Eyes. Swan Lake. Canadian indie-rocker Spencer Krug has been in lots of bands, and none of them has played Las Vegas. Until now. Saturday night, his current project, Moonface—supplemented by Finnish four-piece Siinai (also featured on April Moonface album Heartbreaking Bravery)—plays the Weekly’s Neon Reverb showcase at Beauty Bar.

What was it about Siinai that caught your attention?

Two of them toured with Wolf Parade in their older band, Joensuu 1685, and they were nice guys and really amazing musicians. They were an instrumental band, and I had this idea that I wanted to do a record where I had less of a hand in the music and focused more on lyrics and singing. So I asked if they wanted to make a record together.

And you went to Finland to do that?

Well, there’s more of them than me, so it made sense.

How do you like Finland?

I love Finland. I’m still there a lot, working with these guys. It’s a quirky little country. The Fins are really interesting people—really serious on the surface but kind of goofy underneath. Helsinki’s a really young city, a lot of young people, all really active, a lot of music, a lot of art, a lot of design.

Your live setlist looks like it comes almost entirely from the latest Moonface album.

That’s true. We’re just touring the record we made together right now. I toured the Organ Music record as well, all throughout last year with my friend Mike Bigelow from Montreal, and I kind of got that out of my system. I made the record, figured out how to play it with a friend, took it on the road, toured it and then sort of put it behind me. It doesn’t really make sense in my mind for me to ask Siinai to learn songs that I wrote without them, not a bunch of them anyway.

Do you foresee another Moonface with Siinai album?

Yeah, we’re talking about making another record together, maybe this winter or next spring. I don’t know whether that would be the next Moonface release—my hunch right now is that it wouldn’t be, but my mind changes a lot.

The Details

With Foxygen, The Knew, A Crowd of Small Adventures
September 15, 9 p.m., $10
Beauty Bar, 598-1965

What do you think it is about you that keeps you trying new band configurations?

I guess I get bored pretty easily. I write a lot of music; it’s a really natural pastime for me. And I’m in this sort of privileged position where I’m able to pay rent—barely, right now—through recording and sharing that music. And if you release a record, the next logical step is to tour it, so I guess that just keeps me always in a new spot.

I like to think that from now it will just be Moonface. All collaborations have to end at one point or another, and both Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown just eventually ran their course. But I’ll keep Moonface as my name, regardless of which people I’m working with. If I started a new band, the label would probably just drop me, to be honest; they’d just be like, enough of this bullsh*t.

There are probably Wolf Parade fans who don’t realize Moonface is you. You mentioned barely paying rent, and I’m guessing, commercially, Moonface isn’t the same as Wolf Parade …

No, it’s not (laughs). But that’s not why I’m in this. As long as I can scrape together the money to pay the bills I’m happy. But yeah, there’s a huge difference between this and Wolf Parade. And you’re right, a lot of people, I’m sure, have lost track. Even if I just called it Spencer Krug, rather than Moonface, the average Wolf Parade fan probably doesn’t know the names of the people in the band.

Can you describe your actual songwriting process?

It’s really random. I have no process that I have noticed, no pattern that repeats itself. I work on different instruments, according to what’s around me. I like to write on guitar, but I’m not a very good guitar player, so those songs turn out really simple and therefore poppier. Sometimes I write on piano. I’ve been in Helsinki a lot lately, and I’ve been working with a piano and really enjoying it, because I haven’t done that in a couple years.

I usually write lyrics while I’m driving or walking around or laying in bed when I can’t sleep. And most of the time the turns of phrase will just sort of pop into my head.

You have an EP titled Marimba and Sh*t-Drums and an album called Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped. Are those instances where you intentionally challenged yourself by working with particular instrumentation? Or were those environments just dictated by circumstances?

It’s a mix of both. I mean, it’s a challenge to work with these pieces of equipment that you haven’t worked with before, but it’s a challenge that I embrace. It forces you to be creative in ways that you’re not used to, and therefore you manage to squeeze ideas out of yourself that you didn’t know were there.

The marimba thing was just a long piece of music that I always knew I wanted to do on marimba, and eventually I had the equipment around me where it become possible, and I had a whole free winter, so I finally just recorded it. Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped, that’s more of a joke. I actually started writing some stuff on vibraphone, and I worked for a few weeks before I was like, f*ck this. I couldn’t get anything out of it that I wanted to pursue. I had a ton of rough ideas, but they weren’t developing into anything better. And then I was just laying in bed one night and realized I wanted to buy one of those old organs that you’d find in your grandmother’s basement and come up with some sort of solo set around that. And that evolved into that record.

You said the next album with Siinai might not be your next release. Is something else in the works?

A couple of ideas. I made a record last winter with the guy who toured the Organ Music record with me [Bigelow]. He’s a percussion nerd like myself, into mallet instruments. He has this really nice xylophone thing and I have my marimba, and we rented a vibraphone and hooked this sort-of MIDI marimba up to these different synthesizers and got some drum pads. And we wrote dreamy percussion techno kind of stuff. We wrote songs and recorded them, and I did the vocals and mastered it. But one day I put it on and realized I didn’t like it (laughs). I wanna go back and re-record some things. I plan on finishing that, probably this winter, maybe next spring.

And I have some ideas for solo stuff that I’ll be working on over the winter. And then there’s the Siinai idea. So there are three things on the table right now, but I don’t know the order in which they’ll become finished, so I honestly can’t tell you. If I could I would, because it makes sense for me to try to promote it or whatever. But at least this way I’m free to go home and work on whatever I find inspiring, rather than work on something because the label is expecting it. But the label is really cool. They don’t ever push me to do anything. If anything, they want less from me.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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