Moonbow vocalist Matt Bischoff and his iPhone are never far apart. As a recent participant on the TV show Survivor and a businessman who’s always on the road, it’s important to always be available.
Add in trying to find time to practice and write with his band — with Hank III/ex-Lethal guitarist Davey McElfresh, ex-Afghan Whigs drummer Steve Earle and Valley of the Sun bassist Ryan McAllister — and you can see why Bischoff is a fan of Steve Jobs’ little black box that could.
With so many pulls on each member’s time, when the Cincinnati-based Rock quartet does get together, they don’t have time to goof off.
“We work really fast,” Bischoff explains, “but here’s the thing — last year I was gone for months in the Philippines filming Survivor. Davey was on tour with Hank III at the time, I’ve been traveling a bunch since Survivor. So, it kind of sucks because all I want to do is jam, but when we do get together, we are very, very productive.”
For a band consisting of four Cincinnati music scene vets, the formation of Moonbow was quite easy, starting out with just a couple of friends sitting down and deciding to write music together.
“I’ve known Davey from being in the local music scene and mutual friends and I really wanted to do a project with him,” Bischoff says. “We’d hang in Covington. I’d go to his house and work on some tunes in his bedroom. It was obvious that we were coming up with some really cool stuff and we had chemistry working together. We knew at that point that we wanted to do a band.”
McAllister and Earle joined soon after and, with the departure of a second guitarist, Moonbow began work on its debut, The End of Time.
What they produced is a monster of an album.
A major portion of Moonbow’s sound lies on McElfresh’s shoulders. He writes riffs that stick in your ears like Flying V-shaped earwax. His process for coming up with such quality sounds is to never stop writing.
“At this point, a lot of it is off the cuff and a lot of it is taking a phone recorder or a hand recorder with you and humming things into one or sitting down and playing one on acoustic guitar, whatever’s available at the time,” McElfresh says. “Then you can go back through the crap and if you hear something that you wouldn’t mind hearing again, then it’s probably worth pursuing.”
McAllister adds a low, thunderous foundation to the tracks, utilizing a bass tone that sounds like gravel being ground up and spit out by the amp. Earle’s laser-precise drumming keeps Moonbow from going too dark or dreary.
On top of this mass of Metal are Bischoff’s vocals. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Kyuss and Alice in Chains, Bischoff’s delivery is clean but powerful, filled with emotion and dynamics.
“I’m a fan of catchy, melodic vocals,” Bischoff says. “I always love creating melodies to these different tunes.”
Each track on The End of Time is a story. McElfresh, Earle and McAllister help provide the background, while Bischoff supplies the plot and characters. “Black Widow” came from a run-in Bischoff had with the deadly spider while filming Survivor. “Octavia” originated from a Kentucky ghost story involving a woman who was buried alive. “Fire Bath” spawned from a man who met with a shaman and was promised a son if he forsook bathing. He did so for 37 years.
“I meet a lot of people and life is a crazy journey and I hear a lot of stories,” Bischoff says. “Personal experiences are where a lot of my lyrics for the record came about.”
With the amount of talent in Moonbow, fans have been understandably anxious to get their hands on some recorded material. The band members are also excited to finally have some recorded music available.
“I’ve been really looking forward to getting some music out. It’s been a long time coming,” Bischoff says.
If The End of Time is any indication, Cincinnati Rock fans should be grateful that Bischoff was finally able to put down the phone, gather up some friends and pick up the mic once again.