Like many of Virginia’s best bands from other parts of the commonwealth, BRIGHTER THE MOON migrated to Richmond, Va. It was here that not only did they find the support of the diverse and ever-evolving music and arts community, but they found the remaining members they needed to solidify their lineup rather than relying on fill-in bassists and drummers. In November 2013, the band released their most recent EP In Search for Sound, which features anthems of overcoming obstacles and moving on to better things. Currently, the band is navigating its way through their first tour together, as well as working on songs to be considered for their upcoming full-length album. We caught up with lead vocalist and pianist James Bolen, guitarist Shane McAfee bassist Tyler Northrup, and drummer Derek Ames to discuss burrito bowls, how they plan to stay healthy on the road, and what fans can expect from their new album.

As of Dec. 14, 2014, you guys officially announced your lineup change from three members to five. What prompted the decision to expand?

Shane: We had kind of been looking for a permanent drummer, but never had that commitment. So as soon as we had Tyler on the bass and then Derek on the drums locked in, we figured it was certainly time to get more people in the picture because we had more people playing at shows. It was just about getting that commitment, and as soon as we had it, we wanted to go ahead and announce it.

How long have you been playing as a five piece?

James: We have always been playing as a five piece. We just never really had the line up set in stone. We had a fill-in drummer that was with us for about a year and a half, and Tyler was always playing bass for us. We just kind of made it official because at the time, they weren’t sure if they were going to be fully committed when we decided to start touring and becoming more serious. We’ve been playing together as a five piece for almost three years.

I know your drummer Derek Ames used to play in THE GREATER THE RISK. BTM 2
Are any of your newer members from other well-known bands from this area?

Shane: Not really. We have all dabbled around with smaller bands here and there. We’re all from the Fredericksburg, Va. area, and there aren’t many well-known bands in Fredericksburg (laughs). When we moved to Richmond, Va., that’s when we got everyone together.

James: Derek is our local celeb (laughs).

This March, you guys will be doing an eight-day northeast tour, eventually making your way back to Virginia. Why did you select these locations to play?

Derek: I had a few connections in THE GREATER THE RISK, and I had visited a lot of these cities before. So I chose those to start with for the first big tour for the band because of my familiarity with them, and I really do like all of the cities that we are playing.

What are you most looking forward to about the tour?

Derek: Simply just getting out there. I think everybody is on the same page about that. Just getting on the road, sharing the music, and having a good time.

What are you least looking forward to?

Shane: Yeah, it’s supposed to snow a lot (laughs). So I’m hoping that all of the shows are still going to be on. I’m not looking forward to cancelled shows. That’s my official answer.

Do you have any tips for staying healthy on the road?

Derek: When I went out before, it was a struggle to really find something good to eat every single day, but we always stop at the staple places like Chipotle and stuff like that because you can get something that is at least fresh at that place. We also slept a lot, brought a lot of snacks with us that would get us throughout the day instead of eating fast food, and just tried to do our best.

It’s no secret that you guys love Chipotle burrito bowls. How would you describe your ideal burrito bowl?

James: I think we differentiate. I am a burrito man, myself; I’m not much of a bowl man. I think the rest of the guys like the bowl, but we are pretty different. I know Derek likes to do the vegetable bowl where you get the free guacamole. He doesn’t like the meat; I like the steak.

Shane: I’m a Baracoa and fajita veggies guy. If it has got those two, I’m in there.

Tyler: I like to consider myself the Chipotle authority of the band (laughs). I singlehandedly keep the store near my house in business, and I know that because they have told me (laughs). I like to keep it really simple. I go with a lot of white rice, chicken, and mild salsa, but the thing is, when you get a bowl, the reason why you get a bowl is because you get more food. Then you get a tortilla on the side because that is free. If you don’t get the smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce, you are doing it wrong (laughs).

BTM 4Can you tell me about your new album currently in the works and what your fans can expect from it?

James: Currently, we are in the process of writing it. The first two EPs we released, we went into the studio with only a few more songs than we actually recorded, and I think we didn’t have enough variety to choose from. We want to go in there prepared, so this time we are taking more time to write, and instead of going in with just 10 songs, we want to go in with 20 or 30 songs. So it’s probably going to be a longer process until we actually get into recording, but hopefully this tour we can bring one or two new songs onto the road. As we book future tours, I’m hoping that we can bring newer songs to see how crowds react and which ones take off more so than others. That might help us decide what we want on the next record. I’m hoping this fall or winter we can start getting to the studio, but that’s what we are looking at right now.

So as of right now there is not a set release date?

Derek: The earliest it will be released will probably be late winter or spring of 2016. We are not going to be in the studio until the fall, but it will be a full length. We are thinking at least 12 songs.

Do you have anything else new coming up you would like to announce?

Tyler: For most of us, this will be our first time individually going out. I know Derek has done it a bunch, but for the other four of us, this will be our first tour. I think as soon as we get back from this one, it’s gonna be a lot of writing and booking the next one. I know that we want to go out this summer for longer than we are planning on going out this time.

James: We’ve also got a killer TAYLOR SWIFT cover that we may be debuting on the road (laughs). I’m really proud of it. It’s a million dollar song, and we are gonna be playing it. It’s a very “stylish” song about a day dream, possibly James Dean (laughs). It’s gonna be good. Be prepared to know the words.

For more updates on BRIGHTER THE MOON, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and check out their latest EP In Search for Sound on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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