It’s not always common to stay in touch with those from high school, let alone remain best friends. For Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, the Vancouver duo’s bond formed over their shared love for minimalist electronic and California punk music. Years later, they found themselves crossing paths in New York City and eventually began making music together. Under the moniker Bob Moses, the pair released their debut EP Hands to Hold in October 2012 and would later sign to Domino Records. Their first full-length album Days Gone By dropped in September of 2015 and has found the band on a seemingly endless world tour, making stops at SXSW, Coachella, The Governor’s Balls and many more along the way. Northern Transmissions sat down with Tom and Jimmy prior to their headlining set at Toronto’s Time Festival on August 6.
Northern Transmissions: I’m stoked for your set tonight, how are you feeling?
Tom Howie: I’m stoked too. I feel good. We had a great week in LA. I’m feeling rested, even though we got up this morning and flew here.
NT: What were you doing in LA?
TH: We played there last Sunday and then we did some work, some meetings and stuff. We had a little studio time and just, you know, chilled.
Jimmy Vallance: Bonded.
NT: Hung out.
JV: We don’t get to hangout that much anymore. We just do gigs all the time so it’s nice to have a moment to bro down.
TH: Bro down, you know what I’m saying?
NT: I feel like you guys hangout all the time!
JV: Yeah we do! But not like, you know, – it’s nice sometimes to play pool and go like “Dude, fuck you, you sunk the eight ball. Game’s over. That’s my five bucks.” We don’t get those conversations.
NT: Your debut album Days Gone By was released last year and you’re dropping some new bonus tracks –
JV: Ten extra songs.
NT: On August 19th. Are you excited for that? Did it seem natural for you guys to just do remixes and keep going with that album?
JV: We come from a scene where remixes get done for songs and we’ve never really had them done for us. We have tons of friends who, over the course of the last couple years, have been like “Man, if you ever get remixes done, ask us.” So A-Trak approached us, Tale of Us guys, and Joris (Voorn). We’ve got RAC and stuff, so it just made sense. We were getting those done and the label was like “Hey guys, what do you think about releasing the two bonus songs that didn’t make it on the record? Record some live songs, maybe do an acoustic thing?” and we were like “Lets do it, that’s great.” This is the label basically being like “Hey, I think your record’s doing okay. Lets re-up on it.”
TH: The thing is, with our music, it’s always been a slow burn. It’s never been like we’ve put it out and there’s all this hype and a big spike. You just put it out, you trudge along, you go and do your gigs, you get lots of gigs. You go and go, and things get bigger and there’s more people. It’s pretty cool that way. We’re very sensitive to the fact of not overdoing things, not doing stupid things. We’ve always been quality over quantity. Lots of people are like “No, we gotta release more music!” and we’re like “We’ll just wait.” If we release some more music and it’s shit, then it’s not going to go well so just let us do what’s right. We have always just been focused on those few things and I think people pick up on that sort of natural vibe. It’s like a slowly rolling snowball, just getting bigger and bigger.
NT: This is nice because you know it’s going to accumulate to something big at the end, rather than just rushing it.
TH: It’s also real, too.
NT: And you guys are currently touring and will be after this, as well?
JV: We don’t stop until the end of the year. It’s called the Never Enough Edition of the album and we’ve now called the tour Never Enough. It’s like “Bob Moses, go home! We don’t like you! There’s been too much Bob Moses, go the fuck home. Write us some new music!”
TH: Well, we hope not.
JV: No, we love it.
NT: You like touring? Do you miss home?
TH: Yeah, it’s great. We’re both getting to the point now where –
JV: I think we miss making music. And home is where we make music.
TH: Yeah. I miss being able to have a space where you go and mess around all the time, everyday. But I mean, when we make music, we still will tour a bunch, do fly dates and stuff. It’s also just super fun on the road. There’s a balance.
NT: You guys are playing a bunch of awesome festivals –
JV: Would you say no? You wouldn’t say no.
NT: Austin City Limits, Life Is Beautiful (Las Vegas).
JV: Every time we go to Vegas, we make a point of doing Vegas “Vegas style.” Last time we went there, Tom had never played blackjack and I started winning and I started handing him over chips. The first hand he got was a blackjack and all of a sudden, he didn’t really know what was happening, but more money was just showing up.
TH: I started winning and then he was winning.
JV: I started with $40. We walked away with, like, $400 and bought ourselves a steak dinner.
TH: It was great.
NT: You were recently on The Ellen Show.
TH: We were, yeah.
NT: How was it? What was it like?
TH: It was awesome.
JV: We got a lot of moms writing us on Facebook now.
TH: We’ve got the soccer moms market cornered. We were in Brazil on tour and we had to fly to Chile the next day, and then we had to fly to – it was some stupid amount of flying. Our manager texted us and said “So, Ellen wants you to come play her birthday” and I was like “Oh sweet, birthday party for Ellen at her mansion in LA. That’s going to be fun. Yeah, let’s do it!” and he was like “No, the show.” We’re like “You’re fucking kidding. Should we do that?” but then we were like “Dude, it’s fucking Dory. Just keep swimming.”
