Many Moons is the first solo musical journey of Real Estate’s Martin Courtney, a reflection on his family life and fatherhood, which largely written while he was on the road touring. Courtney enlisted Jarvis Taveniere of Woods to help produce and play on the album along with help from and Julian Lynch and Matt Kallman.
Martin Courtney shares the influences that helped shape his musical path, the records he played to death as a teenager, the albums he’s digging in 2015 and his favourite moment from recording Many Moons.
Did any albums influence the production or music while making Many Moons?
Al Green I’m Still In Love With You, and Call Me, the sound of the rhythm section on those albums was something we were trying to emulate.
Nick Drake Bryter Layter, the lushness of the instrumentation and the general vibe on that record are pretty amazing.
Kinks The Village Green Preservation Society, the idea of an acoustic guitar driven rock record, extremely melodic, with tons of vocal harmonies.
What is your favourite album of all time?
Maybe Crooked Rain Crooked Rain by Pavement, or the first Weezer record, or I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One by Yo La Tengo, or Village Green, or Abbey Road.
What was the first album you bought with your own money?
The Offspring Smash, Soundgarden Superunknown
Which album has influenced your music style the most?
Probably I Can Hear The Heart by YLT, or Either Or by Elliott Smith.
What has been the biggest surprise release of 2015?
I’m not sure what you mean by “surprise”, but I’ve been enjoying this new Blank Realm record. Also, the new Deerhunter is good.
What was playing on your family stereo growing up?
Not a ton of stuff. My dad was and is a big classical music fan, and my mom was into, I think, mostly music she grew up with, Rod Stewart, Bowie, etc., though ever since Real Estate started putting records out and getting played on the radio, she’s into current music again. Not very much music played in the house, though, really. I do remember the Pulp Fiction soundtrack being around, and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell Pt. 2. My sister, being a few years older than me, was the one who had the cool CDs in her room, which I would steal and listen to on my little boombox. Siamese Dream, Ten, Nevermind, etc.
Which album did you play to death as a teenager?
The Microphones The Glow Pt. 2, Weezer Pinkerton, The Get Up Kids Something to Write Home About.
What are some of you favourite albums by other artists released via your label Domino Records?
All of the Cass McCombs records, all of the Robert Wyatt reissues, Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective, Tomboy by Panda Bear, the first Stephen Malkmus solo record, Internal Wrangler by Clinic, so much stuff. Good label!
What was your inspiration behind the artwork for Many Moons & who created the artwork?
I just chose that photo out of a bunch of photos I took while on tour with Real Estate. That one, in particular, was taken on a day off from a UK tour. We were staying at this little country hotel outside of Nottingham. There was an old air force base nearby, and one of the giant old hangars had been turned into a go-karting facility. It was pretty surreal. I just stumbled upon this very nice looking path and took a photo of it.
When it came time to choose the album cover, I didn’t want to overthink it. That photo looked like it would make a good album cover, so I went with it.
Rob Carmichael, who runs a design studio called SEEN and has done the layouts for the past two Real Estate records, added the text and helped lay out the rest of the packaging.
Did you have any other names on the table for you first solo album, or was it always going to be called Many Moons?
I had that name just kicking around in my head for a while. I thought it would be a good name for something. At one point, I considered naming the entire project Many Moons. It was the same thing as the artwork; I just didn’t want to put too much thought into it. Once I decided to put the record out under my own name, I figured the album needed a name, so Many Moons was what we went with.
What was your most memorable moment while recording Many Moons?
Recording the string parts was a great experience. It was great getting to hear the arrangements I had come up with on my computer actually played by real musicians, all of whom happened to be super talented. It immediately added so much to the songs. At one point, we were rehearsing the parts for the instrumental track, “Many Moons”, and it was just myself playing acoustic guitar in a room with flute, two violins, a viola, and a cello. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing was music that I wrote. Very exciting.
Many Moons is out now via Domino Records.