A testament to the enduring power of rock n roll, the Moonshine Runners, hone in a bold and refreshing sound as much as their roots stem from the grounds of paying tributes to greats such as the legendary acts of Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and a myriad more.
The birth of Moonshine runners comes from guitarist Jeff Free, drummer Noe Salas, and bassist Erik Sanchez, performing all over the Tri-State Area as Manic Blues, while singer John Velez maintained a solo career starting in Queens, NY. However, once they began venturing to Los Angeles and then Houston, guitarist Aaron Sanchez decided to bring them all together for the coalition of an alternative rock band years in the making.
There’s a propelling sway that carries us to an alternate universe drenched in soothing fusion in a remarkable display of what comes from their debut single “Can’t Believe.” Raw, with fine-grit touring through the soundwaves, there’s an impeccable balance of poise and what we like to call organized chaos that transmits the eclectic essence of these prolific rockers.
“Can’t Believe” dips us into tight percussion that shatters its way into your heart as it accompanies the psychedelic grooves embedded into this masterpiece. Considering all of that and combining it with the havoc that breaks free through luscious guitar riffs, the musical foundation that is as therapeutic as it is a spike of adrenaline conveys a serenading vocal performance that belts out roars of breaking free.
With this type of liberation visited, we admire the intensity that hails from “Can’t Believe.” Moonshine Runners perform with colossal energy that keeps you on the edge of your seat, all while bouncing you into an oblivion of high anticipation and calming seas of tantalizing innovation. Residing in the mix of notable musicians that reign supreme in the Queens rock scene, we’ll take their intoxicating grooves with a splash of edgy amplification any day of the week.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Moonshine Runners, and congratulations on releasing your debut single, "Can't Believe." You carry such a unique sound in the music that you create. What inspired this approach to the resonance you're continuing to master every day?
It was an unspoken process that developed naturally between all of us. But if I can put it into words, I'd say everyone brought their flavor and passion that evolved into our current sound. While our sounds are unique, we knew we wanted to have that "Big Rock Sound," drawing inspiration from the Foo Fighters, Muse, Porcupine Tree, etc.… We were able to melt our individuality into one, utilizing it as a strength with fierce togetherness. For instance, our drummer is a dynamic and versatile progressive rock drummer. He has years of experience working with our bassist, who is best known for his groove, allowing them both to build a beautiful and masterful rhythm, propelling our band forward. Our lead guitarist has a history with our drummer and bassist and has a natural talent for complimenting multiple sounds. By creating a melody melting the heavy rock and ambient cleans of our rhythm guitarist. With all of these different traits as a base, our lead vocalist, a hybrid singer, has the ability to flow from a smooth vocal melody to a powerful rock scream, immediately captivating the audience. We hope to create versatile yet relatable music, allowing our audience to grab onto our catchy melodies to sing along. As well as dance to a rhythm that will flow in and out of heavy rock sections, pursuing our audience to headbang and let loose. We enjoy playing with a dynamic building that allows us to bring a song to climax in various unorthodox ways. We hope to portray our songs as more than music but as an experience.
With a mix of calming energy and a rush of dynamism that pours from "Can't Believe," what is the meaning behind this track? What does it say about you as a band?
"Can't Believe" perfectly depicts how we play with dynamics while gradually raising the piece's intensity. Our inspiration is the journey of coming to terms with the loss of a relationship, not just in the romantic sense but in any connection. The lyrics are meant to pose challenging questions to someone in mourning the loss of a significant relationship: "What now?", "Where do I go from here?" and "Who am I without this person?" While tough questions, we are all unified having to contemplate grief throughout life. The song is meant to be a play of emotions, symbolizing a storm. We do this by starting soft and calm, building to an intense storm of emotions, just like in real life, coming out of nowhere, then settling back down to the other side with clarity and relief. Depicting an important message to the audience, while there will be intense and overwhelming emotions that might hit unexpectedly, in the end, everything will be okay. Through the usage of our lyrics and instrumentals, Moonshine Runners strives to be a storyteller. We use music to speak about difficult yet relatable topics, allowing our audience to find clarity in these various life situations. Being a storyteller influences our songwriting process, inspiring the song "Can't Believe."
Could you please take us into what the creative process looked like when bringing this track to life? With production that sounds as well-balanced as "Can't Believe," who do we owe the mix and master credits to?
Initially, "Can't Believe" was written by our vocalist, John. He found inspiration for the lyrics and guitar melodies while on a road trip to Nashville, TN. When he brought the idea to us, everything slowly fell into place. Our bassist was inspired by the 60's Beatles, creating a bassline that perfectly complemented our progressive rock drummer, creating a stable foundation for the song. Branching off of that, our lead guitarist, Jeff, was able to add lead licks. Scattering these licks throughout the song complimented our rhythm guitar in a unique way. Allowing him to incorporate a Spanish rock-styled solo in the second verse, captivating the audience to start dancing along to this unique Spanish rhythm. Our rhythm guitarist, Aaron, was able to take the original guitar rhythm and flip it. By changing the rhythm, to a picking pattern that matched the groove of the drums and bass set, Aaron was able to incorporate reverb, giving that ambient effect we talked about earlier. We hoped to complement John's vocals on the hooks by adding a little more aggression. We created cool transitions that led into our heavy rock instrumental chorus. This had a natural progression, allowing us to put together the heavy bridge that then complimented John's scream. We wanted the song to end with a full circle effect, ending with a clean, calm groove that started the song.
To add a little more sauce to the song, we brought in our friend Omar, who added organ, piano, and string to various parts of the song. These sounds were strategically placed in the background, giving a bit more emphasis to the builds we just mentioned. The engineer, Brendan Dekora, did a marvelous job mixing and mastering the track. By giving it the balance we wanted throughout the piece and acknowledging the gradual dynamic build, we were aiming for. We met Brendan through the website "Soundbetter." They provide artists with a vast catalog of engineers that work with a plethora of music. Brendan was very responsive, easy to work with, and was able to see our vision, bringing out the best of the song.
What is your mission statement as a band? How can we expect to see and hear you playing into this statement and your overall vision in your careers?
Our mission statement is "to create a strong, emotional response from our audience through the use of our lyrics, storytelling, and instrumental arrangements." We want our audience to not simply listen to a song but feel as if they are a part of a unique experience. We hope to achieve this not just in our recorded music but also in our live shows. Our small crowds and venues have allowed us to flourish individually and as a whole, but we would like to bring our music to larger stages and audiences. In the future, we see ourselves becoming a household name. But currently, we are paying out dues as musicians by trying to hone our craft and playing at smaller venues, which will eventually lead to bigger opportunities. We hope to never lose the authenticity and rawness in our music as we progress and gain fans.
Having a background in performing across the United States, when can we expect to see Moonshine Runners live next?
We have two more shows left this coming year in NYC. Our first show is on Nov. 13th. We are excited to announce that we are one of three finalists to perform in a Battle of the Bands competition at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, hosted by the wonderful Robert J. Efros Foundation. The foundation empowers artists to express their art as well as gives artists a spotlight to do so! This is such a fantastic opportunity, and we are deeply grateful to be a part of it! The foundation provides financial support to artists and creates a network encouraging collaboration that provides exposure through events, programming, and community outreach. Our final show of the year will be held in The Delancey in the city on Nov. 27th at 10 pm! Tickets to all our shows can be found on our Instagram bio.