Moon Dunes members sitting next to the side of a white and electric blue 1956 Chevy

Band of the Week: Moon Dunes

By Conner Yarbrough
Blog Content Contributor & Staff Editor

As one Facebook reviewer describes, Moon Dunes is “straight space yogurt.” While their music seems almost perfectly defined by this galactic comparison, this chill-wave quartet of San Marcos 20-somethings is even sweeter than the review implies. A band I would easily wake up at 7 a.m. again to hangout with. A band whose star-crossed members are just as cool as the trance-y music they create. A band who I’m both excited and proud to call KTSW’s next Band of the Week!

The morning started early, my alarm set for 6:45, though it was probably closer to 7:00 by the time I actually got out of bed to get ready for the short drive down Wonder World to what Moon Dunes’ singer Stephen Hurdle called “The Ranch.” As I approached the long, gravel driveway to the sound of Siri’s ever-charming “Arrived!” I worried that I had somehow gone to the wrong place. However, I was quickly reassured by the glittering, white ‘56 Chevy with electric blue accents roaring ahead – what else would such a dolled up classic be doing in the outskirts of San Marcos, TX? With Moon Dunes on the way, the rest of the KTSW team and I got acquainted with the eclectic property that I can’t help but compare to one of those outdoorsy sleep-away summer camps (without the stress of hundreds of pubescent campers running around). The property wasn’t free of inhabitants, though, as we stumbled across a number of cats and dogs who seemed puzzled by our unexpected presence.

Coffee and kolaches in hand, Moon Dunes unloaded from their cars and, with as much charm as possible for 8 a.m. on a Sunday, they joined in on our search for the perfect spot to record their interview. A few backflips on the trampoline later and the band was ready to officially introduce themselves to the camera – and to you.

Moon Dunes members sitting inside of 1956 Chevy with blue green interior
The four members of Moon Dunes chilling in a 1956 Chevy provided by a Buda car company, Gear Heads. Photo by Lucero Trevino.

Moon Dunes is a San Marcos-based psych-rock band and the brain-child of the singer and guitarist Stephen Hurdle and Nick Dow, drummer Joey Chapman, and bassist Patrick Ford. Once the formalities of an introduction were out of the way, they described to me how naturally the band formed out of their growing friendships – a process that seems to reflect in a sound that the Austin Chronicle believes “could flow from the river,” a sound that Hurdle connects with the freedom of just driving. However, music doesn’t make itself. Chapman described how often Hurdle will bring guitar riffs to the group as a jumping-off point. From there, the four jam out and contribute their own complimentary parts, letting the “vibration take over” their creative process. With songs that range anywhere from four to eight minutes, I was shocked to realize how little Moon Dunes relies on vocals to carry their sound – though not for lack of lyrical talent. Instead, they work to let the sound of their instruments breathe in a way that leaves the listener feeling like they’d just taken a deep breath. And, for a band that self proclaims to be a group of “nature-loving artists creating music made to melt your heart,” I’d say they’re doing a damn good job of bringing that vision to life.

Beyond Moon Dunes’ studio recordings, their shows also work to emulate 1960’s psychedelic rock. They described to me how this influence led them to collaborate with the Austin-based lighting company Lysergic Lights which specializes in liquid light shows reminiscent of those that actually took place in the 60’s. Hurdle went on to note that, as cool as having those visual effects to reinforce their sonic atmosphere is it’s even cooler to be paying respect to the roots of the organic genre they’re a part of.

Now that the group is back in San Marcos after their summer apart, be on the lookout for upcoming local sets. And, who knows, maybe they’ve got an album (or two) on the horizon.

Featured image by Lucero Trevino.

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