The Situation It's a Thursday night, and I'm meeting Christian Wargo--Fleet Foxes bassist and frontman of Seattle band Poor Moon--at Mama's Mexican Kitchen in Belltown. "You'll see me. I'll be wearing my mother's wedding gown," Wargo texts me a few minutes beforehand. It's a false promise--he's wearing a woolly sweater with his shoulder-length hair tucked into the collar. I ask if he's the most Jesus-looking of all the Fleet Foxes. "Um, maybe. I don't really think Jesus is as cherubic as I am." He pauses. "Josh is pretty Jesusy. He's taller . . . " I remind him that Josh Tillman, the Foxes' former drummer, left the band in January. "It's true," he concedes, "I am the most Jesusy Fleet Fox."
How He Got Here Wargo's new band Poor Moon--himself, fellow Fox Casey Wescott, and their old friends, brothers Ian and Peter Murray--actually isn't very new. The songs on their delicately mournful Illusion EP, which Sub Pop will release on Tuesday, were recorded about a year ago, but the project got put on hold while Fleet Foxes toured the world. When Wargo returned from the tour about a month ago, he got right down to planning Poor Moon's upcoming tour.
"When you are gone that much and you come home, there is this sort of feeling of disconnection, like everyone who you're friends with has sort of just been moving on with their lives. I find it best to be busy," he says. "I miss home, but there's something magical about the road. Even when I'm home, I'll find myself taking a shower, putting on deodorant, and then I'll put it back in my suitcase."When Wargo is in Seattle, he lives in a tiny Wallingford house, drinks at nearby Al's Tavern ("They play really weird nature shows on the TVs," he says approvingly), and cooks for himself (his specialty right now is garlic tahini). For the past three years he's been maintaining a long-distance relationship with an adorable French girl (he sends me pictures of her in a chic black dress with him at the Grammys last month) who lives in Paris. "It's true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder," he says. "And we find ways of making it fun. We both have Playstation 3s, so I can connect with her on her Playstation, and so she'll be a character and I'll be a character, and I can see her! The first time it happened, I swear to God we were both so giddy, like 'Hey! It's you!' We were dancing around on the computer."
Shop Talk Poor Moon played house shows under the names Peppermint Majesty, Cookie Mask, Rabbit Kingdom, and WMW before finally settling on Poor Moon, after the Canned Heat song about Blind Al Wilson's fear that the evil forces of mankind are going to blow up the moon (sample lyrics: "They might test some bomb/And scar your skin/I don't think they care/So I wonder when/They're going to destroy your face"). "I liked the idea of having sympathy for the moon," Wargo says, although he admits the idea doesn't make much logical sense. "That's the part of the song that I love most, though . . . the mystery around the whole premise. It doesn't matter if there is any foundation for his concerns. It was real to him, so that's all that mattered."
The band has already completed a full-length that Wargo says should be out in August. Of naming the album, he says, "I think the unwritten rule is, your first record is your one opportunity to just call it a self-titled." Or, I suggest, they could call it Rich Sun. He looks at me. "You've got all kinds of ideas. Will you consult with me? I need somebody like you. Every time I ask my bandmates 'What do you want to do?' "--he slumps his shoulders and mimics, "I don't know." That's what happens when you're the frontman, I point out. "Yeah," he says, "That's been dawning on me a lot lately."
BTW: Outside of Mama's, Wargo takes a box of Grandpa's Wonder Pine Tar Soap out of his sweater pocket and presents it to me. "I wanted you to have this," he says enigmatically. It smells like a clean tire. I thank him, and he slinks off into the night like a cherubic, woolly moon disappearing into the horizon.