11/24/99: Rochester D&C 11/24/99
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Rochester Goes Out - Nightlife

Alive and Canadian: A Thanksgiving chat with Moxy Fruvous' Mike Ford

by Jeff Spevak

(Nov. 24, 1999) -- Things we already know about the band Moxy Fruvous: It's four witty, harmonizing, politically minded, onetime street busking Conan O'Brien faves from Toronto. Sometimes lost amid amusements such as My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors -- songs that guitarist Mike Ford describe as ''pop-fiesta carnival rides'' -- is the point that these guys are talented musicians.

Hence Thornhill. There will be time enough for wisecracks and social comments when the band plays the Harro East Wednesday. Thornhill, released in August, is a beautiful pop album that shows off the band's skills. A concept album, even, recalling their days growing up in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill.

''It's supposed to capture that time,'' says the thirtysomething Ford, ''when you'd just acquired a new import album, and you take it downstairs to listen to it, and you read the cover and it's all written in Japanese except for the word 'LSD.'

''It's about seeing the world through these black-lacquer discs. About being a teenager in the suburbs. We are so lucky: We didn't have a war, we didn't have a depression. But a lot of folks just get confused, because they don't have a connection.

''A lot of growing up in that kind of scenario is looking a special way, owning these things. Sad Girl is about a teenage girl growing up and all of this media stuff you have to hear about, 'You have to look like a proponent of heroin chic. Don't eat, don't smile.' ''

Smart guy, this Ford. Let's ask him some questions.

You Canadians have already celebrated Thanksgiving Day, in October. What are the traditions?

''Thanksgiving is obviously about the harvest. If you're anywhere north of New Jersey, your harvest is in October. Fresh farm goods in November? Forget it; they've turned to ice already. We invite Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving in October. November, that's when you think about spending time with Moxy Fruvous.''

Who would you invite to your home for Thanksgiving dinner if you could invite anyone you wanted?

''Ron Sexsmith. He lives in St. Catharines, and he's absolutely brilliant. Paul Simon writes him faxes, 'What do I rhyme this word with?' We'd let him sing grace.''

What's your opinion on modern rock these days?

''The bigger it gets, the less I want to hear it. Keep it small. Rock should be something in a little club down the street.''

What would you do if you woke up one morning and discovered you were the third member of Insane Clown Posse?

''Remember Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider? I'd be the Jack Nicholson character, the square accountant.''

Wanna play 'Canadian or Dead'?


Lorne Green: Canadian or Dead?


Alanis Morissette: Canadian or Dead?

''Is this what we wish?''

So you don't own a home version of the game 'Canadian or Dead'?

''I live it.''

Englebert Humperdinck performs in Rochester in February, and Tom Jones in March. If you could afford to attend only one, which would it be?

''I think it would be Englebert, so I could steal the marquee letters. That's a lot of Scrabble tiles.''

What's the one thing about you that you'd like to keep a secret?

''I have to keep it a secret, it's contractual. You know Quadrophenia? I wrote it.''

What's the best on-the-road story you have about Moxy Fruvous?

(Ford goes into a long, unnecessarily gruesome tale about a show in Vancouver, B.C. On the last song, the Talking Heads' Psycho Killer, Ford breaks a string and, while attempting to tear it out of the way, slices his finger to the bone.)

''And I'm sitting there, I'm still connected to the guitar. Maybe a bit of a metaphor for you. There's this big bucket of ice backstage for our drinks and beer, so I say, 'OK, we're gonna pull this thing out as fast as we can, then I'm gonna stick my hand in that bucket.' Then we went out and played The Drinking Song for an encore, with a huge wad of tape on my finger.''

Did you drink the beer in that bucket?

''Of course. That's a part of our pay.''


Mike Ford at the University of Rochester last spring

The band plays on

What: Moxy Fruvous, with Martin Sexton opening.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24
Where: Harro East Ballroom, 155 Chestnut St.
Admission: $17.

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