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Imagine for a second that Mr. Bungle managed to funnel their cross-dressing madness into a formula suitable for FM radio. Then pretend that the Misfits’ Jerry Only once had a harmony-driven, alt-rock project he never unveiled. Combine these scenarios with playful smartassery in a Long Beach warehouse complex, and you’ve got a recipe for Moonshine and the Drugs. Cooking up an oddly addicting blend of metal, melody and melodrama, this buzzworthy six-piece specialize in songs about man’s deepest vices. Having released a self-titled EP this past March, members Matthew Edwall, Tony Trautz, Danny Duran, Rick Robbins, Greg Hurst and Michael Nordin recently parlayed their eclectic chemistry into a spot in the Weekly’s Locally Grown music series.
OC Weekly: How has the reception been to your self-titled EP?
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Matthew Edwall: We’ve started playing Orange County a lot more. But every show has progressively gotten us more fans.
Tony Trautz: I hear some people singing a lot more lyrics to the songs at shows.
Can you track any pivotal changes in your sound in the stuff you’ve written since your latest record?
Rick Robbins: Between writing the first and the second record, the writing was mostly Edwall and bassist Greg Hurst. But the new record was mostly four of us.
Edwall: Everybody has an arsenal of material, so right now, it’s a matter of sifting through a trillion different ideas. It’s extremely hard to get six people in a room together at the same time, but we all have so many ideas. We have three pretty solid new songs, somewhat rehearsed.
Robbins: Pretty meticulously rehearsed, actually.
Edwall: It went from two of us getting stoned at the park with acoustic guitars. Then it was four of us getting stoned in a really hot garage; now it’s six of us getting stoned . . .
Trautz: . . . in a beautiful studio [laughs].
The band name has changed a few times since you’ve been together, right?
Edwall: The original name was Moonshine and the Jugs. At our old studio, everyone would just write on the walls, so we started rhyming things with jugs on the wall. The first one was “drugs,” and we would laugh at all the other names. We later changed the name to Moonshine, but there are a ton of other “Moonshine” bands and brands. We had to choose something else, so we just picked “and the Drugs” because it was funny. Kim Jerry and the Real Life Consequences was a close second.
The band have recorded a number of YouTube documentaries, interviews, etc. Do you do that to stay connected to fans or just to dick around?
Edwall: Definitely the second. We have a pretty lax view on marketing. If we just focus on writing good songs and being together, putting out good music, then all that shit will work itself out. The shittiest bands have to work the hardest to get out there. Fame and all that shit doesn’t matter. . . . I’d rather get sweaty in a room full of dudes.
Trautz: We’ve been pretty lucky because usually at one of our shows, one or two people will bring cameras and tape what you see on YouTube. A lot of times, we have no part in that.
Does being chosen for OC Weekly’s Locally Grown music showcase make you feel more included in the Orange County scene as a Long Beach-based band?
Edwall: When we first started, we stayed in Long Beach and went to downtown LA a lot. We didn’t really touch Orange County. But with the new songs, we started playing there. There’s a distinct sound to that whole OC music scene, and a lot of the bands seem to be intertwined. It’s a nice communal feel. So it’s definitely nice to be invited to play.
Moonshine and the Drugs perform with the Union Line, the Colourist and Yellow Red Sparks at the Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 712-2700; www.thegroveofanaheim.com. Thurs., Aug 26, 8 p.m. $10. All ages. For more info on the band, visit www.moonshineandthedrugs.com.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column appeared in print as "Self-Medicated."