Interview with Moon Hooch

Anna Cieslik ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Nothing about the Brooklyn three-piece band Moon Hooch is typical. From their make-up–the band consists of drums and two saxophones–to their first performances on New York subway platforms, Moon Hooch has performed for over two years now and that’s arguably what makes them what they are today. Combining aspects of jazz, electronic music, and rap, Moon Hooch has created their own unique genre of music that stands apart from everything else out there today. The band, which is made up of Wenzl McGowen and Mike Wilbur on the saxophones and James Muschler on the drums, sat down with Emertainment Monthly before their show opening for They Might Be Giants to explain their sound, how they started making music, and more.

Emertainment Monthly: Your sound is a little bit different than a lot of what’s out there right now. If you had to describe it in the most succinct way, how would you describe it?

Mike Wilbur: Cave music! [Laughing] It’s like house music, but it’s more wild, more jagged, more free, more natural to live in.

EM: If you could perform with any musician dead or alive, past or present, for an hour, who would it be?

Moon Hooch (all in consensus): John Coltrane.

Wenzl McGowen: Or actually, the guy who first played the bone flute in a cave, in prehistoric times. That guy was a genius.

EM: How do you go about writing new songs and recording? What’s the recording process like for you guys?

WM: I feel like it changes all the time. Sometimes one of us writes a song and brings it into the others. Sometimes we all just end up in the basement jamming out. Sometimes we stand by a lake and jam out and come up with a song.

MW: Sometimes we just close our eyes and listen to the sounds around us.

EM: How would you explain the name Moon Hooch?

MW: Well, I often say things that don’t make very much sense to people and one time, somebody asked us what our name was and I just said “Moon Juice.” There wasn’t any logical thought or discussion about the name really. And then we switched it to Moon Hooch.

WM: There were already like four bands called Moon Juice.

EM: So what do you do usually that’s a little bit out of the ordinary to prepare for a show?

MW: We’ve done some weird things….

James Muschler: Headstands.

WM: Chest bumps. Sometimes we meditate on the stage.

EM: Where do you guys draw your inspiration from?

WM: Plants. I just think plants are inspiring.

EM: So as musicians yourself who are on the inside of the music business, where do you see music going in the future?

MW: I’ve been thinking about this actually. I think pop music nowadays has such a garbage message. It’s like fast food. It’s like feeding people what they don’t need, what their soul does not need. It’s like, here’s all this stuff that you definitely don’t need but we’ll make a lot of money off of it hopefully. So what we’re trying to do and what hopefully happens is kind of the same thing that hopefully happens with food. We want it to be more of a local thing, more of an organic thing – much healthier. We want mental nourishment to be the cool thing. Not just rapping about hoes and money and cars, but talking about some real stuff or play something from the heart. Play something that really means something instead of what some big white guy in a suit told you to play.

WM: It’s scary to see how corporate music has become. Like a lot of the DJs don’t even write their own music. They just hire people to write their music and they spin it and they don’t even play it anymore. It’s become so superficial.

EM: Going off of that, what do you hope people take away from your shows and your music?

WM: We want to inspire people to rethink what they can do with machines. We want people to rethink what synthetic products are. We want people to rethink music and we want them to think more organically. The saxophone is a machine, but you can really express your soul through it if you have the right relationship with it.

EM: Are there any bands or musicians that you’ve been listening to lately and really enjoying?

MW: This band Tiny Hazard is incredible. They’re like amazing.

WM: I went to their show the other day and I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been touched by music in that way. It’s literally a different style every 30 seconds.

EM: What can we expect from Moon Hooch in the coming months?

WM: Organification of life.

MW: A new album.

WM: Festivals. Dance parties.

JM: We’re doing Electric Forest [in Michigan] and Governor’s Ball [in New York].

Whatever your summer plans are, I highly recommend making time to catch at least one Moon Hooch show. Their sound is indescribable and you won’t truly understand the intricacy of their music until you see it performed live. Plus, their energy on stage is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. If you want to learn more about the band, their unique sound, find out when they’re stopping by a venue near you, or even listen to a few of their songs, make sure to check out their website at

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