Harper and The Moths



Ladies and Gentlemen, here we are. I hesitate to say that we have “arrived” because there is usually much fanfare involved with things like that. But what has happened is that I now have the first FEATURED band for the Local Lowdown music blog. It is none other than Harper and the Moths from Phoenix. I personally spent way too many months saying “I need to see this band live” before finally making the commitment. It helped that I was playing a show about a quarter-mile away so I could walk to The Rebel Lounge and catch their set and I left wondering what took me so long to finally see them. Their energy and ability to engage the crowd was off the charts. I stated early on that this blog would not be about reviews or critiques so I will just leave you with three words of advice before moving on…GO SEE THEM.

A little about the band itself, they are self-described as an ” indie-dance-rock band producing energetic and complex rock and roll with a new wave twist”. A description that fits them perfectly. The band itself is; Harper Lines on vocals, Kelsee Ishmael on keyboards and vocals, Chan on guitar, and Dave Campbell on bass guitar. So without further adieu, how about we get to the questions and learn a little more about HATM.

So how did you come together as a band?

HLChan and I met up at The Setts to see our buddy Jim Wilcox’s show he was promoting
and started talking about writing music together – we had known one another for almost a
decade from playing in the music scene and always wanted to write together. Both the bands
we were in at the time were projects where we were the main writers and we wanted to build a
new project where we could write with other people – running your own project can be really

Ok, How about each of you name 3 influences on your instrument and a short reason why they influenced you. 

HL Robert Plant, David Bowie, and Prince because they all have such control and character in their voice

CLindsey Buckingham, Angus Young, and Slash. Lindsey plays so clean and his licks are so tasteful. Angus is a maniac and writes iconic riffs, and Slash’s soloing skills are undeniably the perfect combo of melody and shredding without showing off. 

KIFor keyboards, the amazing Ray Manzarek. Along with being talented on keyboards he was an incredible songwriter. Also Thomas Fec (Tobacco), I enjoy all his projects because he can manipulate his synths to write really interesting songs. For singing AND keys (and you can roll your eyes) but its Lady Gaga. I may not like all of her songs or even listen on a regular basis. But she is a strong and confident performer, has great voice and writes a lot of her own music. She clearly knows what she is doing

DCJames Jamerson. He is one of the most iconic bass players of all time and was such a major part of the Motown sound and the songs I loved growing up. Second is Bernard Edwards from Chic and other famous pop, rock and dance tracks of the 80’s. He opened my eyes to the possibilities in playing funk bass. Lastly, Flea..You can’t play bass and not like Flea. 

This is the lowdown, so tell me something about the band that no one knows

Harper never wanted to use his name in the band, but Chan convinced him to do it. Also, no one can remember why but we occasionally call Kelsee “old one-eye”

Worst or most embarrassing on stage occurrence for the band or one of you personally

 Band:  Chan has hit a few wrong notes occasionally but mostly because he couldn’t see his guitar if the stage is dark, and Harper almost fainted from heat exhaustion at the Phoenix Zombie Walk. KI: I’m still waiting till I eat it wearing heels  DC: We were playing a show at Yucca with Anthony Fama of the Redemptions on stage with us for the finale which was a cover of the Queen and David Bowie classic “Under Pressure”. The song was going great until I came out of the bridge and just blanked and froze for 10 seconds..which is forever in stage time. No poker face either..total fail. 

Pretend each of you never met and you are starting a new band. You can choose ANY musician. Who is it?

HL: Nile Rogers  C: Miley Cyrus  KI: Johnny Jewel  DC: Stevie Wonder

Hard question, each of you name your favorite song of all time 

HL:  This question is too finite KI: It’s ever-changing but currently “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan. C: Impossible to answer, I have a new one everyday but right now I’m digging older stuff my parents used to rock so “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. DC: I’m fickle, it changes too often

Now, which famous song do you WISH you had written?

HL: Still Rock and Roll to me by Billy Joel  KI: The Boss by James Brown

This is a local music feature, so what is your favorite song by a LOCAL band?

HL and DC: Patsy by Decker  KI: Puppycat by Wyves 

What is your Favorite place to play in the valley and why?

HL: Crescent Ballroom, Valley Bar, and Rebel Lounge. The sound is always great and they are all 3 just fun places to hang. 

Some bands get labeled as “live”bands, do you feel you are better live or on your recorded works?

HL: I think we are a solid combination of both. Our records sound great (imho) and we work very hard to not only sound great live but put on a performance that creates interaction and an experience for the crowd. DC: HATM is a band that should be seen live, the show is a sensory experience that translates into a different experience than you get just listening to audio. 

Name 3 local bands our readers need to see: (This question is clearly a trap, so they took it and ran)

 That is tough because there are so many great live bands and they all offer a different experience for the audience. So…PAO, Wyves, Decker, The Love Me Nots, Fairy Bones, The Redemptions, MRCH, Scorpion vs Tarantula, Ruca, Sister Lip, Playboy Manbaby, Celebration Guns, Saddles, Luna Aura, DRYC, Andy Warpigs, can we keep going? We can do this all day…

Give me ONE word to describe the local music scene. 

HL & DC:  Inspiring

If you could change one thing about the local scene, what would it be?

HL: Some of the venues have set times that end at like 9pm so they can promote DJ nights, which makes it difficult to get people to the show. I think the bands are all working really hard to blow up their shows and things like that make it more difficult to promote live music. But I do get it, DJ’s get people to dance and money in the door but so should any good band. Maybe there could be a combination of shows where live music and DJ’s trade-off?  

DC:  More music festivals and show opportunities for great up and coming bands

You now get to shamelessly self promote, What is coming up for the band?

HL: Actually, we are taking a break from playing out for the next few months to work on the new recordings. We are demoing a bunch of new tracks and will be releasing a few very unique things around July or August of this year. We are trying to reinvent ourselves and our performances to make them stand out even more than before. 

Final Thoughts to share? Anything goes here!

HL: I say this all the time when we are playing out but I am so incredibly thankful for every person who comes out and supports live local music. There are a ton of really amazing local acts in the valley and they play their hearts out for what amounts to nickels and dimes. So when we play a show and it is packed or sold out it is mind-blowing and means EVERYTHING to us as a band.  GO OUT..Support your friends and go see a band that you are hearing good things about from others. Between work, school and friendships It is hard for me to make it to half of the shows I want to go to but every time I do go out and be social I am glad that I did. 

DC:  We feel very grateful and fortunate to be able to live and play in a city with so many talented artists, musicians, promoters and all around great people. Seeing people enjoy and share our music with others means everything to us and it is why we do it. So thank you to everyone for the love and support. You continue to inspire us and we love you all!

Though the band may not have anything on the immediate horizon, I want the readers to be able to know where and how they can hear more from each band featured. So I always want to include links for you to continue to explore each band. Check out the links below 

I want to personally thank Harper and the Moths for being the very first of what I hope are many bands and artists to be featured on The Local Lowdown. Please follow the page, share the page, comment on the articles, and come back often!


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