MOTHXR are the next big thing.
In early 2014, an unknown New York band dropped Easy, a pop banger that was shadowed by mystery. “Who are these guys? Where have they come from?”
MOTHXR is composed of Penn Badgley (lead vocals), Jimmy Giannopoulos (producer), Simon Oscroft (guitarist) and Darren Will (bassist/keys). A striking quartet that praise themselves through minimalist sounds. Debut album admires this with a perfect stir of indie and electronica, fronted by alluring vocals.
Read below as we talk biking around Brussels, Scottish chants and who’s most likely to appear on the Jeremy Kyle show.
So you’ve just kicked off the tour, how’s it all gone so far?
Penn: Well it’s just the start so…
Simon: It’s been smooth! I mean apart from the lack of sleep, but I guess that’s pretty normal now
Darren: Leaving New York is just so f*cking exciting man!
You’d said before that you’ve been to some of the places on tour before but never Glasgow, anywhere else you’re ticking off for the first time?
Penn: Leeds was new!
Simon: And Nottingham
Penn: Wait was Leeds new? I feel like we’ve played there before
Simon: Yeah it was new
Penn: No come on, I’m almost positive we’ve been there before – like why the f*ck can’t I remember this right!
Darren: Are you not thinking of Manchester?
Penn: No I am so sure we’ve been there before… It was that time we went to get the, oh wait you weren’t there that time Simon
Simon: You must be thinking of Liverpool!
Penn: No man! We for sure haven’t been to Liverpool
Simon: Ha, I have no idea!
Penn: Do you remember that place where we were super late to soundcheck and then ran to go on stage?
Penn: That wasn’t Leeds?
Darren: No that was Bristol
Penn: It was not Bristol!
Penn: Sorry, just for some reason I have decided that this is really important for me to figure out
Ha! Our guess is as good as yours!
Simon: Best left a mystery
So have there been any highlights so far while on the road?
Penn: No not yetniThat’s maybe a good thing…
Penn: We’ll see!
Simon: I think we’re expecting a good crowd in Amsterdam actually and Munich! There both really good for us, for some reason…
You could try for the Scottish chant tonight
Penn: How does it actually go?
“Here we, here we, here we f*cking go”
Penn: What’s the speed?
The chant starts and everyone just knows what to do from there
Penn/Simon/Darren: HERE WE, HERE WE, HERE WE F*CKING GO
Simon: Easy enough ha!
So we noticed you guys don’t really have a lot of time off this tour, when you do though, what does the day look like?
Simon: Well we usually get an Air B&B because it’s nicer than a hotel for time off
Penn: We just see the city
Darren: Our first day off is in Brussels so we’re going to bike around for a bit I think
Penn: You know last time we were in Brussels we went to this museum and saw the Mcread exhibit and it was just amazing! One of the most enriching experiences I’ve had at a museum which was cool
Simon: It’d be good to go back
Darren: I also really want to have a look around Belgium a little more this time
Simon: We shot a video there last time
Penn: We shot in a lot places though as well
Simon: Yeah when we were on tour with The Neighborhood
Ah how was that?
Darren: Really cool
Penn: Yeah playing to a lot of people every night was cool! Actually we also played at this thing called Electric Picnic a couple nights ago and that was to a couple thousand people, just in this outside theater and it was amazing! Just did not expect that
Simon: Yeah it was amazing!
Penn: Also though, and this is not a refection on the festival itself, but we just had the most comically awful technical problems while we were playing. You know it was a festival so you never have time to set up! The day just went like we landed, we played at 1:30 in the morning and was just so disoriented
Did it even happen? Or just all a dream
Penn: I mean who knows ha!
Overall, what’s it like to be on the road with MOTHXR?
Penn: It’s a f*cking dream! Sorry for the Scottish accent there, it’s hard to shake ha!
Darren: Well we have a TV and Xbox in the van so it’s pretty good
Simon: It is pretty luxury yeah! Everyone usually has there headphones on as well
Penn: I forgot mine though! But I like to read so I’m doing okay so far
Darren: We haven’t started our van antics yet cause we’ve been pretty tired so still waiting for all that to kick in
Simon: Ha! We’ve been so tired
Darren: I don’t even know what sleep is
Simon: We do also have a bed up at the back of the van as well
That is a stand out tour van you guys have got!
Simon: We know!
So going back to the start, how did you guys all playing music together and actually starting a band come about?
