Interview and photos by Lauren Armao
Last Friday I got to sit down with local Atlanta band Lunar Vacation before their show at the Drunken Unicorn. They were kind enough to answer some questions for Melodic Magazine and let me take some photos of their soundcheck as well.
L: How did you guys meet?
Maggie: Grace and I became friends in eighth grade. We went to different schools but we had a mutual friend and we both liked the same music. If I recall correctly it was Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes. We bonded over that, but then we didn’t really become close until sophomore year.
Grace: John and I met at a retreat for our church. He was wearing a Mac Demarco sweatshirt and playing Tame Impala, so I was like, “Ooh, this kid has good music taste.” During the retreat we jammed for awhile. I didn’t know he was best friends with Connor, but Maggie and I’s guitar teacher kept telling us that we all needed to start a band together and find this kid Connor Down who’s amazing at drumming. It all kind of connected, it was so bizarre.
Connor: When did we jam for the first time?
Grace: It was over the summer.
Maggie: Yeah, Grace and I started one night in July of 2016. We decided to write this song and have it under [the band name] Lunar Vacation, because Grace had the name saved in case she ever had a band. So then we went to John Michael’s house and Connor was there, and we all just jammed. And then we decided to do it again.
Grace: We wanted to play our music live, so we were just like, “Why don’t we get a band?” And then we all just kind of formed together.
Mateo: Also, Connor and John Michael and I were all on the drumline in our high school marching band, so we’ve been playing together for awhile.
Maggie: [Mateo] just came originally for one show I think, and then he just stuck. We had a lot of other people that would come and play for one show and then leave, but Mateo stuck around for almost a year.
L: What was the first show you all played together?
M: Our first real show was at the old Masquerade down the road. We were opening for La Sera and Springtime Carnivore and it was very fun.
G: I kept emailing venues around Atlanta and I was like, “Hey, we’re a new band called Lunar Vacation.” We had one demo out, the Anna demo that was really horrible and we just sent it out. And then the Masquerade booking man was just like, “Okay cool, can you play this show?” and we were like “Sh*t, we need to get our stuff together.”
C: That was when we had everyone at [St.] Pius [high school] come; it was packed.
M: We got all of our high school friends out, and our parents. It was really fun.
L: What’s been your favorite show that you’ve played so far?
C: It was at the new Masquerade, with Atlas Greene and 3LO. It was awesome.
M: Mine was either our EP release show at the Drunken Unicorn or… we played this thing called a Sofar session where we just played in someone’s house and all these millennials came and drank wine and watched us, and it was really, really fun.
Mateo: My first show, which was at the 529.
M: That one was so fun.
John Michael: I’m gonna have to go with 529.
M: We played with this band called Del Sur.
L: Have you guys had any funny or strange show experiences?
G: Maggie and I one time, we played this thing one time called the Trash Pad. It was 2016, around November, maybe December.
M: It’s called the Trash Pad but it’s really someone’s basement. They have a show every year and call it that.
G: So we were gonna play that show and then Connor and our old member Andrew, they dropped out, but Maggie and I still wanted to play so we did. It was the weirdest thing, because it was all of these boys in bands screaming and playing all these loud instruments.
M: It was like 100 kids just shoved into one guy’s basement.
G: It was crazy, and then Maggie and I, the duo, with our guitars just playing our songs, no drums or anything. And then in the middle of our set, this one guy comes up to us and just goes, “I’m so sorry but I have to get the mic,” and he goes, “Everyone! Shut up!”. There was a cop on the stairs looking down and he just said, “Hey guys, this is really cool what you’re doing; you’re all illegally parked though so I’m gonna need you to move your cars,” and everyone was like, “Okay cool”. The cop was just like, “Yeah, I don’t see anything illegal so you guys are good,” and these frat dudes hold up a bottle of alcohol and they go, “Yeah!” and then the cop rushed down to try and get him and everyone just ran out and left.
M: Grace and I had to exit through the window with our amps and stuff because there were so many people.
M: Also, at our EP release show, a lot of teachers from our school came, and everyone started chanting their names and people were crowd surfing.
G: There were three of our teachers and they all brought their wives, and they all bought our shirts.
L: Your last EP got a really great response. Are you guys working on a follow up or anything new?
JM: Yes. We’re recording stuff in our dorm; I have all the studio gear in there. We have a couple of tracks going right now; it’s going kind of slow but we’re gonna hit the deadline. We’re looking to probably release, I would say a single, in either March or April, and then an EP with about 6-8 songs in June.
L: Who are some of your favorite bands/artists?
