Some local records have a knack for flying under the radar and then astounding the senses after being given a listen. Often this comes from an act that’s still cutting its teeth, but in this particular case it’s a bunch of Providence music vets.
Consisting of Jason Simmons on vocals, Mark Howard on guitar, Chase Leonard on drums and Peter Landry on bass, The Moodrunners will be putting out their debut self-titled EP on Bandcamp and numerous streaming platforms on April 1. Together, they create electrifying powerpop rock ‘n’ roll that’s as if The Ramones, Cheap Trick and Guided By Voices came together to mold a musical lovechild. A few tracks that highlight the EP are “Test The Rain,” “Better Skies” and “All In.”
I recently had a talk with Simmons and Howard, the latter a Warwick native, about making the EP before COVID-19 screwed everything up; each member of the band bringing in different styles; being raised on ’90s alternative rock; and being on the hunt for a new bassist.
ROB DUGUAY: What was the experience like for you guys making your first EP together? Did you work with a producer or did you do it all by yourselves?
MARK HOWARD: I thought the experience was great. We did the EP with Jon Downs, my bandmate in The Brother Kite. He does a lot of production work out of his basement in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and everything he does sounds fantastic. We recorded pretty much all of the instrumental tracks live, then added the vocals, some extra guitar and percussion tracks later on.
JASON SIMMONS: To be honest, I don’t remember. It feels like so long ago. Ninety-five percent of it was recorded pre-pandemic.
MH: Yeah, COVID-19 hit right as we were about to finish it up, so that kind of delayed things.
RD: I really like how it captures the rawness of what you guys bring in a sonic sense.
MH: Thanks! Part of that is definitely from doing the tracks live.
RD: With the EP being done before the pandemic hit, were you all just deliberating on when would be a good time to release it? Did it take a while to get pressed, mixed and mastered?
MH: Yeah, kind of a mix of all of that. At first we were just kind of waiting for the lockdown to be over so we could go back in and finish the last few tracks. Then more time passed and we realized it was going to be awhile, we finished the last tracks remotely. Then it was just kind of, there was no real rush to get it finished and put out, because nobody knew when we would be able to play shows again.
JS: I was hoping it’d be out last summer, but it’s probably good that it got delayed since we’re that much closer to live shows back to being a real thing.
MH: I definitely got depressed and lazy and it took way too long to finish, but at least it’s finally done now.
RD: Hopefully things clear up during the summer in terms of actual live music.
JS: Yeah, 67 percent of our band’s existence has been during the pandemic, so we still consider ourselves a brand new band, really.
MH: It’s true, we only got to play two shows before the pandemic began. Maybe we’ll be able to do some type of show this summer.
RD: Who created the cover art with the psychedelic wizard holding an orb?
MH: The art was done by an artist named Gunsho. Peter coordinated the art stuff and I think it looks awesome.
RD: I definitely agree, I really dig the detail and color combination on it. Before The Moodrunners started, each of you have been in different kinds of bands. For example, Jason, you fronted the hair metal band Teazer, and Mark, you play guitar in The Brother Kite, which is an indie rock act. While having different influences, how did you all find a common ground on this powerpop sound that the band has?
MH: Our writing has been pretty collaborative, so it’s probably been a mixture of our different styles and musical backgrounds. A bunch of our songs started from us jamming at practice. For songs that may have been written by one band member or another, everyone basically comes up with their parts, so everyone is bringing their own influence to the band.
JS: In Teazer, I was basically playing a character, which was fun and I felt like I could get away with doing whatever silly antics I wanted to do. But with The Moodrunners, I’m more myself and the music is more in my wheelhouse or whatever.
MH: We were also all raised on ’90s alternative rock, so we have a lot of common ground there.
RD: It’s cool how you take each other’s influences to create something more honest and original.
MH: Yeah, we definitely play, or attempt to play, a lot of ’90s tunes in practice.
JS: If I had met these guys a decade ago or in high school or something, we definitely would’ve started a band.
RD: Peter just announced that he’s moving to Norway, so have you guys been on the lookout for a replacement on bass? Have you found one already?
MH: That is still up in the air. We’re either going to find a new bass player, or the band will just relocate to Norway. We haven’t decided which yet.
JS: That’s kind of a punch to the gut. Either we find a new bass player or we become the hottest new band in Norway.
MH: Or we could Skype him in for shows!
RD: You can have a Zoom screen of him performing in the background when you’re back to playing live.
JS: We’re going to miss him, but if any of the hundreds of thousands of people that read this article are interested in playing bass for The Moodrunners, feel free to hit us up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Moodrunners.
MH: Peter’s playing is a huge part of our sound. It’s not going to be as easy as just finding a new bass player.