Two members of Fleet Foxes to bring side project Poor Moon to Salt Lake City
Published: March 18, 2012 05:12PM
Updated: March 18, 2012 05:12PM


Poor Moon with Lost In the Trees
When • Thursday, March 29 at 8 p.m.
Where • The State Room, 638 S. State St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $12 at thestateroom.com

Poor Moon is opening for Lost In the Trees on March 29 at The State Room, and the only reason why the country-rock band hasn't performed in Utah sooner is because "Casey and I got really busy for a while," said the band's frontman Christian Wargo.

The names of Wargo and Casey Westcott are likely unfamiliar. But the reason they were really busy is because besides being in Poor Moon, the two are members of Seattle-based Fleet Foxes, which sold out Red Butte Garden last summer and is one of the most popular folk-rock bands in the world. Both of Fleet Foxes' albums, 2008's self-titled full-length debut and 2011's "Helplessness Blues," appeared on my year-end lists of the top 10 albums of the year, and the debut was my favorite album of 2008.

While Fleet Foxes' frontman and songwriter Robin Pecknold battled through a long period of writers' block before the recording of "Helplessness Blues," Wargo, the band's bassist, began writing songs to pass the time. He eventually asked Fleet Foxes' keyboard player Westcott to help him shape the demos, and also e-mailed mp3's of the songs to good friends and brothers Ian and Peter Murray, best-known for being in the Christmas Cards.

Once the Fleet Foxes' record label Sub Pop learned about these songs, the label quickly signed the newly dubbed Poor Moon, and the four are now on their first tour after some gigs at South by Southwest. The band's first full-length is expected to be released this August.

In fact, Westcott and Wargo consider Salt Lake City to be an important part of Poor Moon's history. It was in Salt Lake City where the band first "pushed the boat out," Westcott said.

You see, Poor Moon had to drive from Seattle to Austin for South by Southwest, and the band made a "balls-out trip to Salt Lake City" on the way to Austin to pick up their sound man, whose family resides here. Salt Lake City was the first over-night stay for the quartet after leaving Seattle for the first time.

So, on the band's first tour, the band stopped first in Salt Lake, where the foursome spent a night catching what Westcott called a "third wind" and ended up "crawling and stumbling, depending on which wind" the band was on at that point.

The band's genesis began 14 years ago, when Westcott and Wargo first met in the Chicago area, where "an instant friendship" was sparked, said Wargo. Westcott's family then moved to Seattle, and the Murray brothers were the first people Westcott met at his new high school, Seattle Prepatory College. Most of the students at the exclusive school "churned out Jesuit hedge-fund managers," Westcott said, but he and the Murray brothers bonded over music.

Wargo ended up in Seattle eventually, working with Seattle singer-songwiter David Bazan of Pedro the Lion. Westcott joined Pecknold in Fleet Foxes in 2005, and upon his recommendation, Wargo became a Fleet Fox in 2007, before Fleet Foxes released its first album.

The band's eponymous debut blew up beyond anyone's imagination and became a critical success as well as commercial triumph, with the album going platinum and a tour with Wilco (which hit a sold-out Red Butte Garden in 2008). As Wargo explained earlier, the band got really busy, and it wasn't until Pecknold's fallow period that Wargo's songs began to be crafted.

Once Fleet Foxes finished a tour of Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, Wargo and Westcott's schedule opened up, and decided to take the songs on the road.

As for how long Poor Moon will be able to tour before duties in Fleet Foxes come calling, Westcott said he had no idea. "I only know what's going on about 20 to 30 days in advance," he admitted.