Chronicle-Herald article The Chronicle-Herald
Saturday, Oct. 3, 1992

Moxy Fruvous grabs a slice of national prominence

By Rick Conrad

They're young, they're new and they know their bread.

Toronto's "quasi a cappella" quartet Moxy Fruvous is in Halifax this weekend for a hat trick performance at the Flamingo marking their second visit to the city in the past couple of months.

They call themselves quasi a cappella because they use vocal harmonies and some instruments.

The Fruvous half of the band's name comes from a loaf of bread that was baked by monks in a small eastern European state (we're not sure which one) in the 14th or 16th century.

And the Moxy?

"That's the famous, flying, criminal, budgie dog," says Fruvous singer/songwriter/drummer Jean Ghomeshi, 25.

Moxy is the animal that graces the band's promo material and the cover of their six-song cassette.

Their music ranges from a wacky rap version of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham to an intelligent swipe at the Gulf War in The Gulf War Song.

Their cassette just entered the Top 75 of the Canadian sales charts as compiled by the trade magazine The Record.

That marks only the second time in Canadian popular musical history that an independent band cracked the chart. First time honours go, of course, to that "other" now-famous, once-independent band from the Toronto-area, The Barenaked Ladies.

The Fruvous star, however, is just beginning to rise. As their EP tops 20,000 copies sold - up from 9000 at the beginning of September - this independent, alternative band continues to attract fans.

"I think people are reacting to the Phil Collins, more processed sort of pop music." Ghomeshi said Wednesday from his Ottawa hotel romm. "You know, I think that's probably the root of all the success of the grunge movement, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, which is almost status quo now.

"On the other hand, there's a movement to the other kind of alternative music - the acoustic, perhaps more fun, side which is identified with Barenaked Ladies and ourselves."

Whereas the Barenakeds got nationwide exposure from covering Bruce Cockburn's Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Moxy Fruvous attained national prominence in a stranger way.

"We've come to where we've come to in very non-traditional ways," says Ghomeshi, 25. "the CBC, Peter Gzowski (host of CBC Radio's Morningside), the Journal. I mean these are pretty strange ways to become a popular pop band, but that's how it's happened for us."

Fruvous, who began as buskers in Toronto almost three years ago, weren't always this successful, as singer/songwriter/ guitarist Mike Ford explains.

"We made a Kleenex and two dollars on the first day, and we knew we found our game," says Ford. "We also found our beer, but it was $4.95 for half a pint."

The band won't have to worry about affording their favourite kind of beer now, as two other Canadian networks are knocking on their door.

The band taped a television special on the referendum THursday at the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, for CTV and the children's cable channel, YTV. Scheduled to air Oct. 12, it's meant to be an educational, and fun, show informing younger people about the "howsits and whatsits" of the referendum, Ford says.

"We're doing a whole concert for the proceedings, including four or five hits that make people laugh and at the same time make people reflect on this waste of money - this referendum," he says.

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