Christopher Moll's musical ambitions have always extended far beyond South Florida. His previous band, the Postmarks, made a mark on the national -- and international -- scene, releasing a trio of excellent albums with a precious, semi-prog pop sound. Now, Moll is back with a new entry, a group formed in partnership with singer Maco Monthervil that the duo has dubbed the Lovers Key.
Moll himself describes his new outfit as "a mix of retro-tinged pop, garage and soul... like a great big box of vintage records; well-worn and a little ragged around the edges but full of warmth and heart."
We'd describe it as something like the Animals performing Motown music. Either way, the descriptions seem to line up. The band is currently in the process of readying its debut album, and it'll be performing at Moonfest in West Palm Beach. We opted to get a teaser of our own by talking to the two principals about their plans for the new project.
New Times: First off, what prompted this project, and are the Postmarks still an ongoing concern?
Christopher Moll: After the last Postmarks album, Memoirs at the End of the World, I felt like I had taken the orchestral retro soundtrack feel as large and as far as I could. A point of contraction only felt natural. Additionally, while touring Europe, I felt I started honing in on the types of songs that felt more natural to perform live in a physical sense and seemed to connect with the audience in a more primal, instinctual way. These seemed to be the songs that had more of a dance groove, and as such, I started thinking about the old band dance lines on either American Bandstand or Soul Train, watching individuals and couples shuffling down the line as the bystanders clapped along on the two and four beat. That kind of groove and vibe felt very natural to make people want to get up and dance, and so that was the genesis.
I just wanted to write some new music that felt good and had a sense of energy and soul. That didn't feel like it would necessarily be the best fit for what I had been writing for the Postmarks at the time, so when Maco stumbled into my life, it seemed to be a great fit and the perfect musical foil for my new direction.
As for the Postmarks, after three full-length releases in three years -- which is kind of unheard-of in this day and age -- I needed a musical change. The others did as well, and with that, here is some of the first fruit from that tree.
What makes this different for you, and what are your goals for the Lover's Key?
Moll: I think it's an energy and soulfulness that is just different than my previous work. While there will always be common musical threads that run through my compositions and arrangements, I also like to challenge expectations of what I feel people expect from me. I had become so known for working with female vocalists with both See Venus and the Postmarks that I felt the change of writing for and with a male voice would be a positive and welcome one.
Maco Monthervil: I'd like for the Lovers Key to carve a soft spot in people's hearts. I want people to trust that what we make comes from a real place and that our motives are pure. It'll be much easier to conquer the universe that way, if we just get everyone to trust us.
How would you assess your efforts with the Postmarks? What were the successes?
Moll: The Postmarks went further than I ever intended. When you are writing music in a cathartic or therapeutic sense, anything additional that comes above just getting it off your chest should be considered a success. That it tickled people's ears and pulled on their heartstrings, that's more than I could ever hope for.
What had you hoped to do that maybe you weren't able to achieve?
Moll: I approach my music as if breathing. It just has to be done. It's always a surprise when others react positively so as always, just to continue to musically connect with people and do the best I can trying to write timeless, classic pop songs with interesting sonic arrangements.
Who else is in the band?
Monthervil: Well, obviously, Christopher -- that guy who masterminded the Postmarks -- but also, Kevin Ray Jamerson on the organ and keyboards; Brian Hill, who played bass with the Postmarks; and Dan Ziegler, who's a drummer's drummer.
When is the album coming out? Is it self-released?
Monthervil: Hopefully sooner than later. We're young, impatient, impulsive, all of that. So in my head, we've already gone on tour, the album's already made its mark, and we're already on album number two. Then, of course, I wake up. There's a lot to decide, so when we know, you'll know.
Are you happy being a part of the South Florida scene? Do you see opportunity down here to achieve full potential?
Monthervil: I'm happy to be part of any scene that cultivates freedom of expression, especially through music. When aiming for your full potential, I believe that anywhere is a great start. The goal, though, is to branch out from South Florida onto the international scene, and hopefully, South Florida will be proud of us .
The Lovers Key perform at Moonfest 2013 in West Palm Beach on Saturday, October 26. General admission is $7 in advance and $10 day of show. 21 and over. Visit moonfest2012.org.