Behind the Greens Five Questions For The Bowerbirds

Phil Moore and Beth Tacular have given up on the human world. In the backwoods of North Carolina, they live in an Airstream trailer with no electricity or plumbing, the nearest town about 15 minutes away. This Walden-like existence is perfect for creating mellow music that conjures thoughts of crackling campfires and warm summer evenings.

Guitarist and songwriter Moore and percussionist Tacular, along with Mark Paulson on piano, violin and percussion, make up The Bowerbirds, a band that began by writing personal music to praise nature. Talk of the band’s poetic and sometimes haunting lyrics about humankind’s ability to destroy the natural world soon made its way into indie circles. The group makes music naturally—electric guitars and amplifiers are absent from the debut album, “Hymns for a Dark Horse.”

E Magazine talked to Phil Moore about the band’s environmental vision…

E: What’s your songwriting process—do you write songs outside?

Phil Moore: I do, mostly on front porches overlooking nice views. It’s best to put myself where there’s nothing like buzzers, other people, distractions, cars driving by—all that stuff.

E: What mainstream amenities are you going without in the middle of the woods?

P.M.: We just got a cell phone and Internet. We also just got water
kind of. We ran a hose from my neighbor’s well, so we have cold, cold water. We don’t have electricity, but we have a solar panel. We don’t have a toilet—we don’t have plumbing. We don’t have heat really, but we have a little wood cook stove.

E: When you’re touring, do you have environmental standards that you live by?

P.M.: When we first started the band, we were not supposed to be a touring band. We were just writing songs, and we decided to play them for our friends. We do what we love, but at the same time it’s contradictory—we still drive around the country burning gas.

E: Are there any environmental issues that you’re most concerned about?

P.M.: One thing about all the alternative energy sources that we are talking about as the next step—all of those are going to take so much petroleum. When you’re making solar panels, how much energy has to go into that? We are counting on new technology, and I think we need to go back in time and rely on our old ways. It’s more about getting back to the land. Maybe we all go back to hunting and gathering. I don’t know how possible that is, but I think we should all try do things like that.

CONTACT: Bowerbirds