When David LaBrel left a town of 1,500 people to move to Los Angeles, he found the City of Angels took some getting used to.
Now that he’s familiar with it, the Olin and the Moon frontman and Sun Valley, Idaho, native still isn’t a big fan. “Nobody really cares about music in L.A.,” LaBrel laments. “They sit there with their arms crossed and judge you. L.A. is bad.”
While the band might not fit any niche in its current home base, anyone with a soft spot for dusty, sorrowful folk-country will find a place in their heart for Olin and the Moon.
LaBrel’s voice hints at a rural accent and a shaky delivery. Pedal steel is hard to ignore, but it doesn’t take over. The guitar typically keeps to a simple, purposeful strum.
Lyrically, LaBrel prefers forthright storytelling to figures of speech. “It’s cool, in a way, to have metaphorical songs so people can think about it and make it their own,” LaBrel says. “But I just write from the heart about my experiences, and hopefully people can relate to them.”
Olin and the Moon’s first self-titled album was recorded on the cheap and mixed on the sly. Late at night, LaBrel would sneak into the recording studio where he worked as an intern to polish tracks. When it came time to design the record’s cover, LaBrel and drummer Marshall Vore decided to do it themselves. “The art is not too great because you had two Idaho boys trying to figure out how to put artwork on a template,” LaBrel explains.
40 Miles of Bad Road shows what can happen when Olin and the Moon gets adequate time in the studio. The songs are more diverse and are allowed to breath. The lyrics have matured and are unguarded, and while the band’s first release dipped its toe into country, 40 Miles bathes in it. “Our Idaho roots are showing up a little bit more, and we’re getting more comfortable with each other,” LaBrel says. “We’re all just growing up.”
LaBrel and his mostly Sun Valley-born band members will always have a fondness for where they were raised. They have plenty of hometown pride, and Sun Valley residents love them back. “They think we’re bigger than we actually are,” LaBrel says.
Although he says he’s not likely to leave L.A. for good any time soon, LaBrel is looking forward to skipping town for a cross-country tour early next year. The goal is to get the Olin and the Moon brand out to the masses, and maybe have a few misadventures along the way.
“Everybody’s got a MySpace and everybody plays music,” LaBrel says. “Not everybody’s touring and starving to death and breaking down in their van. I want to do that.”