Caleb Campbell, guitarist and one half of jangly electronic duo Moonbather, props himself in the iron patio furniture outside of a café on West Eight St. in the center of the Bishop Arts District, outlining in detail an innovative way to easily package dispensable peanut butter and jelly. Much in the same way American cheese is enclosed in crinkly peel-apart plastic fashion, he explains in a sort of coy business sense, so too can peanut butter and jelly be packaged into single-serving squares.
After a moment of pondering, guitarist Teddy Waggy replies rather aloofly, "That could be a thing."
"Kids would love it," responds Campbell. "You don't have to clean any knives." After a short pause, he reminds us, "Not everything has to be an app."
Moonbather's debut EP, the somewhat aptly named Out of the Start, is a sunny introduction into the glowing electro-pop territory they so modestly own with ease. Songs like "Through Thick & Thin" and "Out of the Start" flirt with familiar catchy romantic melodies yet retain a sense of endearing artistic finesse all their own. This Thursday upon the EP's debut, the two will play a release show at Good Records before embarking on a nine-day tour.
Campbell has adapted to a somewhat professional level of determination since first forming the band 10 months ago as a four-piece. The group acquired some attention through DIY and NME magazines, and was in talks with an overseas label about an official release as well as a tour. However, their relations fizzled.
But as Waggy points out to Campbell, "It kind of made you realize that you wanted to be more serious."
"Yeah, it definitely ignited that," Campbell acknowledges. "Because when somebody who has legitimacy behind them, and they're like telling you they're gonna do all this stuff, you start to get to be really like, 'OK, I'm gonna do all this stuff.' And then when they say, 'OK, we're not gonna do this stuff,' you kind of feel like, 'Well I still wanna do that stuff.'"
"But it's still inspiring for somebody with that level of legitimacy to be interested," says Waggy.
Campbell has been a rotating fixture among the arena of Denton musicians, playing in various bands and honing his craft in songwriting and guitar playing since the age of 14. Seeing how some of his friends play in such notable bands as Midlake, Campbell had reached out to them for advice on how to approach forming a successful band. He's since written and self-produced an EP (as well as design the cover art) and booked a tour that will see them play various cities from Oklahoma City to Chicago and Austin.
Moonbather has played only one of those cities, Austin, during SXSW at a house party. It was there that they had another fleeting brush with near recognition and then subsequent disappointment, as they were approached by an official who represented the Jennifer Lopez-backed network, NUVOtv, who had asked if their crew could film their performance and do a brief interview.
"They were doing it about house shows versus bar culture, and what's the difference between them and what they're about," says Waggy.
"Because those are the questions J-Lo wants to have answered," Campbell replies with a hint of sarcasm.
"She wants to know if she could book a house show," chimes Waggy. The band has yet to hear back from the network.
As Moonbather have been reduced to a duo, the decision to incorporate electronic influences sort of came with the territory. But otherwise, Campbell sums up the sugary nougat of the band's sound as "the golden age of music, as far as fun is concerned."
The album is flush with summery vibes and makes for an appropriate soundtrack for the upcoming months.
"I remember when you first started talking to me," Waggy says. "Because you've been in other bands before where there was a much more personal narrative that you were injecting into the music. And with this you just wanted to write an album where it was like, it's OK to hang out and be happy."
After returning from their tour, Campbell plans to record another EP and hit the road once again, which will take them through North Carolina, Virginia and New York, in which Waggy confides that some sightseeing will include various shooting locales of the FX hit series, Louie, which is filmed there.
Campbell and Waggy, now both Dallas residents, possess a charming friendship, and a magnetic yet soft-spoken enthusiasm for the road ahead. Moreover, they're not the least bit self-conscious of how they're perceived nor about making mistakes.
"We're totally fine with making a mistake, but you have to have the magic in the studio," Campbell says.
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"I do think that I prefer playing live though, because it's just so visceral in the difference between having a bad show and having a good show," Waggy notes. "Like having a good show will force me to smile when I can't even control it, like the kind of happy where it's rare to feel that way."
"Typically those are house shows," Campbell replies.
"But then a bad show is good too because we get put in our place a little bit," continues Waggy. "And we're like, OK, don't worry about this, we're not the best thing ever. It's still a learning experience. I feel like you have to have the bad in order to have the good."
Campbell jokes, "I'd rather just have the good."