HAIRY HI-FI no.3   1990    MOE TUCKER interview by Marc Baines     Page 1 of 3


HAIRY HI-FI: What prompted you to start making records again after such a long lay off?

MOE: Someone from Boston called me, they had somehow gotten hold of a tape of me and Jonathan Richman doing ‘Stickin’ With You’ back in ‘74, so they called and asked if it was okay with me if they released it. So I said “Yeah”. This was about 1980 I think, then they called back a few days later to ask if I wanted to record something for the other side, we had a four-track in the house so I said I’d try “..but I really don’t think...”. But as I plugged along it was fun and it was working okay so then I decided I would keep it for myself and I’d put it out. So we made ourselves a little company, a little label, pressed up ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ and had a real good time with it. I got a lot, A LOT, of really nice letters from kids and it really was a nice experience. It was so much fun I just kept working until I had enough for an album, and that was ‘Playin’ Possum.

HAIRY HI-FI: You played all the instruments on that didn’t you, not only drums and guitars but also synthesiser and saxophone?

MOE: Yeah, I’d always wanted a saxophone. I saw an advert for a used one for a hundred and a quarter, I think, so I got it and got a little book “How To Play Saxophone’, Ha! and blatted away for a day or two, then did my little solo.

HAIRY HI-FI: Meanwhile Varulven put out the duet with Jonathan Richman and dubbed a different line over “Soldiers fighting with the Cong”.

MOE: They did?!

HAIRY HI-FI: Yeah. They replaced it with “On adventures short and long”, presumably to make it more contemporary. You never heard that?

MOE: Uh huh! I never bothered playing it ‘cause I knew it. I’ve got copies at home... I’m going to have to check into that - how stoopid!

HAIRY HI-FI: When did Jad Fair first get in touch with you, was that after ‘Playin’ Possum’?

MOE: It was after Playin’ Possum’ or maybe about the same time. The people who run the Velvet fan club from Florida knew me and they knew Jad and they played me a tape of his and I just loved it immediately. So I started writing to him and he’d start sending tapes. Every week I’d get a tape, 90 minutes of these lunatics and I really liked his music and his approach and him, so we did a little bit of stuff together.

They made an album and he sent me a tape, they left the track empty and I added drums to four or five songs. That was the first thing we did together, then we did that little ep, that MoeJadKateBarry’ thing. We did a real short, not even a tour, a week up in the North East of America, two years ago, me and Jad and Kate, who runs the fan club, and Penn Jillette, who has a comedy magic act.

HAIRY HI-FI: Penn & Teller.

MOE: Penn and Teller, yes, and there were another few guys. Out of the week we played maybe four or five jobs, just for fun and to see how it would go. And that went well, so ten months or so later we did that again for two weeks, we had to keep it down because I had a job and that was my vacation.

HAIRY HI-FI: Do you take the kids with you on these tours?

MOE: No, it’d be too expensive. I was really wrestling with the idea of flippin’ a coin and picking one of the kids to take here, but it’s a good thing I didn’t, it’s been pretty rough. We’ve been here [Europe], today it’s six weeks, and we’ve had three nights off. We’ve been doing six and eight hour drives between gigs.

HAIRY HI-FI: The group is basically you, Half Japanese [John Sluggett, Hank Beckmeyer and Jad Fair, who had had to leave the tour with a throat infection before they reached Britain] and who’s the other guitarist?

MOE: Sonny. Sonny is from a Minneapolis group that I met called Shotgun Rationale. I produced their record last December and I liked him and I liked his guitar playing, so I asked him to join the tour.

HAIRY HI-FI: It struck me that the group’s sound is so primal, live ‘Bo Diddley’ is just relentless, so devoid of embellishments.

MOE: Well, I had to fight with these guys, I had to tell them “Don’t! There’s a five dollar fine if anyone plays anything but an E. Only I’m allowed to play something else.”

HAIRY HI-FI: Great. I got hold of a video of ‘The T.A.M.I, Show’, you know that?

MOE: Mmm hmm...

HAIRY HI-FI: With Bo Diddley and the Duchess, I think, on guitar.

MOE: The Duchess, yeah, I saw them once, that line-up, with Jerome Green and, I don’t remember the drummer’s name [probably Clifton James], and Oh God, it was unreal! It was incredible.

HAIRY HI-FI: It’s probably my favourite video clip, whenever there’s someone ‘round I’m going “watch this, watch this...” It’s the essence of rock’n’roll, your heart leaps up in your throat as soon as you hear it.

MOE: Yeah, you can’t beat it.

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