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Moving Units

By Sommer Mathis

April 28, 2004 9:00 pm

Moving Units is one of the hardest working bands in Los Angeles
right now, touring and playing shows at a break-neck pace while
putting the finishing touches on their first full-length album. The
upside is their hard work seems to be paying off — they played to
a packed house at South by Southwest last month and have been
scheduled to appear at this weekend’s Coachella music
festival. The downside is their immune systems are having a hard
time keeping up.

“Every band gets sick on every tour,” explained
drummer and vocalist Chris Hathwell between sniffles via cell
phone, as he and his bandmates made their way from Sacramento to
San Jose in their tour van.

“You’re expending a lot of energy every night,
you’re going through a lot of climate changes, and
you’re usually trapped in a small space for a long time, thus
you’re all sharing the same germs,” Hathwell added.

But despite the vicious flu currently gripping the members of
Moving Units, Hathwell, guitarist and singer Blake Miller, and
bassist Johan Boegli have every reason to feel good. Based on the
strength of an extremely well-attended residency at Spaceland and a
four-song EP released on a small San Diego label, the band was
promptly signed to Rx Records and added to the “ones to
watch” list of nearly every rock critic in the country. With
its debut LP, “Dangerous Dreams,” set to be released in
the coming months, Moving Units seems to be in the enviable
position of being respected and successful at the same time.

Not that these guys are paying that much attention. Much of what
makes their songwriting so tight and compelling (they sound sort
like a post-punk version of English new wave, and are often
compared to their friends from Hot Hot Heat) is the decidedly
inward-looking direction of the band. On a philosophical level,
Hathwell believes the band’s work exists mostly for the
pleasure of its members.

“It’s more about what we’re doing and the
level of energy we’re putting out to each other,” he
said of their live shows. “You can’t always expect
strangers to look at your band and just start freaking out,
especially when you’re playing for “˜hipster’
audiences, where their hair might go out of place if they move too

Whether Moving Units likes it or not, the “˜hipsters’
have in fact embraced the group as one of the bright lights in the
new underground sound. Its slot at Coachella this weekend only
solidifies the band’s status as an up-and-comer. Hopefully,
the band members’ flu symptoms will subside soon enough for
them to take more advantage of the rock ‘n”˜ roll

“We’d probably party more if we weren’t sick
all the time,” Hathwell said.

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Sommer Mathis
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