What a crappy day Jian Ghomeshi is having. The Moxy Früvous drummer/flautist has gone through an experience he'd just as soon forget. Ghomeshi was recently asked to go on a panel talk show called Not Just the News, and it didn't exactly go as planned.
"I think I fucking sucked," says the cerebral musician. "I'm terrified of it airing. It's a show about wrapping up the weekly news, and I didn't know it was supposed to be satirical. It just degenerated into me telling stupid jokes."
But the jokes, or at least the one he repeats, were funny. There was something about Monica Lewinsky wearing a dress from the Gap, a store representative of youth, and how Bill Clinton ejaculating all over it was rather symbolic and a metaphor for life. I've heard worse.
Had Ghomeshi known the format, he would've killed-Moxy Früvous (David Matheson on guitar/accordian, Mike Ford on guitar/percussion, Murray Foster on bass and Ghomeshi) centres on satire. Back in their early days, the band used to busk on the streets of Toronto, where they began to hone the skill of improv-and it's continued to this day.
"Everything makes fodder for Moxy Früvous," says Ghomeshi. "We tend to be less conscious of what we're satirizing. It's a reaction; just reacting to anything in the room."
Live disc more work
The band's latest CD, Live Noise, showcases something Moxy Früvous has never been able to capture on tape. The recordings consist of material taken from six shows (played in Philadelphia, New York and Buffalo) of an American tour. They were able to pinpoint that unique sound and interaction with the audience that would simply be impossible to do in the studio. While most bands do a live disc to ease the workload between releases, Ghomeshi says that the irony of Live Noise is that they never worked so hard on editing and mixing.
"If you mix a live disc too well, it doesn't sound live," he says. "Some of the songs we actually were too good, so we had to work at picking out material and getting the crowd noises. It's the first disc that we've ever made where, six months after, we still all think it's great."
More than most bands, Moxy Früvous are at their complete best with an audience in front of them. There's almost a theatrical element to a show that consists of much more than groovy, satirical pop music. Ghomeshi and his pals always have something to talk about.
"The banter is a big part of it," he says. "There's a spoken mantra that says you'll see a show that no one has seen and no one will ever see. People recognize that we do spontaneous things. Sometimes we fall on our faces, but people dig it-even when it's crap, people think it's amazing."
Variety is the spice of Früvous
Ghomeshi says he doesn't understand how bands can do the same thing all the time-that would be too much like work for him. Moxy Früvous, on the other hand, has been able to keep it fresh and exciting, while still maintaining dignity. According to Ghomeshi, there were never any allusions or illusions, on the band's part, about becoming pop stars. For that reason, underground success has been more satisfying then mainstream recognition.
"At the end of the day, we take home the idea that we'll never be a status-quo group," say Ghomeshi. "Even calling ourselves Moxy Früvous was a fucking marketing nightmare. The underground success is gratifying and exciting because in Canada, when we were commercially acceptable, it was at odds with who we were."
When it comes down to it, the musical hybrid we know as Moxy Früvous are just four friends busking. The only difference from the present and their humble beginnings is that the street corner is now an indoor stage and the money that came from passers-by now comes from a record label. Oh yeah, they also get to go on TV to tell Monica Lewinsky jokes.