Moment Of Clarity: A New “Power” Rising…

MOC at SummerFest '09. [Photo: Josh Edwards]
MOC at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards

A Moment Of Who?

After a sterling performance at M4A’s very own SummerFest’09 in January, it seemed only appropriate to get to know the band Moment Of Clarity just a little bit better.

Since that show, many whispers can be overheard as speculations arise about whether or not this will be Southern Africa’s next number one “cross-over” band.  Cross-over meaning that a band has potential to turn many heads outside of the metal scene, and likely arouse interest toward other metal bands by typically non-metal listeners.  Although some people may disagree, we at M4A believe that such bands are vital for the sustainability of a healthy metal community.  Let’s see what the guys had to say about these matters which we unceremoniously laid at their doorstep, and more…

Under the Fiends interrogation pincers…

DF: Hi Guys.  Please introduce yourselves

MOC: Hey Metal4africa.com. Moment Of Clarity consists of Lindsey Roussouw on Vocals, Neil Bezuidenhout and Dale Walker on guitars, Mark Pote on bass and Andrew Potter on drums.

DF: There have been hordes of new bands emerging on the South African scene in recent times.  Some of those bands who have only just recently been receiving attention are actually not even so new at all!  What is your guys story?  How long have you been an active gigging outfit, and how, suddenly in the later part of 2008, did Moment of Clarity start to enjoy wider public attentions?

MOC: Moment Of Clarity came into form in July 2007 with Neil, Andrew and, then bassist, Mike Cubic. We were old school friends and had played in a few projects together before. We got together, had a jam session, listened to some written material and then decided we had to make the band happen, but first the line-up needed to be completed…

Our long-time friend, Dale, was the obvious choice to accompany Neil on the axe. Shortly after we enlisted Lindsey on vocals who we knew and thought would be perfect to lead the band. We wrote and jammed our asses off over the next 3 months and played our first gig in the October of 2007 to a capacity crowd at Corner Bar and we’ve never looked back since.

We had our first line-up change in early 2008 with Mike stepping down as our bassist and Mark Pote joining the backline on bass. Mark has turned out to be the perfect fit and the pace at which we have been moving forward since that point has been nothing but relentless.

DF: I’ve heard a number of people comment that Moment Of Clarity offers something extraordinary – with regard to both vocal and instrumental performances.  Is there anything you should be telling us?  What histories of experience exist in the band?

MOC: Musically its fair to say that we allow for flexibility within the MOC camp, therefore alleviating the limitations associated with conforming to a particular genre or sound. To date, we seem to be able to mix melodic and harsh vocal lines and guitar work with a definite metal sound and, to this end, we appear to go down very well at gigs. Our live shows can be regarded as both energetic, passionate and interactive. We always give 100 % regardless of whether it’s in front of an audience 5 or 500.

We all bring in different influences into the band. We’re all old-school Metallica enthusiasts and most of us did our stint in the obligatory Metallica tribute band phase in our teens… Other than that we’ve all played in previous bands and the most recognisable project is Scarlet Host who Lindsey fronted for many years.

In terms of “offering something extraordinary” as you put it, we can’t really comment on that besides to say that we keep on pushing the boundaries of what we’re capable of, both musically and technically. So if thats regarded as being extraordinary then we’ll keep doing just that!

DF: Rumor has it that your demo EP was recorded in somebody’s closet, or a close equivalent.  It certainly does not sound like it, though!  Who is the person responsible for getting such a good sound for the demo?

Neil at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards
Neil at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards

MOC: It’s no rumour – it’s the truth… the “equivalent” part, that is. Yes, we recorded our demo EP at Neil’s house in a room we normally used for practicing. We have plowed every Rand we’ve earned on-stage back into the band and into buying recording equipment so far. We’re very proud of the recording and the credit should really go to Neil who spent days and nights sitting up producing and working on the mix and mastering. We’re glad to hear that our demo EP does not sound like it was recorded in somebody’s closet… although it would be interesting to hear how that would have sounded…

DF: Of course, the norm is that bands are only considered to be making significant gains once the albums start rolling out.  Any plans for an album on the horizon?  What options are you considering at this stage?

MOC: Well we’ve got good response from our demo EP and plans for our debut full-length are underway. As always, we’re doing things independently and it’s going to take some time, but this way we can be as creative as we can be and keep our sound true to what it is already. If we pick up representation along the way then great, but till that happens we’re going it alone and not waiting for anybody else to determine our success. As far as material goes, we’re playing half of our repertoire live at the moment, the rest is going on the full-length and we’ll take them on stage after that!

