Tag Archives: Mooney Suzuki

Even More Fun with Forkast

Some recent good stuff from Forkcast:

Gruff Rhys – “Candylion” from Candylion, out now on Rough Trade. It’s the dude from Super Furry Animals. (fr0k)

The Ponys – “Poser Psychotic” from Turn the Lights Out, out now on Matador. (fr0k)

The Rakes – “The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect” from Ten New Messages out now in the U.K. (fr0k)

Ghostface Killah – “Chunky” from J-Love Street Savior Pt. 5, out now. (fr0k)

Dinosaur Jr – “We’re Not Alone” from Beyond, due May 1 on Fat Possum. (fr0k)

The Mooney Suzuki – “99%” from Have Mercy due due out June 19 on Elixia. (fr0k)

Previously: 1, 2, 3.

V2 Gets Dropped by Parent Co.

V2 Records has been “restructured.” Its parent company, Sheridan Square, fired V2’s 35 employees on January 12 and “will no longer issue new music” other than gospel. It will retain V2’s catalog which includes albums by the White Stripes, Grandaddy, Isobel Campbell, Jim White, Moby, Mercury Rev, and the Raconteurs.


V2 Records was started in 1996 by Richard Branson after he sold his Virign Records to EMI for a billion dollars. In November, 2005, Branson sold V2 “to create a relationship that keeps the V2 imprint in business.” Huh. Kept it in business for just over a year. Nice.

Think Branson will start a new label called V3? And what’s going to happen with the new Mooney Suzuki album, Have Mercy, that was supposed to be released on January 30?

The Mooney Suzuki: Substitute

How the mighty have fallenThe Mooney Suzuki at St. Andrew’s Hall

Detroit, July 8, 2004

Sammy James looked uncomfortable. Robbed of his trademark sunglasses, goosed up in an ascot and hippie paisley, and saddled with selling unheard songs to a halfhearted crowd, James was about as far from an electric sweat as a cool guy from New York could get. He was a prisoner inside his own muttonchops, and it was only the first song.

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Mooney Suzuki’s Souls Stolen by Satan

Switched at BirthIt was bad enough that Liz Phair had four of the fourteen songs on her new album written and produced by the Matrix, the team responsible for Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8ter Boi” and “Complicated.” But now Glorious Noise has discovered that one of our favorite rock and roll combos, the Mooney Suzuki, is currently recording with the Matrix as well! Please, someone tell us this is not true. That this is just some kind of internet rumor. Or at least tell us that once they hear the results, everyone will realize it was a ridiculous idea and scrap the tracks…

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Johnny’s Musical Memories, 2002

The Chinese lunar calendar declares 2003 will be the year of the goat. While this definitely portends danger for many musicians who are currently heroes or heroines in hearts of millions (Kelly Rowland should be very worried), let’s take a moment to look back on what the same calendar called the year of the black horse, 2002. Some musical highlights are described below. In the meantime, let’s all look forward to “American Idol 2”, “Joe Millionaire”, “Star Search: Live!”, “The Bachelorette”, and “Celebrity Mole: Hawaii”, which curiously features no actual celebrities. (Aside to Stephen Baldwin – It’s true. You’re not really a celebrity. Get a real job and leave us alone.)

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The Hives and Mooney Suzuki Remind You That Life Is A Gas

Johnny Loftus

It’s an all-ages 7:15 on a Wednesday night inside Chicago’s Metro. The Mooney Suzuki’s gear sits coiled on stage. A quick glance away from front-of-house, and you miss them: The Suzuki, four guys dressed like Batman villains who’ve suddenly appeared behind their instruments. The drummer is standing on his kit. And lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, Ben Stiller lookalike, and principle rabble-rouser Sammy James, Jr is strutting around the stage, pointing out potential rockers in the audience. The double-time beat drops, and all of sudden there are four guys on stage singing a song about today, about right now, about this moment, and it’s rock and roll. And you wonder: why isn’t this happening all the time?

To paraphrase the Suzuki, it’s a tough old world. A little bit is music, but the rest is hoops. But when rock and roll happens with the ferocity of what occurred at last night’s gathering of like-minded peppermint twisters, you wonder about when rock and roll will finally, completely, take over the world. It would replace parking tickets with concert tickets. Every day would be Saturday night. And no one would ever place a cover sheet over a TPS report again. This is the sort of world that the Mooney Suzuki and The Hives live in. Unfortunately, we can only stay for a short time – then it’s back to a world without black suits and white neckties.

New York City’s Mooney Suzuki didn’t invent the toe-tap, but if Sammy James said they did, you’d believe him. Because you can’t help but tap the toe or stomp the foot when James and his band downshifts into “Half My Heart,” or “Electric Sweat.” It’s the kind of rock music that the phrase “let your backbone slip” was invented to describe. Sure, 90% of it is two chords, and James’ lyric book consists mostly of “Alright!” and “Okay!” So what? No one ever said that rock needed to be complicated. That’s the great thing about the Suzuki or their nattily-attired counterparts in The Hives. They realize, like so many other rockers out there, that music might have been better when it was recorded in a two-track studio behind the five and dime. In many ways, the emergence of “The New Garage” is the popular awareness of this. The Hives’ “Hate To Say I Told You So” will sound better than the boring alternative crap that surrounds it on your local radio station because it doesn’t get in the way of itself with goofy production techniques or a goddamn flugel horn overdub. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re from Sweden.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you are now living in The United States of The Hives!”

