"Just Asking", Buffalo News, Sec. D-1, 11/6/97
"Moxy Fruvous: Offbeat, puckish -- and relevant"; Minneapolis; November 21, 1997
It also has been seen edited to a shorter length, depending on the newspaper.)
NEW YORK (AP) - They're weird - and they bask in their weirdness. In an age of forgettable music, they're intelligent and memorable. Most of all, they're a lot of fun. Moxy Fruvous, a Canadian band on the fringes of mainstream music, is that rare something in the pop pantheon: an entertainment act that doesn't talk down to its audience.
From its origins as a busker band on the streets of Toronto in the early 1990s, Moxy Fruvous - Jian Ghomeshi, Dave Matheson, Mike Ford and Murray Foster - has delighted audiences in both Canada and the United States with a blend of social criticism, catchy lyrics and some of the most memorable a cappella musical arrangements around.
They're also refreshingly unpretentious. Consider a recent interview - conducted in a duck-duck-goose-style circle on the floor of Irving Plaza, one of their more recent venues. Outside, loyal Fruvous fans - "Fruheads" who follow the band - milled around hours before the show.
Few belonged to the rayon and hair gel set, and that's just fine with Fruvous.
"We're a bunch of geeks, and so is our audience," Ford says. "We like that."
Their latest album, "You Will Go to the Moon," refers to our fine, cratered satellite as "that orbiting Rondele" and offers up an adept mix of humor, biting commentary and - of course - the linguistic juggling that has become the band's hallmark.
1. Why are you so happy all the time? Aren't rock bands supposed to be gloomy? You're having too much fun!
Jian: We have a good time with each other. And we have a good time with the audience - before and after the show. On a number of levels, there's so much about current music that's about being dark and depressed, angst-ridden or maintaining the veneer of the band on stage that is untouchable. We are none of those things. It would be easier in some ways to just be a morose rock band. We don't make it easier for anyone, including ourselves, to sell us.
2. For a Canadian band with little U.S. publicity, you've developed an amazingly strong core following. Why do you think it happened?
Mike: It's been a while now that this has been going on, but it still comes under the category of phenomenon to us. All these folks - it still surprises us. We'll play some town, and maybe we'll fly to the next gig, which we don't do a lot, but every now and then. And there'll be a few people in the audience who were in the last show. And we'd be like, 'Did you fly as well?' And they'd say, 'No - we drove.'
Jian: When we first started playing down here, we'd had our career in Canada for a few years, and there were a lot of critics in Canada kind of going, 'They've done well here but will anybody get it in America because they're too Canadian?' Will people like our cerebral lyrics? Or perhaps our satire's too much of the Canadian perspective. But that simply hasn't been true.
3. As a band operating on the edges of normalcy, what do you think of mainstream pop music these days?
Murray: Pop music has become a lot more superficial, a lot more disposable in the last ... what was 1980? Oh, the last 17 years. ... I date it from that because that's when MTV started. And with videos, mainstream pop turns over a lot faster and bands don't stick around. They don't develop much customer loyalty, and there's not a lot of content. So we're kind of an anomaly.
4. You have incredibly smart lyrics, and you love playing with words. Where does that come from?
Dave: We all love word games and fun with words, and just us being in the van sometimes turns into this cyclical game of ...
Murray: ... trying to out-clever each other. There's an intraband imperative to come up with interesting lyrics and weave tales or stories. That inevitably takes precedence over making a (lot) of money or being incredibly successful.
Dave: The guy with the cleverest lyric wins.
Jian: Not the guy who comes up with the best song that would sell a Bread album.
5. More than most bands, you're a synthesis of individuals. What does each of you bring to the band?
Murray: I bring an absurd sense of wordplay and rhyme.
Mike: I used to climb around the stage a lot. And now I'm just getting into the minds of the audience and climbing around. That's where I'd like to be.
Murray: Mike brings a very unorthodox writing style. He doesn't write songs like anybody has ever heard.
Jian: Me? Pop melodies and a firm belief in the show. That's The Show. A performer that knows no bounds.
Mike: And a lot of interesting politics.
Dave (who's 31): I bring the steadied, staid energy of a 65-year-old - the go-the-distance energy of an older man.
Jian: Dave sees a musical instrument, Dave buys, steals, borrows or gets real sheepy-eyed so that someone gives him said musical instrument, learns how to play it ... and bingo! It winds up in our music.
Jian: We're all to varying degrees guys who are interested in our community and our world.