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The best kept secret in music


"Idyllic Orchestration: Moth!Fight! talk art, childhood and sounds of organized chaos"


There are musicians, and there are artists; the two are quite different. Musicians may have an idea of how to play a song, but artists know to what extent it should be played, composed and created, as appropriating an entire image around the sound is part of completing the package. Artists intrinsically feel the confines and autonomy of their sound at its core, and compromising such a sonic vision is in no way an option.

Example in case: Moth!Fight!, another brilliant band hailing from the music mecca that is Austin, Texas. Made up of a “small orchestra,” as they say, Kevin Adickes, Jessica Boettger, Jason Brister, Kelli Christian, Clarke Dominick, Michael Griffin and Marcus Rubio have a robust sound of fervor hidden between their hopscotch rhythms and eerily insightful cadences. While their music proves absolutely transcendent and full of youth, their approach to creating sound and vision comes from a more mature hand.

To say this band consists of artistic integrity would be an understatement. They sent me their latest EP, Springtime Haunted House, by way of a beautifully stitched cloth moth, which more resembles a butterfly, but in any case now hangs on my office wall as clothier’s art, just as it should be. It’s made of vintage blue fabric, covered in delicate lace, with a small pocket that holds the CD, while the body is made up of Moth!Fight!’s poster, which is encased in brown felt. I showed it off to everyone who came to visit my office last week, all of whom had the same response: “Wow! That is impressive!”

Needless to say, Moth!Fight! trapped me in their beautfiully webbed cocoon from the get-go of our introduction. Going into their world during our interview was freeing, wherein a few of the members shared their unequable thoughts into what makes up their sonic artistry.

e: You guys take an avant-garde, ethereal approach to music. Guide me through its inception. Why did you decide to go this route?

Jess: ...We play the type of music that we, as a group of people, gravitate toward. We like lush instrumentation, and we use whatever we have at our disposal to make sounds. [At first], we played a lot of toy instruments, which is fun but it has its limitations. Lately we’ve been trying to make the sound bigger and more orchestrated.

Kevin: We don’t really have a rigid method for writing music. Sometimes we’ll find a kernel of a song in jamming. Other times, one of us will bring something to practice, and it’ll be perverted by the group; everyone will set about making a sonic collage out of it until it’s satisfactory. The resulting song will often sound nothing like what was introduced to the band. We all seem to enjoy both searching for sounds we’ve never heard before and trying to craft something catchy.

e: Structurally, do you feel the music is cohesive—or exact opposite?
Jason: Playing percussion, I naturally want to control and or create structure in music. Since almost all of the songs were written before my drum parts were added, I don’t want to take away from the whimsy that was already inside the songs. What I would like to do is weave a particular feeling of structure into these existing songs without losing that feeling. I like that the songs have the chance to teeter-totter. I also feel that the cohesiveness, while maybe not completely evident inside a particular song, is there from one song to the next to the next and so on to make the sum a complete and cohesive “thing.”

Kelli: I think “organized chaos” more aptly describes it, for the most part. We’re very much a small orchestra. Every unsettling sound, every tweak, every note, every yelp is meant to be there. It’s funny, because during practice one of us may forget to play our seemingly insignificant blip in the midst of a ton of other sounds, and the rest of us notice it right off.

Marcus: ...A lot of things are very brilliantly arranged (by Kevin), and the noise never feels overdone. There’s still an improvised, freewheeling feeling to the tunes as well (especially playing them live). Most of the instrumental segues are usually totally improvised and different each time.

e: The sounds are very childlike: otherworldly, innocent, yet eerily magnetic and insightful. Do you all have a certain penchant for maintaining a childhood outlook on life, and how do you think that mentality connects with artistic muse?

Kevin: My awareness of music developed pretty early. When I was very young, like 3 or 4, I’d get a good deal of positive attention from my parents when I’d learn to sing a Top 40 song that they liked. When I was 9, my Father’s Day gift to my dad was a heavily over-dubbed cassette of songs that I’d written; I performed all the instrumentation with my voice. As a child, I remember sometimes listening to the radio and thinking, This song would be so much better if they didn’t go to that chord there, or I really like this verse, but the chorus is a cop-out. I’ve had a pretty clear idea - Encore Magazine


