Graham Reid | | 3 min read
When the Oregon-based garage-rock outfit Dead Moon called it quits 14 months ago after almost 20 years of raw recordings and impassioned live shows, you couldn't say the world stopped to mourn.
Exceptional though they were, Dead Moon -- fronted by Fred Cole with his wife Toody (bass) and drummer Andrew Loomis - had neatly sidestepped fame, even in the grunge years when record companies arrived in nearby Seattle ready to sign any band.
But once again fame went past singer-songwriter Fred Cole, now in his late Fifties. He started his long career in 1964 with the pop-rock band the Lords, then was in Deep Soul Cole, garage-rockers the Weeds, the Lollipop Shoppe (bubblegum pop-psychedelia), Zipper (hard rock), King Bee, the Rats (punk influenced), Western Front (old time country and rockabilly), the Range Rats (country) and then long-running garage band Dead Moon (1987-2006).
So while grunge roared across the globe, Dead Moon just kept going their own wilfully enjoyable way: they mastered their albums on the same lathe used by the Kingsmen for their classic 1963 recording of Louie Louie; released vinyl albums (in mono on their Tombstone label) long after CDs were common currency - and their biggest fans were outside their homeland, notably in New Zealand which they first toured as unknowns in 1992.
"Oh yeah, we played virtually every little town," laughs Toody from their home in Clackamas, a suburb of Portland.
"We did 19 shows in a few weeks and played everywhere that was a dot on the map.
"After that we had such an affinity for New Zealand we thought we had to go back.
"And we pretty much always have. I think this will be maybe our sixth time in New Zealand, I haven't kept track.
"But we are so looking forward to coming back, it is one of the most amazing places on the planet."
The reason for the Coles' return is that retirement didn't work out and in March last year they formed a new band, Pierced Arrows, with bassist Kelly Halliburton of the hardcore punk outfit Severed Head of State.
"We tried to retire, but you know how it goes. Two or three months down the line we thought, 'Ah that's what we thought we wanted but ... ' What can I say?
"At some point we thought we had to do something else, and we're not willing to give it up. Obviously. The first show was May 18, the anniversary of Mt St Helens [volcano] popping her cork so that was kinda cool."
Even Toody is uncertain as to why - after almost two decades of R&B-based garage rock, imagine the Stones in 63 morphed into the Stooges - Dead Moon played its final gig in November 2006.
"I guess we wanted to end it when it made sense and the doco DVD [Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story] came out in 2006, then Sub Pop did a double CD anthology Echoes of the Past. So it seemed like the right time.
"If we were ever going to end it we would do it on an up note.
"And we'd been dealing with people asking, 'How long can you keep doing this?' for a loooong time, trust me. And reasons seemed right at the time, but I dunno now.
"All I can say is we're now pumped up to come back and do a make-up tour after we had to cancel those New Zealand shows in 2006 - and we wanted to continue where Dead Moon stopped. Because we cancelled we feel we owe you guys, so we're looking forward to seeing everyone we know again.
"This new band [right] is a weird cross between what we were doing in Dead Moon and what we were doing in the Rats, and we're having a great time.
"The only two Dead Moon songs we're doing are Over the Edge and, because it's such an anthem for everybody, It's Okay.
"I think you can understand why we would do that, it's one song everybody needs to hear. And it is okay. Right?"