A BAND OUT OF FASHION
Moxy Früvous are famous for two things - that rather catchy song that got played to death on Much Music 'King Of Spain', and also for being the band that SNFU could beat up (another Brunswickan exclusive...). But after talking to them before their show in town on Saturday night, it seems that there is a lot more to the band. All four members had something to say, and that made it hard to distinguish who said what. So here are the collective thoughts of Moxy Früvous - maybe SNFU would have their work cut out for them too...
So what is the band up to at the moment?
We've just started a tour that is going to cover most of North America - all of Canada and some of the US. We've been in Atlantic Canada for the past couple of weeks, and the tour continues until mid December.
And how is the tour going?
It's going well. It's the first time that we have been out to most places with the new album. We're playing half new stuff, half old stuff and some satirical songs too.
You seem to be playing smaller venues this time.
Smaller licensed venues, so the crowds are a bit more...animated. The last tour was the theatre tour - almost all the gigs were in theatre venues which was a good experience, but it left us with a hollow feeling. There isn't any give and take when everyone is sitting is comfy seats. We even played in places where the people were told not to stand up. This is a lot more fun, with a lot less baggage. There is a lot more interaction with the audience and it lets a whole other side of the band to come out, a side that we missed.
And the new album Wood? What can you tell me about that?
Every single person that I have talked to has said that they like it. It might take a few listens, but they like it.
It sounds quite different from Bargainville - more mellow. Were you trying to do that?
We wanted to make an album of songs that could be listened to more than three times which some of the novelty songs can't. So we made Wood. But since then, the Geneva ruling on novelty songs has been revoked so you can listen to satirical songs more than three times, so now we can make a novelty album and vie for repeat listens. The B Album is coming out in the Spring, and that is all satire. We're getting back to what people think we are - the unwashed, the dull.
Were you getting fed up with being regarded as a novelty band?
Yes. Even if you did listen to Bargainville, only some songs were like that. There were slower songs, personal stuff. The new album wasn't a conscious reaction to the first - we very much made an album of songs that we felt like writing. This is what came out. We did what the four of us felt like doing, and ignored the pressures. It was nice to get that side out and treat it with respect.
So there are misconceptions about the band?
There are so many of them. People think that we are a vocal, folky band, but that is only one part of what we do. We also play instruments ...the kids like to rock. And that is what we are doing on this tour. The trappings of fame are not for us. We gave away most of the money we made on the other tour - we now dress in rags and beat ourselves.
Do you get the feeling that some people just want that novelty stuff? People just shouting for 'King Of Spain'?
They were there last night.
And how do you deal with them?
We yell obscenities at them. It's not the majority of people, especially on this tour. It happened more in 1993 where we had a couple of videos that became big. It was great for large audiences, a new legion of young fans and for record sales but there was a feeling that it wasn't what the band was all about. We're not comfortable with people coming to shows wanting to hear just the satire because we are not a band that can offer just one specific sound.
I get the feeling that you are caught between Much Music who haven't picked up on the new songs and the campus stations who won't play you as you have been successful.
We're not even in the centre - we're more in left field. We are so uncool just now because there is a very homogenous scene at the moment, particularly in Canada. It's all loud electric guitars and mundane lyrics, and it doesn't allow a lot of bands to breathe. One of the worst things about being so out of fashion is that we've just made two videos which we are totally in love with. Both are beautiful to look at; very different - they don't look like beer commercials
I haven't seen them at all.
And you probably won't. It's a drag. Once you get away from the music itself, it distorts the image of the band, and that is what we've suffered from in Canada.
What about outside Canada?
We get bigger crowds for shows in places like Philadelphia than we do in Canada. There is a real underground buzz just now. In the States, the success is coming from just the live shows as there is no coverage on MTV, and not much on the radio either. The image is much closer to what we really are, or at least how we see ourselves. It's like it was up here for the first album. There's a real difference in the perception of the band down there, with some comparisons to bands that we really respect such as They Might Be Giants and other great lyricists.
Your lyrics are quite complex too.
It's a reaction to having heard so many lyrics that use the same images and cliches again and again. It's a desire to get out of that and put some new words into music as language is bigger than that.
So you don't think much of music at the moment?
When any scene starts up, it is vibrant and new and tears down the old order and produces a bunch a great stuff. But then it becomes bloated and everyone catches on to the fashion.
Moxy Früvous - a band out of fashion.
The fashion just now is just so specific and narrow. I honestly believe that five years from now we'll look back at the so-called alternative scene in the same way that we look back at, say, Culture Club. The whole scene is just so ripe for parody.
I'm sure if you put your mind to it, you could write the kind of song that could top the charts just to make the money.
That is very tempting. We've thought about it, but ultimately if we did that we could never take ourselves seriously afterwards. But it is very tempting.
So. You're not the only band in town tonight - SNFU are also here, and last week in an interview they said that they could take you in a fight. Any comments?
Yeah - we find them pretty intimidating...as intimidating as a flaming bag of shit! Despite the fact that we are folk pansies we'd still kick their asses. But we're not a fighting band - we would rather challenge them to a game of Coleco Table Hockey and see who the real men are.
Are there any other bands that you'd like to beat up?
Dave would really like to beat up the singer from Counting Crows. "Round here..." - thud.
Let's be a bit more specific - what about Canadian bands?
This is what got us into trouble - we used to be so nice about all the other bands. We should have come out with our claws. I'm tempted to say Hayden, but he's a nice guy. We grew up right beside him. But there is one band - Hemmingway Corner. Just for one song mind you, but we'd like to storm the stage then. And the Rainbow Butt Monkeys as they just epitomize the whole cashing in on a scene thing. Moist can eat shit too. I realise that they are a hard working band, but their music just makes me want to run. Bass Is Base gave a friend a really hard time too. Gee, we're beginning to alienate everyone now. Honestly - we really are a peaceful band. We'll take any band who wants to fight at table hockey instead.
So how was the show after all that talk? Rather good in fact. Very good. Moxy Früvous know how to work an audience in the best possible way, and they did their best to exploit that. It is the kind of thing that works best in a small venue like the Dock, and the witty exchange with the audience won them over very quickly. Just little things like trying to take on the band playing upstairs with a spontaneous version of 'Come Together'. They are masters of their own domain.
They started things off with some of those fast, funny songs that everyone remembers and that was a good move. One of the most obvious aspects of the concert was the way that the crowd responded to those old songs and the way that they seemed to just sit there quietly for the newer material. New songs from Wood went almost ignored which is a real pity as tunes like 'Horseshoes' are among their strongest. Never mind. They also had a few new satirical songs to share with us too, and they got a better response. It seems that they just can't shake that old image. Sad.
Relying on a small battery of instruments, they managed to create all kinds of sounds from their trademark acapella sound to a spot of banjo for that hidden track from the new album (I don't know its name - something about an organ-grinder). And then on the encores they managed to work in all kinds of other covers into their own songs including some Lou Reed, dear little Alanis Morissette and Abba who I just can't hear too much of. Sigh. But despite that, it was a simply wonderful evening from a really nice bunch of guys. And if they come back to town in the Spring, I recommend that you go and see them (especially if SNFU are in town, as you are assured some real action).