This fall, Slim Moon delivered his first sermon at First Unitarian Church in Portland. It’s been 23 years since he co-founded Kill Rock Stars records, one of the most influential indie rock labels of the 90s.
“The record labels in Seattle weren’t interested in signing bands from Olympia,” Moon says. “So I decided to do it myself.”
For two decades the label cranked out records by bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliot Smith, and many others.
But these days find him working as an intern at First Unitarian, midway through his training to become ordained. So, in his October 12th sermon (archived here), he kicked things off with a Star Wars analogy, invoking Darth Vader’s offer to Luke Skywalker to join him on the dark side of the Force. Really, it was just a device to get the congregation thinking about what sets each of us on our path: the overtures we respond to in life.
Moon says he’s answered many invitations over the years, good ones and bad ones. He grew up poor in Montana and Washington. A high school drop-out, he was invited to try alcohol, then drugs, and succumbed to years of binge drinking and blackouts. He was kicked out of Evergreen State College for miserably bad attendance. Ultimately, he answered the call of the evolving Olympia punk rock scene. In 1991 Moon co-founded Kill Rock Stars Records,
For many, the label embodied the idea that arts, politics and commerce might not be such strange bedfellows. “I really cared a lot about what we called then “politics”, but it was really social justice,” Moon says. He says spirituality had been on his radar since childhood, but always as something he’d come back to one day.
Slim Moon left Kill Rock Stars in 2006. He went to work for a Warner Brothers subsidiary for a while, spent time as a consultant, and took a few years off to be a stay-at-home dad. But he found himself drawn back to some things that came up when he was getting treatment for his addictions in the late 90s.
“I started to let spirituality and those deeper questions into my life. It really became a much more urgent call that seemed bigger than business. Like people say a lot of times when they experience a call like that, it was very confusing. There were a few years there where I just kept trying different things, trying to understand that call.”
So he went back to school to finish his undergraduate degree, then on to seminary. He says he was pleasantly surprised at his aptitude for the academic side of the work. He spent last summer as a chaplain at Emmanuel Hospital, but has been training in several kinds of pastoral work. He says he still considers himself a generalist, at this point.
Not many people he works with are aware of his past at Kill Rock Stars.
“When I walked away from music. I made a really clean break. I stopped going to shows. Then I walked into the world of ministry, and have sort of made completely new friends, new relationships. Most of the people who knew me for twenty years don’t know what I’m doing now, and most of the people I know now have no idea what I did before I got here.”
Listen to the interview to hear more about Slim’s transition, and what he sees connecting his current and former jobs.