From the insuppressible id of Kevin Adickes, Mothfight! brings a strange Victorian esthetic to its turbulent sounds, crafting whirlwinds of noise from cellos, trumpets and tape loops, all of it puzzled together with slices of musique concrète . Adickes weaves a speculative narrative into each of his songs, and the music takes us into an alternate reality, the stuff of pure steampunk, bringing to life worlds that carry a sense of familiarity, yet veer off the historical path, into pure daydream and magical realism. The vocals are overly joyous, almost churchy, and the sounds ping together with a healthy layering of static distortion. It's a fantasia, a hopelessly anachronistic bespattering of sci-fi, an exquisite slog through the best of Victoriana. Mothfight! is propelled by an over-active imagination, the same mental tangents that fueled the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. ( Kevin Crowe ) - Metro Pulse

"'Childlike' Mothfight brings show to The Pilot Light"

By Steve Wildsmith
of The Daily Times Staff

There’s a lot of analogies in comparing the Austin, Texas-based experimental pop band Mothfight with a group of children.

For one, the band is on its first full-fledged tour of the country, pulling into Knoxville’s Pilot Light on Wednesday, a jaunt that founder Kevin Adickes hopes will help the band learn to walk, so to speak.

Second, there’s the music Mothfight makes — self-described as “avant garde” children’s music.

Finally, there’s the enthusiasm the band members bring to a stage. It’s infectious, sugary and dreamlike in its urgency.

“I would describe it as a childlike, youthful exuberance that translates well into the live show,” Mothfight member Kelli Christian told The Daily Times this week. “When you see us, it really seems like we’re having fun and not just going through the motions. I think that definitely translates live to the audience, and hopefully it’s contagious.”

“One of the best things I’ve heard anyone say about us is a guy who came up to me at the end of a show recently and said we were the most soulful live band he had ever seen,” member Marcus Rubio added. “That was a great compliment, because we give it 110 percent each night.”

Such a gung-ho approach really isn’t surprising, given the drive of Adickes himself. Before he was out of high school, he was writing for the influential music Web site Pitchfork, as well as composing his own songs. After graduation, he signed up to perform in such Austin outfits as The Octopus Project and Single Frame before eventually devoting himself to Mothfight full-time in 2005.

The band’s music shares similar qualities with those of other large ensemble outfits, bands like The Arcade Fire or any of the groups that make up the now-defunct Elephant 6 collective (Neutral Milk Hotel, The Olivia Tremor Control). It’s a cavalcade of noise made with a variety of instruments, played, strummed, beaten and banged with such fervor that the resulting cacophony sounds like a group of construction workers who decide to form their own marching band with instruments made from their various tools. On its Web site, the band describes it as “schizophrenically orchestrated prayer in the key of pop; one that finds a home for barbershop harmonies and numerous instrument changes alongside sound collages and musique concrète” that utilizes “hand-made tape loops, samples, circuit bent toys and home-made instruments.”

Seeing Mothfight perform live is the equivalent of being dosed by the dentist with a maskful of nitrous — no matter how bizarre things get, you can’t help but enjoy how you’re feeling at the moment.

“A lot of us have a pretty wide palette, and we enjoy a diverse selection of media — music and film and what have you,” Adickes said. “We all really devote ourselves to whatever project we’re working on, and when you do that, it’s easy to get bored when you’re trying to compose something and limiting it to one particular style.

“To keep ourselves sane, we decided to combine everything together into 3-and a-half-minute bursts of sound. We listen to everything from barbershop to noise, and we enjoy all of those things equally, so it’s hard to pick out one style and say, ‘This is us.’ That’s part of what we’re doing on this tour — sort of trying to find our sound and really push our limits in figuring out what we’re about as a collective of people playing together. And so far, I think it’s going well.”

Despite the obscure inspirations, abrupt left-turns that the music can take and experimental nature of what Mothfight does, the consistent ingredient, Adickes said, is the energy. And if it comes across as child-like, there’s a good reason for that — as a teacher at a progressive school in Austin, he often works within and soaks up the energy of his students.

“I will occasionally test out my songs to that audience during music time — most of the time I’m just humming the melody and playing a song, but if it can keep their attention for the duration of the song ... if I can make it interesting to them ... then I know something’s working,” he said. “From song-to-song, we want to be consistent with that energy — like we’re composing a series of vignettes that come together in one coherent form. On this tour, we’re trying to find a way to make them coherent in one setting.” - The Daily Times

"Mothfight for Your Life"

Mothfight: the best band in Austin Texas that you haven’t heard a lot about...yet. Take notice:

Mothfight is a hugely arranged band with intricate multi-vocals that top off a mountain of vaudevillian tribal beats and meticulous whirlwind walls of noise. Bigger sounding than Arcade Fire and more listenable than Animal Collective; Mothfight is about to take America by storm. By the end of July this post will look silly next to the accolades the theatrical group will be recieving. The thematic brilliance of Mothfight will have taken off and hordes of fans will be swarming to get their hands on the upcoming 7" inch and avant-garde "infinite playing cassette". How will this experimental technological oddity be conducted? Magic.

