Ironically, Bridgette Moody and John Seasons didn’t know about the 1988 movie when they picked the name for their band. Haunted Summer the movie depicts Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley agonizing over love and general existence.
But Moody and Seasons say they also had a summer like that – the difficult, haunted summer of 2012, the summer of spiritual effort and struggle that transformed their friendship into a relationship and resulted in a lasting music project. The band’s debut album, Birth, was released in 2014, and a second, Spirit Guides, in 2017.
“Sometimes it feels impossible,” Moody says, of navigating being both partners in music and partners in life. “That’s the hardest part, balancing it.” At the same time, Moody says, their band was born out of and feeds off of their relationship. They write both music and lyrics together and in such a setup, intimacy helps.
Seasons and Moody were friends before they became a band, or a couple, having met each other playing in different bands in L.A. “It’s her voice that made me stop using the pick and use my fingers more,” Seasons says, describing a change in his guitar technique. “That was a conscious decision, to have front vocals.”
Since they are not going for Top 40, Seasons laughs, they’d like to remain “truthful” and vulnerable. They do not claim conscious influences as they are not trying to sound like anyone. Still, there are inspirations – Cocteau Twins, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Björk, Animal Collective – “rule-bending bands,” Seasons says.
The duo’s recent singles, “You Put My Love Out the Door,” released on Valentine’s Day and “Camera,” released on April 20, are sweet and melancholic, making a listener think of the eerie, otherworldly singing of Julee Cruise, the vocalist of Twin Peaks fame. Moody’s vocals are bittersweet; heartbreak and love seem to be constant and expected motifs are served in a fresh, pleasant form. Psychedelic elements and interesting lyrics save the sound from too much sweetness.
Their summer tour starts in Monterey, then Seattle next. On the road, they’ll be joined by a driver and a tour manager. “It takes a village to do it,” Moody says. “It’s nice to have a crew.”
HAUNTED SUMMER performs at 8pm Thursday, June 16. Pierce Ranch Vineyards, 499 Wave St., Monterey. $10. 372-8900, linktr.ee/HauntedSummer