Meeting Jordan and Talor Steinberg is a little like meeting Bill and Ted. All megawatt smiles, lovable enthusiasm and glossy heads of hair, the 29-year-old twins from NYC exude the same Labrador-esque energy as the 80s film duo. The big difference is that while Bill and Ted’s band (Wyld Stallyns) were notoriously poor, the Moon City Masters are quite the opposite. Not that this was always the case.
“Yeah, there’ve been a lot of bad gigs,” says Talor (guitar/vocals), “and we played in a lot of bad bands. You’ve got to write a lot of bad songs before you write some good ones.”
Singer/bassist brother Jordan adds: “Another way that I like to put that is, the first step to being awesome is being bad. But I guess when we first started playing we didn’t care.”
That spirit of freedom and enjoyment is at the heart of everything the Moon City Masters do. Since forming in 2018 they’ve cherry-picked tastes of the 60s, 70s and early 80s (Led Zeppelin, the Allmans, Humble Pie, Rush…) and stirred them into gleaming, sun-kissed vocal harmonies and hooks that feel fresh yet timeless. It’s music for discos and Stateside road trips.
Singles Takin’ It Back and Over Now, along with their 2019 EP The Adventures Of The Moon City Masters, are good places to start. “Talent is ten percent of the journey,” says Talor, “and it takes a while to figure out your strong points and figure out who you are as a band. I feel like in the last two years we’ve really figured out who we are.”
Raised in suburban New York City, the twins were introduced to their father’s records early on (“he was a kid of the sixties, he went to Woodstock…”). As teenagers they fell in love with the heaviness and lyrics of bands like Rainbow, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, spurred on by tips from their big brother, the internet and… their bus driver.
“He was a total metalhead,” Jordan recalls. “We were playing in his band when we were fourteen – we played CBGBs with him – and he would bring bags of burnt CDs – UFO, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Gary Moore…”
From there the brothers moved through a succession of rock, metal and progressive rock groups, none of which went anywhere. By 2018 they’d decided to strike out on their own. They fleshed out their sound with producer Justin Craig, and honed their colourful, gleefully retro look with the aid of Talor’s fiance Maris Jones – an artist who’d done commercial campaigns for Gucci, and Joe Biden For President, among others.
All the while they’ve sustained themselves financially as guitar teachers. Pre-pandemic they also played weddings, alongside regular gigs. Right now they’re releasing new singles every six weeks, with more activity poised tentatively on the horizon. In the meantime, in these uncertain times their nostalgic, Technicolor dream world offers a happy escape.
“We love it,” Jordan says, grinning. “We really feel with everything we’ve done with this band, this is who we are.”
The Moon City Masters' new single No Warning is out now. Get release updates, merch and more at mooncitymasters.com.