|From Melody Maker, February 23, 1991|
If the mainstream history of rock'n'roll is based around chapters on groups like the Beatles, the Stones, and The Who, and the alternative on consists of, say the Velvets, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, then North London's MOOSE derive their unusual melodic sense from a lifetime's exposure to the alternative alternative icons: Alex Chilton, Laura Nyro, Todd Rundgren, Tim Buckley, Gram Parsons, Brian Wilson.
"The fact that we're not 18 helps," says 26-year-old bassist Jeremy, joining the MM and his Moose-mates for a spot of hero-worshipping and namedropping in a Camden pub. "We can go a lot further back than most groups."
"We've had a chance to make someone like Laura Nyro part of our lives, because we've lived with her music for years," add guitarist Kevin, who is studying French at the North London Polytechnic.
"We like great tunes," decides token Mancunian, Damien, the band's drummer and, at 23, easily the youngest in Moose.
"Chord changes--that's what those two are about," says Jeremy, pointing at Moose songwriters, Kevin and singer/guitarist Russell, both of whom are 28, and met while attempting to exorcise their obsession with pop by working in a West London record shop.
"All our songs are written on an acoustic 12-string guitar, then electrified," says Kevin, making the point that a Moose track would stand up in its barest form as a great piece of music, without the need for studio trickery to enhance it. Russell goes on to suggest that, of all the groups in recent years, only the Pixies, R.E.M., The Cocteau Twins, Ultra Vivid Scene and My Bloody Valentine have come up with the kind of classic material that is built to last as long as The Greats.
Moose belong to a lineage themselves, but it's not one they're particularly proud to be a part of: the post-Valentines dynasty (arguably Slowdive, Boo Radleys, Chapterhouse, etc). Are the comparisons that have been made on the basis of Moose's dozen or so gigs thus far the result of journalistic license or laziness?
Damien: "It's journalists being lazy."
"Yeah, but bands can be lazy as well--they've just got to try harder if they sound like someone else," reasons Russell who, along with the others in the group, are old and wise enough not to have any of the irritable, defensive snappiness that afflicts so many younger outfits. "As far as Moose are concerned, any similarities to other groups are purely accidental.
"We write love songs, blue ones, melancholy ones. But we know love isn't always soft and sad, it's not always easy. We write about the dark side of love. Our songs give us confidence, really. Are we as good as our heroes? We take what's brilliant about them, and mould them to our needs. We're second generation genius, sons of pioneers."
Moose eponymous debut EP is released on Hut at the end of February.