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Cedar Rapids native is loving band’s wild ride

Mansions on the Moon’s featuring Ted Wendler

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Diana Nollen  ::   UPDATED: 21 January 2014 | 4:06 pm   ::  

Specializing in electronic down-tempo and ambient rock Cedar Rapids native Ted Wendler and bandmates in Mansions On The Moon have been winning over music fans and fellow artists with their mesmerizing arrangements, creative remixes and wide range of musical capabilities.

Formed a few years ago, this exciting Los Angeles trio of songwriters and producers have already collaborated with N*E*R*D, toured with Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, had a Mixtape produced and presented by DIPLO and BENZI entitled Paradise Falls, and produced the track “PA Nights” on Mac Miller’s new album Blue Slide Park.

They will be on Wendler's home turf Tuesday for a concert at Gabes in Iowa City.

(They were last year in March. Here's the story we printed in march before the band's performance at at The Mill)

Mansions on the Moon’s career arc is making a light-year leap, with Cedar Rapids native Ted Wendler holding on tight.

Wendler, 27, says the past year “has been great, has been crazy, has been a learning experience.”

“A lot of hopes and dreams have been answered, and a lot more hopes and dreams have been created."

“We’re still singing, still hungry, still trying to keep going. It’s been tough and awesome and everything in between.”

Iowa City audiences will hear cuts off their new record, songs from an earlier mix-tape project and material Wendler says “no one’s ever heard.”

Songwriting is a collaborative affair, with Wendler contributing most of the lyrics. He adds guitar, keyboards and vocals, Hazlegrove sings, plays keyboards and occasionally guitar, and Shaw adds drums and background vocals.

“Ben has this voice that’s very guttural and screamy and mine’s more of a whispery and breathy blend,” Wendler says. “We like to put them together to make a much fuller sound.”

The son of Guy Wendler of Cedar Rapids and Nancy Hedges Mahany of White Fish Bay, Wis., Wendler has been making music his whole life and says performing is in his blood.

His grandfather, the late Fed Hedges of Cedar Rapids, helped revive the community theater after World War II. Now known as Theatre Cedar Rapids, Wendler performed there in his youth and its memorial library bears his grandfather’s name.

A self-taught guitarist, Wendler was active in choirs and other arts ventures all through school, graduating from Washington High School in 2003.

“Music has been part of me, a source of fun and inspiration my entire life,” he says. “I never received formal piano lessons like my brothers. I was kind of a crazy kid and could not sit down at a piano bench for more than five seconds. My dad purchased an acoustic guitar before I was even born. I found it and asked my dad to string it.”

Little did he know, family outings would help forge his career.

“I met Ben in northern Michigan, where my family would go for summer vacations. He was my neighbor up there — we sort of grew up together,” he says. “I went up there on random weekends in college, heard he had been making music, so I showed him my songs.”

They liked what they heard, so three or four years ago, when Hazlegrove invited him to work on a studio album in Virginia Beach, Va., Wendler said yes. They teamed up with Lane, a drummer in Hazlegrove’s band, to form Mansions on the Moon.

They worked in Virginia Beach and Atlanta, then moved to Boulder, Colo., and two years ago, relocated to Los Angeles.

But not before grabbing the attention of N.E.R.D.’s musicians, who used the same media company Mansions worked with for a video, web marketing and branding.

“We were sitting in our kitchen (in Boulder) when we got a call from Shae. He said, ‘We love your music, y’all should come down and play us some stuff. This is brilliant, we love it, please move here and work out of our studio (in Virginia Beach),’” Wendler says.

“We’ve had a lot of moving, chasing where we need to be, and a lot of action in between.”

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