Fusing elements of several garage rock bands throughout several decades, Spliff Moth is a mix of influenced Metal, Garage, and Blues gnar-core and rock. Bringing in a thirsty crowd of college kids ready to mosh, Spliff Moth’s shows are notoriously known to have some of the most packed, sweat-drenched, and heaviest mosh pits around Arcata. Bringing diversity to the overwhelming amount of folk and bluegrass in the area, a Spliff Moth show is worth seeing just to hear the instrumentation and chemistry this talented bunch has to offer.
In the midst of seemingly endless funk-reggae-jam bands and bluegrass outfits, Spliff Moth have been providing a welcome change of pace in the Arcata live music scene for more than a year now with their trademark band of sludgy garage rock. What once began as a project designed to ignite mosh pits at dingy house shows, has morphed into a respected outfit who has just put out their first self-titled EP, available for free download or purchase on cassette. I was able to catch the band on a sunny day, where we talked on the steps outside the HSU music and art buildings.
NH: What kind of equipment do you guys play?
Luke: I play a Gretsch kit, I’ve had it for a couple years now. Spencer: I play a Fender Jazz Bass.
Andrew: We play some really shitty guitars.
NH: Like Squier Bullets?
Andrew: No, I have an Epi Junior that I would like to play, but these guys aren’t really stoked on it because it’s got some intonation issues. It needs a new bridge, it’s like ten years old. When we play shows, I usually play this Rondo Music custom guitar, which kinda has a Telecaster body. I got it for like 70 bucks off Craigslist with a case. Oh and then there’s an Epiphone Casino semi- hollowbody.
Logan: I play a Schecter Omen 7, which has 7 strings. I originally bought it when I was trying to be super metal, but I still use the low B string for chord expansion. We used to play Spliff Moth in drop C.
NH: Any pedals?
Spencer: Yeah I have a fuzz pedal, I also have an octave pedal that doesn’t really work very well. I’m trying to get a bass synthesizer pedal.
Andrew: I have this Behringer fuzz pedal. It’s pretty gnarly, but I like it.
Logan: Yeah that thing is awesome. It’s made of plastic, its got that real “shit-fuzz” tone. I also have a fuzz pedal, I use a Little Big Muff. I also have a Voodoo Sparkle Drive, and a Line-6 DL-4, which I use for delay and looping.
NH: Do you guys ever play acoustic at all?
Andrew: Yeah when we were in the dorms me and Logan used to play acoustic at these open mics on campus, we called ourselves the Sunset Fucks.
NH: Would you guys say that the whole lo-fi thing is part of the Spliff Moth aesthetic at this point?
Andrew: I don’t know. Maybe unintentionally.
Luke: I mean, I definitely care about good equipment. I think good tone is probably the most important part of recording and playing music. I mean, we’re all starving college musicians, so we do what we can with what we have.
Andrew: I’ve always been into the less-is-more thing, and working with whatever I can get my hands on. I feel like over the years, we’ve become a lot more structured. These guys write some really good songs.
Logan: Yeah it’s kinda crazy. The last few songs we wrote we ended up playing the next day on Local Lixx.
NH: Spencer and Logan, I know you guys are music majors like me. Do you think learning theory has helped you write songs faster, or better? Do you ever wish you were applying that knowledge more?
Spencer: It definitely helps. Maybe not always for writing stuff, but just for being able to analyze stuff, and actually know what notes and chords we’re actually playing. I wish I used it more, I just don’t feel like I know enough about it yet to really utilize it.
Logan: Yeah totally. It’s almost like a translator. I definitely don’t ever use it as like a crutch or anything, because it’s pretty new to me. I want it to sound natural, not forced or anything.
NH: Andrew and Luke, do you guys know anything about music theory? Andrew: Not at all.
Luke: Not really… I know a tiny bit about rhythm stuff but I mainly play by ear. NH: Do you two write songs at all?
Andrew: Not really.
Luke: Yeah I write some stuff in the band, I’ve written some guitar riffs and stuff. I wrote two songs on the new EP. It can be cool to see someone else play your music if they know what they’re doing, since I’m not super competent on the guitar.
NH: What was the worst song you ever wrote?
Spencer and Logan (in unison): Bouncy Bo Bo Bear.
Luke: [laughs] Yeah that was one of the first songs we ever wrote.
Spencer: It was just the shittiest music ever. There were no words or anything. We were pretty stoked on it at first, but yeah. Fuck that song.
NH: What was the worst gig you guys ever played?
Spencer: We played this house show where this band from Portland, who were all like 17 or 18 years old, broke our mic clip and some other equipment of ours. It was bullshit.
Logan: Yeah that singer was really drunk, and was trying way too hard. They were running vocals through my laptop and they knocked it over. They also did a fucking “Stacys Mom” cover. And then the cops broke up our set.
Luke: Yeah cops coming is always a bummer. I hate shows that get cut off early.
Logan: That was definitely a big problem for us when we first started out. I feel like it is for a lot of bands up here.
Andrew: I know one show that was kind of the worst, but also kind of the best. We played at T’s Cafe this one time last year, and they only gave us 15 minutes to play, which sucked, but it was one of the most high energy shows we’ve ever played. Aparently there were these people living upstairs and we were knocking picture frames off the wall, and we woke their baby up and shit.
Logan: Yeah it was packed in there. Alex from KRFH had to tell everyone to calm down because we woke the baby up.
Spencer: And then someone in the crowd yelled “Fuck babies!” and everyone started cheering and shit. It was sick.
Logan: We wrote “fuck babies” on a couple of our tapes.
NH: What’s your favorite rom-com?
Andrew: Ocean’s Eleven. No wait, The Matrix.
NH: Does Spliff Moth have romantic comedy nights?
Logan: Kind of. We watch The Matrix together sometimes.
NH: What’s your favorite movie where a dog dies?
Andrew: Air Bud.
Logan: I was gonna say Anchorman, but the dog actually comes back at the end. Andrew: Actually I Am Legend. That’s some heavy shit.
NH: That’s a great scene in Anchorman though. Getting back to the EP, which you guys just put out on cassette tapes, can you talk a little bit about recording that? I know Mike Levan helped record at least some of it.
Logan: Yeah, Mike did half and we did half ourselves.
Luke: Man, when I heard Mike’s recordings for the first time I was blown away. It’s really cool to hear something that originated in the garage actually have a really good, professional sounding mix.
Logan: Yeah, you can totally tell the difference between what we recorded with Mike and what we recorded ourselves, but I don’t think it’s really a bad thing. I mean we were a live band before anything else, we’ve never really been in a studio before.
NH: What does the future hold for Spliff Moth? Andrew: Movie night.
Luke: I think we’re trying to do an album at some point. Everyone’s either in school or working, and we JUST finished this ep, so we’ll see.
Spencer: And a tour at some point too, maybe just a west coast thing.
Logan: We have plans for an album, we’ve written some stuff, but we haven’t really gotten started on it yet. I would love to do more work in a studio at some point, that was an awesome experience. Hopefully touring as well.
Luke: Yeah touring has always been a dream of mine. Just going out on the road with a rock and roll band, playing shows. Even if they’re house shows, as long as we’re playing music, and getting it out there.
This interview was conducted by Nick Hart. You can download the Spiff Moth EP here: https:// spliffmoth.bandcamp.com/releases In addition to that release, they have a gig lined up in the near future opening up for Arcata psych-rock veterans White Manna’s upcoming record release show. Tickets are available at Peoples Records now, and online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1425997. Proceeds go towards supporting HSU’s new Analog Masters record label, of which myself, Spencer and Logan are all part of.