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xmag.com : October 2004: Dead Moon For President



Fred Cole, lead singer of Dead Moon, relaxes on the groady couch in the Ash Street's cave-like green room. "Fuckin' ridiculous, gettin' this old. Just fuckin' ridiculous." "Who would've thought," seconds Toody, his pistol-hot wife of almost forty years and grandmother of his seven grandchildren.

They're headlining the closing night of Music Fest Northwest, playing their last Portland show before they jet off to Europe. Drummer Andrew Loomis pops in briefly, resplendent in a red and black pimp ensemble, to score coveted VIP passes for his lovely wife and mother. The rest of the extended family--all of Portland--waits downstairs.

Dead Moon is Portland. No other band has influenced the Portland scene as much, no Portland band's influence reaches further, no Portland band is as hard working. Or hard rocking.

Dead Moon shows are always packed with the faithful--old

Portland rock luminaries brush up against slumming hipsters trip over pretty newbies get photographed by Stephen Malkmus. Penniless street punks hang out outside, listening to the quintessential sound of Portland. It's a rebel yell.

Fred and Toody are fifty-seven years old. On average they play ONE HUNDRED shows a year. Every year they play more shows to bigger audiences. Europe can't get enough of them. They are, in a word, primal. The otherworldly wail of Fred's guitar and voice, Toody's Patti-Smith-like incantations and her cover of "Paint It Black," her loud throbbing bass and Loomis's brutal drumming... these are among the most beautiful sounds I know. Sounds like home.

Fred Cole started penning seminal songs in his late teens; forty years later he knows what the fuck
he's doing.



VIVA: You're all from the Northwest, Fred's from Tacoma...

Toody: And Andrew and I are both from Portland.


VIVA: What do you think is special about this area? What inspires you here?

Fred: The wilderness of it all. You can go five minutes out of the city and really visualize what it was like for Lewis and Clark to come through and see Oregon for the first time, all the fuckin' trees and shit. Being this close to Mt. Hood and the national forests and all the rivers we have, it really gives you the perspective of a pioneer.

Toody: There's nothing like it. The other thing that always hits me, besides the pioneer thing, is that Portland, ever since I can remember, back in high school, has had such a great, viable music scene. I took it for granted until I went other places and realized just how special it is. And the fact that Oregon has always been an incredibly independent state.

Fred: It's got a creative feel to it. Everyone here is really creative. It's amazing. I don't know if it's in the water or the air or the rain or nature....


VIVA: It's stubbornly creative. And I see Portland now as being very inspired by you. At your shows you see old people, young people, fuck ups, straights, everybody. I feel that Dead Moon, as citizens, have given tirelessly of yourselves and your time and that you should run for President.

Toody: Well, this town has given us so

much it's unbelievable, too. This is home. We've traveled everywhere and there's no place like home. This is it.


VIVA: I guess we should know your platform. You seem pretty pro-family values, having been married almost forty years...

Toody: Thirty-seven.


VIVA: What do you think about gay marriage?

Toody: I think that relationships are enough of a bitch; if you find your soul mate, that's great! It's such a small percentage of the population that ever do and it's something that everybody's looking for.

Fred: I have never been able to understand why, when people aren't hurting somebody else, they have to get fucked with. It's so hard for people to be happy, and I don't really give a fuck whether it's smoking or whatever. They say that second-hand smoke is killing people, but I doubt it. If people don't like it, don't go to bars! They should have bars that are smoker bars and bars that are non-smoking bars. If you're not into being gay, then don't be gay! If you are, fuck! Who cares?

Toody: It's like pick your poison! No matter how much Americans want to believe that they're not gonna die, we all are. So, just make the journey as enjoyable as possible and do what works for you! And what works for me isn't necessarily gonna work for you or Joe Blow down the block. As long as you don't force what works for you on me, I'm fine with it.


VIVA: What are your poisons?

Fred: We joke all the time about what gamblers we are, but we play penny Keno machines and we never get hurt by it. Sometimes we end up making a lot of money, but it all evens out.

Toody: Usually it's just entertainment and you lose your shorts... We're cheapskates!


VIVA: Good! That's how you keep rock'n'rolling and surviving.

Fred: We've never been into drugs. We drink. Sometimes when we come home from tour we drink too much but after we drink too much for two weeks we dry out. We go to Reno and when we're gambling we never drink. We have our coffee but we never have any booze, even though they bring it to us for free. That's our thing.


VIVA: Dead Moon's platform. Do you think voting is important and will you be voting in November?

Fred: Yeah! I think it's real important and I'm gonna be voting for George Bush and everyone thinks I'm crazy. I already know what to expect from him. I don't really feel like change is gonna make that much difference. At least we know where George Bush is at. I'd really hate to vote for somebody and have them come into office and then all of a sudden a whole lot of stuff really does change majorly. That to me is even more scary than knowing what to expect.