Penn: It was years ago actually and we all met in Brooklyn. I mean the details are the details, but basically we met in Brooklyn and then after some time once we were able to set a date, we went over and recorded in LA. At that point, all four of us had not yet sat down in a room together and once we did, I think it was uncommonly seamless. We were just able to record about an entire song a day for the first while. Easy was one of those and Stranger was kind of half and half I guess
Simon: Yeah it was just meant to be a recording project, not a band or anything. I guess it wasn’t exactly the way a normal band forms. We’ve all been in bands since we were teenagers which was a different experience for us all – but no we’re here!
Was it stressful churning out one song a day? You must’ve been pretty busy and all over the place?
Penn: You’d think yeah! But I think because all this music was coming and just happening it was pretty stress free, a really great experience!
After releasing four singles, you guys then came out with your debut album Centerfold. Did it feel like a natural leap for you guys?
Darren: Yeah for sure, I mean we didn’t have a plan or anything, it was a bit of guessing game but we had made the whole record so it just worked!
How do you feel the reception of the record has been?
Simon: Exactly what we expected, like we’re an unknown band so it just takes time to build. And to keep coming over to Europe and the UK is how we plan on doing so!
Penn: Yeah there’s been a good response, I mean there’s been a response which is good
Do you think it could’ve gone better?
Penn: Well in the scheme of things maybe, but as to where we are right now it is good yeah
Simon: I mean it’s more than you can hope for considering we’re over playing to like two hundred people in this city! Which is pretty amazing!
So we know you guys had a lot of label interest, how did you mange to decide who to go with?
Darren: The one thing we really wanted was to keep creative control, that was always the case. So that off the bat knocks out about 90% of labels because they want to get songwriters and change everything
Penn: And much of what we’ve accomplished so far, we did do without labels you know so it’s always been a question of what will we actually need one for and then identifying those things helped to narrow down the options. Kitsuné were really good and excited to work with us
Simon: We went with small labels to keep it causal
Penn: Yeah and do what we want basically
We saw that Nylon described your music as “baby making music” – do you feel that fits? How would you best describe it yourselves?
Penn: I’d definitely say it’s far more than that
Simon: Yeah it’s experimental, it’s minimal and just all the things we wanted it to be
Penn: I mean increasingly it seems to me that adjectives less and less relative listening to music because they’re are only so many, and they’ve been used. I’d say we’re pretty satisfied where the music sits, I mean they’re may be a lot of bands that kind of sit in that pocket somewhat but I do feel like we’ve established a unique sound. Some might categorise us with others but I think we’ve made something special, some people might say it’s sexual or R’N’B or like Joy Division but I don’t know!
And everyone will take in and perceive the music differently as well
Penn: Yeah exactly! Some people will think it’s been overdone at this point and riding a trend or something. Or some people will really like it
So what’s up next for you guys after tour is all wrapped up?
Simon: I think we have a little bit of time off but will also be recording here and there. I mean there’s no real plans, it’s just how this band works, we’re pretty relax about it. We’re not wanting world domination with this you know? It was never really our intention, we love music and if we can just keep making it that’d be cool but if not, also cool! It’s just a lot of fun at this point, you can’t really plan for a lot of success at this point you just have to go with it
Penn: And of course when it feels like there’s a demand, you know to record and go on tour then it’s great to get out there and play. We’ve put a lot work in this year though so I think it’d be nice to relax maybe for a bit
And lastly, we though we’d finish off the interview with a game of Who’s Most Likely To. So, who’s most likely to get lost in Glasgow or any city while on tour?
Simon: Ha! No Nick our drummer
Penn: Yes definitely Nick!
Who’s most likely to lose all their money at a casino?
Simon: Me and Darren
Darren: It happens every time we’re in Vegas!
Simon: Just the worst luck
Who’s most likely to fall asleep at a party?
Simon: Ha! Definitely Penn
Penn: I probably would yeah
Simon: He just wouldn’t want to be there in the first place
Penn: Yeah I wouldn’t go! Or maybe I’d just meditate ha!
Who’s most likely to ask “when are you due” to someone who isn’t pregnant?
Darren: Nick again for sure
Simon: I would just never comment just in case
Penn: My girlfriend is also a doula so I see pregnant bellies a lot. I mean there’s a very clear distinction, even if a woman already has a little size it’s pretty obvious! I think it’s just pretty unconscious dudes who say it anyway
Who’s most likely to appear on the Jeremy Kyle show?
Penn: The what?
Simon: That show where everyone fights
Penn: Ah sort of like Jerry Springer
Simon: Yeah, it’s like the UK version I think?
Penn: Then Jimmy for sure
Simon: Yes! He’s our producer
And lastly, who’s most likely to get married on a night out in Vegas?
Darren: I’ll take it!
Grab a copy of Centerfold here.