For a popular band, Moxy Fruvous is incredibly misunderstood.
But the Toronto foursome should clear up those misconceptions with the release yesterday of wood, the follow-up to their wildly successful 1993 debut, Bargainville.
Touted as their "serious" album, wood has little of the high (and low) satire of earlier Fruvous hits like "King of Spain" et al.
And while the trademark four-part harmonies are ever-present, voices are just part of the mix the quartet plans to cook up, with a full display of musical utensils, at the Bathurst Street Theatre July 18 (They also play the July 1 concert at Fort Erie.)
"People who really have followed the group closely won't be surprised with the second album", says Jean Ghomeshi, chowing down at The Only Cafe on the Danforth with bandmates Michael Ford, Murray Foster and David Matheson yesterday afternoon.
"To our fans, it's seem as natural an evolution as it feels like to us," continues Ghomeshi. "But for those who have conceived, or misconceived Fruvous as just the 'King of Spain', 'Green Eggs And Ham' sort of thing, it's seem like a drastic change.
"And they'll have to decide whether it's better or worse and if they want to follow it or not. So it's a bit of a cornerstone for us."
The band returned to Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., where they self-produced Bargainville. The album wood marks their first sessions with an actual, full-fledged, real life producer, in the form of former Paisley Park house engineer Michael Koppelman.
Koppelman, who produced Frente's last record, came up to see Moxy Fruvous play their residency-in-disguise (taking on the name Bole) at The Ultrasound earlier this year.
"He liked the tunes and we liked him," says Matheson simply. "I mean, we're pretty strong-minded people with a lot of very clear ideas of our own and he always gave an ear to what we had to say."
And that approach is completely in keeping with the vibe of this truly democratic band, who not only have another album in the can, The B Album, featuring, what else, those familiar rib-tickling ditties, but also are writing songs toward a musical.
"We realized over the years that it's so worth it to do work as a democracy," explains Ford.
In true Moxy Fruvous fashion, the guys launch into a short comic sidebar about a fictional band fronted by their bandmate, before settling back into interview mode.
"The overlapping of playing instruments between us is the reason we went a capella when we first started because we couldn't decide who would play what," Ford explains. "And now that we're introducing our instrumental capabilities, under the umbrella of Fruvous, then we find we mix and match, and our live show is now reflecting that. It's kind of a neat musical chairs thing."
Because Bargainville and its hits made such a big impression, many listeners ask the band who is playing the instruments on wood.
"That's another huge misconception," says Ghomeshi, "that we are all just singers.
"We've been through a lot in the last few years. We went through a very quick rise, and then all these misconceptions about who we are and then backlash, which we don't spend much time dealing with.
"A couple of years down the road, I would like people to say, 'Oh, now we get it. They're like a production house. They're like these four industrious, musical guys'
"And hopefully then people will stop trying to pigeonhole us." Knock on wood.