Toody: At this point for the last--oh, shit--fifteen, twenty years we've been really disgusted with what choice there is. I can completely understand why everyone's so apathetic. We're old enough to be cynical. At this point the President doesn't really run the country anyway. To me it's like a big corporation.


VIVA: It is a big corporation. I almost feel like the terrorists are the only revolutionaries really making a statement. How can you make your voice heard other than screaming onstage?

Toody: We grew up in the sixties when everybody was totally idealistic about everything, us included. This much time goes by and nothing--no matter what anybody sacrificed, did, whatever--has changed... You just make ripples and change a few people in your own little pond. That's more important to me.


VIVA: Admirable females in rock'n'roll are few and far between. When you were raising your kids, did you turn them on to any certain ladies?

Toody: I was always a big fan of Janis Joplin. Not her lifestyle, per se, but her singing just totally killed me, and I think she was an incredibly strong woman. I've been really blessed to have incredibly strong women in my life and in my family. Those were always a bigger influence, my mother especially. I tried to be that for my daughter Amanda. Kate Hepburn, too, was a big idol of mine when I was a kid. I really appreciate it when anyone younger than me gets that from me. It's like passing it on, and all of us need to do that.


VIVA: Do you ever go to strip bars in town?

Toody: Nah.


VIVA: Then you haven't had the pleasure of--well, Fred, you must have seen a stripper strip to your songs at some point.

Fred: Yeah. In Vegas. I was just out of high school. We got hired to play at the Colonial Inn, which at the time was right on the strip. I was nervous about playing anyway. I got onstage

and there were all these go-go girls. They came out with this star spangled shit. One gal turns around and drops her bra and comes around in front of me with these huge boobs.... Fuck! I was sixteen years old! I was so nervous. I couldn't even handle it. We played there about a month and it took me two weeks to get it together enough to play. The whole time it was just like, "Oh God!" And she thought it was funnier than shit. She knew I was just blowin' it. Back then you could be onstage under twenty-one, but as soon as your set was over you had to go back in the kitchen or outside. The only time I could be in the joint I'd be on stage and there was that girl and Oh My God!


VIVA: What makes music sexy?

Fred: When it's real.

Toody: To me it's a combination of sight, sound, feel, when it hits all your senses, when you feel the bass going through you and the treble goes to your head. If the songs are great and there's passion there it's actually like a sexual experience between the band and the audience.

Fred: Seeing a band just running through the motions is totally unsexy. If I see a band and it looks like it's rehearsed, to me that's like a dude coming into a bar with a line. "Oh, wow! Love your hair! What's your sign?" It isn't real. It doesn't turn you on. It doesn't really matter to me what kind of music it is. There's bands in every vein that turn me on, that I like, and in every vein that I look at 'em and I think, "Aww fuck you. What are you going to be into next week?"

Toody: The other thing that kills me is great vocals, where you can tell that somebody is really baring their soul to you, which is a very difficult thing to do. That's why it has such an emotional impact on people. It's happening to you right then and there. It's a voyeurism. You're letting them in on a side that

usually you wouldn't show anybody.


VIVA: I interviewed the Lucky 13's last month and asked them who the sexiest singer was and one of them said Fred Cole. It's a primal thing; you've got it. [He laughs.]

Toody [to Fred]: Well, I think you're hot!


VIVA: Hee! Alright. Sexiest song of all time?

Toody: Willie Nelson's "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground." That particular one just nails the man-woman thing for me.

Fred: "Stand By Your Man." "Always On My Mind." Love songs are sexy for me. "My Baby Does the Hanky Panky" is not my idea of a fucking turn-on, ok? "Wild Horses" by the Stones just kills me.


VIVA: Sexiest guitar sound of all time?

Fred: AC/DC. I love the rhythm those guys come up with. Keith Richards.

Toody: To me it's the rhythm and bluesy stuff. I'd have to say Keith.


VIVA: Best Stones song ever?

Fred: They've got a million of them. I'd have to say "Time Waits for No One." [Fred leaves to check out the opener.]

Toody: The two that kill me the most are "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Gimme Shelter."


VIVA: Best Dylan record?

Toody: Blonde on Blonde. And I especially loved how much shit everyone gave him for going electric and how terrible that was, 'cause I think that's the best thing he's ever done.


VIVA: Sexiest city in the world?

Toody: Portland.


VIVA: Sexiest band ever?

Toody: The Stones.


VIVA: What's sexy about your husband?

Toody: Oh, everything. Everything. He's the complete package. There's a creative side, a responsible, financial security side, an incredibly sensitive side, a very hard side, independent and vulnerable, you name it.


VIVA: Wow... You lucked out, huh?

Toody: Yeah.


VIVA: Would you rather go bowhunting with the Nuge or drink til ya puke with Lemmy?

Toody: Lemmy! I'm dying to meet him. Let me talk to that asshole.


VIVA: What color panties are you wearing and how long have you been wearing them?

Toody: White and probably three days. I'm lazy and I use whatever--plain old cotton shit, nothing fancy. I'm not a girl girl.




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