Mars or the Moon
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Mars or the Moon

Indianapolis, Indiana, United States | INDIE

Indianapolis, Indiana, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Price of Love Hardrock Haven Review"

By Chris A. - Love has been the driving force behind many musical endeavors and for Indianapolis- based rock duo, Mars or the Moon, it's the topic of their debut album, The Price of Love. The album's songs describe assorted emotions, pitfalls, and and myriad other facets of love over the course of the disc's 11 Tracks. The brianchild of guitarist Joe Hart and vocalist Lani Williams, Mars and the Moon's music is best described as Light Rock with a very hip, retro feel. Don't misunderstand wrong-- it's not that the music sounds old fashioned. On the contrary, this is a very hip modern sounding record. What makes it retro is it is clearly and unapologetically influenced by the likes of the Beatles, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, Emmy Lou Harris, Bob Dylan and probably a dozen other performers from rock-n-roll's glory days. What makes this an exceptional album in todays competitive music market is that the overall quality of the songs is excellent. One could make an arguement that there are no "weak tunes"on this record. More than anything, The Price of Love is a showcase for the soaring, powerful vocals of Lani Williams. Add guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart and the music comes to life with his classic rock influenced guitar style and his clear enthusiasm to entertain. From the opening cut of "Ray" to the final strains of "Honeywine" fade away, listeners will be entertained, impressed and perhaps even enchanted by the collection of tunes on this very well done disc. While all the songs are excellent there are several standouts on the disc which include: -"The Light" holy cow, Lani Williams voice will nearly make you cry. Incredibly moving performance. -"Ray" First the tremolo guitar chord catches your attention and then Lani's voice captivates you. A great song is hard to ignore. -"Disgrace" It's like a Zepplinesque dual between Lani on vocal and Hart on electric guitar. This woman can sing. While Hart and Williams often take to the road as a duo, they do perform in a larger band configuration which includes percussionists Lenen Nicola and Glen Hopkins, keyboardist, Kevin Silva, bass player, Roger Osburn for full scale band gig as featured on the disc. Having seen this group perform live as a duo and full band, they deliever the tunes with gusto and enthusiasm. No rookies to the music scene Joe Hart and Lani Williams have been performing and paying dues for years. You can listen to their cuts by visiting their myspace page or home page.

- Chris A

"preview CD release Party"

Jane Jensen, Mars or the Moon
by Nora Spitznogle Nov 14, 2007

Harrison Center for the Arts, Gallery 2
Saturday, Nov. 17, 8 p.m., $5 suggested donation, all-ages

Jane Jensen says the songs on her newest CD, My Rockabye, fit into three categories. “The Midwestern gothic campfire songs — songs I wrote in Indiana — this was the working title for the CD,” she says. “The L.A. junkyard songs — songs I wrote about my experiences living in Los Angeles [and] the domestic bliss songs. I wrote these songs after I got married and became a proud parent; obviously this concept of domestic bliss took over and influenced the tone of the CD, the art and the final My Rockabye.”

Jensen wrote all of the songs on acoustic guitar, “the simple idea being that you could play and sing them around a campfire.”

She says she “started the recording by putting down my vocals and guitar to a click [track] and building around that. In some cases, we added a little, and in some cases we added a lot. I recorded all but two songs at the Pop Machine [studios in Central Indiana] with Marc and Eric Johnson. They also co-produced. It was a thrill working with [the] many talented musicians that appear on the CD.”

Jensen moved back to Indianapolis recently to pursue both her musical career and a family. “I feel more focused and grounded,” she says. “My life used to be very one-sided. Here I feel like I have everything, except the comfort of living in a blue state. I do miss that.”

Indie500 Records labelmates Mars or the Moon will also be performing in celebration of their CD, The Price of Love. Mars or the Moon’s Joe Hart ran in to Jensen at Pop Machine studios where she was mixing her album, and Mars or the Moon was tracking theirs. “We knew her socially and had always talked about sharing a show sometime. One night I stopped by the studio to find out when our next session was, and she was working on a song of hers called ‘Sweet Child,’” Hart says. “I ended up playing some guitar on it. We got to talking, and we found out that both of our albums would be completed around the same time. So we talked about sharing a CD release party. We both had things going on in our personal lives that, at first, made it seem that we wouldn’t get to do it, but then everything fell into place, so it’s very exciting that we get to share our release with such a fabulous artist.”

