ABOVE THE MOON

SOARING TO NEW CREATIVE HEIGHTS

By Diane DiMemmo

May 21, 2020

One of the biggest compliments I can get is when someone says, 'This song is my favorite because …' .

And they'll talk about the lyrics. So that's always my goal. When I'm writing I'm thinking, where's that line that someone's going to say, 'Yeah, that’s what I felt.'- Kate Griffin

If there ever were musicians who were meant to be together, it’s the four talented humans who are in the band, ABOVE THE MOON. Kate Griffin (vocals/rhythm guitar), Shawn Murphy (lead guitar), Chris Mangin (bass), and John Gramuglia (percussion) take creativity and collaboration to a new level and do it with equal parts of respect, admiration and friendship. As Kate states, “I think what helped is that John and Shawn have this friendship that was based in a different place. Chris and I had a deep friendship and then Shawn and I became very good friends. So, I think when you get everyone in the room together, this is very much a friend situation, which is nice.”

My conversation with them was filled with complimentary stories they shared about each other’s musical abilities and it wasn’t patronizing or forced. They genuinely like each other and those deep bonds seem only to fuel their creativity and innovation further. John adds, “It’s so nice to create with people that you genuinely enjoy being around. So, we're super lucky.”

Since 2016, the alternative/indie/rock four-piece from Madison, NJ have been passionately pumping out catchy tunes; not “cliché-catchy,” but songs that really stay with you as you find yourself humming them throughout your day. Kate’s lyrics are revered by her bandmates. As Shawn stated, “Kate has such great lyrics, so it makes writing music really hard to make sure those lyrics really shine and that we’re not overstepping. Making sure that the music we're writing fits that vibe.” Chris added, “My favorite thing is that moment when Kate brings the song, like just the bare bones, and we just tack onto it.”

Photo by Mike Scicolone

The band purposely chooses to release music regularly in EP’s as they create; which keeps them moving forward while being able to provide fresh, new material frequently to their fans. When I asked if the current quarantine has hindered their ability to work on their music, Kate answered, “I don't know if our process has changed that much now that we're separated. [It] has even made us more collaborative, because we're in touch more now than ever before. So, I'm kind of interested to see what happens when we are able to get together, because now we have all this new material that started differently than what we're used to.”

As a matter of fact, one of the projects the band has initiated during quarantine (to raise funds for studio time) is to ask listeners if they want to donate and buy a cover song that Above The Moon will play. Shawn stated that the band has really enjoyed the process. “We got several submissions, all songs that maybe we didn't know or some that we did, but we had to re-interpret. Looking at someone else's song, how they structured it, the chord changes, the vocal melodies, and re-interpreting it as our own. It's just a different way to approach [songwriting].”

The band recently completed a fan suggestion for “Why You Want To Break My Heart” from the movie Wayne’s World. Kate added, “It's been really fun. We get some songs that we’re familiar with and we're excited about. But there have been a couple of songs I had never heard of before. So just becoming familiar with new artists. There was one song that was almost more electronic. So we had to figure out that. It's been cool. I've learned a lot.”

Above The Moon’s well-received new album – Stay Awake – was released in early 2020. It’s filled with the kind of high-quality tunes that music lovers hope to hear playing on the radio; the types of songs we’re looking for to add to our playlists. Catchy choruses and melodies filled with heartfelt lyrics that float atop trucking rock rhythms and dynamic lead guitar lines. Gorgeous vocals and music you can really sink you teeth into.

Typically, the post-album release timeframe is filled with touring, promoting, and the production of music videos. Not to be deterred by this downtime, the bandmates decided to take matters in their own hands and create a hilarious music video of their single “Garden In Your Mouth.”  Remotely. “We just decided to film ourselves doing whatever we're doing. I kind of harassed the guys for a couple of weeks to just send me everything and I put it all together in Premiere Pro,” said Kate. John added, “I thought it was super funny how we all kind of reverted back to doing stuff like [building with] Legos and riding bikes.” “And playing Connect Four with my dog,” joked Chris.

"Garden In Your Mouth"

I asked the band what their favorite song was on Stay Awake and they all agreed on “Get Yours (Karma).” John said, “Chris brought this one to the table and I think we all love this song. We worked on it for a long time, and I think we loved it going into the studio, but once we got in the studio for me, personally, hearing how it came to life with different tones and just the energy of it. It was super magical, honestly.”

Their songwriting process is one of true collaboration with every band member having a heavy hand in song development. “I think all these songs really start with a spark from an individual member and once we get together it really comes to life,” says John. Kate agreed, “A lot of the time when we bring it to practice, it very often becomes something completely different. If it's something that I mostly wrote and we play it as a band, I’ll leave practice thinking, 'OK, that's not at all what I planned, but this is better.'” As the band continued to explain their creative process Chris chimed in. “It's such a good feeling when me and John will lock in on the rhythm section, and then that might spark something from Shawn. And, all of a sudden, all four of us have a collaborative hand in what Kate brought to the table.” 

As our conversation was winding down, I realized I hadn’t asked them about how their band name came about. Chris quickly chimed in (quite seriously I might add), “As far as the band name, we were all astrology majors, back in college.” To be completely honest, I did almost fall for it until everyone started laughing. According to Kate, that’s their standard fun answer to the question since the story behind the band name is not all that interesting. (Their name came from brainstorming ideas based on their single “Moon.”) Regardless of the astrology story being untrue, Above The Moon does have something in common with those scientists who explore our universe. Kate, Shawn, Chris and John are all willing to take a leap of faith together and without hesitation, because they just know some really cool music is out there waiting to be discovered. And every time they collaborate, that’s exactly the type of discovery they make.

Check out our full interview below!

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Photo by Mike Scicolone



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