Lunar Plexus are Devon (UK) based Indie duo John Saddler and Reuben Ayres who have previously played in various bands – separately and together – across various genres. They first came together musically around 2000 in a band called Reflux which played various pubs, clubs, parties and weddings in and around Exeter.
Reub: “We came together again as Lunar Plexus about three years ago for the sole purpose of recording new material. The songs are all written by John. John does all the vocals and we share guitar and keyboard parts between us. I do bass and drums although I’m sure John could do these also. All the material is recorded and produced in a project studio in my home.”
Why did you decide to work on music as a duo instead of a full band?
John: “Bands are great, but it is a logistical hassle getting several people together to practice regularly. And there are always musical differences to work through in terms of material to play. With a duo there are only two voices that count and we’ve found that – between us – we can create all of the sounds we need. The downside is that it would be difficult to play our material live.”
What inspired you to start making music?
John: “I had to suppress any inchoate musical creativity I possessed for years because family and career had priority, but ideas bubbled away and when I had a little more time I started experimenting with musical phrases and words. I soon realised that it’s a tough discipline and that the majority of nascent songs end up being discarded. But every now and then something clicks and something interesting comes out of the primordial soup. A song is a piece of poetry set to music – both the words and the music have to charm the listener into buying into the product.”
Reub: “I’ve been involved in music all my life. At school I played clarinet and piano and sang in the choir. I’ve taken piano, guitar and music theory lessons – in various combinations, throughout my adult life. I’ve played in various bands and was musical director for a medics’ revue that sold out three at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I played keyboards and some bass on a vinyl LP in the early 1980s. The opportunity now to play, record and produce original material (all written by John) is a true joy. There is something magical about the creative process and to help in creating something new that people seem to want to listen to, is enormously gratifying.”
What’s the band’s sound? Are there any artists or bands that have played a significant influence?
Reub: “Our musical influences are very broad from early plainsong to modern pop. For me, it’s more about the quality of the music, modern or classical rather than genre. I think it’s very difficult to classify Lunar Plexus into a genre. Our songs cross various genres – mainly pop/rock I guess but with significant excursions into country, folk, show music and at one, not very successful, techno track.”
If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?
John: “‘Good To Be Alive’ is our most successful song so far, so we’d probably nominate that. It’s actually a feel-good song about some dudes who are having a whale of a time at a ski resort, but the overall optimistic sentiment seems to resonate after the dark times of late. Our earlier release ‘Bring It On’ would come a close second. It flows and grows and has great orchestration.”
‘The Hand of Fate’ was your first release in 2022. What inspired you to write it?
John: “‘The Hand Of Fate’ was influenced partially by Paul McCartney – who often introduced fictional characters into his songs. I had a vision of 80’s Americana and invented the hero (Elvis) and heroine (Martha) who struggled, triumphed and ultimately…well you’ll have to listen to it to learn the outcome. My hope is that listeners will be drawn into their dramatic lives and feel their elation and pain.”
I always love hearing about the songwriting process. What can you tell me about yours?
John: “Ah the process. It starts with an idea, usually on the guitar, that seems to possess some melodic magic. Then I try to suppress it and hope it goes away. If it keeps bugging me, I’m prepared to spend a bit of time seeing whether I can come up with a structure that will support verse/chorus/possible bridge etc. If that works then words will have to be added. That’s the tricky bit. What can I say that hasn’t been said a thousand times already? And bits of it will have to rhyme, that’s the deal. But you can’t force it. There are a lot of words but often it’s tough to get the right rhyme without making it sound contrived. Having come up with a blueprint of a possible opus I then run it by my partner in rhyme to see what he makes of it all. If we agree it’s worth spending some time developing the idea we’ll give it a go! There is still a lot of serendipity after that which makes the process so exciting.”
John as the songwriter of the band, where do you find inspiration for the music and/or lyrics?
John: “The lyrical inspiration is an interesting one. Younger artists I think rely on the lived experience and that works for their demographic. We have to use our imagination more!”
What are you working on right now?
Reub: “We have one song completed (mixed and mastered) and another approaching completion. We’re working on several other songs at present and who knows which will come to fruition. We have generally released 3 – 4 songs per year and plan to keep up that output. At present, we have more than enough material to be getting on with which is a very nice place to be as a band.”
What do you want to convey with your music?
Reub: “I think the most important thing is to be able to convey and idea and an emotion attached to that idea that will resonate with the listener. If there are people listening to Lunar Plexus who feel moved in some way – elated, saddened, emboldened, uplifted – touched emotionally in some way, then I think we have hit the mark musically.”
The next few questions are based on songtitles of your previously released songs. What would be your nightmare?
John: “Well, ‘Nightmare’ is the name of one of our songs and it attempts to scare the listener into never falling asleep in case the gremlins really do come and visit during your slumber. But our real nightmare is trying to find a voice amongst the thousands of musical submissions that enter the public domain every day and convince our listeners we’re relevant and worth listening to.”
What makes you feel good to be alive?
John: “‘Good To Be Alive’ is a great song. You can’t help feeling buoyed up and optimistic after hearing it. And we feel good about the positive response it has received.”
How would you like to waste your time?
John: “Ah. Another reference to one of our earlier songs, thanks. It’s a ballad about unrequited love and the listener may wonder why they have taken so long to realise that it’s just not going to happen. In general though (wasting time) sipping a pina colada on a secluded island with your soul mate.”
What are your plans for 2022?
John: “Carry on as Lunar Plexus creating and recording new material and, hopefully, connecting with a wider audience. To continue improving our skills in every area of song production.”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?
Reub: “‘What About Us’ by WYNT is a fabulous song. It’s a gutsy, tight rock song with some punchy guitar riffs. The singer’s got a great voice and the production is excellent – beautifully balanced with every element clearly placed in the mix. It’s a great ‘punch the air’ song.”
What song would you like to add as a bonus track?
Reub: “I would like to pick ‘You Cry‘ by Portobello Express as our bonus track. I love this song for it’s all out 60’s vibe, seductive lead vocal, super guitar work (great lead) and excellent production.”