Mars or the Moon is made up of Hart, Lani Williams and Lenen Nicola. Hart and Williams share the songwriter duties, often collaborating on each other’s songs. They met when Williams came to Hart for guitar lessons: “She came for her first lesson and played me a couple of her songs. I could tell that she was already an artist, and I told her straight off, ‘I know that you think that you came here for guitar lessons, but really you came here to make an album. I’ll help you do it.’”

Email Print Digg this Comments on Jane Jensen, Mars or the Moon Jane Jensen are Mars of the Moon @ Harrison Art Center
by Dutch Stuhm | Nov 18, 2007
I wandered into a very cool candlelit Harrsion Arts Center to see Jane Jensen and Mars or the Moon perform. The large crowd was very responsive and I fell deep into the music. So much so, I purchased cd's from both of the acts. I will tell you these are way beyond anything I've heard released locally. They are amazing and have every right to be successful on a national level. Best of luck to both you. Dutch


"Branford Marsalis"

About the song, Hold Back A River: "Cool song. Has a Joni Mitchell "Blue" thing on it, but not derivative at all. Nice voice, that Lani..." --- Branford Marsalis - Branford Marsalis

"Band Profile"

Band profile: Mars or the Moon
by David Lindquist Comments (3) Share Posted: Dec 19, 2007 in Music

Tags: folk music, local music, mars or the moon, acoustic music
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(2 Results)
RELATED EVENTSMars or the Moon

Click here to watch Off the Record with Mars on the Moon

Four years after forming, Mars or the Moon has its debut album in stores.

"The Price of Love" is a collection of 11 songs flexible enough to work in a stripped-down acoustic setting as well as in the context of a full band, guitarist-songwriter-vocalist Joe Hart says.

"Most of our writing is on acoustic guitars," he says, "but the sounds in my head are big. There are laser lights and explosions. When you write a song, it should stand on its own with just a piano or guitar. From there, you can gussy it up for the prom."

Lani Williams sings most of the songs on "The Price of Love," and has writing credits on six. Percussionist Lenen Nicola rounds out the trio.

Hart and Williams talked with the Magazine about perceptions and relationships within the orbit of Mars or the Moon:

On being described as a folk act: "When you play acoustic guitars, people are always going to say you're 'folk' -- whether you are or aren't," Hart says. "I don't really mind that too much, because I like a lot of the older folkie stuff. But when it was time to record these songs in the studio, we wanted to make them rock so people can dance to them."

On making the group's debut album: "I always try to make a record that I would like to have in my record collection," Hart says. "At the end of the day, would I buy this record and keep it? Or would I take it back to the record store and say, 'I'm done with it. I'm never going to listen to it again'?"

On having the rhythm section of John Mellencamp's band -- drummer Dane Clark and bass player Jon E. Gee -- play on their album: "I have what I call the cosmic dust theory," Hart says. "You collect a little cosmic dust from every person, place or thing you've been in contact with. It's like apostolic succession from rock stars. These guys have played all the holy temples. They've played with John Fogerty, John Mellencamp and Ted Nugent."

On finding a voice: "Joe's been playing music for a long time," Williams says. "I really haven't. I've played bluegrass before, and I had just started playing solo gigs (before Mars or the Moon). That didn't last very long. I consider myself sort of a late bloomer."

On dreams as an inspiration for songs: "As silly as this sounds, I had a Yoko Ono dream," Hart says. "She was singing this beautiful song to me. You know it's a dream, because most people don't find Yoko's voice to be pleasing. She sang something about the first day of spring. Afterward, she was telling about her second date after John Lennon's passing. This is all a dream, and she said she realized, as she was getting ready, that she spent more time getting ready for this second date than she had for any date with John. It struck her as an odd thing. It was a very cool dream, but I didn't get up in time to write the song down."

On optimism: "I tend to want to do things that cultivate my spirit," Hart says. "When I go to rock shows, I feel happy, I feel celestial and I feel lighter than my bones. Beautiful music makes me laugh and cry and get crazy."

On being a couple and being bandmates: "We don't see each other very much because of our work schedules," Williams says. "Sometimes we just want to talk to each other. 'Hey, I haven't seen you all week. What's up?'"

"MOTM Rocks Grammy Caliber Originality"

Look Out World Mars or the Moon Rocks Grammy Caliber Originality

Wow! I'm listening to this CD and the incredible talent of Lani Williams and Joe Hart, to be very honest with you, I’m genuinely blown away.

Their music has a cross genre quality – with incredibly diverse range. The tunes are catchy, infused with life, heart and dripping with talent.

