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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Wheelie attempts to break world record

Wheelie is a local indie and dance rock band formed by Cleveland native and singer-songwriter Michael Moon, and seventh generation Washingtonian and drummer Eduardo Santana.

The Eagle’s Anagha Srikanth speaks to Michael Moon, frontman of indie rock band Wheelie, about his career, the band’s music and their attempt to break the world record for the most back-up dancers dancing in their underwear.

Eagle: How did Wheelie get its start?
MIchael Moon: I’ve been a singer/songwriter for years and at some point I wanted to move away from confessional kind of music to putting on a bigger show with the idea of breaking people out of their cage and giving them a break. That’s how the idea for Wheelie was born. I met up with my partner Eduardo Santana III and we started collaborating on this idea to pitch a really fun act and just a really good show. We wanted upbeat, fun songs that were really colorful and would really make a whole experience. In contrast with things that were going on in the world and some of the heaviness in our day-to-day lives would be this experience where people could go and kind of just check out for a while. That was three and a half years ago and we’ve been very intentional about where we’re playing and what we’re doing. It was actually just two-and-a-half years before we first played but when we did it was a fully formed idea: the costumes, dancers this whole show.

E: Why did you decide to go after the world record for the most back-up dancers and have them dancing in underwear?
MM: One of my favorite artists is Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, so when we started I took some pages out of their playbook with the show and we made it our own. At one point, my hero was the word record holder for the most concerts in 24-hour period, and as I was reading about that I was like, “That’s great!” From the start, Wheelie’s whole thing has been to think bigger. We’ve been trying to do bigger events since we played our first show, which itself was two shows at a theater in D.C., so we’ve been thinking big since the beginning. And now we’re attempting to break our own world record.

E: But why this particular record?
MM: We have a lot of dancers. My wife is a dancer, she choreographs for the band and we do a lot of postmodern dance. Movement and dance has figured prominently into our shows and our promotional materials. So this is movement in the ultimate idea of self-love and empowerment through movement. We started doing some research to find out records that involved dancing and movement and came across one that we thought was pretty doable, the most backing dancers. The “why” behind the event is that it’s about self-acceptance and it’s feeling good about yourself. It’s about not apologizing for yourselves, and for realizing we’re all different and we’re all beautiful just exactly as we are.

E: How did you create this message and your sound as a band?
MM: Our sound is super fun indie rock. There’s some psychedelia, some really fun beats. I wouldn’t say there’s a fluid message throughout all the songs, it’s more just in the general delivery. Our motto is that Wheelie is fun and Wheelie loves you. That’s kind of what is the pervasive element and the music is really fun. Sometimes lyrically, thematically, I think its kind of cool to juxtapose music that’s super fun with lyrics that have a little more depth. But at the end of the day, it’s just super fun dance rock.

E: Where do you get all of the energy and inspiration behind the music?
MM: So right now we’re in the middle of this crazy event, which is kind of ironic because it’s actually really hard to break a world record. They don’t call it a world record for nothing. At times even with this you can’t help but ask yourself, “What am I doing?” But you know, I think it really boils down to that if there’s something that you love to do, you’ve got to just do it, even if it’s a shit ton of work, because before you know it you won’t be able to do it anymore. I have a job and I go to my job, I come home and bust my ass until 11.

I’m tired as hell when I wake up in the morning and I’m tired when I come home but the next day I’ve got a rehearsal, gig, whatever it is, and sometimes it sucks, sometimes it’s really hard. But the thing I keep going back to and I can’t get let go of is if I don’t do it now, when am I going to do it? That ties in with what Wheelie’s about, which is loosening the necktie and giving people a break putting by something super fun and positive out there. I feel like I’m compelled to do it because if I don’t do it, it won’t get done, and that would really suck.

E: You moved here from Cleveland in 2004. How is the D.C. audience different from others? What is difficult about this crowd and what do you enjoy?
MM: Sometimes in D.C. people are more willing to go out and do new stuff, whereas in Cleveland sometimes there’s apathy where people get stuck in their routines. I feel like audiences in D.C. are like up for new things and are willing to do things. By the same token, I feel like it’s a lot of the super type-A personalities here, which is a challenge artistically. There’s good and there bad in every market, so while audiences here are open and want to do things everyone is super busy, well-educated, a little stressed out and super fast, paced and so sometimes in terms of the art that can be hard.

E: What are you most excited for about your attempt to break this record?
MM: Of course it would be totally kick ass to break the world record and I think it’s really doable so I’m super excited for that. But one interesting thing that’s come out of all of this is that is in terms of body image I’ve sort of become the face of this campaign. When I conceived of this I didn’t really think about it but through it I’ve learned how to confront my own body image issues that we all have. I’m in my underwear all over the Internet, on WTOP and NPR, so it’s been weird for me to sort of confront that.

In me doing that I think the thing I’m most excited about now is just the idea that we can contribute to that message in some small way. All of us are beautiful exactly the way we are and there’s hope in that. As I then had to confront myself during this whole process it became a really important part of the event for me. Adding to that conversation would be really cool, if we could somehow make a contribution and add in some small way to the greater conversation about body image and individuality, I think that would be completely kickass.

E: What should people who want to participate in the event know?
MM: An important thing for people to know is that while it’s for the record of the most backing dancers in their underwear, you can accessorize and wear things under your costume to make you feel comfortable. You just need to wear the white t-shirts and we thought it would be cool to have everyone wearing the same basic costume for the music video, but at the end of the day, we want everybody to have fun and be comfortable.

Wheelie’s event to break the world record for the most back-up dancers on stage will be held on Nov. 16 in the Stroga Ballroom in Adams Morgan. For more information, visit the band’s Facebook page or the official event page.

AU students will get a 10% discount on the signup fee by using the code “Eagle”.

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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