‘Quality over quantity’ for Morris County’s Above the Moon

Like the sleepover game Bloody Mary, if you say Craigslist three times, you’re bound to come face to face with a horror story. But Morris County-based rock band Above the Moon has an unusual experience on the classifieds site: a positive one. In fact, Craigslist is the reason why Above The Moon is even a thing. 

“I had found our former guitarist on Craigslist, and then I found Shawn (Murphy, guitar),” says vocalist Kate Griffin. 

Even more bizarre is that Griffin lived around the corner from her future bandmate and didn’t know it. 

“I wouldn’t even hit a light going to her place, it was so bizarre,” says Murphy. “I had my ad up on Craigslist, and I just wanted to play music because something I had going on was folding. I got all these responses for AC/DC cover bands and even though I love AC/DC I couldn’t imagine playing AC/DC every night. Then I met Kate on Craigslist and she messaged me saying, ‘Play these three songs and send them back,’ and it worked.”

Indeed it did work, and seven years later Above the Moon is still kicking. The trio of Kate Griffin, Murphy, and drummer John Gramuglia have held steady for the past seven years, and Kate’s brother Kyle recently joined the lineup to fill a vacant bass position.

The ingredients for their longevity? They enjoy each other’s company, first and foremost, but a mix of honesty and creativity keeps things moving forward.

“I think we genuinely like being around each other,” says Gramuglia. “The atmosphere here is really cool, and there’s no assholes in the band. It’s good that we’re on the same page with almost everything.” 

“We also have this need to create and make music whether it’s by ourselves or with each other,” explains Kate Griffin. “Whether we are getting ready for a show or whether no one is gonna hear our music, we want to do it. I feel like that’s the difference between a band that is trying to make it and burns out when it doesn’t happen versus a band that is just musicians who like to play music and happen to play shows.”

And in terms of music, the band released a new EP in January called Already Home, which reimagines Above the Moon’s previous Silversun Pickups-meets-’90s-rock type of songs as acoustic versions. 

“We were trying to figure out what to do during quarantine,” says Murphy. “Typically what we would do is write a bunch of songs, and play a bunch of shows. We would take the money we got from playing shows and put it into recording in the Headroom in Philly. When COVID happened we were like, ‘We have no income from the band so what else can we do?’ Then we realized that we had some mics and equipment and we could see what we could do.”

For the past two EPs, Above the Moon traveled south to Philadelphia to record at Headroom Studio. Joe Reinart (Hop Along) helped produce the previous EPs. For Already Home, the band recorded it all DIY style. Above the Moon took notes with how Reinart recorded the band and what his expectations were for the previous EPs. With the experience of being in a recording studio before, Above the Moon was comfortable with recording this EP by themselves.

“With this EP we learned how to be more comfortable in our own space versus watching the clock in a recording studio,” says Murphy.

“The comfort in recording this EP was great, and we felt like the product mirrored that” says Gramuglia. “The clock didn’t feel like it was ticking, and as a drummer you’re usually the first one to record and you’re already on the hot seat. It didn’t feel that way with this EP.”

Already Home starts off with the song “All the Times,” a song that Above the Moon has played live before and has demoed, but never made it to a record. That changed with Already Home.

“’All the Times’ is a song that we had for a very long time,” says Kate Griffin. “We had never recorded it properly. We would play it live and people would like it. We saw this EP as an opportunity to finally record ‘All the Times.’ The song is about a person I knew who were never comfortable with themselves and felt like they never belonged anywhere. They were traveling from friend group to friend group trying to fit in.”

Even though some of the songs on the new EP were recorded or written years ago, time doesn’t change the meaning of the songs for Above the Moon.

“For me because I wrote the lyrics, the meaning of the songs are exactly the same,” says Kate Griffin. “I think about who I wrote the song about, why I wrote the song, and what state of mind I was in.”

And that rings true for the song ‘Out of the Woods,’ which was one of the first songs that the band recorded. For Already Home, the band did an acoustic version of the song. ‘Out of the Woods’ was recorded during a tough time in Kate Griffin’s life. 

“At the time, our father who later passed away was diagnosed with brain cancer,” says Kate Griffin. “When I wrote the song we were trying to figure out what it meant or how serious it was. And I was thinking at the time I wrote the song about how our family, who isn’t exactly lovey-dovey all came together. It was the idea that no matter what would happen we all have a role and we will get through it.”

Concertgoers can see Above The Moon’s reimagined sound on March 4 when they play a show at Red Tank Brewing Company in Red Bank.

“It’s a really chill spot, and has a built-in audience,” says Gramuglia. “The beer there is good as well.”

One of the lessons that Above the Moon had to learn the hard way in their seven years of playing music is “quality over quantity.” For a while the band would play every show that was offered to them. The band balances full-time work with music, and realized that they should have better quality shows instead of playing shows every weekend.

“We played a show in Asbury, and they put us on after the headlining band and everyone had left, and we were playing early in the morning,” says Murphy. “It was a point where I was like, ‘Maybe I should stop this.’ Then the next night we played Philly and it was awesome. We’d rather play more focused shows in places we like and with bands that are cool.”

Above The Moon plays at Red Tank Brewing Company in Red Bank on March 4. Hear Already Home here.