Monday Sept. 21
It seems to be a media obsession to pigeonhole product and performer, so when it comes to the chameleon-like presence of Moxy Fruvous, the mainstream establishment just appears confused.
"We keep changing," agreed one-fourth of Fruvous, Murray Foster. "I think we want to. We want to stay true to who we are and what we are excited about."
Which is great for some fans and perhaps not so for others. Many will always think of Moxy Fruvous as the a capella streetbuskers doing that funny Green Eggs and Ham thing. To others, they'll always be known as that quirky, Canadian, folk-rock band singing about the King of Spain. But that's not how they see themselves, nor how they want to remain.
Unfortunately that independent way of thinking has left the band in the outback of airplay on the nation's radio and music television stations.
"It certainly has made us hard to program," conceded Foster. "If people aren't thinking of us as a wacky a capella band, then they're scratching their heads about our newer stuff, saying, 'this isn't the band I thought it was.' I think you limit your fan base a little bit when you're complex or, at least when you're wide-ranging in your sound."
Which isn't such a bad thing. Sometimes, it's cool to appeal to those who'll shop on Whyte Avenue instead of the Eaton Centre. Which might explain the band's current appeal south of the Canada/US border. In fact, their latest album - a live effort entitled Live Noise - was recorded in various locations around northeastern USA.
"We haven't played as much in Canada as America over the last three years," explained Foster. "We're following where the excitement for the band is." (In fact, the current tour, which brings Moxy Fruvous to the Sidetrack Monday, Sept. 21, is the band's first foray west of Winnipeg in about two years.)
Though their success in the States hasn't yet reached People magazine status, that cult success thing is just as cool. "There are many things that go into how a band is perceived, and one of them is how the audience member - the fan - hears about them. If you hear about Moxy Fruvous from a friend of yours who says, 'you've just gotta hear this CD I just picked up,' you'll think that band is a lot cooler. You'll sort of own that band a lot more than if you see them on MuchMusic or MTV, if they're already a discovered thing.
Live Noise could be looked at under a lot of different lights. It's a reflection of where Fruvous has been, much like Rush likes to turn every fourth album into a live look back. It also gives the band some time between studio efforts.
"It was the time for it," is how Foster tried to explain the album's existence, but, "partly, it provides a stopgap between studio stuff. It also allows you to release an album and not do any work."
Or so they thought. It turned out to be a lot of work, hauling recording equipment all over the American northeast then digging through a mountain of tape and fighting among themselves when it came down to which songs and in-between banter to include.
"I think it was a product of our democracy. We're sort of a four-headed beast, and all of our decisions tend to be very democratic."
The album also contains no overdubs. Being primarily a vocal group, the focus, you'd think, would be to be pitch-perfect. But through a combination of performer machismo - "we can sing well enough live that we don't really need to" - and the magic of the studio mixing process - "if things were really wonky, we would just bury them in the mix" - they decided too much studio fudging of the live sound would have defeated the album's purpose. That purpose is to satisfy fans who've been complaining the studio albums weren't live enough.
"There's a lot of energy and rawness to be gained from a little bit of wonky tuning."