Since its formation in 2010, Millikin University's Blue Box Records class has served as a real-life music label to several local student bands.
Tonight, however, the combination learning laboratory/record label will make good on its stated intent to expand by debuting a new band that is decidedly off-campus. In fact, Blue Box Records' new acquisition, That's No Moon, isn't even situated in Decatur.
"It's our first non-Millikin and non-Decatur signing," said Blue Box Records PR chair Lauren Lewis of the Champaign-based indie rock quartet. "They played on the Millikin campus at Bouncefest back in September and we really liked what we heard. So we got their demo and listened to it, and then contacted the band about the possibility of working together."
The new union will come to fruition Friday with a show and CD rerelease from That's No Moon at Lock, Stock and Barrel. Unlike labelmates and Millikin bands The Great Waltz or dari, however, That's No Moon came to the label with an album that required no further recording or post-production. The students' main responsibilities with this new band will involve promotion and the reprinting of another run of the group's September self-titled LP. All aspects are valuable teaching experiences for the students operating Blue Box Records.
"It's more real life experience than you would expect to get in a class," Lewis said. "It's familiarity with the actual pace of the industry. You feel a sense of ownership and ability to make the label grow."
That's No Moon founder/drummer Kyle Prillaman and his group are excited to be working with the new label, and said Decatur audiences could expect to see more frequent performances in the future. Despite a Star Wars reference in the name and an admission that "We're all in one way or another self-proclaimed geeks," the drummer believes the group's mix of dance, pop and indie rock will resonate with audiences looking for an upbeat outing.
"We're definitely a band that believes in having a good time," he said. "We write songs we think are fun, and dancing definitely goes along with that. We're just trying to write accessible, eclectic music that's a soundtrack to have fun with."
Such a laid-back attitude and playful song titles such as "Jack and the American Dreamstalk" belie music on the group's debut album that is quite varied in tone, with tracks that run the gamut from heavier alt-rock guitar to techno-inspired dance pop. It's an overall sound that Prillaman hopes will make a national impression when the group sets out on its first widespread tour in the spring.
"We'll be focusing primarily on the East Coast because the shorter distances make the most sense monetarily, but we'll also get as far west as Austin," he said. "This will definitely be the most intense, serious touring I've done. I know everyone in the group is really excited to introduce ourselves to tons of new audiences."
Before then, however, That's No Moon will be playing Decatur dates whenever possible, suggesting that more Blue Box Records-sponsored shows would likely be forthcoming.
At the same time, the student label will continue searching for more groups to sign in and outside of Decatur, with thought toward continued expansion of the label's outreach and influence. Inquiries should be forwarded to Lewis at email@example.com.
"We're always looking for new talent on the Millikin campus and everywhere else," she said. "The label currently has a pop-rock sound but we're open to anything. We're broadening our horizons."