You may be surprised to know that Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance of Bob Moses dabbled in rock bands throughout high school in Vancouver. But it was through the electronic music scene in Brooklyn, New York, where the two really made their mark. The Brooklyn scene was where Tom and Jimmy met Francis Harris, and began writing vocal hooks for his Frank & Tony project. This soon led to a well-received live performance at the Marcy Hotel in 2012.
Bob Moses launched shortly thereafter and the duo has seen a meteoric rise in popularity ever since the success of their Far From The Tree EP. Their most recent release "First to Cry," has garnered a lot of attention. Even as they embark on their largest tour to date, the two are currently working on an album for Domino Records.
THUMP spoke to Tom and Jimmy about their essential on-the-road tunes, why artists will eventually flock to Detroit, and the source of a certain Canadian birthright.
THUMP: You are in the first leg of your tour, which kicked off at TomorrowWorld and will take you across North America and into South America. Will you be performing in any cities for the first time? Any gigs you are especially looking forward to?
Bob Moses: We've never played in Seattle before, even though we grew up just a few hours North in Vancouver. Seattle has a rich music history and we're both huge grunge fans. Plus, the Pacific Northwest is beautiful… can never get enough of it. There are a bunch of cities on this tour where we have had a blast playing and have also made some really good friends over the last couple years. But, we have to say, we're so stoked to return to our hometown of Vancouver to play again. The last time we were there, it was one of the best gigs we had all year.
What specific music do you need with you while touring? Are you stoked on any particular artists right now?
Definitely need some essential classic rock with you: Zeppelin, Stones, Petty, Beatles, Floyd, etc. Also '80s and '90s rock, Brit rock and '80s and '90s dance. Stuff like Soundgarden, Moby, Talking Heads and Tears for Fears. You should always carry around a solid amount of Radiohead's catalogue [with you]. It's such good headphone music.
As far as current artists… Alt-J just put out a really great album, sort of Radioheady. This guy Desert Sound Colony released an awesome EP with our friends at Scissor and Thread… sounds like psychedelic dance rock. Caribou just dropped a new album too, he can almost do no wrong and that's not just because he's a fellow Canuck. His side project Daphni is also great.
On October 18th you're playing in Detroit at TV Lounge. Has Detroit's rich musical history influenced you in any way, techno or otherwise? Any thoughts on the city in general?
We think Detroit has forever impacted music culture, whether it's Motown, techno, hip-hop or garage rock. You've had artists like Stevie Wonder, Richie Hawtin, Eminem and The White Stripes all doing their thing there—all of whom have had an impact on us. The city has gone through some hard times and it's well on its way back. A lot of guys are making some awesome music out there, like Theo Parrish and Omar S. It'll only be a matter of time before a lot of American cities become too expensive for artists and they flock to Detroit.
Detroit is known for Hockeytown and you're both originally from Vancouver, so I have to ask, are you Canucks fans? Vancouver seems passionate about their team.
Being from Vancouver, being a Canucks fan is a birthright. Even if you don't follow all the games, it's still ingrained in you. Detroit is basically a Canadian city as far as hockey goes. The Red Wings are a legendary team… if only the Canucks could get a cup one day.
Do you both come from a performance/band background or DJing? Do you do DJ sets aside from your usual live performances?
We both come from playing in bands. In high school we were both in various metal and punk bands separately. Jimmy also started DJing in high school. When Bob Moses first started playing, we were DJing with Tom singing vocals over the tracks we produced. We didn't have enough of our own material to do a full live set. We still DJ from time to time—at after parties or some club shows—but we mainly stick to playing the live set.
You have a very organic sound but still incorporate electronic elements into your music. Do you find it easy to achieve this balance of 'man and machine,' both in the studio and also while performing live?
It's a sound we stumbled upon. We always try and record performances on our tracks. We play the basslines, keys and guitar instead of just programming midi. We'll do it over and over again until we have a take we like. This, coupled with a real human voice and a few dusty field recording samples we like, is pretty much the core of our sound. Playing live is even more "natural" sounding, so to speak, because the element of messing up, or playing the wrong note, or singing out of key is there and that'll definitely make you sound more human.
Do you have any artists or songs you two like to play when you're just jamming? Can a crowd expect any covers from you at a live show?
The single we just released this summer "I Ain't Gonna Be The First To Cry," is actually a cover of an old Bobby Bland song. Tom wrote this awesome guitar lick and the lyrics and melody from Bobby Bland's song just gelled with our track so well that we thought it'd be a great cover. We always sing other people's melodies or mess around with other people songs in our studio for fun. Covers are definitely something we are very into and plan on putting more in the live set.
Bob Moses make their first Detroit appearance on October 18th. Find event info here and check their Facebook page for their complete tour schedule. You can buy "First to Cry" on DIGITAL and VINYL. Be sure to follow Bob Moses on SoundCloud for more.