The soft ethereal harmonies and spacey electronic undertones of Mansions on the Moon unveil a new era of music – one that offers a message of love and positivity while also maintaining an edge. What started as two friends making music together for the sake of having fun in 2011 has turned into a four-piece band that has since been on three 30-city tours with another soon on the way.
After their music landed in the hands of Neptune producer, Shae Haley, Mansions on the Moon (MOTM) went from producing music in their room to performing in front of thousands of people across the country. MiLLENNiAL met up with the band at the legendary Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles to learn more about their story. “It all happened so fast,” MOTM frontman, Ted Wendler (30), tells us. With a name and brand that symbolizes the ups and down of chasing dreams, Mansions on the Moon acknowledges their involvement with Haley as a “big up.” As for the downs, drummer Lane Shaw (28) points out, “The biggest challenge is maintaining what you had before all this happened.”
Mansions on the Moon Launches Debut Album
MOTM has been on the scene and touring for the last three years, but has yet to release a full-length album. Up until this year (2014), their recognizable EPs Paradise Falls, Lightyears, and Full Moon have gotten them to the level of working with artists such as Diplo and Benzi. After a year in production the band is ready to debut their first full-length self-titled album. Ted mentions, “We were saving a lot of our gems with the hope of putting it on a full length album.” Bassist Jeff Maccora (32) says, “we went from 180 songs down to 10,” and Lane adds, “I’m surprised we’re still a band.” Deciding what songs to go on the first album certainly has its challenges, but as Lane notes, “It was about learning how to put it all together.” The trick is now taking that studio music and turning it into an amazing live performance. The band admits they are still perfecting that aspect of their sound.
Just as most experiences provide lessons of growth, Ted says, “Another thing we learned is to not second guess ourselves or overthink something to death.” MOTM is certainly not the band to pump out a single every time they hit the studio. Instead, they sit back and allow their music to organically flourish. Keyboardist and vocalist, Ben Hazlegrove (28) points out, “Everybody has a say on what we put out, especially on this album.” Most bands usually designate one or two people to take the lead on writing, but MOTM likes to collaborate among the group and make sure everyone is on the same page as far as direction.
What separates the band from other mainstream artists is their ability to take risks with their musical form and composition. “The way we treat harmony and melody is different,” Jeff says. This is due to the musical influences of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Steely Dan, Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock. Just as these classic rockers have helped shape the sound of MOTM, Ted says that they also have influenced their listeners in unique ways. “People have told me that they met their girlfriend at my show, and that they proposed to their wife with ‘She’s the One’…knowing that a song we created actually changed someone’s life is very powerful.”
Transcending Music With Habitat Conservation
In addition to expressing their passions through music, the band also advocates for wildlife habitat conversation. As a science major in Wildlife Biology, Ted is a nature man at heart. “I was that weird kid that occasionally ate a bug,” he tells us. Ted stresses the importance of habitat conservation comes from the imminent need of human survival. “We forget how attached and dependent we are on any natural resource. We still drink water. We still breathe air.” This should be reason enough to want to preserve our planet and maintain a healthy ecosystem, but unfortunately as the global population grows, our Earth is the victim of modification and fragmentation.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are currently over 16,000 species that are threatened with extinction by human activity. Our habitats are being destroyed by our need for energy, which results in habitat loss for our animal kingdom. Ted emphasizes, “We need to work hard to find alternative sources of energy. Right now there is no good energy source.” He points out that nuclear energy may be clean as far as emissions go, but “it creates waste and uses tons of water.” He goes on to say that wind is inefficient because it can only be used in certain places, the production and disposal of solar panels are extremely toxic, and fossil fuels cause catastrophic damage to the ecosystem. The need for alterative and sustainable energy resources is becoming a serious feat that “humans really need to ban together to figure out.”
Ted recommends getting involved with the Nature Conservancy, which helps to reestablish habitats lost to fragmentation. “The Nature Conservancy buys plots of land that establish corridors between these islands of habitat and it creates connectivity and those easements will never be abolished. It’s forever. So it’s cool to give money to a place you know will always be a wildland.”
In an era fueled by technology, it’s refreshing to see an up and coming band speak on the need to reconnect with our earth. Be sure to check out Mansions on the Moon’s new album. To learn more about MOTM, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their official site.