Since releasing The Constant in 2011, Zach and Megan Moats have been the hardest working musicians in Coastal Virginia.
The duo got married in 2012, launched their side project The Lovecats in 2013, made several lineup changes to The Dharma Initiative, and played hundreds of shows along the way. It’s hard to pin down what makes Dharma and the Lovecats such great bands, but whatever it is it works and the couple show no signs of slowing down.
The easiest label for the Dharma Initiative is jamband, but that term (like so many others) loses its utility as you dig deeper into the group’s playing. To my ear the band’s greatness is its ability to sound like ten different bands in any given night. When they play reggae they sound like a band that plays reggae all night long. When they venture into the EDM side of bands like STS9 and Big Gigantic, they sound like an untz untz band. And when they slow it down and sing a song they sound like the good old Grateful Dead.
In between gigs in Richmond, birthday parties, and preparing for their New Year’s Eve show at Conch & Bucket, Megan took the time to answer some questions
AltDaily: It’s been a very big year for you guys. How many gigs did you play between Dharma and the Lovecats?
Megan Moats: We play an average of 7 shows a month with The Dharma Initiative and we like to spread them over several cities so we don't play too many in the same area within a short timeframe. Lovecats plays 3 or 4 shows a month. The summers are really busy for us, and the winter gets a little slower.
AD: You’ve made a bit of a lineup change in Dharma. How does that affect the way you approach performances?
MM: We have finally found what will be our official lineup. Michael Harvey was our original drummer and when he started talking about possibly taking his life in another direction, we all decided to get Jeremy Nardozzi on drums and Michael on guitar. Since we had originally been without guitar whatsoever, we thought that would be the best way to go on if and when Michael decided to leave the band cause we could just revert back to a three-piece with no problem. Well, by the time Michael officially made that decision, guitar had become an integral part of our sound and we decided we needed to get a new guitarist as quickly as possible. Mikey Famiglietti from Professor Marvel pretty much fell under our radar pretty serendipitously. Fortunately we were able to get him in before our next show and everything went smoothly. We are very excited about our new edition.
AD: You guys got married late last year. What’s it like being married and playing in two different bands together?
MM: Being married and making music together is a dream come true. We both agree that nothing could be better. Zach often randomly looks at me and simply says, "We're in a band together. That's so awesome." Doing the duo together is really cool, too. We get to focus more on our vocal harmonies and it's helping us grow a lot in that regard.
AD: Any special surprises in store for New Year’s Eve at Conch & Bucket?
MM: We are extremely excited about Lovecats playing Conch & Bucket for New Year's Eve. We plan to keep it upbeat and fun. It will be perfect for people who want to come in for a nice dinner or those who just want to hang at the bar and celebrate with us.
AD: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
MM: My advice for aspiring musicians would be- Just do it. You'll only accomplish your goals if you just get out there and do it. Start at open mics and work your way up. If you have the heart and the talent, people will start to notice and support you. And all we really need is support from fans to make this thing work.
AD: What’s the best show by a local band you saw this year?
MM: The best local band we've seen in a while, ironically, is Professor Marvel. We were really into those guys when we started talking to Mikey about joining the band. Fortunately, although they've stopped doing live shows, they are still planning to record some new stuff, and we're really looking forward to hearing it. Major and the Monbacks have something really special going on, as well. They have great musicianship and incredibly catchy original songs. This area really has a lot of talented bands.
AD: And an out-of-town touring band?
MM: Our favorite touring band right now (aside from the obvious choice, Phish) is probably Kung Fu. They are insane. Their keyboardist, Todd Stoops is from RAQ, one of my favorite bands of all time. We've seen Kung Fu several times over the last couple years, and we even got to open up a show for them at Va Beach Jewish Mother last month. That was a highlight for us this year.
AD: What’s in store for you kids in 2014?
MM: We are currently in the process of recording our second album, which we will be released in 2014. It's called Get What You Want. We'll keep you all posted!