Please enjoy these Mothfight digital songs. Fire up the victrola, turn up the volume all the way, and listen over and over and over again.

by John Gross - Party Ends

"Sound Off: Mothfight"

We have to admit that before we even heard Mothfight play, we were initially drawn to their beautifully strange Victorian aesthetic, perhaps most aptly described as steampunk. And although the group’s music is equally unique, there is very little antiquated about their explosive experimental pop. Kevin Adickes heads the young sprawling troupe, orchestrating their whirlwind of sound in a way that reflects his time spent playing in the Octopus Project, the group expertly contorting their songs through ambient shots of noise, agitated and joyful choruses, and continuous bursts of unexpected instruments into seamless and altogether entrancing constructions. Also, don’t miss their treatise on art and technology below. You can catch Mothfight live this Friday at Emo’s Lounge along with Horse + Donkey, Adrienne the Anenome, and Cue, who are celebrating their CD release.

Profile : Mothfight

Year Formed:

Roles in the Choir, 2007:
Kevin Adickes :. Musical Director, Shake Singing, Autoharp, Guitar
Jessica Boettger :. Choir Leader, Found Sound, Xylophone, Bells, Autoharp
Jason Brister :. Percussion
Kelli Christian :. Choir Leader, Keys, Percussion
Clarke Dominick :. Bass
Alex Dupree :. Barbershop Harmony, Button Accordion
Michael Griffin :. Banjo, Trumpet, Barbershop Harmony
Erin Lance :. Cello, Clarinet
Marcus Rubio :. Found Sound, Saxophone, Violin, Singing Saw, Barbershop Harmony

Former Bands/Side Projects:
The Octopus Project, Single Frame, Purchase New York, Cue, Contract Killers Intermedia

Horrifying German Children's Literature, Julio Cortázar, The Olivia Tremor Control, Electrocuting an Elephant, Soft Abuse Records, Brother Records, Casparus Hauser, Alejandro Jodorowsky

Strangest comment or comparison ever made about your music:
During our unofficial residency at Beerland in Austin last summer, the staff repeatedly told us that our music reminded them of Charles Manson's recordings!

Favorite local bands:
Bill Callahan, The Weird Weeds, Best Fwends, Jana Hunter, Car (Stereo) Wars, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervil River, The Carrots, the Wonder Jam Twins (or Knife Party/Navajo Radio), Belaire, Loren Dent, The Trapdoor Band, Ink (R.I.P.), The Chord Rangers, the Charalambides, The Early Tapes, The White Ghost Shivers, The Narrow Escapes, Aunt's Analog, Pink Nasty, Count Dracula's Weed Smuggling Jam Engine

Favorite Austin venue:
The Church of the Friendly Ghost (R.I.P.)

Upcoming shows scheduled:
We're still confirming dates for our Summer tour. Here's our itinerary so far:

06/29 - Austin, TX - Emo's Lounge
07/22 - Dallas, TX - The Cavern
07/25 - Chicago, IL - South Union Arts Church (w/Dreamend)
07/28 - Cambridge, MA - T.T. The Bear's Place
07/29 - New York, NY - Todd P. Productions (location TBA)
08/01 - Knoxville, TN - The Pilot Light
08/12 - Austin, TX - KVRX Local Live (91.7FM)

That's probably going to double in the coming weeks.

Shows over the next month that you're excited to see:
Travis Nichols, a good friend and inspired local artist, is putting together an art show called CHIRP! [July 7th, 2007 / The Pump Project Art Complex]. It's all phenomenal local talent; probably some of the best unsung artists in the city. Looks like it's going to be the bee's pajamas.

Best Recent Phonograph:
We recently discovered an album from the 1976 Texas Fort Worth Boys Choir celebrating America's bicentennial. It's divided into 4 suites, each a medley of popular music from a different era of American history. The arrangements are on par with Brian Wilson's SMiLE! We've been toying with the idea of re-releasing or covering the entire album.

Ideal band (past or present) to open for on a national tour:
See last question.

Y'all seem to have a rather nostalgic/anachronistic aesthetic, though are musically very progressive and experimental. How do you think that sense of nostalgia reflects itself in your music, if at all?
Most of us, especially Jess and myself, are really keen on the earnestness found in Victorian/Early 20th century escapism, specifically things like Georges Méliès' films, grotesque folklore, and all things fantastique. Their moral integrity and innocence resonates with us.

