Illinois Entertainer

It’s What’s Inside That Rocks goes back 20 years to when guitar virtuosos were not only making records by the bucketful, but selling them that way. Lyden Moon certainly has the chops to run with those old horses, never sitting too long on an idea before whipping out a new trick.

A true virtuoso is hard to come by, but guitarist and well-respected "shredder" Lyden Moon is truly a master of his instrument.

Moon's recent release, "It's What's Inside That Rocks!," is a well-crafted album that showcases the nimble playing for which the guitarist is known, in addition to the rock-solid rhythm section required to hold the context together as Moon travels off on complex runs.

The instrumental music often soars high on the back of its melodies, and that was the point, says Moon.

"With my new CD, I wanted to make music that I hear in my head. I wanted to make a record that rocks but also has plenty of melodies going on in the music. I play instrumentals, but I wanted the songs to flow as if a singer was singing. Instead of a singer doing the melody, I let the guitar sing the melody.

"The new CD is not a shred record. I do have parts in songs where I am shredding, but I did not want to make a CD this time that was just me playing as many notes as fast as I can. That gets old to me. The music as a whole was more important to me on the new CD."

That attitude does show on the new disk, with Moon's ax taking the place of any Axl Rose-esque wailing.

Moon also gives his bass player, Joel Thierfelder, and his drummer, Dan Jung, some room to showcase their respective talents on the track "A-La-Carte."

"The reason for this kind of a song is simple," says Moon. "I like bass and drums a lot. Plus this song makes the record breathe. Dynamics are very important to me and my band. You need dynamics to make the music more interesting to the listener. Quiet parts, loud parts, soft parts, aggressive parts, etc., all add to the flow and mood of the music the artist is trying to achieve."

Fans of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen – though Moon is not in as metal a mode as Malmsteen on this particular project – and other guitarists that record sans vocals will probably find "It's What's Inside That Rocks!" to their liking.

Gear is, of course, something of importance to any player and, like most musicians, Moon is eager to talk shop and points out how key for a musician a compatible instrument can be.

"My favorite brand of electric guitar is Ibanez. The feel of the neck is very comfortable to me. The guitar works well with my Marshall amplifier and cabinet. The tone I get from these three ingredients mixed together is very pleasing to my ear," says Moon.

"I am not endorsed by Ibanez or Marshall, so when I say I like these brands I am not getting paid to say so."

Next up for Moon and his band is the quid pro quo for any group that has just released new music.

"Gigging as much as we can, and getting the new CD into as many ears and hands as we can," says Moon. "Shows are where we sell the majority of our CDs. It is very costly to make a record and sales help support the band. All of the money generated goes into the making of the next CD.

"Plus, the band and I really like to play live. That is the whole reason we do this. What could be better than writing your own music and performing it for people? Even if my band and I did not make CDs we would still be out playing live as much as we can."

Maximum Ink

When it comes to his new CD, “It’s What’s Inside That Rocks”, guitaristLYDEN MOON, explains his process when it comes to creating music. “I’m always trying to write a better song,” he says, “a lot of instrumental guitar players go strictly for the technical showcase kind of record. And that’s not what I want to do.” The Wisconsin-based guitarist is letting me know that he doesn’t want to be perceived as what other musicians often unaffectionately call guitar soloists, a “wanker”. You don’t have to use much of an imagination to realize what that term refers to, or to imagine the big-haired guitar slingers with the magic fingers that it describes. “ I think it’s harder to play a slow meaningful passage,” he continues, “to milk a note correctly, as opposed to just tearing it up. Once you develop the speed, you’ve got it, but in terms of delivering the song, it’s a never-ending accomplishment because I always feel that I can play it better and express myself better. And technique is not just speed, it’s how to play the note correctly, it’s how to attack the note correctly. When I go into the studio I try to play as clean I can and just really make sure that the point is coming across.”

And this dedication to melody is coming from a man who has shred more than Ollie North and Fawn Hall. He’s already released four records, jammed onstage with guitar monsters like Steve Vai, Gary Hoey, and Pat Travers. His albums have been produced by none other than guitar badass, Michael Angelo Batio, a dude that’s best known for playing a guitar with four necks(!) Lyden Moon has the cred and the chops to lift his axe high with the top guys in guitar, so when he says that he’s trying something with “a little more variation”, you’re wondering exactly what he means. “There’s a lot more dynamics to the songs“, Moon says, “There’s slow parts, fast parts, more aggressive, and in-the-pocket kind of parts. There’s tempo changes throughout most of the songs, because you want to keep the songs interesting for a person who isn’t either into instrumental guitar music or it’s not really their bag. They can actually enjoy this music because you can actually still follow it. It’s not just full-on, which gets kind of boring. If you have three songs of just burning, it gets old.”

Moon is backed up by new drummer, Dan Jung, and trusty bassist, Joel Thierfelder, and when he writes songs, he writes them in what he calls the “long way”. “I don’t write the melody first”, he says. “A lot of instrumental guys write the melody first, and I don’t think of melodies until the rhythms are already done. We jam out to songs and I record that and take it home and then sing to it or hum to myself the melodies I would play over those rhythms. I almost write it as if I would a lyrical song. Certain rhythms are a little more aggressive so I think of aggressive melody lines as opposed to a ballad or an in-the-pocket type of song that would have a flowing melody.”

Moon recommends the tracks, “Speak the Squeak” or “Inquisitive Creatures” for people who want to get a taste of what his music is all about. “It’s What’s Inside That Rocks” was recorded by metal ace, Chris Djuricic and is available for purchase on Moon is proud of the different sound. “These songs just breathe a little better than my previous records, “ he says, “not that I’m not proud of them, but there’s a lot of guitar going on in those records. On this one, there’s still a lot of guitar but it’s not in your face like the previous one.”

LYDEN MOON is opening the show at the Back Bar in Janesville on January 29th. “If you’re sick of the same old same old,” he says, “Well, come out and see me because I’m not the same old same old. Are you tired of seeing a band slaughter fucking Van Halen? Are you tired of seeing a band slaughter The Ramones? Are you tired of seeing a band slaughter every act that you like? Come out and see me. I’m doing my own thing… If you’re looking for something different, like, let’s say you had hamburger four nights of the week, I’m the one who’s going to offer you chicken on Friday night.”

Quick Spins

Before I even get to reviewing Lyden Moon's music, I've got to give it up to artist Laura Thierfelder, who created the amazing artwork for this disc. Her drawings of the band instantly reminded me of A-Ha's classic "Take On Me" video. They're so lifelike, you almost expect them to come to life and jump off the page. 
As I listened to the tunes, I thought I'd hear more touches of Satriani and Vai. It's very clear however that Moon has his own vision and influences. "Speak The Squeak" launches the album with a Dick Dale-inspired flourish and features a nifty half-time middle section. My favorite track, "A-La Carte," treads vintage Living Color territory, with a nasty groove courtesy of drummer Dan Jung and bassist Joel Thierfelder, husband of the artist previously mentioned. 
Moon's biggest asset as a soloist is his ability to melodically wind up going to places that wouldn't be obvious to most players. There are also tons of mood and tempo changes in these tunes to keep them interesting, which is too often a hurdle that many instrumental guitarists can't seem to get over. Hopefully, "It's What's Inside That Rocks" will gain Moon, Jung and Thierfelder the national attention they deserve. Very well done. (review by Dan Pavelich of Quick Spins and the band the Bradburys)

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