Sub Pop Press Release –
Clackamas, Oregon’s Dead Moon is truly one of the most independent and revered Northwest underground bands of all time. With Fred Cole on guitar and vocals, his wife Toody on bass and vocals, and the indefatigable Andrew Loomis on drums, Dead Moon have been churning out their own indescribable brand of rock and roll for nearly 20 years now. Their dedication and love for each other and what they do make it unlikely they will be stopping anytime soon.
Fred began his recording career in 1964 with The Lords, releasing the single “Ain’t Got No Self-Respect.” Fred’s next band The Weeds released a 7inch before being renamed The Lollipop Shoppe to avoid confusion with The Seeds (with whom they shared a manager). Their 1968 burner “You Must Be a Witch” was released by MCA subsidiary Uni Records and eventually landed on the first Nuggets anthology box set. The Lollipop Shoppe / Weeds configuration went on to play with the likes of The Doors, The Seeds and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin before disbanding in 1969.
Fred and Toody met in Portland in 1966 after The Weeds ran out of gas on their way to Canada where members of the band were planning to wait out the Vietnam War. They were married in 1967, and when The Lollipop Shoppe disbanded in 1971, the couple spent some time homesteading in the Yukon, briefly lived in LA and finally landed back in Oregon, just outside of Portland, in Clackamas.
In 1987, after years spent playing in and releasing records by a dizzying succession of bands, Fred and Toody recruited Andrew Loomis to play drums for a new rock and roll band that would be stripped to its rawest essentials: electric guitar and bass with no effects, simple, powerful drumming, and tough, impassioned vocals (from both Fred and Toody). A red moon Fred and Toody saw on the way home from one of their many trips to Reno spawned the name for the new band, and Fred’s desperate, intense and haunting lyrics fit perfectly. A new label was formed (Tombstone Records: “Music Too Tough to Die” and Dead Moon began releasing a slew of unforgettable home-recorded gems starting in 1988 with their first - the oft-covered “Parchment Farm” and “Hey Joe” followed closely by the “Don’t Burn the Fires” and the full-length “In The Graveyard”. Fred would cut the vinyl masters to nearly Dead Moon’s entire catalog with a birthday present from Toody: the same 1954 mono lathe used to cut the The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”
Over the next couple of years the band released 2 more LPs (Unknown Passage and Defiance) and 2 more 7â€s of staggeringly earnest, powerful, beautiful, anthemic songs. Tunes like “Dead Moon Night,” “54/40 or Fight,” “D.O.A.” “Dagger Moon,” “Walking on My Grave,” and “Black September” cemented the band’s sound and direction and gave them a framework of songs on which to base their tremendous live show. A candle shoved into a Jack Daniels bottle is the lone stage prop and lends the proceedings the feel of some sort of seance or ritual gathering. The group shares an embrace, a cigarette and a beer, and blaze through a set that is at once spiritual and uplifting, angry and defiant, celebratory and fun. In short, it’s everything that rock and roll is supposed to (and sometimes can) be.
As independent and self-reliant as the band is, they obviously couldn’t do it all alone. In 1990 the band began their longtime friendship with Hans Kestaloo, owner of the German label Music Maniac Records. Hans started putting out not only Dead Moon’s new releases in Europe but exclusive live and studio material not found anywhere else. He continues to do so today. He also brought the band over to tour and helped expose them to a bigger, more rabid group of fans than they had at home in the US. First introduced to Dead Moon through Greg Sage of the Wipers, Hans and Music Maniac have, in turn, introduced Dead Moon to many who have become part of their large extended family.
A flood of great music was released through Tombstone and Music Maniac on LP, CD & 7” over the next half dozen years with the band putting out singles on Sub Pop and Sympathy for the Record Industry, as well as tracks on numerous compilations. In 1997 Northwest label eMpTy Records began releasing their records in the States with the great live record Live Mono “ Hard Wired in Ljubljana” and put out their next two studio records Destination X and Trash and Burn.
While Dead Moon are certainly inspiring as a band they are equally, if not more so as people who live simply and take control of their direction with a kindness and sincerity spoken of by anyone who know them. The Cole’s independent DIY spirit is pervasive in everything they do: their band, their label, the home they built themselves largely using discarded materials, the western town of Tombstone they constructed and which houses their Tombstone Music store as well as their own general store.
Dead Moon’s most recent album, 2004’s Dead Ahead, was released domestically on Tombstone once again. As ever, they remain busy writing, touring the US and Europe, and are looking forward to the late 2006 DVD release of an amazing in-depth Dead Moon documentary entitled Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story. Echoes of the Past, is the best of Dead Moon as compiled by rock and roll legend and survivor Fred Cole, and we at Sub Pop are honored to be involved.
