It was simply a case of now or never.
When Moist vocalist David Usher contacted guitarist Mark Makoway and keyboardist Kevin Young about the prospect of re-launching the band after a 14-year hiatus, there was a sense between the trio that the timing was finally right to initiate a reunion.
“Both Mark and myself have young children and there was a sort of feeling that if we didn’t do it now, we’d never do it,” assessed Usher on the phone, taking a break from rehearsals in preparation for the band’s forthcoming national tour which kicks off at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax November 7th and concludes December 4th at the Hard Rock Casino in Vancouver.
“There had been conversations in the past about reforming to do some dates but it seemed that there was always something coming up with one of thus that prevented a reunion,” explained Usher. “So last summer, we finally agreed to do something and we did six shows around last Christmas, just to see if there was any interest. The shows were great, the audience was really into it and we all felt rejuvenated, getting back on stage to play the old songs.”
“We realized we had the opportunity to create new music and that opportunity would be lost if we didn’t act upon it so we went into the studio and within four days we had written nine new songs,” enthused Usher. “The last time we wrote material for a new album was `Mercedes 5 and Dime in 1999 but that was a very unhappy experience. This time, we’d come up with riffs and other ideas in Montreal and rushed into a studio in Toronto to record them. We recorded all the songs when they were fresh and we were excited about them. We didn’t want to over-analyze the songs; we wanted a sense of spontaneity.
Titled Glory under Dangerous Skies, their 12-song new release is the band’s fourth studio recording and is a reflection back on their debut 1994 Silver release which sold over 400,000 units. Usher explained that the record’s central theme is about the uncertainty of present times. “It seems like we are on a precipice of so many difficult things and we don’t know where the earth is going to turn right now. There’s a glimmer of hope that things will turn out fine and that we are at a turning point”. It’s a theme contained in other songs such as “Mechanical” (the band’s first single release), “Black Roses” (Moist’s second single release), “All Is Forgiven” and “Broken”
Universal Music are so excited about the project that Moist have been signed a major distribution deal with the multinational label, yet it was a move that made the band’s long time bassist Jeff Pearce decide he didn’t want to continue with the project.
“Jeff had played with us during the six-date reunion and he contributed to the recording sessions,” explained Usher. “But Jeff has a young family, he knows the commitment we have to make when we sign with a major label and it’s a commitment he couldn’t personally make.”
The result is the band has recruited new blood in the form of the `French Connection’ rhythm section of bassist Louis Lalancette and drummer Francis Fillion along with a second guitarist in Jonathan Gallivan to complement existing guitarist Mark Makoway, keyboardist Kevin Young and Usher whose distinctive vocals fuel the band’s trademark power pop sound.
“Having new blood in the band makes such a big difference,” acknowledged Usher. “Adding a second guitarist fills out our sound and having a new rhythm section just gives us new life. It’s great that we have new songs to play but having new players means that even our old songs sound new.”[quote]We realized we had the opportunity to create new music and that opportunity would be lost if we didn’t act upon it [/quote]
Usher is buzzed by the radio acceptance given the band’s first two singles; “Mechanical” and “Black Roses” and senses that at a time other 90’s bands like Big Wreck, The Tea Party and Our Lady Peace are also staging a comeback, the current industry environment is ripe for the band’s return.
Usher admits the band suffered through a bad patch after arriving on the scene in 1994 with an indie EP titled Silver which featured a single “Push” that received heavy airplay and major exposure on Much Music for the song’s stylish video before the band was even signed by Capitol EMI. Reissued as a full album, Silver achieved quad-platinum status (400,000 units sold) and generated two more hit singles in the title track and “Believe Me”.
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“That led to us spending like three years on the road, giving up our apartments and the experience took its toll on us,” explained Usher. “Our second album, `Creature’ in 1996 did okay (300,000 units sold) but I wanted to experiment and do my own solo record “Little Songs”. And by the time we came to do our third record `Mercedes Five and Dime”, we were struggling in the studio. Our hearts just weren’t in it.”
A back injury to original drummer Paul Wilcox, gave the band an excuse to take a break and when Usher left to rattle off seven more solo records, Moist, it seemed were on permanent hiatus. Yet Usher now claims his solo activities allowed him to clear away that experimental side of his nature and to refocus on a complete return to the band.
“Yes I’m pretty excited about it all,” he enthused. “There’s a rejuvenated feeling about the band. When we did those six shows last Christmas we had no idea how our audience would react but their positive response was a definer for us. They told us we had made the right decision to come back.”