R. Stevie Moore is a prolific DIY one-man band. The sixty-year-old is, after thirty years and hundreds of albums, finally beginning to break into the mainstream - with the help of some famous friends.
Freddie Cowan is the guitarist in The Vaccines, one of the UK’s most successful guitar groups of late, whose second album ‘Come Of Age’ features somewhere later in this issue...
A self-confessed fan and disciple of Moore and his methods, Cowan was quick to suggest a hook-up for Clash, and we gladly obliged. Since one was at home in Nashville and the other one was mid-tour in Manchester (we’re sure you can guess which is which), Clash provided the conference call to bring them together. This is a bit of what went down.
Freddie: We’re touring America soon, and when we go through Nashville we were really hoping that we could do a recording together or something. That would be really, really cool.
RSM: We should. I would love that. Cool.
Freddie: I’ve been listening to a lot of your stuff recently. We’re all doing our own B-sides, and I’ve been listening to your stuff to help me along with doing something on my own, since you’re the king of doing stuff on your own. You know, I told you that Albert Hammond Jr. introduced me to you, and he was such a big fan. When I told him that we’d covered one of your songs and that you and I were in touch, he was freaking out. He was like, ‘You gotta give me his email! I wanna get in touch with him and tell him how important his music is to me’. So you should put the word out - we should use this interview to put the word out to get you on a great support tour!
RSM: Do it! Definitely do it. And Tim Burgess can help too - Tim’s been a major, major player in the success that I’ve had this year. I love him to death, and we hope to do some music together next year. I mean, things are just exploding for me - late in life. I mean, I never really toured - I was just the bedroom guy, and now in the past two years I’m travelling the world, and finding out that I have this huge fanbase!
Freddie: How are you finding all the travelling?
RSM: Well, it depends. If I’m the back of a van riding around the world on six-hour drives, that is no fun. And I have health issues, so I just can’t deal with that. So I want to jump-start the career to where I’m just playing festivals. I mean, we played Field Day, and then we played Roskilde in Denmark, and that was probably the biggest show I’ve ever played in my life. It was just incredible. So if I can do that, I’ll travel constantly. But even in the US... As usual, the Europe thing is much, much bigger than the US thing. I’m still not that well known in this country, except for DIY people. But I come to England and Europe and everybody seems to know all about my entire life, and it’s remarkable.
Freddie: Is there any new records this year that you’ve really loved?
RSM: That’s what they always want me to talk about, and I’ve been sort of getting this reputation as a cranky old man because I’m a huge music collector and historian, and I’ve always loved records and bands for decades and decades - I’m not quite as into as I used to be, because I’m more into the oldie thing, and I don’t really keep up with every week there’s a new scene and stuff - so I’m not really in touch with a lot of that stuff. I kinda just stumble upon things. And The Vaccines is a perfect example of that. Any time somebody comes up to me and says, ‘Guess who’s a big fan of yours, Stevie?’ I freak out, because, you know, I’m trying to connect with these people. Because I need them and they need me. It’s all part of a family, you know? But I’m not really a popular scenester, I’m more of a name or a reference point for DIY and home recording - that’s what I’ve been selling all year; I don’t have a record or a new show to promote, you know? I’m promoting my aesthetic: ‘Do it your own self, yo!’ (Laughs) One of my favourite bands that’s getting almost over-hyped - and I’m kinda happy for it - is TOY.
Freddie: Yeah, I love those guys. They’re good friends with my brother’s band, The Horrors. They’re great, man. We’d love to have them play with us at some point.
RSM: I forgot your brother was in The Horrors, that’s right! In fact, TOY has been accused of almost sounding exactly like The Horrors...
Freddie: I don’t hear that at all. That’s just people and their imaginations, I guess.
RSM: It just has to be refreshing to me, you know? I’ve heard so much for so long, it’s all about the hooks! I’m constantly complaining and bitching about the way music is just so boring and repetitive - you have to have a craft! You have to have a talent for hooks and chord progressions! This ain’t just rock and roll and nothing more; you gotta have some brilliance in your melodies! It’s all pop! Although I love noise too - I love bad music and all genres. I just go all across the map.
Freddie: Are you a fan of hip-hop?
RSM: Yeah! Good hip-hop. Not derivative. I like cutting-edge hip-hop. One of my favourites is Odd Future; Tyler The Creator. So, what are your plans for the future?
Freddie: Well, we’ve been touring for about two-and-a-half years now. We’re going out to Spain, then Australia on Boxing Day. Kinda non-stop touring. But I’d love to see you in America early next year.
RSM: We will, most definitely.
This is an excerpt from the January 2013 issue of Clash magazine. Find out more about the issue.