A Ripple Conversation with Matt Bischoff and David McElfresh of Moonbow

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments? 

Matt: When I was a kid about 8 years old, I would hear my older brother playing Metallica Ride the Lightning and Judas Priest records. I started to love Metal at a young age because of this. In my house, we got cable TV when it came out and I watched tons of MTV. Back when you could actually watch videos and be turned on to different stuff. When I was 16, I got a job at Musicland in the mall. We would get in promo CDs before the records would come out... one of the perks of working at a CD store. I remember getting Facelift by Alice in Chains and falling in love with it. That was a huge epiphany for me. And I also want to point out that I was a huge Pantera fan after getting Cowboys from Hell at the CD store. I was reading an interview in RIP magazine about Phil Anselmos top 5 favorite records he was listening to. Kyuss "Blues for the Red Sun" was on his list. I bought it and was hooked. It was the heaviest shit I had ever heard and it wasn't "Metal"

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place? 

Matt: Typically, David will have some riffs and ideas ready to present at practice. Also, Steve Earle and Ryan also play guitar and write stuff. The musical ideas will be jammed on in the jam room and I will start feeling out melodies and making up whatever pops in my head just to get the melody down. I record everything on my iPhone so I can listen to it while I drive. I will get a certain emotion or vibe from a song and I will be inspired to write the lyrics from that.

Who has influenced you the most? 

Matt: Depends on what your talking about.... If you are asking who has influenced my Beard, it would be Hans Langseth! As a singer, I would say my favorites are Layne Staley, Mark Lanegan and John Garcia. All different, all bad ass.

You have an interesting personal past, with Survivor and BMX, tell us a bit about it? 

Matt: BMX and Music always went hand in hand. I grew up riding, ended up getting sponsored by Dirt Brothers and Snafu BMX and getting a paycheck for riding. I ended up starting my own brand called Failure bikes which was a fun grassroots brand. Had a lot of great times. I have always had ramps and dirt jumps in my backyard and put on an event in 2005 called The Redbull Backyard Buildoff in my yard. Google it. I could talk write a book about my BMX career, but it would take too long. Currently I work for DK Bikes as the Sales Manager. I am able to be who I am and do something that interests me. And Survivor... I am a huge fan of the Show. I was in the Philippines in the Summer of 2012 filming Caramoan Fans vs Favorites 2. It was a dream come true. It was life changing and I still can't believe I actually got to play the game. I do a lot of charity events and I will get asked to do all kinds of things from Speaking engagements to judging talent competitions. I love it all.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music? 

David: We all are from the "Greater Cincinnati area" which includes Cincinnati, Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. There have been really great, world known recordings in the country and rhythm/blues that were recorded in downtown Cincinnati. Ranging from Hank Williams to James Brown and so on.. To many great players that reside(ed) to many that "transplanted" to Nashville in the early days. We could go on to many other genres, as far as a very rich music history for this area but basically we love jam, write, record and do more shows . Anyway, we all currently live within a 50 mile radius to each other here in the tri-state .

Where'd the band name come from?

David: The band name stemmed from researching some Kentucky history and facts, which included the song title Octavia. That's another story, but yeah,a Moonbow can be seen in Cumberland Falls, KY and Yosemite Park from this hemisphere, we hear:)

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

David: Hmm, taxi driver 2? Maybe uber cab driver that gets lost and things take a turn? Hahah but really, but if anyone needs music we'd love to give it a try!

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Matt: That's a hard question. How about "California King" This song was written about being out in the desert with John Garcia at a place called The Indian Canyons. We ate chicken, drank some whiskey and John caught a California Kingsnake. He is an animal lover and a Snake Charmer. Hell yeh.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?  

Matt: We write songs we love. From heavy to acoustic... whatever feels good. We want to put out great music and tell some good stories and make people want to hear more.. sing some shit and groove along to.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

David: When I was supposed to kick off a Hank 3 tune on fiddle one of my tuning pegs "slipped" and it went way out of tune. I started and there was no hope. Hilarious yet embarrassing because on stage there's no excuses.

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Matt: Live shows are my favorite. There is nothing like performing music that you are passionate about on stage for people. Our shows are always full of energy, beer and lots of head banging and beard banging. Hope to see ya in the crowd.

What makes a great song? 

Matt: To me, a great song has to have some great riffs and good choruses. It has to have good vocal melodies. I hate it when I hear something great but the melody just isn't there, or if the singer sounds like the Cookie Monster... I just can't get into it. I like hooks and memorable shit you can sing to.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote? 

Matt: My Dad died of Cancer when I was 14 and I wrote a song called "Father" We played it in one of my first serious bands called Dirtwagon. It was about what I was feeling. Pretty sad and emotional. Still like listening back to some of those old recordings from time to time.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

 Matt: The song End of Time which became the Title track from our first record. It is still one of my favorite Moonbow songs and to me defined who we were. We had the music for the song and on Christmas Eve 2011, I laid down all the vocal demos in Garageband while I was getting ready to go to Grandmas with the kids. Will never forget that.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?  

Matt: So many great bands out there. Right now, I have been listening to Brant Bjork "Black Flower Power" Brant writes some plain and simple bad ass and grooving rock songs. Gotta give props to my friends band Valley of the Sun. Our bass player used to play with them. They are bad ass.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice? 

Matt:  I love Vinyl. I have more CDs than vinyl just because it was always the easier route growing up. I find myself buying more vinyl these days. That is my preference. Something about the experience of putting on a record. The process. It is great.. Can get that with digital.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice 

Matt: Beer. I enjoy drinking new and different Craft beers and IPA's But PBR will do just fine too. Hell, Im drinking PBR right now.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

Matt: Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky is our home. Shake it Records is the place to go!

What's next for the band? 

Matt: We are heading into the studio this month to begin tracking our next record. We couldn't be more excited. We just got nominated for best Hard Rock/Metal for the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards which is an honor. Win or lose... its just cool to be recognized. Also one of our songs will be featured in the Vans shoes BMX video later this year. 2016 is gonna be a good one. Hope to play some shows and do some small tours.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waverers?

Matt: Thanks to Todd and Ripple for the interview and the love. Be on the lookout for our new record as well as our acoustic record we just put out last year called Volto del Demone. One of my favorite recordings I have ever been a part of. Cheers.