Words by Jessica Fynn
“I’m not very good at making shit up” Isaac Cooter, singer-songwriter of Leeds-based indie, For You The Moon tells me. He’s talking about the way that he writes songs. Granted, I knew this before he said it via Zoom. There were a number of initial giveaways: song-lyrics that scream young heartache and raging adolescent emotions, a certain naivety in the way he tells me that the band are “pretty new to this game”, a love of long, loping conversation. Oh, and the fact that the press release for their new single ‘Talk’ tells me that the band write alternative rock songs for “people that overshare, overthink and have a hard time not being honest.”
For You The Moon have that hungover, post-heartbreak, crying/screaming-in-the-shower kind of sound. Hailing from up North, today Isaac faces me in landscape on his iPhone screen, his grey beanie blurring into the backdrop of what looks like his teenage bedroom – the place he pictured himself when he was writing the band’s latest release. “It’s important to put yourself there” he says. In ‘Talk’, Isaac visualizes himself alone in his room, a little bit drunk. He’s feeling sorry for himself. “It’s that point after a break-up where you’re not letting go of someone and it’s beginning to get messy”. If the song-writing process is the grieving, introspective stage of adolescent heartbreak, then the music video released alongside the track is the months that follow. It’s the rage: the swearing and shouting, name-calling, blame-throwing.
Having previewed the video a few days before, Isaac asked me what I thought of it. It was pretty good, I said. “Only pretty good?” he joked. I said that I liked how intimate it was. No room to hide in that camera angle. “Yeah, pretty close up isn’t it? You couldn’t really get any closer, could you? The vocal delivery is like that.” The video features Isaac and his make-shift lover (“the girl in the video, Loxi, she absolutely nailed it! We’d only met for ten minutes before”) in a car, on the street, on the sofa. They’re fighting, making up, fighting again. The band were under pressure to come up with a video concept quickly. “It’s not a particularly complex storyline, but there’s only so many times you can do the performance video. They do always look so good though! They’re tempting to do. Turn the lights down low, get the smoke machine on...”
The band have only been together for a couple of years. There’s no wild story to tell about how the four of them – Jordan on the guitar, Tim on bass, drummer Mike, and singer-song writer, Isaac - got together. They met through university, through gigs. Nothing too exciting. “There’s only so many young musicians that want to make our sort of music.” Who calls the shots? “I guess when someone is writing a song, they’ve got a vision for it. But I wouldn’t say that it’s a dictatorship. I think that with every band there has to be someone who naturally takes the lead, but the whole point of having a band is that you hear different opinions.”
The clash of opinions is what makes creating music fun, but for the most part the band share similar music taste. Isaac doesn’t play coy about who his influences are and who the band look up to. “I love watching bands that have been touring for so long that it’s like clockwork for them. The frontman who knows how to work a room.” He nods to Van Mcann, frontman of Catfish and the Bottlemen. “It’s a performance. You have to know how to perform. That’s a totally different beast to writing a good song.”
In spite of the long, messy hair and nose-piercing – the mark of a lad who thinks he’s untouchable – Isaac is down to earth and honest. I’d go so far as to say that there is a certain vulnerability in the way he talks about his music. What inspires him to write? “A certain rawness from an unsuccessful relationship is always good,” he laughs. “Sometimes someone will say something that instantly sounds like a lyric.” He mentions an unreleased song that features in their recent acoustic session with Oporto TV x Chalkpit Records that was written in this way. “Me and my friend Jake, we were just talking and one of us said in passing: ‘what a way to kill it before its even started.’ I can’t even remember who said it now. It could have been him. It could have been me. That ended up in the song. Most song lyrics just come out in conversation, and you just have to catch them and write them down somewhere.” Watch what you say around Isaac, you might end up in one of his songs. I suppose that is every young girl’s dream.
Unfortunately, the band don’t yet have a long line of groupies waiting outside their dressing room door. “We’ve only played five, six gigs…and a couple of those were pretty dire. You know those ones. Playing to an empty room…” With live music at a stand-still, it must be tough. “I didn’t realise just how much we all crave attention at the moment, that dopamine hit you get from a like or a comment.” Isaac levels with me. “I guess as a musician you don’t necessarily think about just how much you’re looking for validation. But when the only thing you’ve got to go off at the moment is the response on social media, it makes you think ‘ah, people do care!’ I feel like at the moment, a lot of bands are having that same feeling. Like they need someone to tell them that they’re good. Which sounds horrendous, but once you go a year into a pandemic, you begin to question whether what you’re doing is good because no one else is hearing it. To release songs is good because you know that people are into it.”
Talking to Isaac is like being taken on a drive by someone who says with absolute certainty that they know where they’re going. Forty minutes later, you’re surrounded by trees, in the middle of nowhere, wondering how on earth you even got there. “You asked me what it was like to be a frontman, didn’t you?” I laughed. I did. But part of my role as interviewer is to let myself be taken on a ride. I can’t say I wasn’t enjoying it. “Being a frontman…it’s nerve-wracking. When you begin a set, you start off a little shaky but once you’re up there, you’re up there.” Quite a similar experience to interviewing, then.
For You The Moon are a fascinating mix of rage and romance. They sound like everything that is good about being young and fearless: heartbreak, hangovers, and saying things that you’ll regret come daylight. Their latest release 'Talk' is available on all mainstream music platforms.