The MichiganDaily - Weekend etc. - Tuesday, February 17, 1993 - 5
'Not born in the U.S.A.: Moxy Fruvous
By TOM ERLEWINE
When it comes right down to it,
there's never been a Canadian Inva-
sion of America. Sure, there have
been a number of fine bands from the
Great North - from Neil Young and
ost of the Band to Bryan Adams and
e Guess Who -but that's only four
in the history of popular music. Now
that we're into the '90s, things might
change. We're currently experienc-
ing the appalling success of the ex-,
ceedingly smarmy Crash Test Dum-
mies, but more importantly, the Ca-
nadian sensation Moxy Fruvous has
just released their first album,
"Bargainville," and have begun their
*st U.S. tour, opening for former
Haircut 100 member Nick Heyward.
Quite frankly, Moxy Fruvous are like
no other band in popular music. Equal
parts pop, folk, comedy and theater,
Fruvous sound like Mark Russell
fronting the Kingston Trio with origi-
nal songs co-written with Paul
McCartney. In short, Fruvous are not
even close to being a normal, MTV-
friendly rock 'n' roll band.
"What we do is quite different
from the status quo," explained Jean
Ghomeshi, drummer and vocalist for
the quartet. "I usually just say we're
sort of a neo-vaudevillian hybrid of
musical theater and political satire
and folk music and pop music. The
only funny thing about being called a
pop group is that we're not exactly the
kind of group that lands in America
and has commercial hit radio written
all over us. We've gone platinum in
"Bargainville" was released six
months ago in Canada; since then,
Moxy Fruvous have not only gone
platinum, but have had several radio
hits and packed concert halls across
the country. "The fact that we've gone
platinum shouldn't make you think
that we're a huge radio band,"
Ghomeshi clarified. "I think we went
platinum despite of radio . We do
get played on the radio now in Canada
and it's funny because as late as a
couple of years ago we were still
busking in the streets. If you were
going to come up to me and say,'You
guys are going to be considered a pop
band in a couple of years,' I would
have collapsed in laughter."
Indeed, Moxy Fruvous have not
followed the expected path to star-
dom. While in college three years
ago, the band got together not be-
cause they wanted to change the course
of pop music, but because they wanted
to have some fun. "I don't think it was
originally intended to be anything,"
remembered Ghomeshi. "We were
four guys who sort of knew each other
before, then three and a half years ago
we all got together, and we all played
different instruments and we decided,
'Why don't we just start by singing.'
We didn't have any sort of agenda but
we had a general antipathy for the
general status quo.
"Besides that, it was completely
reflective of our interests. A couple of
us are really interested in politics, so
there's political satire in the set.
There's amusical theater background
in the group, there's a folk back-
ground in the group and these things
just develop. I would even go further
to say one thing that is interesting
about this group is that never at any
point did we come together with the
thought, 'Let's form a band and try to
score a big record deal and try to
become rock stars.' So it's kind of
ironic we're landing in America for
the first time on Atlantic Records."
For a band that didn't care about
stardom, Moxy Fruvous' rise to the
top of the Canadian charts has been
very smooth. In the fall of 1990, a
radio executive spotted them busking
(entertaining in the street, pub or sub-
way) and had them perform during
the drive-time show. A year later,
they began playing indoor dates; a
year after that, their first cassette was
released and they found themselves
opening for the likes of Bob Dylan,
Bryan Adams and Extreme. In the fall
of '92, the Fruvous were voted Best
New Central Canadian Group in the
CASBYs, the Canadian equivalent of
the Grammys. Finally, in 1993, their
debut album was released to enthusi-
Now, the Moxy Fruvous are set to
conquer America. They have only
played a few dates in the U.S. so far
- a couple in New York and one for
the prestigious National Public Radio
show, "Mountain Stage." "It's pretty
wild being here," marveled Ghomeshi.
"It's like on your Etch-A-Sketch -
you've cleaned the screen and you're
starting again. People don't know us
here, and that's a real challenge and I
think that's very good for our group."
Fortunately, their tour offers
American audiences a true, complete
picture of the deceptively goofy, yet
complex, band. "I think that one of
the really strong things about the
group, if I were to identify our fortd,
is probably our live show," said
Ghomeshi. "To a large extent, it's
important for people to see the live
show, I think, to really get it. It's
always flattering when somebody
hears 'Bargainville' and falls in love
with the group, but I think for Fruvous
virgins to really get it, they need to see
us live because it all comes together
- there's theatrics, there's the four
guys in-your-face singing. I think
that's something we want to use tele-
vision and video to convey."
Some Canadian critics have won-
dered iftheirhumoris too regional for
the audience in the States, but the
band isn't worried at all. "We have
written some Canadian satire," ex-
plained Ghomeshi, "and some people
in Canada have said, 'Are people go-
ing to get this in the States?' As if
we're going to the moon or some-
thing. I mean, it's a different culture
in many ways but I think we're going
to do just as well in the States. What
we plan to do is keep writing. What
we have our core songs we perform
- the songs on'Bargainville' - but
we are always writing satirical songs
and catering some song during the
show - a little bit of the show is
always improv and we always cater
some lyrics - we write a song the day
before or a few hours before the show
about where we are playing. We just
wrote a song about Rush Limbaugh
and we played it on'Mountain Stage,'
the NPR show, and they freaked, they
really liked it and we're going to be
playing it quite a bit on the road."
Moxy Fruvous' quest for sponta-
neity and humor means that they're
not for everyone's taste, but they have
managed to win over the vast popula-
tion of Canada. Hopefully, American
audiences will be receptive to their
pretty, endearing, satirical pop.
MOXY FRUVOUS will be opening
for Nick Heyward and Flop at St.
Andrew's Hall in Detroit this
Sunday, February 20. Call 961-
MELT for details.
- $ 00 BUIE
FRIDAY SATURDAY ALL
OWE Trinidad Tripoli
O s g STEEL BAND
Tica and Regan keep a look out for all
the latest hits from Liberty Street Video.
Moxy Fruvous (Michael Ford, Murray Foster, Jean Ghomeshi and David Matheson) have a platinum album in Canada.
ealth Issues and Answers These questions were taken from the Computer Health Information Program on MTS.
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