Caption: "Almost our entire career we've been at odds with the mainstream...We're happy with that."
Think there couldn't possibly be anything new five decades onto rock and roll's history?
Don't rule out a Canadian quartet that has its own brand of moxy. Don't rule out out Moxy Fruvous, whose new album, You Will Go To The Moon is the debut release for the new The Bottom Line Record Company.
"The way we strike people the first time live, we are incredibly diverse. They will have never seen a band like ours," says Murray Foster, a vocalist and bassist in the group that also includes Jian Ghomeshi, vocals, drums and percussion; Mike Ford, vocals and guitar; and Dave Matheson, vocals, accordion, banjo and guitar.
"We are a vocal band primarily. There are two, three, and four-part vocal arrangements practically in every song. Also there's a little butt shaking, a little bit of shake, rattle and roll, political satire and theatrics going on. We engage the audience. It's an integral part of the show. We don't just stand up there and let the music talk for us."
The group's new record company offers this tasty description of the band's music in the Moxy's press biography: "What does Moxy Fruvous sound like? They sound like the Roches meet XTC at a party thrown by Camper Van Beethoven for Robyn Hitchcock's marriage to Cole Porter with They Might Be Giants as wedding band and Tom Lehrer acting a minister, but as everyone starts singing old Queen songs the party is crashed by the entire cast of the Muppet show. Moxy Fruvous is that good."
It seems this diversity would give record store clerks fits in trying to figure out where to file the group. "They throw us in pop and don't worry about it too much," says Foster. "They suspect we are country They think we might be heavy metal."
"I'd like to see us under 'Glam-Folk,' "he says. "Think of Arlo Guthrie in sequins. That's what we are pushing for. Hopefully we can champion the genre."
There's nothing wrong with having fun with music, Foster says.
"I don't think some people realize music can be fun. There are not many examples in popular culture now. We are in a very brooding time. Any sort of hint of having fun is sort of not cool."
Moxy started in 1990 just before grunge hit. "Almost our entire career we've been at odds with the mainstream. This sort of band that's not afraid to have fun sort of in the midst of this dark music (period), we just don't fit in so many categories. It's so easy to look down at us as really uncool."
They have learned to live with that reality, he says. "It's hip to be square. We're happy with that. It's good not to be in the mainstream and cut our own swath musically. People are looking for something new and they see us as a nice alternative. People want to see some humor."
The most ardent fans of the band proudly dub themselves Fruheads.
How does one reach that lofty status.?
"You have to see at least half an hour of our show," Foster explains. "To become a Fruhead, technically you have to see six full shows. Then you can have your card stamped, and the member of the group who hasn't shaved for the longest time will give you a kiss on the cheek. But in the spirit of the Fruhead, all you have to do is stand up and say, 'I'm a Fruhead,' preferably outside. That means spiritually you're part of the brethren."
The band initially drew attention in Canada for their strong songwriting and soaring harmonies. They released a self-titled indie cassette in 1992, which was certified gold in Canada, and lead to opening some bills with Bob Dylan. "We never saw him. No one sees him," Foster insists. They also openeed for Bryan Adams.
Moxy's first official album, 1993's Bargainville, went platinum in Canada, earning a Juno (Canadian Grammy) nomination for group of the year. They toured through Europe and the U.S. in 1994, building a reputation for the humor and energy at their live shows.
Wood, their second album, arrived in 1995. The B Album followed in 1996. It was not considered the third album, but a 10-song collection of satirical songs and other tunes the band had written and performed though the years.
You Will Go To The Moon finally showcases the band properly on record, Foster suggests. "We wanted to finally make a good album," says Foster, laughing. "We've always attempted things and in our heart of hearts felts we haven't really achieved what we wanted. We were not entirely happy with the first two. But this album has the vibe and spirit, it's well-produced and it sounds good."
Foster hopes people pick up on the breadth and depth of the songwriting on the album. "We are most proud of ourselves as a songwriting band, writing well constructed songs in an era that doesn't respect the craft half as much," he says. "Our heroes are real songwriters."
As the group immerses itself in the creative process, Foster says they challenge each other to conform to very high standards, lyrically and musically. "We set the bar pretty high for each other," he says.
"Music is the medium with the most currency with people at this point. A hundred years ago it was the novel. Before that it was poetry," he says. "Nowadays there isn't much quality on TV and videos. It's left to music to convey meaningful constructions for what the world means."
In the process, Moxy Fruvous plans to have some fun doing that, Foster implies.
Editor's Note: Moxy Fruvous will play at Spectrum on Sat., April 26th, & Ogden St. Concert Hall in Buffalo on Thurs., April 24th.