Moonlight Grammar Is the Punk-Turned-Rapper Handing You a Tallboy

Moonlight Grammar | 7th St. Entry | Wednesday, December 3
"I was at the Mall of America buying a bull horn for my album release show, and I stopped off at Hooters for some shots of whiskey this afternoon, so I'm a little..." Alan Fashbaugh a.k.a. Moonlight Grammar trails off as he rocks his hand back and forth in a so-so gesture to indicate his tipsy state. "Have you ever been drunk in the afternoon with a mall full of people? It's trippy."

The hip-hop artist, set to release his newest album, The High Tide Recordings, is at times playful and at others as intense as his lyrics during a conversation at an Uptown coffee shop in late November.

The rapper, a transplant from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, makes grand gestures with his hands as he talks a little above normal levels in the small shop. A few customers glance at him, but he pays no attention, as if he is used to the scrutiny -- something that serves him well when onstage.

Wearing a hat that hides his red hair, the performer somewhat resembles a younger Justin Vernon -- that is if Vernon were a punk rocker. Fashbaugh moved to the Cities when the job opportunities wore thin in his home state. For as much beauty as that area of the country holds, the U.P. houses many pockets of poverty. Yet Fashbaugh's loyalty to his home state runs deep.

"That region of the U.S. is on the up-and-up, because Michigan has medicinal now," he says. "People are buying houses and growing weed there. As soon as my network as a musician becomes strong enough, I'm gonna live there."

Fashbaugh first came to Minneapolis to play in punk bands. "It was like a scene out of a movie," He elaborates. "My little car was packed with my guitar, my amp, and my clothes, and I had no clue on where I was going to stay when I got here."

What he found here was a lot of hard work that went into punk bands that eventually dissolved. He continues, "I was in shitty, shitty bands, and after that last band broke up, I had to decide if I wanted to deal with another group of five guys that had jobs and girlfriends. In my backpack, there was always a notebook where I was always writing things that rhymed -- things that bothered me the most."

When prompted as to what that is, he squints into his drink before answering. "Liberal shit -- the same thing that bothers everyone our age," he says. "My biggest struggle as a musician has been the fact that I'm preaching to the choir all of the time. It's this feeling that everything I have to say, the audience is going to agree with, which is kind of frustrating. Of course you want that, but we can learn a lot more if we listened to people like Rush Limbaugh instead of watching Jon Stewart. Just plain listening to stuff we agree with all of the time -- that's masturbation. We're just patting ourselves on the back. It's frustrating to feel that's what I'm doing."

Urged by friends to share his rhymes, he cautiously allowed people a glimpse into his new direction of music. Alan claims that rap at its purest form runs a lot of parallels to punk music -- you're just saying it in a more clever way and faster.

Not many people gave him notice; he even went to Oregon to try to make a name for himself, but found many people were standoffish. Fashbaugh eventually returned to Minneapolis and met ECID, who he claims gave him some faith in what he was doing. He says, "He is who I credit with making my career a real thing. He was the first person who had an 'in' that thought I was worth talking to."

The rapper claims to not do anything in music sober, be it writing, performing, or making videos. Perhaps that's what keeps him loose when in front of a crowd or allows him to let go in the studio. The new album, The High Tides Recordings, is a collection of singles that Fashbaugh released over a series of months and included production work from many others including Wesley Opus and Chris Human.

He was so excited about them, yet no one was paying attention when month after month, the tracks gained no traction. Upset, he pulled them off the internet to eventually relisten to them one afternoon and realize that they all had a similar story running through them -- despite them not being written with the intention of running together. The multifarious pleasures of multi-layered, intense sounds reveal themselves keenly on the album, and working out who draws the most enjoyment from it -- the listener or the performer -- is part of the fun.

For now, Moonlight Grammar is content in the struggle of trying to make a name in one of the most competitive hip-hop markets, but he has his sights on his future in music. He adds, "I work as a bartender during the day at the CC Club, and I love it, but I've always defined success as being able to quit your day job. If you can use music to pay the bills, that's success."

Moonlight Grammar will release The High Tide Recordings at the 7th St. Entry with PCP, Supportive Parents, Lamon Manuel, and DJ J Walk.
18+, $10, 8 p.m.
Purchase tickets here.


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