NT: Did you get to meet her?
JV: Yeah! She came to our soundcheck.
TH: The reason it happened was because she was driving and heard us on satellite radio and she called up her staff and was like “Who the fuck are these guys? Get them here ASAP.”
JV: Bought our record and stuff.
TH: She came to soundcheck and was fangirling out with us. I was like “You’re Ellen! I’m fangirling over you!”
JV: It was weird. She’s like “Who are your influences?” and we’re like “Uh, Radiohead” and she’s like “Oh yeah, Radiohead.” She probably goes out to dinner with them, I don’t know.
TH: When we walked in, there’s the picture of her and Obama, the picture of her and Kanye, the picture of her and Paul McCartney. I was like “What the fuck are we doing here?” But then once we did soundcheck, and she was at the soundcheck, everybody was like “Ellen never comes to soundcheck” and she talked to us – we were completely fine.
JV: Now we get to skip the lines at restaurants. Like if JOEY or something out in Yorkdale Mall has a line, I can be like “I was on Ellen!” and they’ll be like “Oh I’m so sorry, we have a table for you!” *laughs*
TH: That never happened once, but we’re still hoping. *laughs*
JV: Do you know the DJ Heidi?
JV: We ran into Heidi in Berlin and she goes “I know this is a weird request, but my mom saw you guys on Ellen and she loves you. If you could send me a signed CD to give to her, she would be stoked.” So we gotta send Heidi’s mom a CD, which we are doing. I love stuff like that, it’s great. That’s obviously why Heidi is so cool. Because her mom’s a badass.
TH: There you go.
NT: What can we expect to hear next from you? After this, the album continues but how much longer do you think until you’ll be ready to get back at it?
JV: We’ll get back at it at the end of this year.
NT: Yeah? Right when you’re done the tour?
JV: Finish the tour, then studio. We’re dying for it.
NT: You guys seem totally genuine and that this is what you are supposed to be doing, and what you want.
TH: It’s what we do. If I’m sitting at home on a Saturday, it’s like “I’m fucking bored, I want to go make music.” I piss my girlfriend off all the time because it’ll be four in the morning and I’ll have a dream, get a cool song idea, and just roll over and start singing into my phone so I don’t forget it.
JV: This is why we had to get different hotel rooms. I couldn’t take it anymore.
TH: “Tom, stop singing!” *laughs* We get ideas and it’s like, you gotta eat, you gotta take a shit, you gotta fucking make music. That’s just the way it works.
JV: Play some gigs.
NT: It doesn’t seem like it’s any sort of chore for you to be on the road for this long. It’s exactly what you want to be doing and that shows through. I think the fact that you two have been best friends forever would help the dynamic.
JV: We were going to get matching tattoos like “BFF.”
TH: We had this joke for a while that if we ever sold over a million records, we’d get “A milli” tattooed on our asses.
JV: I feel like we should make that more public and then it could actually happen.
TH: We should make that more public. You heard it here first! The only thing is that as streaming continues, records sell less and we might get out of it that way. But if we sell the equivalent of a million records on streams, we will get “A milli” tattooed.
JV: We were pretty dumb with stuff like this, and there was this one time in Phoenix where we were on the bus tour. The day of the show, we had sold 30 tickets in a 350 person venue so I looked at our tour manager and I go “If this show tonight sells out, I’ll drink my own piss.” The show comes and we were TWO tickets away from selling out. *laughs* I was like, “There’s no way, this gig is going to suck!”
TH: I still don’t know if it actually did sell out or if he just said that.
Interview by Ava Muir
Bob Moses Never Enough tour dates:
THU AUG 18
Afterlife at Space Ibiza
FRI AUG 19
THU AUG 25
SAT AUG 27
Voltt Loves Summer
SAT SEP 3
FRI SEP 23 – SUN SEP 25
Life Is Beautiful Festival
Las Vegas, NV
THU SEP 29
FRI SEP 30
New York, NY
SUN OCT 2
Austin City Limits Festival
THU OCT 6
FRI OCT 7
White Oak Music Hall – Upstairs
SUN OCT 9
Austin City Limits Festival
WED OCT 12
Fine Line Music Cafe
THU OCT 13
Concord Music Hall
FRI OCT 14
The Magic Stick
SAT OCT 15
Danforth Music Hall
SUN OCT 16
WED OCT 19
THU OCT 20
Paradise Rock Club
FRI OCT 21
SAT OCT 22
The Orange Peel
SUN OCT 23
WED OCT 26
THU OCT 27
FRI OCT 28 – SUN OCT 30
Live Oak, FL
FRI OCT 28
New Orleans City Park
New Orleans, LA
FRI OCT 28
WED NOV 2
THU NOV 3
The Observatory North Park
San Diego, CA
SAT NOV 5