[includes 6 photos: promo photo (circa YWGTM), cover of Live Noise, and 4 individual shots from Live Noise]
I have to confess right here at the beginning of this article that the catchy and clever title of this article was not my brainchild. The credit in fact belongs to Moxy Fruvous' guitarist, accordionist and punster David Matheson. At the conclusion of our recent interview in which Matheson had shown a calm and laid back demeanor, he queried if I had a title yet. When I responded "Er.no.why?", this unrepentant and irrepressible punster suggested with rapid fire wit, "How about Moxy Millionaires in 2020 or else The Full Moxy!!" I chose the later (thanks David), and so this article begins.
Along with David Matheson, the Fruvous four is comprised of Mike Ford (guitar, percussion), Jian Ghomeshi (drums, percussion, flute) and Murray Foster (bass). The quartet knew each other from attending the Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill (a suburb of Toronto), and from theatre classes in highschool, and also various musical projects. Jian and Murray had been in the band Tall New Buildings, Mike then joined to create The Chia Pets. In 1990 David completed the line-up for Moxy Fruvous. He explains, "We'd known each other since high-school and we found we had a common grain of humor." The four-some took to the streets of Ontario for some busking. From day one while performing on the corner of Bloor Street and along Toronto's Harborfront, Fruvous' music was catchy, improvised at the moment, drive by their 4 part harmony vocals, and a minimalist approach to instrumentation. Even then they drew large crowds with their antics.
Today, Moxy Fruvous is one of the most diverse, creative and successful Canadian bands. Their accomplishments include top ten singles and videos such as "King of Spain", "Stuck in the 90's", "My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors", "Fell in Love", "Down From Above", "Fly" and most recently "Get in the Car". Moxy were nominated for a Juno for Group of the Year in 1993. Fruvous have also enjoyed gold and platinum sales in their 6 album discography which contains "The Independent Cassette", "Bargainville", "Wood", "The B Album", "You Will go to the Moon", and their brand new just released CD entitled "Live Noise".
The "Live Noise" CD is the result of Moxy's sold-out American Tour that took place in the Fall of 1997. Recorded in New York, Philadelphia, and Buffalo, this is the first official live recording from the band. The CD brings the full Moxy Fruvous live experience right to the listener by including the band's trademark impromptu songs and spontaneous stage banter. David Matheson told me that "Live Noise will take you to the stage. You'll hear a lot of banter - which is an integral part of our show and which makes the crowd as well as each other laugh. It's a window into the relationship of our band." Matheson continues, "While we enjoy making records, playing live so different. It's the best experience. With Live Noise we get to do both!"
Live Noise contains fourteen songs including such favourites as "King of Spain", "Michigan Militia" and "Fly"; as well as covers of "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, and "Jockey Full of Bourban" by Tom Waits. The album also features "Kasparov vs. Deep Blue" where the band debates the merits of humans and computers, and a spontaneous song "Lowest High Point" which was inspired by a Trivial Pursuit card found in the band's dressing room. Live Noise is available on the Warner Music Canada label where Moxy Fruvous have signed and remained largely due to Warner Music's commitment to artistic freedom.
Moxy Fruvous still consider their live show to be the backbone of their success as a group, and anyone who has seen them perform is likely to agree. When Limestone Live caught up with David Matheson, it was just before another sold-out show in Cincinnati Ohio. Matheson was in great spirits. "Man I love touring. I love playing live. I get to see all the different parts of Canada and the States too." Moxy Fruvous have also toured in England, Scotland and Denmark. When asked about his favorite Moxy moments thus far, he responds; "There are so many, from us opening for Bob Dylan in 1993 at Massey Hall to us playing a gig with the Dixie Hummingbirds at the Arkansas Festival just a few days ago."
I asked David what he most wanted people to know about the Full Moxy. "I want people to know that there's a lot more to Moxy Fruvous than the King of Spain. I don't want us to be thought of as a goofy novelty act, or as an a cappella group. We play a wide palette of instruments these days, and our show has great variety - from satire and humor to straight ahead acoustic pop. All four of us our writers, and we cover a very broad musical spectrum."
Future plans for Fruvous include touring festivals and clubs until August when the band will take a short holiday before heading off on tour again. The next tour will find the group in Canada's West coast and also in the mid -Western United States. Matheson predicts the band will be back in the studio early next Spring. Matheson says he wants to keep the buzz and momentum going, and he hopes the following of fans (who call themselves Fruheads) will continue to grow. David also said that he is really looking forward to Moxy Fruvous' upcoming gig at Kingston's All Folks Festival. "We love playing all venues including the folk ones, and it will be cool to close the Kingston festival that night."
Moxy Fruvous are scheduled to play the main stage at Lake Ontario Park on Sunday, July 19th between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. for the All Folk's Festival. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the gate for the entire weekend, or $8 for a single day. You can get them at Brian's Record Option, Kingston Brewing Company, and Queen's Performing Arts Office at 545-2558.