DF: Although many / most / or all members of the band are clearly metalheads, there has been a lot of discussion as to where exactly Moment of Clarity fits in.  For example, the band opened up at METAL4AFRICA’s SummerFest’09, when most certainly you are of a high standard and might have expected a more “prestigious” slot.  Can you offer any commentary?

MOC: In reality, any band aspires to play the more prestigious slots at a festival. We would be lying if we said we didn’t care about it! We appreciate that we are relatively new on the scene compared to other bands and as the age-old saying goes – we need to pay our dues. Right now it’s all about rocking-out, getting our name out there and being afforded great opportunities to play the premier music festivals.

DF: In the last few years, we have seen a little bit of resurgence in “rock festival culture”, which appears to be gaining momentum.  How do you guys think Moment Of Clarity will go down in a cross-genre environment?  Do you think your music might be considered “accessible” to people who are not necessarily into metal?

MOC: Definitely. We try not to limit our creative growth and, since our inception, we are not uncomfortable with the idea of cross-over appeal. The fact that people are uncertain about where we fit in is not necessarily a limiting factor. Cross over appeal essentially means appealing to a broader and diverse market and, if thats the case right now, then great. Past experience tells us that we can reel in even the most non-metal crowd with our sound as well as make an impact at a heavily contested metal-fest like Metal4Afrca SummerFest ’09 and thats great for us.

DF: Listening to the music, I’d say that it is hard to lock onto exactly what the band is trying to achieve.  Not that this is a bad thing!  That is the sign of a band who is offering something unique, but often results in the public (and promoters) not knowing quite where to place them and can make the road forward a very tough one.  Is this something you guys think about?  Can you explain your music a little?

MOC: It is something we think about, but we don’t take it to heart. We have become what we are by just keeping our minds open musically and letting the song-writing flow in any direction it takes us. So far it has kept us away from being pigeon-holed into a specific, clear-cut genre and that suits us just fine.

Having been around for just under two years we still regard ourselves as a relatively new band. A band which is still finding their ‘groove’ in the SA Metal scene. We are also constantly evolving as far as our musical aspirations are concerned.

DF: I see on your website that you describe yourselves as Power Metal.  There has been much debate since the emergence of heavy metal back in the day about what music might be appropriate to pin the term “Power Metal” to.  If you were born in 1970-odd, you might say Pantera is Power Metal, or if you were a 1990’s baby, maybe you’d say Dragonforce.  To help placing this description of yourselves into perspective for the readers, what would be some of the greatest influences in Moment Of Clarity’s sound?  Is that the market you wish to captivate, or are you thinking wider than that?

MOC: The first track we finished was To The Streets which has distinct Power Metal feel to it and back then we felt Power Metal described us well. We even went as far as to label our style Epic Power Metal since we seem to have big choruses and/or endings to our songs. In terms of labeling ourselves with a genre we think it’s more a point of labeling our perspective audience and not our sound, but at the same time we don’t want to limit ourselves by a genre label as we know our sound will evolve over time. For now it’s Epic Power Metal – tomorrow maybe Melodic Death Metal. As far as the influences go we have a very vast range of influences that flow into our sound through the individual members.

Dale at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards
Dale at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards

DF: It seems that despite any kind of categorizations, and with great diversity and dynamic displayed in the music, your band seems to be revolving closely around the more “extreme metal” scene.  Is this because of personal friendships or relationships, or is this just a scene that your members have always been a part of?  Who would you say have been local and international inspirations in your pursuit of “stardom”?

MOC: The personal relationships have actually formed after the fact. The fact that we circulate in and around the extreme metal scene is something that we have actively pursued and we aspire to keep doing so. I think diversity is something the metal scene needs and – the purists will hate us for saying this – if we can provide a more diverse point of entry into the metal scene for a non-metal listener to give the broader metal scene a bigger spotlight, then why not? We would just be doing everyone a service, including ourselves.

We take a lot of inspiration from the old school metal gods, the likes of Maiden, Pantera, Megadeth etc, but I think everyone in the band agrees that Arch Enemy are one of the most dynamic metal bands of today. Locally, we’re big admirers of Sacrifist.

