Hailing from Tacoma and Seattle, Washington, Motopony originally began as the creative alter ego of lead member Daniel Blue. The project has evolved into a full band of drummer Forrest Mauvais, lead guitarist Mike Notter, keyboardist Andrew Butler, rhythm guitarist Nate Daley and bassist Terry Mattson. Motopony released their eponymous first album in 2009 and Idle Beauty EP in 2013. Their second album, Welcome You, was released by eOne Music.
Julien Barbagallo has been drummer and vocalist for Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala since 2012. That year, the group’s sophomore album Lonerism reached platinum status, receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album. Their 2015 follow-up album, Currents, was recently released to acclaim. Barbagallo released his debut solo album Amor de Lonh in 2014, and his project Aquaserge released their fourth album À l’amitié earlier that year.
I’m always amazed at the chain reactions in life. This present interview with Motopony finds its roots in a random encounter on a sidewalk in LA a while ago, as I enjoyed my 28th order of eggs benedict on that Tame Impala US tour. It reminds me of meeting Kevin [Parker of Tame Impala] for the first time in a bar in Paris, and next thing I knew, I was in a basement in Perth practicing with an Aussie band. Or that time when I went for a drink after a show in Melbourne because I couldn’t sleep and ended up marrying the girl at the end of the bar.
Such is life, hey? At least the one I dig.
Julien Barbagallo: Just to be clear, I’ve never interviewed anybody—I guess there’s something to be said for saying yes to the unknown. Can you tell me something to break the ice?
Mike Notter: I’ve had three double espressos and two delicious Northwest IPAs today. I also bought life insurance this afternoon—because you never know.
Forrest Mauvais: Today is looking promising with the potential to get interesting. I’m going to try to haggle someone down for an 1989 Toyota Camry I found on Craigslist. I’m looking for pure functionality in my near future vehicle!
Nate Daley: Sometimes I think I was meant to be some sort of sea creature instead of a human.
Daniel Blue: I like to break ice with harder metal things that have good heft and vibration-proof handles.
JB: When was the last time you said yes to the unknown? Has it ever happened to you on a musical level? P.S. This interview is G-rated. Actually, I don’t know.
MN: That’s the beauty of improvisation—why everyone pays attention when a player jumps into a solo—no one knows what’s going to happen. It’s as thrilling to watch someone crash and burn as it is to see them catch the mystic unicorn by his golden horn and fly.
FM: Joining Motopony was definitely me saying “yes” to the musical unknown. Through a sequence of coincidences, I left my parents’ house in the Sacramento suburbs at 18, moved in with our ex-keyboard player in Seattle and toured across the country. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity at that age.
ND: I have been thinking a lot about the musical unknown lately. I’m experiencing “sonic wanderlust,” but I’m not sure how to navigate outside this toy-town of generic sounds. Fuck man, I’m desperate for the unknown.
“It’s always a good time to make art. As
long as there are at least two people on earth,
they’ll be trying to show each other
what it’s like to be alive.”
— Mike Notter
JB: Let’s break it to the readers: this is a Q&A rather than a chat, which is fine because I’m more comfortable writing than talking. What about you guys? Do you feel better in the protected environment of the studio or out on stage?
MN: To me it’s like two different phases in the farming process: You plant the seeds and foster them in the studio where you have time and space to explore. Once your crop is ready for harvest, you reap what you’ve created, take it to the stage and offer it to the audience who makes a nice fresh salad out of it.
ND: Man, I really love recording. I like the idea of creating something lasting. Sometimes on stage I feel like an ape on display in a zoo. I’ve been wanting to change the experience of live shows and make it more of a psychedelic-ocean-muse incantation. To make it about everyone.
JB: What was the vibe after finishing Welcome You? Was it “never again” or “can’t wait for the next one”?
MN: This record has been a long time in the making and has been tweaked and tossed around by a whole cast. We love what we came out with, but I can’t wait to dream up the next one.
ND: It was like, “Cool, let’s take a break to tour, then make another.” I love recording. I guess I’m wanting to make that unknown record where I can say, “Yes, this is what I was trying to imagine.” My “white whale.”