Rock band Primal Moon’s singles have been leading up to this — Tuesday’s release of the first EP from a two-part set written about the trials faced by the musicians and them finding their way back to center. Lead singer Joe Brunker, he of boundless energy and a force for positivity on the Chicago-area music scene, answered a few questions for us about the band and the new music.
Who is Primal Moon?
Primal Moon consists of drummer Tony Tessari (Tinley Park), guitarist Brian Albert’s (Shorewood), bassist Luke Pope (Channahon), and Joe Brunker on vocals
Tell us about “Prone To Wander.” Is the title something of a theme for the collection? Where did the inspiration for the songs come from?
The idea behind our first EP of the two-EP collection from recording at Jonfin Studios is based off of my drifting from God and the church while trying to discover what my calling actually was. It goes into straying relationships and pitfalls in my life. Some of those issues directly caused by myself, and others from exterior sources. The EP ends with a live recording of “River” for a reason. I realized in my wandering that regardless of who you are and what you believe, the storms will come in life, and it’s all about how you recover and not lie in defeat from struggles that bog you down.
Why did you decide now is the right time to release this EP?
We have had a collection of songs ready for a while. We write almost all of our songs through freestyle jams. Some of the songs you hear on this are played almost the exact same way we played it from the first time we wrote it. Some have been dabbled with and improved in ways we saw fit. We wanted to put something out for people who are all going through tough times right now; maybe they can relate to the lost and unfulfilled feelings that are captured in our songs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dropped us into an unfamiliar landscape as far as making, performing and discovering new music goes. How have you guys as a band overcome some of those challenges?
We all live really busy lives and have been essential workers the entire time. We have been learning more how to work with each other’s schedules when one of us has not been exposed. These times had been ready for a while, and we decided with all the lack of shows that we would still be productive in some way, shape or form.
Without live shows, what have you done to stay connected to the Chicago and suburban music scenes?
We have kept our close ties with friendships that we have built over the years in the scene, and we continue to branch out to other new friends and musicians online. I have recently also challenged myself to wave a sign in a costume for 30 days straight. The sign merely shows people where to listen to Primal Moon. It has been more effective than I thought it would, and I’ve actually been able to build rapport and relationships with the new fans that have come from it. I am currently on the Metra, about to go sign-wave in a Santa costume, and my girlfriend tagged along in an elf costume… Don’t tell Mrs. Claus!!! She will kill me! I’ve made sure not to wave in one place every day though. Oversaturation of the market is even a thing with waving a sign.
Joe, your theatrical training informs your performances with a unique passion. How do you feel that affects you on stage or in the studio?
I feel theater equipped me to make a fool of myself and not care what other people are thinking about my performance. It helped me to feel my lyrics more when I sing them. I feel them so much that my body has to respond to whatever pain, joy or other feeling that comes up within the songs. The stage is the only place where I have ever felt truly free. I can express myself fully without people stepping on my words or telling me to “man up.” I think real manhood is someone who can express their full spectrum of emotion, and I am learning that music brings the most catharsis!!
Aside from putting together “Prone To Wander,” what else have you guys been up to during this bizarre year? Discover any new skills? Find new hobbies?
Tony: Currently learning to be a nurse and recently bought a house with his awesome girlfriend, Hannah. He is busy busy. Haha
Luke: I have to say… I’m proud of Luke for realizing that he could sing this year. He has helped so much as he has learned his skill in backing vocals, and it makes me happy to see how quickly he progresses in that skill. He is also helping his family raise their new boxer pup as he works full time as a union pipe fitter.
Brian: Recently moved into his new house in Shorewood with his new fiancee Gianna! He has been hard at work on piano, trying to learn the perfect sound to place in our next EP.
Joe: I started to dive into writing more as a hobby. I’ve now written a book’s worth of poetry. I do not know if I’ll ever release those. They have kind of been for my own pleasure. I’ve also been trying to learn new ways to get our name out there as a band. I am so proud of my bandmates for their amazing skills, and it would be sad for them not to be heard. I have also written a few music videos for some of our songs, and am excited to get to work on them soon. People sometimes ask me where I get the energy and passion for it. I think a quote from writer Donald Miller encapsulates why I love to put a full performance with my song. “Sometimes, you have to watch someone love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”
Other hobby: Luke and I have also gotten into another hobby. We like to leave fingerprints on Brian’s newly painted wall. He reacts in the funniest way, and starts spraying his wall with cleaning supplies. He is now the “Monk” of our group with his loveable little OCD tendencies.
And what’s coming up next for Primal Moon?
We have currently been setting up a lot of interviews and reaching out to music review pages. We are also planning some livestreaming performances, as well as an invite-only release party to keep the numbers low enough for restriction purposes. We will be starting the tracking for next spring’s EP release with the current title, “Howl.” The biggest excitement as of now is plotting out the music video, and we are stoked for what is to come.