Each song has its own quality of originality that people who enjoy many genre’s will find worthy of note. Lani Williams has an incredible voice. She also has great range. In one song her voice reminded me of Alison Krauss, in others, Ann Wilson – one thing is for sure – Lani can sing! She is gentle AND she can belt it out.
Joe Hart's guitar riffs are excellent. There are many musical influences that I felt within each song. This CD is *not* one note – there is great range. One of my favorite songs is the title track "The Price of Love" – I can definitely see that song as a Billboard # 1 hit. Another AWESOME rock song that I can see reaching # 1 is "Shanti Shakti" Their music rocks, with incredible originality.

An awesome CD that truly DELIVERS. It’s now on my list of top recommendations. 10 Stars!"

Barbara Rose, Ph.D. Editor of Oasis Magazine

- Oasis Magazine

"IMN CD Review"

NEW CD REVIEW - Mars Or The Moon’s “The Price Of Love”
Mars Or The Moon - “The Price Of Love”

Just because I wouldn’t listen to something in my own free time doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate something. I am not what most people would call an “easy listening kind of guy,” but as one of my mentors once said (Steve Hayes shout out!), “a good song will transcend any genre”. And Mars or the Moon has proven that point by putting together an album that has plenty of very good songs on it, despite the “genre” it falls in to.

Before I received this CD in the mail, I had never heard of Mars or The Moon. I’m not sure what that means, but I do know that it’s a shame that Lani Williams isn’t a household name nationwide. Not only does she have a strong, controlled vocal style, I could picture her singing any style of music. Her harmonies are beautiful additions to already very good pop songs and the strength of her voice belies the fact that she is singing over the top of an acoustic guitar and some basic back beat drums. To describe her voice, I guess I would call it something in between Sarah McLachlan and new age country, with some classic soul in there. I really wish I could gush more about how great Lani’s voice is, but I hope you have the idea by now. For me, this album begins and ends at the pure goodness of the vocals on this album.

Now that is not to say that the music stinks or is boring on this record. In fact, the music is fine. I’m not going to go crazy and tell you that this CD shows off amazing players on every instrument. I will tell you though that these are well-crafted pop songs, designed for an amazing singer to show off her amazing talents. The guitars are sufficient for what needs to be done, and the rhythm section is solid. Really, that’s all you need for a decent pop album.

Since I have gushed, I will say that there is ONE song on this CD that I did not enjoy. “Little Stew” featured some male vocals that I thought really could have used some work. Lucky for me though, the disk went into one of the better songs on the disk right after that with the title track of the album. Have I mentioned how much I love Lani’s voice?

Mars or the Moon is a good band that I can see getting a lot of radio play on a modern country or pop music radio station. I can see people blasting this type of music in Starbucks or a bookstore. Which is nothing but a compliment by the way; I would love to make commercially viable music! If I were to give anyone in the Mars or The Moon any advice, it would be this: “Hitch your wagon to Lani’s vocal chords and write songs that allow her to rip it.” Because this band is loaded with talent, and taking this CD to the masses could really get their name out there.

"D.M Jones WhatzUp Ft. Wayne"

The Price of Love
Mars or the Moon
by D.M. Jones

Mars or the Moon

The Price of Love

"Look up, here comes a ray of sunshine," goes the opening line of "Ray," the first song on this impressive release by Indianapolis-based Mars or the Moon. Guitars chime and sheen and bask in tremolo, drums crack crisply and lead singer Lani Williams' honey-spun vocals shine through the mix. Augmented by some top-tier studio musicians, the combo of Williams (who also plays guitar), multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Joe Hart and Lenen Nicola (percussion and "shaky toys") bring a watertight yet buoyant feel to all the tracks. "Peace" manages to carry a driving momentum while maintaining a delicate sense of introspection, and the nuanced use of layered acoustic and electric guitars, plus a well-placed rhythm section, keeps the song floating along nicely despite its Bonnie Raitt-meets-Freddie Mercury wrap-up. These guys also used their fortuitous proximity to John Mellencamp to procure his bassist and drummer for this album. Nice help if you can get it.

