A pic of Katie and Dave talking
A pic of Katie's Thornhill review
Hailing from Toronto, Moxy Fruvous is a band of skilled song writers and energetic performers who've been entertaining across Canada and the United States since their first release, 1993's "Bargainviile." The lyrics are as challenging and diverse as the music, from witty to sincere, from capricious to political, all blended with a sense of cunning, intellectual fun. Add in some soaring four-part harmony and unanticipated instrumentation, and you have just scratched the surface of this remarkable ensemble. The band's latest album, "Thornhill," was released last month in the United States.
I caught up with Jian Ghomeshi and Dave Matheson of Moxy Fruvous a couple of weeks ago at the Philadelphia Polk Festival in Schwenksville, and the two of them were kind enough to sit down for a few minutes during separate interviews. I should note that Jian has a sarcastic sense of humor and advise you not take what he says in the wrong light.
Katie - What's the background of Moxy Fruvous?
Jian - We met at a soccer game; Murray [Foster, bass] and I were semiprofessional soccer players. Dave and Mike [Ford, guitar] were the people who bring sliced oranges to games. I guess we turned them on by how well we played soccer, and they said, hey can we be friends? Murray and I were a little sheepish at first because, if you've seen Mike and Dave, they are a couple of unsavory looking characters, but we said sure. We all played instruments and decided to start busking on the streets by just singing for fun.
Dave - We all grew up in the same suburb in Toronto, Thornhill, and we all went to the same high school. Mike and I played in a duo called the Graduates. Murray and Jian were in a funk band. So we worked in various fermentations in high school, but it wasn't till after that we decided to get together and play on the streets for fun. It was just a hobby that grew steam.
Jian - Actually after high school, Mike, Murray and I started a cover band called the Chia Pets. Then one night, Dave came out and jammed with us. (Singing... ) Then it was much more than a hunch, that this group would somehow form a family and that is how we all became the Fruvous bunch.
Katie - How did you come about your name?
Jian - It is Latin for Bucks County
Katie - Who are some of your musical influences?
Jian - Mine are the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Neil Young, Crosby Stills, Nash and Young, The Who, Zep, basically everyone you would expect. Mike loves French folk music. Dave is a real jazzer. He also likes Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, the Rolling Stones and lots of folk musicians. Mike and I are both into musical theater As a matter of fact, we've both written full length musicals. Murray only has one influence, Thomas Dolby So he brings that element.
Katie - What is the best thing about being on tour?
Dave- Getting into your bed at night and getting those extra channels you don't get at home, and receiving a clean towel.
Jian - Definitely "Mork and Mindy" reruns at three o'clock in the morning. After a long hard night of performing and meeting people, you want to come home and be stimulated. Actually it's meeting amazing people. I've learned a lot from it.
Katie - What are the low points to being on tour?
Jian - "Mork and Mindy" reruns at three in morning. It is a real grind. It is a 24-hour-a-day job. It's very hard to feel grounded and not feel disconnected. Sometimes you feel like an entity that exists day to day rather than an actual person.
Dave - The low points are driving 16 hours and then having to get up for an early morning radio show. Having very little time to yourself is hard, and sometimes you feel dirty from sitting in a van for a long time with the same guys.
Katie - Do you guys ever get annoyed by each other?
Jian - Totally , I'm generally a good-natured chap, but the other three guys can be real punks. Murray has a tendency to chew, I think he's still teething. When he gets mad, he'll try to grab a part of you and chew on it. Mike just beats you with a stick
Dave - Surprisingly not at all. We've learned to deal with each other and create the space we need to feel OK. We've known each other so long, we've been through it all.
Katie - Do you get aggravated by the fans constantly following you around?
Dave - On very rare occasions, if you are in a really crabby mood, but not usually, We really appreciate people liking us. It's pretty lucky position to be in. It's a gift that somebody wants to get your autograph.
Jian - I'm generally flattered that people like us enough to do that. However, it can get a bit overwhelming. It's hard to be on your best behavior all the time. If someone meets you for two minutes, they'll base their entire opinion on you for the rest of their lives on how you treated them. It's a difficult standard to live up to constantly.
Katie - What's the strangest thing a fan ever said to you?
Dave - Who plays the instruments on your album?
Jian - There's been some weird ones, we've got pretty weird fans. One fan wondered if I would go away with her. She had it all planned out, she even had the tickets. It was a little overwhelming.
Katie - What do you do to prepare for a show?
Dave - Drink lots of water, warm up the body do a little playing. Basically keep your energy focused all day so you don't get tired out by the time you go on.
Kate - Where do you get inspiration for songs from?
Jian - Usually personal experiences or something I find particularly interesting. I've always been inspired by Ani Difranco. I've known her for years and still, when I see her perform, am blown away. She's doing things I really believe in doing.
Dave - Trying to make a contribution to my fellow human beings. It's very inspiring to see others make a connection with you.
Katie - What do you think the secret to your success is?
Dave - Hard work.
Jian - Partly charisma, and partially good looks. We're just really good looking guys. It doesn't matter what kind of music we play it is all about how we look. Three of us have really good butts. So I think that's what the men and women who get into the band are excited about.
Katie - If you could meet any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
Jian - There are some musicians I would love to meet that I just don't think would be very nice to me. Despite that, probably David Bowie.
Dave - It would have to be the drummer Roy Haynes. He seems like he has a nice balanced life and loves the music. I wouldn't want to meet Keith Jarret because he's so talented, too musical, too screwed up.
Katie - Your latest album, "Thornhill," has a different sound to it compared to the other albums you have recorded. How do you think it plays a role in your evolution as a band?
Dave - It's fun having a long career because you're allowed to be yourself if you choose to. For this album, we just threw out a bunch of songs and said, these songs go together and these don't. So we did an album of the ones that went together, instead of trying to throw everything out, which we have often done before.
Jian - This is more of a band record. It is less of an elective record, and its more cohesive. The satire and the lyrics run a little deeper I think this is very much an evolution of a lot of what we've worked for to get where we are. I'm really proud of the songs on this record. It is a very strong record in my opinion.
Katie - How do you think the face of music has changed since you first became a band?
Dave - There are a lot more people making music in a professional way then there were years and years ago. The aspects of selling it are evolving. It is quite a competitive and difficult business to be in.
Jian - When we first started, it was a very difficult time for bands like ours because of the emerging grunge music became the status quo. Fruvous falls into several different categories but in terms of contemporary rock music, that heavy sort of suicidal disturbing grunge rock is almost the antithesis of what we are. However, I think it is almost going full circle now The kind of music we play is becoming more popular now Even those bands, like Green Day are doing acoustic songs now Certainly from my prospective, folkier music or acoustic music is becoming more popular with young people.
Katie - What tips do you hare for bands trying to break into the music scene?
Dave - Make sure you are having a lot of fun with what you are doing because that will make it easier to work really hard.
Katie - What are your plans for the future?
Jian - We are going to do a big North American tour all through the fall and probably into the New Year
Dave - We're just going to keep on doing what we're doing, playing to people, meeting people, and all that good stuff.