Rock on: The unusual success story of 'Dead Moon'
Foremost among rock 'n' roll myths is the one that it's not a suitable business for older men. Fred Cole, who had his first hit with 1965's "Poverty Shack," is still rocking hard at age 55.
In 1987, he started Dead Moon with his wife, Toody, and drummer Andrew Loomis. "Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story" is the saga of a misfit individualist who created his personal utopia on the outskirts of Portland, Ore.
Directors Kate Fix and Jason Summers begin by overdubbing snippets of obscure songs over archival photographs while narrating the highlights of Cole's early career. His bands, running the gamut from psychedelic bubblegum to punk rock, included The Weeds, The Lollipop Shoppe, Zipper and The Rats. In 1967 he married Kathleen "Toody" Conner, whom he eventually taught to play the bass because he was tired of bands breaking up over flaky bass players. (Editor's Note: Summers was misidentified in the original version of this story.)
" Seeing my mom and dad play rock 'n' roll in their 50s lets it be known that you're never too old to do what you love," says Weeden, one of the Coles' three children.
The film offers a background check on each member of the Cole family, as well as Loomis, who describes himself as having been a lost, wet kitten before Cole invited him into the fold. In high school, his literature teacher advised him that he "would be better off selling hot dogs on the corner than trying to get through school."
During a sweaty and intense "Dead Moon Night" at Belgium's Dour Festival, it becomes evident why the band enjoys such popularity in Europe. It's a stripped-down Led Zeppelin, born and bred in an American garage, playing music as if its life depended on it.
Fred Cole is an American success story for the new millennium. He built his own house and store, where he sells, repairs and invents musical instruments. Dead Moon has recorded and pressed 13 LPs and seven EPs in his home studio. When questioned by the filmmakers where he got the assets to build such an empire, he frugally replied, "We make $20,000 a year and spend $2,000 to live. The rest goes back into the business."
A 25th wedding anniversary ceremony in 1992 is a reminder that "Unknown Passage" is also a love story. Whether feeding nickels into a Keno machine for 72 hours or performing in the music-starved town of Bautzen, Germany, Fred and Toody Cole are a testament to the idea that life is all about the pleasure of the living.
Interview For Hi Mom Film Festival by Tom Laney, February, 2004
FC: Fred Cole
TL: Tom Laney
TL: So what’s it like to be the subject of a documentary? Did the experience sometimes feel invasive or was it usually fun?
FC: To tell the truth, I never really felt much was happening except having a conversation with Jason or Kate. It was all very low key and unintimidating. It amazed me to see how they put the whole thing together and it made sense. Most of the time I felt removed and would have to catch myself and think, whoa, that’s me! It’s probably the biggest compliment I’ve ever been paid, for someone to think my life has been interesting enough for others to want to know about it. It was way cool.
TL: What did you think of the finished film? Did it turn out differently than what you originally visualized?
FC: It’s like a history lesson for me and something I will always have to refer back to when I develop Alzheimers or complete memory loss. It was better than I hoped for!!
TL: Fred, you’ve been playing in vital bands for five decades now! What’s your secret? What inspires you to keep on rockin’?
FC: There has always been this inner drive that I don’t know where it comes from that has kept me on this road. I don’t know what it is but it has always been a very strong desire.
TL: Having shared the stage with so many other acts in the 60’s and beyond, do any bands come to mind that blew you away live but never got “discovered” by the music press?
FC: I think most got their just deserves, some more than others.
TL: I recently came across a quote from writer Richard Meltzer circa 1998:
“Nobody should be playing rock and roll anymore – no exceptions. It’s about as urgently needed…as making papier-mache frog masks. It was possibly once needed, but that was before it was everywhere…What we need now is to turn it off. What was once liberating has become irredeemably oppressive. It exists to make you stupid – like sitcoms or the news or college football or your parents, for crying out loud.” What do you think about his assertion?
FC: Someone asked me “do you think rock and roll is dead?” and I said “yes, rock and roll is Dead Moon!” I still feel that way.
TL: You’re getting ready to embark on another tour of Europe, where you guys seem to have a diehard following. How do you explain your popularity abroad? Do you think that the kind of music you play is “more urgently needed” in places where rock music is not as permeated, or do Europeans just have better taste in music?
FC: People have the same taste the world over. We are the kind of band that will never have mass appeal and don’t want that anyway. Hardcore fans rule, they stay with you!
TL: Could you briefly explain your preference for recording in mono?