Even piling on a layer of fuzz guitar and (nearly) punk-inflected vocals from Hart on "Little Stew" can’t derail the sugariness inherent in Mars or the Moon's sound, nor can the driving rock anthemics on "Shanti Shakti,"which is sure to bring the folks to their feet during live sets. Hearkening back to some of the more rocking Lilith Fair moments, "The Price of Love" percolates with pummeling drums, heavy strumming and passionate vocals from Williams, but the real strength of this band seems to show itself when they pull back a bit. The biggest payoffs on this great-sounding album come amidst moodier numbers such as the Freedy Johnston-tinged "Disgrace," which provides a songwriting clinic on how to make a great chorus. The theremin-touched, push-pull blues/folk of "Honeywine" features impassioned yet resigned vocals from Hart. Folk-tinged, consistent and professionally done from the first note to the artwork, The Price of Love is definitely worth, um, its price. Find more info at or (D.M. Jones)

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"Maverick (Brit Press) Review"

Mars or the Moon
Indie 500 Records 50701
Harmony-drenched rootsy music
This Indianapolis band have been busy out on the road opening for such diverse acts as James McMurtry, Todd Snider, John Waite, Jonatha Brooke and David Lindley. Now they have released their debut album, a gorgeous mix of harmony-drenched songs and rootsy numbers all inspired by the varied vagaries of love. The basic three-piece of Lani Williams (lead vocals, guitar), Joe Hart (guitar, piano, vocals) and Lenen Nicola (percussion) is augmented here by Dane Clark (drums) and Jon E. Gee (bass) of John Mellencamp’s band along with Clarence Hooks (piano), Bob Fields (Hammond organ) and Stacia Demos (accordion). The upbeat This Beautiful World has an infectious country vibe, Little Stew has an aggressive punk attitude, whilst the title tune has a dark edge beneath the insistent rhythm and powerful vocal. AdC

"Snapshot: Mars or the Moon"

For Full article and photos go to this link:

An independent musician invests a lot of time into writing songs, practicing their craft, and baring their soul. This is usually in addition to working a full-time job to pay the bills. Playing gigs as an original band is a difficult way to make money. It’s the love of music and drive to create that keeps these artists playing.

Area band Mars or the Moon is the songwriting vision of Joe Hart and Lani Williams. Hart said the reason he began playing music was because when he heard music he loved the way it made him feel – like a child experiencing joy, rapture, awe and splendor at hearing something for the first time.

Mars on the Moon, usually accompanied by Lenen Nicola on percussion, released their first album, “The Price of Love” in 2007 in which they were joined by some well-known musicians including Dane Clark and Jon E. Gee of John Mellencamp’s band, who handled the rhythm section. Clarence Hooks adds Piano, Bob Fields provides sweet Hammond Organ tones, Stacia Demos plays accordion and Kipp Normand plays saw to give them an organic richness that rocks harder than their coffee house folksy roots.

John E. Gee said you have to play with heart,” Hart said. “If you don’t have your heart in it – no matter how skilled you are – it won’t be any good.”

Hart said each song that they write gives them a chance to explore different aspects of the human condition and emotion. He tries not to judge what he’s writing or playing but instead follow a stream of consciousness. When he’s finished, he’ll look back to see if the song evokes emotion.

“It’s easier to write songs out of frustration and grief,” Hart said, explaining that people aren’t as likely to connect with someone singing about how tremendously happy they are. “A lot of song writers don’t find balance in their songs. I am a fan of embracing emotions. Each song gives you a chance to explore each aspect of your personality, and the parts aren’t always pretty. You don’t always know where your songs are going to go. They are all triggered by emotion, whatever you’re feeling at the time.”

It is evident that this band puts their heart into what they do when you listen to “The Price of Love.”

Williams puts every ounce of herself into her singing – bringing the lyrics home. Her lack of fear is evident.
“I love singing. I am confident singing,” Williams said. “I could sing in front of a million people and I wouldn’t get nervous.”

Williams and Hart both write songs on acoustic guitar, mostly individually.

“I have a tendency to have a tag at the end. I’ll write the melody line first (in my head) then pick up the guitar,” Williams said. “Words are last.”

Hart said songs come to him numerous ways. “The Price of Love,” (number 6, and song for which the CD is named) is credited to their friend Israel Long, who brought a grocery bag full of notebooks of poetry written by his now deceased father to Hart asking if he could set something to music. The words for this song connected with Hart and he and Williams had been toying around with a separate melody that was a perfect fit for the lyrics.

“It’s about someone entering a toxic relationship, knowing it’s toxic but doing it anyway … The price you pay for love,” Hart said. “Melodically it’s like bluegrass meets Led Zeppelin.”

