The four charming, funny, well-read, talented, chess-playing, spontaneous and Canadian guys of Moxy Fruvous battled for months over the 23 songs that made the final cut on Live Noise, their live album released this week.
The debate wasn't always about the songs themselves, but what was going on between the songs.
"We equivocated a lot about putting all the banter and improvisation in there," admits lead singer and percussionist Jian Ghomeshi. "It seems a little non-traditional, against that 'albums are for music,' thing.
"But as undefinable as Moxy Fruvous is, it's good to have an album that we can show to people and say, 'Here, this is what we sound like.' "
Hear this popular band in all of its accordian-and-banjo, smarting-off glory for yourself tomorrow in the Highland Bowl during the Lilac Festival. We asked Ghomeshi what clues could be drawn from Live Noise's song list.
• Kasperov vs. Deep Blue, a three minute debate about the Russian grand master losing a chess series to a computer. "That was from a live show at MIT last year," says Ghomeshi. "And it was recorded at Geek Central, with all of these technocrats in the audience who, quite frankly, enjoyed this debate about chess more than the music. I just think the whole debate was so overblown, with people worrying that Deep Blue won the game. I mean, machines are putting people out of jobs all over the country, and they're worrying about a chess game?"
• Jockey Full of Bourbon, an old Tom Waits song. "We're big Tom Waits fans. Back in 1990, before Moxy Fruvous was even formed, we called ourselves the Chia Pets, and we did that one."
• Boo Time. "The jazzy kind of version we were doing is different than the album version. It's one of those songs where you can really hear us connect with the audience. I've Gotta Get a Message to You (from You Will Go to the Moon) is like that because it's different from the album version. We wanted to show different sides of Moxy Fruvous, so we used songs where different instruments would be showcased. We wanted funny stuff, serious stuff, fast stuff, and slow stuff."
• Psycho Killer, the old Talking Heads song. "We liked the recording of it. It communicated some of the edge and the rocking we can do."
• My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors, about a relationship hindered by a woman's intense reading list. Anything autobiographical in that one, Jian? "There's never anything autobiographical in songs."
Well, maybe all that will help define this undefinable band. Maybe not. Moxy Fruvous' next project is writing a full-length musical, and we learn as much as anything from one of the titles the band considered, then abandoned: Volkswagen! The People's Car--a Musical Study of the Chronology.
What: Moxy Fruvous, with Linda Rutherford & Celtic Fire, Into the Now and the Riff Monsters.
When: 1 p.m. tomorrow.
Where: The Highland Dowl, at South and Reservoir avenues.
Tickets: $10 advance, $13 the day of the show, available from Ticket Express, 100 East Ave. (222-5000 or 800-722-3939).
Free Preview: Moxy Fruvous also performs a free show at noon tomorrow at Record Archive, 1880 East Ave. Call 244-1210.