Moss Icon was an Annapolis, Maryland Post-Hardcore/Emocore band from 1986 to 1991. The original members were Jonathan Vance, Tonie Joy, Monica DiGialleonardo, and Mark Laurence. Moss Icon are most known for their influence on the splinter genre of punk known as post-hardcore, and affiliation to the original DC bands born in the so-called "Revolution Summer" of 1985, including Rites of Spring, Gray Matter, Rain, Embrace, and Maryland's Hated.
The band's identifying characteristics, and those that distinguish them from their contemporaries, include noticeable and abrupt transitions from loud to quiet, Joy's distinct arpeggiated guitar (often undistorted and picked), and Vance's esoteric, sometimes meandering lyrical content. Earlier recordings of the band are remniscent of early Joy Division, particularly in guitar style, while later songs embodied a less blunt approach, noted by some detractors as making Moss Icon "like Grateful Dead for punks." The band championed, among other issues, the plight of indigenous peoples in the Americas, and opposed the US Government's involvement in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Moss Icon recorded their debut 7", "Hate in Me", in January 1988 and entered the studio several months later to record their second 7", Mahpuia Luta. Their "Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly" LP was recorded by Les Lentz and Tony French throughout 1988 and released in mid-1994 by Vermiform. In 1990 a splinter project of Moss Icon was formed called Breathing Walker, containing all four members of Moss Icon plus Alex Badertscher on bass, Zach Fusciello on percussion, and Tim Horner on violin; Breathing Walker released a cassette that was re-released in 2001 by Joy's Vermin Scum label along with live tracks. Moss Icon's third 7", entitled "Memorial", was recorded in January 1991 along with a split LP with Silver Bearing. In 1994 Ebullition Records released the It Disappears LP, compiling several songs from "Memorial" and the split LP along with live versions of several songs.
After the dissolution of Moss Icon, guitarist Joy was a member of the bands Born Against, Lava, Universal Order of Armageddon, The Great Unraveling, and The Convocation Of…. Other band members were less involved in music, excepting Laurence's drums in Lava, and DiGialleonardo's Blue Condors. Moss Icon reformed to play a handful of shows with Brooks Headley on drums, including the 2001 More Than Music Fest in Columbus, Ohio and at the renovated Charles Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland.
Since 2007 Joy, Vance, Zak Fusciello, and Alex Badertscher have been occasionally working on new material in Baltimore, MD for a possible new recording. A complete reissue of the Moss Icon discography is slated for release by Temporary Residence Ltd. in May 2012, with live performances planned in support.