DF: Of course, I’d be completely unpredictable if I never asked about the bands name.  It seems kind of thought provoking, yet, also something I might have associated rather with an album title.  Is there a specific direction the band wanted to go with that name – a theme of sorts, or was it just something that seemed to fit?

MOC: What’s in a name? Like most bands we wrestled with a few ideas. Moment of Clarity was just something a few of us came up with and at the time we were comfortable with it. It also seemed to fit the tranquil instrumentals and solos in our material amidst the frantic riffs and vocals. Some bands go to great lengths to draw parallels between their music/ethos and their band’s name, but for us there is no deeper meaning or grand theme linked to it except for what the listener makes of it. By the way – we’re still comfortable with the name!

DF: Can you outline a few highlights in the Moment Of Clarity history to date?

MOC: One of the biggest highlights as this stage is accomplishing as much as we have in what would be deemed a short period of time. To be included on bills such as Animals Rock, Whiplash and the Metal4Africa SummerFest’09 is in our view testament to a solid work ethic both in and out of the practice space. We still want a shot at RamFest though!

The fact that we recorded our demo EP without a budget and received the positive response it did would probably be the most tangible highlight to date.

As far as gig memories go, one memory that stands out for some of us is a gig at Corner Bar where some dude got caught in a mosh, and we saw him get his face smashed against a pillar and had to get medical attention for a nasty cut but refused to go until we finished our set – thats got to be a highlight! We still owe you that t-shirt dude! And we suppose another would be a Monday night gig at Mercury Lounge where we managed to get a whole crowd of indie/pop-trash/hipsters moshing right from the stage to the bar at the back – totally bizarre…

DF: As a reasonably fresh name on the scene, can you tell us a little about your feelings regarding your expectations for the metal4africa project?  What role do you think it will play in the future of metal music on African soil, as well as in the global arena?

MOC: Playing Metal4Africa SummerFest ’09 was a great experience. Not knowing what to expect made it all the more exciting. It’s a huge challenge for organizers to keep the Metal scene alive, and still not lose focus on the profitability of the event for future sustainability. The metal scene can only grow into something bigger so it’s critical that M4A continues to soar upwards. Admittedly metal heads attending these festivals should be more open minded in supporting and rocking out for all bands on the bill and not just hang around waiting for their favourite band to play. Admittedly some bands on a bill will be better than others, but there needs to be some encouragement for the bands that haven’t quite hit the mark yet. As a band, we have thrived on this in the past.

The Metal4Africa project is a shining glimmer of hope from the depths of darkest Africa where radio and TV are overwhelmed with strictly formatted pop and R&B trash. We know that this is a majority share, but with exposure we can prove to Africa and the world that metal is a highly intricate genre of music that showcases some of the finest instrumental talent there is!

Dale, Mark and Andrew at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards
Dale, Mark and Andrew at SummerFest '09. Photo: Josh Edwards

DF: Last but not least – where to from here for Moment of Clarity?  What are your plans for the remainder of 2009, and where do you see yourselves at this time in 2010, or even 2011?

MOC: We definitely have our vision set on recording and releasing a full length album which we hope to achieve by the end of 2009. Hopefully, we would like to follow that up with a nationwide mini-tour to promote the album.  With this in mind, we don’t want to lose touch with the gig scene and would prefer to plan our gigging schedule around our recording. To this end our goal is to achieve balance in all aspects of the band.

For now we are happy with the progress made thus far. We are definitely looking forward to releasing a completely new/revamped set list later this year and are currently in the process of writing new material and getting it up to scratch for live act purposes.

Based on our previous experiences we have decided to take a different approach when writing new material. Previously a lot of the writing process was rushed for the purpose of getting new material out into the public arena. Having said that, certain aspects did not entirely work out in our favor. We have learned from these mistakes and are actively ensuring that the writing process gets the time it deserves.

From a song writing style point of view, its proving to be heavier and a lot more technical while still keeping the core melodic undertones of which people of late have come to expect from Moment Of Clarity!

Keep an eye on metal4africa.com and momentofclarity.co.za to stay up-to-date with the latest developments on the MOC frontline!

That’s a wrap!

And we most certainly will do just that.  We are quite sure that when Moment Of Clarity come forward with the next recorded offering that M4A, and our ever growing family, will be the first to hear it.  In the meantime, see to it that you get a taste for this bands live performances.  They are one of the bands participating in our Winter Invasion series and will perform at Corner Bar in Durbanville one June 6th along with Azrail, Fearstrike, and Lines of Separation.  See you in the pit!