By Brent Thompson
Many songwriters admittedly wait for inspiration to strike when it comes to creating new material. But for the self-proclaimed “twangy Americana duo” Neon Moon – comprised of married couple Josh and Noelle Bohannon – songwriting is a craft that requires discipline and determination. To that end, Neon Moon recently completed a project called Our52Songs that found the duo releasing a song each week on YouTube for a calendar year. The band’s debut album, 6:53, consists of five songs written during that period (plus one additional track that forms the album’s title). Currently, the band is touring throughout the South and on Sunday, April 22, Neon Moon will perform at The Nick. Recently, Josh and Noelle spoke with us by phone from their Nashville home.
Birmingham Stages: Josh and Noelle, thanks for your time. Given the large number of songs you posted on YouTube, how did you choose the six tracks for the 6:53 release?
Noelle Bohannon: Out of those 52 songs, there were all sorts of songs of different genres. We picked five – there might be more on the next record from this project – but we picked five that we felt passionate about and felt that fit that throwback Country feel.
Josh Bohannon: I don’t know if there was a rhyme or reason – we just felt really connected to the ones that are on the record. Initially, there were only five [songs] on the record and we felt strongly about that and we went back later and wrote the sixth one – the 53rd song; hence 6:53. It was hard to push some of them back for a later date, but we weren’t really sure how well the project was going to be received, so we weren’t really sure about diving in head-first. Those were the five we felt strongly about so we wanted to dip our toes in the water with them initially. We figured we could always come back and put more out, which is what we’re hoping to do later this year.
Birmingham Stages: Your band is a great example of how artists can utilize modern outlets – including YouTube and Facebook – as a method of distributing and publicizing your music. Overall, how do you view the climate for artists these days?
JB: It is one of the best times to be alive for releasing music as an artist because you have so many avenues and have the possibility of having your music heard. With that, there’s also a level of saturation that comes with it too. For us, all we can do as artists is try and write the best material that we can and put it out into these avenues and, hopefully, people are actively searching for good music.
Birmingham Stages: It seems the current environment allows for flexibility in how frequently – and to what volume – you release your music.
JB: I grew up in a generation when albums really mattered and listening to a 12-to-15 track cohesive piece of work was something really special. This day and age feels like it’s moving back into a singles-driven world. It’s sad in a way that the older model is going out. We are just trying to figure out a way to find our place.
Birmingham Stages: Your timing seems to be good as the “throwback” style of music you referenced is reaching a wide audience these days. Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Margo Price and Chris Stapleton are all having success in performing honest music with traditional sounds.
NB: Yeah, it’s a cool thing that our timing ended up being what it was and we’re stoked about it.
Birmingham Stages: It’s unique that you are able to do this together. Most married artists leave a spouse at home when they hit the road, but you are able to forge your career as a couple.
JB: It’s really a blessing to be able to be on the road and be on this journey with somebody you’re so close to. We’re almost 10 years into our marriage and we know how to navigate it and not push each other’s buttons as much. The road is stressful enough so we try to be as compatible as possible.
NB: We just put on a podcast and cruise [laughs].
Photo Credits: Ashley Wasley (top) and Kristy Rodgers
Neon Moon will perform at The Nick on Sunday, April 22. Justin Howl with Sam Frazier, Jr. and Justin Nelson round out the evening’s bill. Doors open at 9 p.m. and showtime is 10 p.m. Tickets to the 21+ show are $6 and can be purchased at www.thenickrocks.com.