New Year’s Evolutions: Ex-L.A. Machina’s Suzi Moon and Street Dogs’ Lenny Lashley

We checked in with Suzi Moon (former L.A. Machina/Turbulent Hearts/Civet) and Lenny Lashley (Street Dogs/Gang Of One) on how they spent 2020, what they learned, and their thoughts and hopes for what 2021 will hold, as part of our New Year’s Evolutions Series!

Suzi Moon

Image courtesy of Suzi Moon

Suzi Moon: When the going gets tough .. the tough make records.

2020 was supposed to be my year.

It started on a high with my brand new band, L.A. Machina, opening for The Adicts. We were preparing to release an EP on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, with a confirmed slot on the main stage at Punk Rock Bowling, and a full European tour booked for the summer.

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Needless to say, I had a lot to look forward to.

But when March hit, a feeling of dread swept through the music community. The pandemic was spreading faster than anyone could have expected, and with festivals getting rescheduled for 2021, it became clear that things were not going to pan out the way anyone had planned. 

I grieved, cried, and felt frustrated. Without tours how would my industry survive? The discomfort, the not knowing, the fear— it was driving me insane. I was glued to social media. Every artist I knew was battling similar feelings. On top of that, my band broke up. It was another gut-wrenching blow in a year that seemed intent on breaking the human spirit. Which as it turns out, is exactly what I needed. It was actually kind of liberating. Here I was with all these roadblocks in my path and I started to wonder, was this a detour to something better instead?

I turned inward and reflected on what it meant to be an artist. The duty we have to boldly share our stories, inspire others, and contribute our unique perspective to the world. Everyone has something valuable to say. Instead of bottling my feelings (or worse, drinking them), I was going to channel it into something good. Then I picked up my guitar and started writing with a furious hunger I hadn’t felt in a long time. “We need music now more than ever,” I said to myself.

Suddenly it became very clear that this was the time to focus on a project that I had previously been too busy to work on: my solo album. I thought about all the music that got me through tough times and gave me strength. My intention was to create a record that would uplift people. Shake off the fear for an afternoon. Something that could ignite the spirit of punk rock in the tired masses. “If not now, when?” was all I could think.

I called up my producer buddy Davey Warsop from Sharp/Shock, who just opened Strong Studios, in Long Beach, CA, which happens to be my hometown. Coincidentally the studio is housed in the back of a music shop I frequented as a teenager, and we were going to be the first project he recorded there. This felt special. Davey and I had been talking about making an album together for years, but our conflicting schedules always got in the way. 

Recording was just the thing I needed to pull me out of the blues. I came alive the moment we set foot in the studio and felt like I had a purpose again. Sure, wearing masks and social distancing in the studio was bizarre, and our conversations often turned to the pandemic. It is a shocking tragedy that has affected every single one of us.

Nobody is bigger than the virus, but collectively, we are a brave and resilient human race that will overcome COVID-19. I believe it is essential that this catastrophic once-in-a-lifetime event is documented by all creators. In times of crisis, sometimes the best thing you can do is create something beautiful to counter it. I chose to sing my heart out.

Lenny Lashley – Street Dogs/Gang Of One

Image courtesy of Lenny Lashley

Lenny Lashley is taking each day as it comes and doing what he does best, making music and bringing it to the people. 

I spent the past year, reacquainting myself with manual labor and construction, since being a bartender suddenly became not an option anymore. I’ve been working on making music and trying to stay sane. I also started the process of recording a new album during this pandemic. All of that has kept me pretty busy.  

I’ve had the chance to play a few shows through different virtual formats, and it’s really kind of cool because you can reach people all over the world, right from your living room. The response has been really good. Who knew?  

I try to learn something new every day. Most of the time I’m trying to turn inward and better myself… it’s certainly been a good time for that.  

Lately, I try to just kind of live in the present and not make too many predictions. I’m starting a new (monthly) livestreaming series at the end of January and the new album should be coming out in the spring. So obviously I’m looking forward to those things. I believe that my life overall, is what I make it. I believe that I’m going to have a good year because I’m going to try and have a good day.  

Follow Suzi Moon on Facebook here and Lenny Lashley on Twitter here.

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