Standout Track: No. 2, “What a Time to Be Alive,” in which Rain Dogs-style percussion is layered beneath wordless vocals that sound weirder than Hamletin Klingon. Though the group—comprising Alison Stout, Michael Knight, and recent addition Paul Joyner on drums—says the tune is probably its most popular, it hasn’t played it on stage. “We haven’t figured out a way to perform it live,” Knight says, although having a drummer should help.
Musical Motivation: The song was born three years ago (and comes from a recently rereleased EP), when Knight visited Stout at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, where she was a composition major. They began improvising in the percussion room with a marimba, vibraphone, jawbone, and harpsichord. Stout compares the percussive quality of the song to early T. Rex. As for the strange vocals, she says, “I’m not really a lyricist. I think of the voice of as an instrument.” Age Appropriate: Stout makes homemade electronic instruments, and Knight plays them. “We’re both pretty into electricity,” Knight says. “Electricity’s pretty good,” adds Stout. They also employ tape loops, which is why Stout is so excited about a box filled with 500 or so of her grandfather’s cassette recordings of ’50s music and old public radio broadcasts. While most of D.C.’s experimental scene hasn’t quite reached grandfather age, Stout and Knight note that many of its members are middle-aged guys, and that Moon Pie is probably the youngest band on the scene. That doesn’t make the band fuddy-duddy. “I like to think that it reflects our audience members’ well-developed tastes,” Stout says.