Bands don’t get much of a break these days. That’s especially true for The Moth & The Flame.
The trio (Brandon Robbins, Mark Garbett and Andrew Tolman) came together in 2011 and didn’t take a break from touring, songwriting and recording until late 2016 when their mentor was in need.
“It was a total shock because we didn’t even know that he was suffering from kidney failure,” Robbins said, referring to Corey Fox.
Fox owns Velour Live Music Gallery, a well-known venue in Provo, Utah, where Robbins got his start, as did bands like Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons. Velour was the first venue that Robbins played in and it was essential in the formation of The Moth & The Flame.
“[Corey] became a mentor for The Moth & The Flame and really influenced us and helped us to think of the bigger picture and help us advance toward the national stage,” Robbins said.
However, in 2016, doctors told Fox that his chronic kidney disease had worsened and that he needed an organ transplant. After one match failed, Robbins, who was in the midst of touring, stepped in.
“I went and got tested and it turned out I was a perfect match,” Robbins said.
The transplant happened in late 2016 and both Fox and Robbins are doing well today and they’re as close as ever. Robbins said the entire experience had an impact on his songwriting.
“I’m already someone who writes based off the things around them and what I’m feeling so that definitely influenced our last record, ‘Ruthless,’ ” Robbins said.
Released earlier this year, the album, which was praised by The Guardian and other outlets, rings of a new chapter in the alternative band’s history. The songwriting is more open, with lyrics about mental health problems (“The nightmare’s underneath. It’s useless. . . The truth is the monster in my head is ruthless”) and while there are lighter tracks, musically ring with darker tones.
In “Beautiful Couch,” Robbins sings “That’s a beautiful story, that’s a wonderful life, but I can’t even sleep at night,” joined by electric guitar and synths. Bright strings and Robbins’ vocals take center stage in the cinematic “What Do I Do,” while the percussive “Red Rising” takes on an apocalyptic feel.
Robbins sings about his struggles with mental health throughout the band’s sophomore album.
“It’s something I’ve seen so much in the media and seen so many people struggling with. I knew that I had experience with [it] and that I could potentially help people. But I didn’t know that we were going to [go] to the scale that we did on this new record. It developed into that,” Robbins said.
Opening up and writing those songs has led fans and listeners to open up as well.
“Going even more personal on this record, it really allowed people to take down their walls and be vulnerable. That’s what we tried to do with this record is be vulnerable so it’s really rewarding to get that [in] return,” Robbins said.
The band will return to PearlPalooza this weekend (they first performed at the festival in 2015), with songs from “Ruthless,” including “Do What You Love.” It’s one of Robbins favorites to perform, and perhaps one of the most upbeat on the album. However, that’s not to say that Robbins sugar coats the challenges that come with following one’s passion: “With my future on the line, try to ease my parents mind’s,” but he goes on to sing “I want to get that feeling, wanna know what it means to live out my dreams. Do what you love.”
“That song represents why I’m doing music and why we’re doing it the way we are. It’s cool to see people connect. We just played last week and a bunch of people were singing along to it,” Robbins said.
The Moth & The Flame will be sharing the stage on Saturday sharing the stage with Wild Belle and In the Valley Below. Not too far away, *repeat repeat, Victory Soul Orchestra, and Hazolo (the winner of Skyloft Battle of the Bands) will perform on the O’Connell & Aronowitz Stage.
Beyond the music, the festival features YogaPalooza, a street-wide yoga class from The Hot Yoga Spot. Last year, the event brought together more than 400 people. It kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Registration is recommended.
The CornHole tournament is back this year with 18 teams competing for prizes. The competition starts at noon on N. Pearl Street.
Hanzolo – 1 p.m. on the O’Connell & Aronowitz Stage
In the Valley Below – 2 p.m. on the Remarkable Liquids Stage
Victory Soul Orchestra – 3 p.m. on the O’Connell & Aronowitz Stage
The Moth & The Flame – 4 p.m. on the Remarkable Liquids Stage
*repeat repeat – 5 p.m. on the O’Connell & Aronowitz Stage
Wild Belle – 6 p.m. on the Remarkable Liquids Stage
Parking: $5 parking available at Riverfront Garage (Broadway and Columbia Street) and Quackenbush Garage (on Orange Street between Broadway and Water Street).
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: N. Pearl Street
MORE INFO: downtownalbany.org