The may be based in Toronto, but many Buffalo fans consider Moxy Früvous a local band. Buffalo was the first place the four guys (Dave Matheson, Jian Ghomeshi, Mike Ford, and Murray Foster) performed in America. But since their unusual beginning as college-educated buskers (street performers), employed as musical political satirists by the CBC, leading to an independent EP which surpassed expectations to sell over 50,000 copies. Moxy Früvous has displayed continual creative growth, especially with the release of their new album, You Will Go to the Moon.
In a very amusing and pleasant phone interview with Jian (self-described, "the brak guy with the long hair"), he expressed enthusiasm and pride over their fourth album: "I think we're very happy with it. We feel like it's a real progression for us....Moxy Früvous continues to be a growing and creative project for us...But I think in many ways we feel that You Will Go to the Moon is a culmination of a lot of what we've been working towards for the last five years. It has a lot of variety on it and it shows the different sides of Früvous...With You Will Go to the Moon, I do feel like you could put on that album start to finish with a person who's never heard of us before and they would get a real, true sense of what we're all about and what we've grown into." The new album is a surprise for even the biggest Frühead. You Will Go to the Moon, in contrast to past albums, does not hit you in the face and force you to listen, rather, it allows the listener to approach it at his/her own terms which is preferable in a recording, although maybe not in a performance. In that way, Moxy has conquered one of the few roadblocks that prevented some music fans from accepting their off-the-wall, indefinable style and sound. Also, the new album presents a harmonious blend between instrumentation and vocals, instead of the vocals being in the forefront of their sound. As Mike Ford described in the 10th Früvous Quill (a semi-annual newsletter written by the band and sent to their fans), they wanted to "incorporate some of the techniques from the music that was turning us on at the time--drum looping, sampling, Middle Eastern rhythms, bluegrass twanging, and other styles such as forties' swing and sixties' pop." There is no doubt that the group succeeded in fusing these diverse elements to their distinct style, retaining the always-enertaining, witty, whimsical quality of their music.
Moxy Früvous' unique musicality combined with clever lyrics and great stage presence created a strong (sometimes die-hard fan base that continues to grow. Their rising fame is aided by their almost constant touring which has extended across the ocean to the U.K. and Denmark. Anyone who has been to a performance (especially on New Year's Eve) knows what an absolutely fabulous show they put on. The songs actually improve on stage and their complicated harmonies and word-play are perfect. The guys also stop to engage in some witty banter and tell amusing anecdotes to the pleasure of their audience. Jian admitted that he is "the kind of guys (it's like the Bruce Springsteen school) who can literally play all night. I have a lot of energy." The down-to-earth band shows appreciation for their fans not only by their awesome live shows but also through the above-mentioned Früvous Quill and Frühead card, which awards die-hard fans. The more concerts a fan has attended, the prizes range from an offical Früvous pin (3 stamps) to the complete video collection (12 stamps) to am all expenses paid bowling adventure with the band (24 stamps). Truly, even before I spoke to Jian on the phone, three years ago my friend and I accosted the band after a performance and they were very friendly and had no problem singing a few autographs and putting up with excessive gushing. Jian (and I imagine the other band members as well) has a level-headed, yet appreciative attitude concerning their growing popularity: "It's still a surprise [to be recognized]. Last weekend we were in New York [City] and on Monday before we left New York, I was just walking down the street in Manhattan and somebody stopped me and said, 'O my God! You're Moxy Früvous!' and asked me for an autograph. I thought, wow, that's so cool to be recognized in New York City."
Verbal ingenuity distinguishes Moxy Früvous from other bands, Jian attributes this to a green-purple elixir capable of instantaneous verbosity, only available to Canadians, of course. Their songs do not consist of the overused "boy lost girl no hope" theme and their lyrics reflect the band's serious dedication to the creative process, as Jian remarked: "You know, it's cool to be in a band of guys; it's true we do crossword puzzles all the time. It's something we're interested in. We're interested in words and learning new words...We don't really sit around when we're just being casual and talk about babes. It's just not what we do. We're usually, actually, playing little word games with each other or becoming characters and doing little impromptu scenarios. I mean, that's literally all the way all of our music is developed; our natural chemistry and sense of humor with each other. It's quite organic that way." But their on-the-road activities are not limited to word play. Very unaware of Jian's response, I asked him what the band does between performances. I expected a response of reading or watching videos or other normal activities. Instead, Jian answered, "A lot of times we beat on Mike. We need to keep him in line...He tends to, sort of, not be as exciting and on-the-ball unless we beat him senseless...And then we find he's really up for the shows. It sounds kind of strange." Indeed, I didn't know how to take this confession; whether it was just a hilarious, exaggerated anecdote or if he was serious. I was, actually, going to leave it out of this printed review so that readers unfamiliar with Moxy Früvous' characteristic wackiness would not get the wrong impression. However, Jian mentioned their unusual activity once more, when I asked him which one of the band members created Moxy, the "famous flying criminal budgie dog": "We don't' advocate corporal punishment, like, we don't believe in beating the young. But sometimes there's a person like Mike who only responds to beating and you can write about this because it's just a fact. You know how sometimes your TV is malfunctioning and you just go over to it and whack it on the side, and it's fixed, right? That's what I'm talking about." Later, after taking a second glance at the CD cover of You Will Go to the Moon, I noticed that in every band photo Mike did look less alive than the rest of the guys, often with his hand trying to rub the sleep out of his eyes.
As a final question, I asked Jian, "What would signify ultimate success for the band?" He thought about ift for a moment and then said, "Recently, they've had bands on Beverly Hills 90210. For me, it would probable be Melrose, though. When they start wanting to use me as just a walk-on guy, you know, with (Kimberly's gone now, I was going to say Kimberly) me as Sydney's fling; like some music, dumb-rock guy. When they use me for that, that's ultimate success. And I like redheads, so there you go." To which I could reply, "I, no doubt, see it in the future." But for the time being, Moxy Früvous is on tour promoting the new album and the band is performing (for free!) at Lafayette Square with Animal Planet on Thursday, July 10, starting at 5pm. Even if you've never heard of Moxy Früvous, be sure to check it out; I guarantee it will be a zany, rollicking concert, as long as Mike gets his daily thrashing.