During that era, it seems that the development of new technologies outpaced the public's ability to adapt to them. There weren't as many institutions in place (especially in the entertainment industry) whose job it was to protect people from themselves; such issues were more of a localized concern. Without these babysitter institutions, people just... created. Their opinions on morality and appropriateness were shaped much less by a global or even national dialogue; I feel that it yielded some of the most wonderful and curious artistic productions ever. You had people like Georges Méliès just creating a whole new visual language with little oversight from his distributors (probably because he often distributed his films himself). He was part of a surge of en - Austin Sound

"Moth!Fight! Make Cool Carnival Music"

I can't recall how I stumbled upon these guys (perhaps it was the punctuation? I hear exclamation points are really "sticky" these days) but I feel happier since doing so. Austin's Moth! Fight! are a mammoth of a band (they have a bajillion rotating members) that stand a twee-ish middle ground somewhere between I'm From Barcelona, Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens.

The big band is led by singer/creator Kevin Adickes, who used to be in the bands Octopus Project and Single Frame. Adickes directs a revolving cast of musicians to create strange (but catchy) sounds using horns, strings, chimes, samples, and made-up instruments. The result is a grand experiment in orchestral whimsy. In other words, Moth! Fight! sort of sound like cool carnival music. Check out their epic songs "Hopscotch Part 1" and "Hopscotch Part 2." (If those aren't twee titles, I don't know what are.) - Oh My Rockness

"Mothfight Launches Tour"

Austin, TX’s Mothfight is an orchestral pop group that ranges in sound from tinkering children’s toys to sweeping strings and brass to experimental tape loops to shouted choral melodies. Their dynamic avant-garde arrangements shift radically mulitple times within a song’s framework under the direction of Kevin Adickes, former member of The Octopus Project and Single Frame. Also in the band’s lineup is Clarke Dominick, a core member for Austin experimental post-rock outfit Cue, who just released their second effort, Wedding Song.

Rounding out the lineup is an assortment of players including Jason Brister (Percussion, Vocals) also of Cue, Marcus Rubio (Violin, Musical Saw, Vocals) Erin Lance (Cello, Clarinet, Vocals) Jessica Boettger (Autoharp, Vocals, Samples, Xylophone) Kelli Christian (Keyboard, Trumpet, Vocals). Band members are also rumored to play a number of hand made, home made instruments.

Ambitious, epic, and wildly diverse, the band promises something for everyone; so if you don’t like the arrangements start to finish, there will surely be a 30 second clip of percussive genius or orchestral delight that is bound to ensnare your attention.

You might not find much in the way of merch at shows since the band appears still to be in deep focus on making perfect their debut 7” and E.P., however they do make elaborate greeting cards that come in packs of four! Order them via the band’s website or pick them up when Mothfight visits your town on their upcoming tour! - Urban Pollution


f you are looking for something new, Mothfight may be a good choice. The band mix Animal Collective oddity with Flaming Lips catchiness on "Hopscotch"; "Hopscotch Part 2" has a driving drum circle rhythm played by percussionist Jason Brister, and once again both Animal Collective and Flaming Lips seem like easy comparisons. I could see how someone could say the band is maybe too cheery and obnoxious, but I applaud the way they differentiate themselves from others. Like I said in the beginning, if you are looking for something fresh, Mothfight is waiting for you.

The band, which resides from Austin, only began to acknowledge the potential of the band this past March. The first official performance was in May 2006; it was Kevin Adickes strumming away on his acoustic, while the rest of the band played whatever they could and drank juice boxes. Adickes for a good while didn't have the 'capacity' to record on demo tapes, so he would write a song in full orchestral notation and then play it seperately with each member of the group, but he wouldn't hear the song in full form as he imagined it until the night of a show.

The band have yet to release any sort of single/EP/LP, but you can catch them on tour. - Double Fist Pump


Still working on that hot first release.



The group, a variegated cast of genre-hopping musicians, is directed by Kevin Adickes (former Octopus Project, Single Frame, Pitchfork Media, Dusted Magazine). Though their sound relies heavily on classic orchestral instrumentation (trumpets, cellos, violins, banjos, autoharps), they also utilize hand-made tape loops, samples, circuit bent toys,and home-made instruments.

In their first 6 months as a band, they've mounted a US tour, playing high-profile gigs with Bill Callahan and XbXrX, and have been invited to perform at Mark Mothersbaugh's art opening and Asthmatic Kitty/Unusual Animals' "Houston, My Ears Depend On You" festival.