C: When I first started jamming with John, he got me into the Strokes. We both got into psychedelic rock. I really like bands like Grizzly Bear, and jam bands too. Tame Impala.
M: This is a really heavy question. As for modern bands, I really like Beach Fossils, Tame Impala, Twin Peaks. And then I like a lot of older stuff like old REM, Neil Young. I like a lot of old folk music. Too. There’s too many.
Mateo: In high school I listened to a lot of Alt-J, which kinda influenced the way I try to play synth: really stripped back and effective.
M: Nicely phrased.
JM: My favorite artist is Tycho. I really like the electronic stuff. For old school, I really like Led Zeppelin.
G: I have a lot. My number one is Alvvays, because Molly Ranken is who I look up to. I also like Tame Impala and Twin Peaks. Also recently, I’ve been listening to Cosmo Pyke, Rex Orange County, and Boy Pablo and all the jazzy stuff. But also I’ve been really into Grateful Dead recently too, because you can never not find new stuff. Also, Mile High Club, definitely.
L: What are your plans for 2018? Any touring?
M: We’re going to do a late summer tour. I think we’re planning on doing Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philly, DC, Richmond, and Charleston. We’re trying to make it a big circle. We’re all trying to plan it but it’s kind of hard right now because it’s so far away, so everyone’s giving us the “I don’t know if we’ll be available so far in advance” kinda speech.
G: It’s coming together pretty well. We know people in every city, so I think it’ll be pretty good.
M: We’re also starting to play our first out-of-town shows too. We’re playing Athens in a couple of weeks, and then we’re going to Clemson. And then we’re going to try and play Nashville and maybe Charleston soon too. We’re trying to branch out this year.
L: How do you think being involved in the Atlanta local scene has influenced your sound or you wanting to start a band? What’s it like being a local band around here?
G: I think the first band that kind of got me into it was Seagulls. I remember being so in love with them. I went to my first local show – it was for the band Triathlon. They’re from Savannah, but now they’re in New York. They had a show the day after we met this guy Ian, and he (Ian) kind of introduced us into the whole Atlanta scene.
M: Yeah, Grace and I just went to a show at the Masquerade; we were seeing the Frights and someone was like, “Are you in Lunar Vacation?” and it was kinda weird because we didn’t have any following.
G: It was one week after we had put out a demo on soundcloud.
M: It was pure coincidence. And the guy was like, “Oh, my friend Ian is here, Ian Buford. He’s in a band called Dinner Time.” We met him, exchanged numbers and he told us he really liked our stuff. He helped us get a lot of local shows and kind of put us in the scene.
G: He was kind of like our mentor.
M: Yeah, definitely. I think that Atlanta is growing. I think at the beginning of 2014 is when it really started blossoming, and it’s really cool that we’re getting to experience it changing so much and becoming much more artsy and accepting.
L: What’s a song that you can’t stop listening to right now?
M: Impossible Germany, by Wilco. The solo in it is amazing and I listen to it every single day.
JM: Superposition, by King Gizzard.
G: Lost/Heart, by Cuco. Also Jump the Gun by Hockey Dad. So frikken good. Also Caught In The Trap by Post Animal.
M: And Lonely Jones by Post Animal.
C: I listen to the Tycho remix of the Spoon song “Inside Out”.
Mateo: I’ve been listening to In Cold Blood off the new Alt-J album. Even though it’s kind of old, I’ve been listening to it a lot.
L: What is your dream city to go to on tour?
G: Can we all say it at the same time?
G and M: Chicago.
JM: But really, LA.
Mateo: I’d like to go to Asheville.
M: I’d like to go to Seattle and Portland too. But the Chicago music scene is just incredible.
L: If you guys could trade positions with another band member, who would you trade with?
M: Probably Connor.
G: I want to be a drummer, yeah, I wish I had drumming skills.
M: Wait, are we all gonna be Connor? I guess [John Michael and Mateo] can be Grace.
G: Everyone just wants to be Connor.
C: I’d do synth. Give me like a week, I could do it.
M: Okay, let’s not.
L: Vinyl or digital?
M: I don’t want to sound pretentious. It’s really gratifying to put on a record and listen to the whole thing, but also Spotify is awesome because you can find so many great new songs every day.
G: I’d say if you have an album you love, get it on vinyl so you can listen to it the whole way through, but Spotify is good for finding new stuff too. You can do anything. I love Spotify. But I also love vinyl.
Thanks to Lunar Vacation for doing this interview! Make sure to check them out:
Instagram: Lunar Vacation
Twitter: Lunar Vacation
Facebook: Lunar Vacation
Spotify: Lunar Vacation
And check out the rest of the photos below: