Declan Moy-Bishow’s (‘19) music is straight out of a late 1950s Florida nightclub. With shiny guitar licks, Buddy-Holly-Harmonies, and those funny little intermediary song sections where the singer speaks directly to the listener, this is classic surf-rock, but with a modern, grungey, East-Coast twist. This is Ace & The Gulls latest album, GET IT OUT.
Declan, who is an all-around crazily creative person (he’s an illustrator for Lucid Color, and created the album’s wild cover, and though he plays drums for A&G, can also get on the guitar, keyboard, and air organ,) formed the band in his Freshman year at Beacon High School, Queens.
Declan: Right before a high-school Battle of the Bands we decided to name ourselves Ace & The Gulls. It was between that and The French Guyana, and the Lonely Geisha. My mom wouldn’t let me do that one. We were called ‘The Gulls" for a long time. Over the years there have been 6 members, but now it’s boiled down to 3. Andy on guitar, Declan, me, on drums, and Matt on the bass. Andy and myself do vocals. And sometimes Matt, kinda like Y in the alphabet.
Aural Wes: where’d the Ace come from?
D: Matt had a bass strap with a bunch of playing cards on it, and I said, “you can’t wear that.” So we started calling him Ace. We used to be really strict about performing. We would only wear white button down shirts, jeans, and play fender guitars. I suppose we loosened up. Later on, we’d play with my dad’s old band. He plays the drums, like me, or I like him. They had this reunion in my senior year, and we played a couple shows. It was bizarre.
AW: What’s your dad’s band?
D: They’re called The Mosquitoes. Their sound definitely influenced us. They were into Early Beatles stuff.
You can clearly hear those early rock n’ roll influences in GET IT OUT, but on second listen, there’s also a clear nod to 90s and early-2000s grunge, and A&G’s lyricism strives for more than anything on albums like Twist & Shout. Take the fourth song on GET IT OUT, "Love a Girl". From the title to the jingly upbeat guitar and shaker, as well as the fun dancey lyrics (feels like I’m dancing/I wanna stand still/but I can’t ever with you,) this song could just be 50s esque cover. But halfway through the song (which are all around 2 minutes, in classic early vinyl LP fashion,) the minor power chords get a little heavier, the lead a little more ghostlike, and the lyrics much darker: "kill, me, now/right now/surfing on weeknights/I’m watching their lives/and I can’t figure it out at all." But then it jumps right back into a poppy rhyme: "when I’m in the clouds/you bring me down now." The incongruities between innocence and alienation are starkly juxtaposed, with just one line between “kill, me, now” and “surfing on weeknights,” perhaps in an effort to show how close the two feelings really are, like the inseparable mega-highs and torturous lows of an adolescent crush.
This isn’t to say that GET IT OUT is trying to be all commentary. Songs like Do the Gull and She’s So Cool are fun, bouncy, and consciously not serious. During She’s So Cool’s final repeated choruses, we hear, “she plays laser tag… she’s from Staten Island… she let me hold her pet snake.”
My favorite tune is definitely "Ten O’ Nine," with its folky, Simon & Garfunkel feel and rising harmonies. The lyrics aren’t complicated, and they don’t seem to be about anything in particular, but they excellently convey the feeling of a day idly passing out of your hands, some strange melancholy stuck in your head like a catchy song, just staring out the window. And I love its sad final lines: nice guy/he said goodbye/he messed me up, he messed me up, he messed me up.
AW: Why’s it called GET IT OUT?
D: Because we had to get an album out. Or it might be because of all that kooky stuff in your brain, and you gotta get it out. Isn’t that how it works?
AW: and the album artwork, what’s that all about?
D: It’s influenced by Yuichi Yokoyama. Yuichi taught me everything. The two guys wearing sunglasses are me and Andy, and then the chopstick walking clowns are maybe the ideal Ace & The Gulls. Are we looking over there, or to the future?
AW: does A&G have plans for the future?
D: I have no. Make some more songs. Tour, with our parents.
Declan is playing an acoustic set at Outhouse on Friday February 23rd, 7-8pm. He’ll be playing some songs from GET IT OUT, as well as some other cool tunes too.
- Ezra Kohn '19