The last song on the album, “Honeywine” came to Joe in a dream. He kept dreaming of other artists singing the song.
Mars on the Moon also plays covers.

“If we like the song we have no problem playing it.”

They hope people in the crowd will hear one of their original songs and learn to connect with it the way they are able to with the cover songs they know and love.

“We believed in this music enough to record it,” Hart said.

How to Go

- Friday at 8 p.m. at The Rathskeller, 401 E. Michigan St. in Indianapolis. Free admission.
- Saturday at 8 to 11 p.m. at Morton’s Pub and Grub, 127 N. High St., Muncie. Free admission.
- Sunday at 8:30 p.m. at Birdy’s, 2131 E. 71 St. in Indianapolis. $5 admission.
- Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Butler University, 4600 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis. $10 admission. Benefit for Indiana Children’s Wish Fund. The Working Hour plays at 8 p.m. and The Elms play at 9 p.m. Silent auction and ticket sales to raise money for 5-year-old named Paige to take a trip to Disney World with her family. All ages welcome.
- April 25 at 8 p.m. at The Montage, 8580 Allison Point Blvd., Indianapolis. $100 admission to benefit Riley Children’s Hospital’s annual wine tasting fundraiser.

For more information about Mars or the Moon visit:

By Heather Hafer

- Noblesville Daily Times

"Culture Week Bloomington"

Mars or the Moon's (Indianapolis) debut album on Indie 500 Records entitled "The Price Of Love" may be visually appealing to any emo high schooler on account of the heart being pierced by daggers surrounded by a pair of angel wings on the front cover, but when put in a CD player, something quite different comes from the speakers.
In the first track, "Ray," lead vocalist Lani Williams provides a beautiful Alt-Country sound to the wonderfully full sounding backing instrumentals. Although Rilo Kiley is not a listed influence on their MySpace page, it is definitely an easy comparison to make as Williams seems to echo Jenny Lewis' sultry vocal stylings. As the tracks progress, so does the overall quality of the music.

After inserting strings and organs in the prior tracks, in the fourth track entitled "Peace," the band adds a poppier side to their sound while still touching on a their Folk/Country roots. Williams' vocals are left to carry the weight of the song solo with the removal of the backing vocals as the plucked guitar stings add an overall blustery feel to the song.

The next track "Little Stew" seems to come completely from left field. After four tracks of a soothing Country twang and female vocals, this track consists of hard guitar riffs and the loud male vocals of guitarist Joe Hart. Although the song could be a great single for a band with a harder sound, it does not fit within the context of "The Price Of Love."

In the remaining tracks, the band fills out the rest of the album with a variety of different sounds, however, remaining to still draw from the overall Alt-Country feel prevalent in the first tracks.

For more information on Mars or the Moon visit

George Drake, Jr.
Music Director


The Price of Love LP on Indie 500 records. Airplay on, 92.3 WTTS FM, WRZX X-103 FM, KPIG FM and AM San Fran Bay area, Goshen College Radio 91.1 FM The Globe. WBSU Ball State Student Radio, WFHB Bloomington Public Radio. Whole album streams on and full Radio interview and complete album on (Click Radio, then Click archieved shows)



Mars or the Moon is the songwriting vision of Joe Hart and Lani Williams. Live Lenen Nicola most often accompanies them on percussion. With the release of their CD, they have been doing more full band shows. On record they have been joined by some musical heavy weights. Most notably Dane Clark and Jon E. Gee of John Mellencamp’s band are the handling the duties in the rhythm section. Clarence Hooks adds Piano, Bob Fields provides sweet Hammond Organ tones, Stacia Demos plays accordion and Kipp Normand plays saw to give them a lush, organic richness that rocks so much harder than their coffee house folksy roots.

These songs were captured brilliantly by Eric Klee Johnson and Marc Johnson at the Pop Machine, and Mastered by Andy Vandette at Masterdisk in New York City.

On the strength of their past musical efforts they have been able to play 100’s of shows with no demo to support them. They have already opened shows for Americana Music Legends, James McMurtry, Todd Snider, Bill Miller and David Lindley. They have wowed the crowd opening a sold out show for British Music Legend, John Waite. They have opened for the critically acclaimed songwriter, Jonatha Brooke, and jammed with her after the show for hours in the dressing room (Jonatha even mentioned it in her ‘tour blog’ of her web site). Most recently they have opened for Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde and Over The Rhine, Pat DiNizio of the Smithreens a second time, Diane Birch, Ari Hest, Brendon James, and Matt White.