9/23/99: Winnipeg Sun 9/23/99
Winnipeg Sun

Moxy: as in 'guts'

Fruvous reaps the reward of surviving hard times


What do flare-legged pants, platform shoes and Moxy Fruvous have in common? Each has helped prove the old adage that everything eventually comes back in style.

It's the waiting, however, that's the hardest part.

"We had some dark days," admits bassist/vocalist Murray Foster, referring to a lengthy stretch in the mid-'90s when the Toronto-based quartet was tagged a novelty act by critics and ignored by the record-buying public. "We were playing to 12 people in Dayton, Ohio."

It was a tough fall from grace for Moxy Fruvous, which had exploded on to the scene in 1992 with a successful self-titled debut.

"We were darlings in the media for a really great 10-month period before people realized it was grunge that was cool, and not what we were doing," Foster recalls. "It's something we've been used to for a long time now. We're resigned to it. We know we can have a career and do what we want to do, so it does have a happy ending."

Moxy Fruvous, in concert tonight in Winnipeg, is touring Canada in support of its new album, Thornhill. Unlike many Canadian groups who are popular in their homeland but can't crack the market south of the border, Moxy Fruvous has had its roughest ride in the Great White North, and especially in Toronto.

Foster chalks it up, in part, to being an unusual act in an industry that favours the flavour of the day.

"In terms of the Toronto media, we were really uncool, the opposite of grunge," he says, chuckling. "We were fun-loving yucksters in their eyes. It was '92, Nirvana was huge, where do you put Moxy Fruvous in that? You don't. You make fun of them and send them away."

They left, heading south, where they spent years touring and building up what is now a fiercely loyal fan base. "I think without that American fan base, we wouldn't still be together today," Foster says. "It was discouraging, but we just believed in us so much. We share this great collective vision, and that sustained us through the darkest times. We knew we had much more to say as a band and we just couldn't leave it at that point."

Thornhill, which Foster says is the band's "best produced" and "most listenable" recording to date, is also one of the foursome's most serious efforts. Nicknamed the "grownup album" by band members, Thornhill is without the silly, pop singles that are the band's signature works.

"We just really tried to focus the mood and lop off the really zany songs that we tend to write occasionally," Foster explains, noting that while the group definitely saved its "loopier stuff" for the next album, there are still some light moments on Thornhill.

"It has its dark corners but it's not Leonard Cohen."

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