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Music and masturbation with the Moonshine Revellers

By Joy Waller
This article was originally published in the March 28, 2002 issue of The Martlet, the University of Victoria's student newspaper.

It has been a short ride from the basement on Green St. to the stages of local pubs for the Moonshine Revellers, one of Victoria's newest folk-rock bands.

Formed in June 2001, the whole band "was really just an accident," said drummer and UVic student Matt Bigelow. He had been jamming with his friends in the basement when his roommate Ryan Steele, also a UVic student, heard the noise and wanted to join in. He went out and bought a bass guitar.

"It was pretty impulsive," said Steele. "I just wanted to jam."

"We started bringing our songs in and became tighter," said Dave Chenery, who writes the songs along with Jay Dunphy and trades off on lead guitar and vocals.

Less than a year after the first jam the Moonshine Revellers have half a dozen shows under their belts, tentative plans for a Vancouver Island mini-tour and a cd recording in the works. The cd, which is being produced by Gilles Maillet of Johnny Action Figure, should be out mid-to-late summer.

"I find the [Victoria live music] scene really accepting," said Dunphy. "Most people don't have that rock star mentality."

The music, a mixture of folk, rock and bluegrass, has the eclectic flavour of a band with two songwriters. Dunphy's songs are primarily wistful, easygoing tunes that as he says "come from a pretty personal influence." He adds that most of them are about personal growth and lessons learned. In contrast, Chenery offers a more melancholic, brooding flavour with such lyrics as "But you're so quick to deny it/And say that it was wrecked by me/ You are so inspired to take everything away."

The transformation of four guys jamming in a basement to a well-polished folk-rock band playing local bars did not happen by accident.

"We used to think about how songs sounded good in the basement," said Bigelow, "but now we think of how they'd sound good in a bar."

Dunphy added, "I think the lines of communication are really open. There's never been an idea that hasn't at least been tried."

The band usually practices three times a week, upping their rehearsals whenever they have a gig looming.

"It takes commitment," said Chenery. "I mean, I'd rather be in bed right now."

"Being in a band like this is like being in a relationship," said Steele. "Everything gets more serious as more time goes by."

"We bond through music and masturbation," added Chenery.

The Moonshine Revellers will be performing at the Cambie on Friday, March 30. Their official Web Site is at