Pelle Almqvist has just harangued the capacity crowd for the first time. By now it’s 9:15 at the Metro. The Hives are slated to finish their set by 10:00, so you imagine that Almqvist – tall, reminding some of a young (Swedish) Gram Parsons – better get on with it. But The Hives can play 50 songs in 45 minutes, and each one would snap your neck. So you can give Almqvist and his constant monologue a break. The lightbulb’d “HIVES” sign hanging before an enormous, black and white Stars and Stripes blinks on, and suddenly Nicholaus Arson is doing the robot with his Telecaster, heltering and skeltering until the angles that compose his body mesh with the sharp lines of The Hives’ take on 1960s mojo. Almqvist is climbing the light rig, his white leather topsiders gleaming in the blinking “HIVES” light. That “Whadjapay?” guy is pounding away at his white SG. And you find yourself and the crowd surrounding you to be in a united state of mind.

It’s a tough old world. Especially when it’s 10:30 and you’re standing outside the club, scratching your head. It’s disorienting enough to see rock and roll so early. But when the rock itself is of the world-shaking variety, what then? The Mooney Suzuki and The Hives present the soundtrack to that rock and roll Erehwon that dissolves upon contact with the outside pavement. Until rock and roll does take over the rest of our lives – when girls will always play lead guitar, nobody’s hair will be clean, and ascots’ll be back in fashion – we need rockers like these groups. We need them to remind us that our lives aren’t just about the lovers, buggers and thieves; that sometimes, even when the sets are short, we can jump off our observation deck into a world where rock and roll is king.


A Little Mind Distraction: The Mooney Suzuki

The Mooney Suzuki

Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL, April 1, 2002

If FUCK! Is the greatest and best word in the language of rock and roll, then YEAH! Is undoubtedly riding shotgun. Monday night, the Mooney Suzuki got enough mileage out of the affirmation to re-write rock and roll history. (For at least a little while).

I feel alright!


I feel alright now!


Dressed as they were like spies from K.A.O.S., I half expected to see Agent 99 doing the swim in the back of the club. As Suzuki ringleader Sammy James, Jr pinwheeled like Pete Townshend, squalls of Technicolor distortion peeled out of Graham Tyler’s vintage rig, and for 45 nonstop, pogo’ing minutes, New York City’s Mooney Suzuki made rock and roll fun again. Handclaps. Goofy stage moves. Tributes to the electric guitar. All present and accounted for. At one point, after another in a jackhammering series of rave-up rockers had ground to a halt, it seemed like maybe — maybe — everyone in the club was having too much of a gas, shouting out choruses and returning Tyler’s upraised “#1!” salute. Then James asked how many rockers had been at the Suzuki’s Chicago appearance the previous year, and negative thoughts were trampled by 200 upraised fists.


On Monday night at the Bottle, every punchline in the Garage Rock Jokebook was torn out, wadded up, flattened out, and re-taped into the book as a brand new laugh. 35-year-old riffs sounded like, well, 35 years ago. I think I left the gig with every song on Nuggets stuck in my head at once. It’s the classic story. The tenets of rock and roll — balls, soul, rhythm, blues, and melody — are reconstituted by a band with the right amount of chemistry, chops, and looks. They tour. Hard. And when they get to your town, they make those Hanna-Barbera, “We’re the Way-Outs, WAY-OUTS!” riffs and yelps sound like gold to you. Yeah, it’s been done before, blah blah blah. But if acting like a Rocker — and backing it up with the goods — is really as fun as the Mooney Suzuki makes it look, it’s not clear to me why anyone at last night’s happening went back to their day jobs this morning.

New York City’s Cavestomp! Festacular is at the eye of a 60s Psychedelia/Garage hurricane. Grease-trap legends like The Standells and The Monks have rocked its stages. Last year, those guys asked the Mooney Suzuki to show up. See, it’s not a tribute. The Suzuki’s riffs are only continuing what “Dirty Water,” “Complication,” and the ascerbic outro to Paul Revere & The Raiders’ “Just Like Me” began. That’s rocking, rolling, Rhythm & Blues music, built out of scrap parts and re-tooled into shiny two-and-a-half minute blasts of melody.


The Mooney Suzuki travel in their time warp on a spaceship called Estrus Records. The Bellingham, WA-based label is like Black Death Vodka or Little Kings, fucking up people the right way for years and years. Its bands — The Mono Men, The Makers, The Immortal Lee County Killers — belong to a rock and roll tradition that sees a purer line between itself and its heroes. Luckily, what many of these rockers lack in originality, they make up for with fury and an open hi-hat. People Get Ready, The Mooney Suzuki’s 2000 debut, appeared on Estrus to tremendous acclaim, and the boys backed it up with a year of straight touring. Bring it to the people, you know. Now, you knew this story had to eventually lead to Detroit. And sure enough, in August of 2001 the band entered Jim Diamond’s Ghetto Recorders in the D to lay down tracks for Electric Sweat (released on the new NYC imprint Gammon). Chances are the Mooney Suzuki’s particular brand of fraggle rock is coming to your town soon. And chances are, its cache of Motor City rocket fuel, NYC swagger, and Garage Rock melody will win over the hearts, minds, and blue suede shoes of the rockers in your town. (For at least for a little while.)