Band: Viking Moses

Members: Brendon Massei and various musicians, including Teenage

Mysticism, aka Joey DeMarco, Mother McKenzie, aka Wyatt McKenzie, and Ronn Benway

Who we talked to: Massei, 33

What is Epiphysis? We call it the Epiphysis Foundation. Initially, it was just a stamp that I just put on my own music. I had been doing music and helping people out for years.

I think it was around 2005 or 2006 that I started using the Epiphysis logo as a pseudo record label. I just opened my arms to have (Golden Ghost artist) Laura Goetz join onto what I was doing. I suppose I felt a true sense of duty to help her ... using all of my experience and my resources.

From then, it's been kind of growing. We have a roster of about a dozen artists now. We have a staff of about three or four people (who) all work voluntarily to help these artists. We're all just trying to build this overall resource.

Are you from the York area? I didn't grow up there, but I have relocated there as of the end of last summer. I was looking for a place for myself and three of our other artists to ... move to.

I wanted a place that none of us had lived before (and) also a place that was supportive and felt like we could make a difference in the community.

The places we were considering were ... Philadelphia and Baltimore. Of the smaller cities, we were considering Harrisburg, Lancaster, York and a town in West Virginia called Shepherdstown. The most supportive cities were, naturally, the smaller ones.

The cost of living had a huge part to do with it as well. My dream was that ... the four of us could live in a nice home in a nice part of town where we don't have to kill ourselves with a day job just to (be able to) make our art. There are a lot of factors about York that just seemed perfect. I'm still (based) there, and I'm very happy there. I feel like something important is happening.

What places and people have you connected with in York? Where we're performing most of our shows (is) First Capitol Dispensing Co. That's one of our primary hubs. Bistro 19 hosts a lot of the shows we have to offer. We've started doing more (shows) at The Depot and ... some private galleries in town (including) Sign of the Wagon, which is run by Pete Richards and Lindsey Keeney.

They have a gallery, which was ... founded by the (Artist Homestead program), which I think is a wonderful program. That was also an attractive factor about coming to York.

After establishing ourselves there a little bit, if it seems like a place we'd like to settle ... then maybe we could try to collaborate with the city in that way.

Where are you originally from? I've always kind of bounced around. My parents were truck drivers. I was conceived in Wyoming, born in Michigan (and) spent the first months of my life in the Ozarks in southern Missouri. I spent a lot of time growing up between Las Vegas, Nevada and the ... Ozarks.

I left home when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I moved overseas for a few years. It's been a very musically wandering troubadour lifestyle, and it's been a lot of fun. It hasn't always had the direction I feel that it does now, which I prefer. I feel like I'm a lot less aimless. Now, at long last, I'm able to juggle the aspect of having a home and taking my work on the road.

Is Viking Moses a solo project? I'm like the common thread. I'm the primary songwriter. Most of the time, if there is a Viking Moses show, it could be me by myself. I've traveled so much for so long that if I'm in London, I can call four or five guys up there (to perform with). I kind of have a set band in different places that are different band members.

Right now, my band consists of all York residents. We're waving the York flag around the nation. We were on tour, playing some nice big shows with Deer Tick these past few weeks.

Deer Tick has performed in York a couple times. Did you meet them here or did you know them before? I was playing bass for a band ... in 2004. We played a show in ... downtown Providence, Rhode Island. There was a kid in the audience who came up to me - he was about 17 or 18 years old - and he gave me a CD ... that he made on his computer.

I thought they were pretty incredible songs. A couple months later, I bumped into the same kid in New York City, and I saw him opening up for a friend of mine. (Deer Tick lead singer) John McCauley was the boy. He opened with a song ... called "Dirty Dishes." My jaw hit the ground. I asked him ... if he wanted to join me on tour. He was like, "I'll have to ask my mom and dad." They let him go, and we went together for two-and-a-half months.

We were just talking about that (recently). We would just show up to a town, and I would tell the promoter (that McCauley was also playing). They were just like, "We didn't talk about that." Night after night, I would just watch the promoter in the back of the room ... steaming and looking so angry. They looked around ... and everyone in the room is just, like, floored. Then, the promoters start seeing dollar signs. (Laughs) It's nice to see that a band that's finding as much success as Deer Tick right now ... loves what they do. That's such an inspiration.

It sounds like you've learned a lot in your travels. Very early on ... I just knew that this is what I needed to do. I knew it wouldn't be pretty. I never had any dreams ... to be famous or anything. I play shows on average in front of audiences the size of 50 people. And many times that will be in somebody's living room.

I feel good about that. I feel that the way I deliver my work really reaches people. This is my 19th year doing it, and I love it now more than ever. I think what I love most about it now is that it's not about me. Now that I started this foundation ... leading a collective of musicians as their managing director, (I'm) trying to teach them what I've learned. It's a real pleasure to be able to have their trust and faith and their respect.

- Erin McCracken,
FlipSide staff

See Viking Moses

Viking Moses will perform June 29 at The Depot, 360 W. Cottage Place, York. For details, call 717-846-6556 or visit thedepotyork.com.