Published Sep 28, 2015When it came time to record Days Gone By, their debut full-length for Domino, Brooklyn-via-Vancouver duo Bob Moses looked to build on the harmonious blend of pop songwriting and dark, danceable electronics that made their first two EPs successful. A smooth fusion has been the primary objective of Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance since they set out to fill a musical void in their underground New York club scene in a different fashion.
"We wanted to bring more of a musical aspect to the club, rather than simply being DJs," explains Howie to Exclaim! "It felt like the right way for us to contribute to our scene."
Adds Vallance, "Both of us really loved storytelling and songwriting. If people can look at this record and say 'there are some great songs on here,' that to us is the biggest compliment."
Having gone to high school together years earlier in Vancouver, Bob Moses were born out of a chance meeting in a Lowe's parking lot across from where Vallance and Howie discovered they shared studio spaces in Brooklyn. Through releasing a pair of EPs through local label Scissor and Thread, they became entwined with the underground, playing gigs at local warehouse parties.
Such opportunities played a large role in shaping the electronic aspects of their output, primarily the subtleties of the low-end and their attention to groove. Howie attributes such a focus to Scissor and Thread boss Francis Harris, whom he describes as a "king of the low-end." The influence is apparent on reflective opener "Like It or Not" and the two-step influenced "Nothing At All," where the bass remains robust and powerful while not dominating the entire composition.
"If you look at the essence of dance music, going back to disco, R&B and soul, the bass and drums often drive those tracks" Howie points out. "When you have that foundation in place, it opens up musical doors to write chords and melodies for guitar or keys."
Unlike the famed city planner from whom they take their group name, the architecture behind a Bob Moses track comes from a more fluid place than simply pairing melodies with beats. Vallance says the duo can build around a rhythm section groove or a melody depending on which one strikes them as song material first.
The lyrics come last, written from personal perspectives in a process that Howie says is not only one of self-expression, but also self-discovery. Themes of regret run throughout "Talk" and "Before I Fall," juxtaposed with tales of temptation and indulgence with the more upbeat "Too Much iI Never Enough" and the slinky "Tearing Me Up." The duo say these themes are lyrically linked to grunge, blues, and rock classics they were drawn to growing up.
"Look at songs like 'Hey, Hey, What Can I Do' by Led Zeppelin or 'Ruby Tuesday' from the Rolling Stones," proposes Vallance. "Those are two happy-sounding tracks with darker lyrical content that connected with people. I think it's only natural how we've put some of that feeling into our own material."
Howie clarifies, "If we're going to say something with our music, we'd like it to be authentic and that tends to lean more towards melancholy for us at this point, but it's not like we're two depressed guys. We're actually pretty happy-go-lucky. We just think there's enough people writing Katy Perry's 'Last Friday Night.'"
Bob Moses are embarking on a month-long trek through North America in October followed by some shows in Europe. You can see the schedule below.
09/30 New York, NY – The Bowery Ballroom
10/01 Washington, DC – U Street
10/02 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda's
10/03 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
10/04 Montreal, QC – Théâtre Fairmount
10/06 Toronto, ON – CODA
10/08 Chicago, IL – Double Door
10/09 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
10/10 San Diego, CA – CRSSD Festival
10/11 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
10/14 Vancouver, BC – The Imperial
10/15 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
10/17 San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival
10/20 Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex
10/21 Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar
10/23 Dallas, TX – Three Links
10/24 Austin, TX – Red 7
10/25 Houston, TX – Rudyard's
10/28 New Orleans, LA – Hi-Ho Lounge
10/29 Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5
10/30 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Warehouse
10/31 Miami, FL – The Garrett
11/14 Dublin, Ireland – Button Factory
11/26 London, UK – Village Underground
12/02 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso