L.A. band ‘Moby Rich’ capitalizes on being different


Alec Farley / The DePaulia

The band’s lead singers, Maxwell Joseph and Connor Pledger, emphasize their brotherly love on stage. They said their friendship is the strong foundation for their music.

The music video for Moby Rich’s “Oil Spill” begins with the lead singers, Maxwell Joseph and Connor Pledger, donning bowl-cut wigs and mustaches on a grainy news presentation. Pledger gives a satirical description of the oil spill to his co-anchor, saying, “Well, there was some oil. A lot of it. In an oil tanker. It was just in the middle of the ocean. And all of a sudden, it broke.”

The rest of the video follows the same “crappy news station” theme, with their song “Oil Spill” dictating the actions of the rest of the video. It’s weird, and for Moby Rich, who opened for Matt Maeson at the House of Blues on Tuesday, that’s the point. The video and song exemplify a common theme in music from them: being weird, but making a sincere point in a way that seems insincere.

“I think it starts with our love for Anchorman first,” Pledger said. “(A line) talks about how we see these different headlines everyday and these advertisements help solidify a social construct in our world… But we wanted to kind of show how ridiculous the world is sometimes in advertising and just media in general and we just had fun.”

Pledger and Joseph, the faces of the LA-based band, grew up in Atlanta and Indianapolis, respectively, and the duo listened to all sorts of music growing up, from Dave Matthews to Metallica.

Joseph won his high school talent show, which told some he may become a musician.

“When I got older, my brother and I stole (our dad’s) guitar and tried to learn how to play Metallica and failed miserably,” said Pledger.

“Music was kind of the first thing I that I could express myself through or identify with,” Joseph said.

Music was simply a part of their lives; both their dads played music and records were always around the house. Both Pledger and Joseph were in middle school when they first picked up a guitar. Joseph won his high school talent show, which gave his brother, Ulrik, an inkling that a music career could be in the future.

“The first time I really noticed it was when he won his first talent show in high school,” he said. “And they performed in front of the whole school and they really got the crowd super hyped.”

Years later, he would watch his brother do that same thing alongside Pledger. The only difference being that it was in front of a crowd at Chicago’s legendary House of Blues instead of a high school.

The idea for the band was born at an open-mic café in LA. Pledger was discovered on YouTube by a group that wanted to start “boyband folk band.” That idea never came to fruition after he was flown out to LA, but it put him in the world of music and built a network of connections for him down the road.

“And probably about a half a year to a year into it, I was just so burned out writing for other bands,” he said. “Like I felt like I just sold my soul. So, I started going to open mics and I wanted to start a band and then that’s when I met Joseph. And we broke the idea of just starting a band for fun.”

Joseph, who arrived to LA after high school, said the time they spent performing open-mics made their pairing an inevitability.

“Connor did tell me, after we started hanging out, like yeah, ‘That first time I met you, I thought like, ‘Who’s this douchebag?’” Joseph said. “I was like ‘I kind of thought the same thing!’ So yeah it’s just kind of a funny start.”

But why Moby Rich? The inspiration for the name came when Pledger visited a friend in Nashville, and after a discussion on how book titles make good band names, the book “Moby Dick” caught Pledger’s eyes.

The band’s lead singers both sing and play guitar throughout the set.

“I was like, ‘What if you used ‘Moby Dick’ but put a little twist on it, like call it Moby Rich?’”

And thus, Moby Rich was born. Five years into their inception, the two have had their debut single, “Yoko Ono,” featured in Netflix’s “Atypical” and have performed in the United States, Europe and Australia.

From two people performing at open mics to what they are now, they describe their growth as a band as the opposite of the normal process. Typically, the songs are written and the real struggles come in finding somebody who will listen to it. Pledger’s contacts from the folk boyband made the growth resources available to them. They just had to fill out the rest of the framework by writing the music.

“When we started, we sat down and we said, ‘Let’s write something weird,’” Pledger said. “’Let’s be different, let’s make something weird.”

Beyond their lyrics, the sound of Moby Rich also stands out, as songs like “Pocket” can softly make you think about past relationships, while the upbeat tempo of “Loser” puts excitement in embracing the feeling of not fitting in. Joseph and Pledger sing harmoniously in all their songs, producing a pitch-balance of both high and low in their music.

Pledger serenades the audience as they listen intently. His career began after being discovered on YouTube and recruited to join a “boyband folk band.”

Genre can be a nebulous term in music and can pigeonhole an artist into one sound. Moby Rich embraces alternative themes and rock music into their own. They describe their music as alt-pop, incorporating different elements of different genres to produce their own, unique sound.

“They have a really good blend between pop, hip-hop and indie-rock,” said Kevin Karn, 25, of Chicago. He heard Moby Rich for the first time on Tuesday night. “They kind of sit in that nice in-between”

They are a band that is still new to the scene. They emphasize that at the end of the day they’re two people also just trying to figure everything out. Nearly five years in, they’ve overcome obstacles finding the right producers and keeping small things from becoming big things.

“I just want to make an impact on the world that changes it for the better,” Pledger said. “And I think that if we continue to grow we’ll have that ability and I hope that when we do have that ability, then I hope we do something good with our time and with our voice.”

The two feel they are still getting their feet wet, with songs they’ve written that still have yet to come out. Because of the connections made before they even came together, the two have had the comfort of taking their time to come up with music they are proud of. They believe they are still growing, but they are doing it together.

The packed crowd gazes at the stage at the House of Blues.

“I think learning and having a partner to do it with is extremely helpful for me and I think Connor as well,” Pledger said. “Because we know at the end of the day if nothing else we’re going to have each other’s backs. Even if all else fails we have that foundation and that background.”