Sean Lennon was astounded when he saw psychedelic punks Fat White Family for the first time at a South by Southwest party last year. "They're one of the best live bands I've ever seen," he says. "We became really good friends."
Lennon has since helped the band co-produce their upcoming second album, and now he's teaming with them for a new side project, the Moonlandingz. The band's lineup features Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl (The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger), Fat White Family's Lias Saoudi (vocals) and Saul Adamczewski (guitar), and members of U.K. electronic avant-garde group the Eccentronic Research Council for a 10-inch EP on Lennon and Muhl's label, Chimera Music, out October 30th.
"The whole thing was born basically out of this fictional fantasy," Lennon says of the Moonlandingz. He explains that earlier this year, the Eccentronic Research Council and Fat White Family teamed up for Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine... I'm Your Biggest Fan, a largely spoken-word record about a fictional band called the Moonlandingz and an obsessed stalker fan. "It's done quite well in England," Lennon says. Now, the Moonlandingz are coming to life, with a full-length album on the way. "It started as a fictional band, and it sort of stepped through the fourth wall — like Purple Rose of Cairo or something," adds Lennon.
The group's new video for their brooding "Sweet Saturn Mine (Sean Lennon De-Mix)" was directed by Muhl during about six hours spent in the moldy basement of a run-down dance hall in England. The group conceived of a "Luciferian Kenneth Anger cult ritual," with Lennon playing what he describes as a "gypsy wizard." "We were just trying to entertain ourselves. The whole thing was us just laughing and having fun. And when Saul killed Lias — that was just too much."
"It started as a fictional band, and it sort of stepped through the fourth wall — like Purple Rose of Cairo or something."
Starting in September, Lennon will help produce a Moonlandingz album, and the group will start playing shows. Lennon expects the album to be "very analog-synth driven," but with big melodies. "Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer [of the Eccentronic Research Council] have a big collection of analog synths, old EMS stuff, Pink Floyd synths, so there's some really super-drenched analog-synth stuff. But because the band is supposed to be these pop stars this fan is obsessed with, the record has to sound pretty pop. It has to hit pretty hard."
While the Moonlandingz is Lennon's main musical focus at the moment, he's also writing new songs for the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and has begun pre-production on his first full-length solo album in almost a decade. "Moonlandingz is interesting because it's a side project for all of us in a way, but because it's not the main project, things feel a lot more fun and easy," he says. "I think it should be a great record because there's not a lot of pressure."