Millie and the Moths are a local folk/bluegrass band. Photo: Martin S Rivero
Millie Montag is the namesake leader and lead vocalist for the all female folk/bluegrass band, Millie and the Moths. They just did a set at the Utah Arts Festival for the first time, and it was the first time I actually heard their music. The band possesses a sound that seems almost like a bluegrass adaptation of The Breeders and—gathering from the set's overall lyrical content—they have a Jimmy Paige–like fascination with Satan. And yes, they're really into moths. Moreover, guitarist Laura Slusser is wearing a moth on her collared shirt like one would wear a bolo tie as we speak.
"We love moths,” says Montag. “I used to play with them as a kid and viewed them as approachable butterflies. I got to high school, and there was this girl who told me, ‘I think moths are gross.’ I then realized that nobody really liked moths like the way I do so when I got older, I would try to convince people to like them. I identified with them because I feel weird and disgusting all the time.” She says this in response to me inquiring why they chose moths over butterflies—a question they supposedly get asked a lot and have to respond to a lot. “We love the strange and unusual,” she says.
Beyond moths, these girls are also really into the devil. I assume this because the lyrical content of their songs involved mention of the adversary quite a bit. Also, they covered "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band during their performance. One thing I learned in music writing is that there’s no such thing as coincidental Beelzebub references. "I always had this thing about Satan,” says Montag. “It was so funny to think of this deeply contradictory being where the idea is he's supposed to not win, because he's going against God, even though God created him … He can't win so what's his motivation? Dark things like that have always seemed to attract me.”
The band also performed another cover—Marilyn Manson's "This is the New Shit." Hearing any Marilyn Manson song renovated with folk instrumentals looks wholly awesome on paper, but is actually doubly awesome when heard in person. Of course, Montag knew that the song wasn’t exactly friendly for the all-ages-including-toddlers Arts Festival audience, so she forewarned parents that she’d try her best to censor it. She only half-succeeded (look up the lyrics to see why). Montag also reveals that the band made a parody video for the song and is actively trying to get Mr. Manson himself to see it. They have yet to hear back from him. We converse more about the video and Montag, as well as drummer Molly Porter, reveal their fondness of the film art. “I love film, it becomes this world of things you have to think about,” says Montag. “I feel like it’s such a complicated and great medium I would love to get into.” Porter adds, “What I love about film is that nothing is in them on accident.”
Montag discloses that Porter has only been playing drums for little over a year. She easily had me fooled. “That’s my sister’s drum set from childhood,” says Porter. A lot of music theory and knowledge is accessible on the Internet now, so if you’re thinking about spending $40 on your first crappy guitar, you should it. Don’t think you can’t do it. Don’t puss out.”
Millie and the Moths is a very eccentric group that produces a sound you don’t hear too often in the Salt Lake area. Although this all-female group of tenacious moth enthusiasts haven’t been around for too long, they will more than likely start appearing more often. According to their Facebook, they also seem willing to play any occasion—not withstanding a baptism or a funeral. Before I left, I asked the group if they had actually played either one yet. “Damn it—no,” says Montag. Porter adds, “I think a children’s party would be pretty fun to play.”
Check out photos from Millie and the Moths' Utah Arts Fest performance here. Find more info and upcoming chances to see the band, follow them on Facebook or check out their website.