FC: Toody bought me the disc cutter in 1987, a 1954 mono cutter. I used it on the 1st Dead Moon record and every one since, it’s lucky, just like Toody is for me. All my gear usually has one side out so in mono I still hear the whole thing, another reason why.
TL: The documentary reveals your affinity for nickel slot machines. Could you recount your most memorable gambling experience? Any major jackpots?
FC: I’ve since discovered penny machines, although I did play quarter machines once and hit a solid 7 spot on keno for $1200. Blew me away.
TL: Do you think you will ever release your Zipper material or Rats albums on CD?
FC: Zipper is on CD. Rats maybe down the line – a comp or something.
TL: You guys have always done your own artwork, put out your own records and managed every aspect of your music career. What advice do you have for musicians (and filmmakers) who are struggling to make it on their own terms?
FC: When you do it yourself, you have no one to blame but yourself if it’s not the way you want it, but it’s the ultimate satisfaction to have it turn out right and be able to see all your efforts paid off and the concept remained tru. You can’t beat that feeling!!!
Dead Moon Rockers Return as Pierced Arrows
Everyone knew Fred and Toody Cole couldn’t stay quiet for long.
By Brian J. Barr Wednesday, Aug 15 2007
Last May, at the Ash Street Saloon in Portland, Ore., Toody Cole and her husband, Fred, unveiled their new band, Pierced Arrows, marking the first time they had played live since the breakup of their legendary band, Dead Moon.
"We were hearing what everybody was saying: 'Oh, they're gonna retire,' or, 'Yeah, the next band's gonna be a country-and-western thing,'" says Toody. "But Mom and Dad aren't ready to mellow out just yet."
For 20 years, the Coles and drummer Andrew Loomis slogged through the underground, delivering unparalleled sets of ragged Northwest garage punk. And their strict DIY ethic and age (the Coles are nearing 60) made them role models to any-one disillusioned with mainstream standards.
But in November 2006, when Fred announced that Dead Moon were calling it quits, it felt like a huge defeat (Toody had been quoted as saying death would have to intervene to break the band up). In the months after, the Coles, who run Tombstone General Store in Clackamas, Ore., to supplement their modest music-generated income, also immersed themselves in renovating an apartment building they own in Portland. Meanwhile, Loomis joined a new band called the Shiny Things.
But anyone who knew the Coles knew they wouldn't stay down for long. "We came back from tour, and once we decided Dead Moon was over, we hung out for about three or four months," says Toody. "We thought we'd take a longer break, but Fred started getting antsy, and we both decided we wanted to do something else."
Shortly thereafter, the couple called up Kelly Halliburton. A former bass player for Defiance, Halliburton had first introduced himself to the Coles in Europe three years ago, saying he was the son of Gary Halliburton, a guy Fred had played with years ago in a short-lived Portland band. At the time, the younger Halliburton was living in Europe, but he had since moved back to Portland and occasionally touched base with the Coles.
"Fred called him up and said, 'Hey, do you wanna come play drums in this new band?'" says Toody. "Kelly says, 'Um, well, yeah, but I'm more of a bass player.' Fred says, 'Well, come on over and give it a shot.' Kelly says, 'OK, but I don't even have a drum kit.'" She bursts out into a raspy laugh. "So, we pretty much started from scratch. It's great though because he's not a perfect musician—and we sure as hell aren't, either."
At this point, one can count the number of shows Pierced Arrows have played on one hand. But Fred has already written enough new material to fill a 40-minute set. And from what Toody says, it sounds like a cross between Dead Moon and their previous incarnation as the Rats (which sounded a lot like Dead Moon).
A song called "In My Brain" has a swampy, bluesy, AC/DC vibe; while another is a ballad Toody sings set to a military drum march. A track called "Frankenstein" is more a straight-up punk-rock song, and a song Fred recently started working on, "Shea's," has a bit of a jazzy feel to it.
For live shows, Toody says, they've been practicing Dead Moon's signature number, "It's OK," to play "only every now and then, because it's kind of the anthem." But most exciting is the resurrection of "Over the Edge," a song Dead Moon played just once or twice, and the old Rats song "Burnside," which Halliburton had to download online because the Coles couldn't find a copy.
"It's weird; there's still a lot of Dead Moon in our sound," Toody says of Pierced Arrows. "But, you know, with someone new in the band, it's naturally gonna sound a little different. But Fred and I, the way we play isn't gonna change much.
"We should have our stuff pretty well together by the time we play Seattle," she adds. "We're still nervous as shit as a band, which is cool. It feels good to have that rush again."
with Kelly and Toody in Memphis