the raw sound of the moon    Fred Cole started in music in the sixties at the tender age of 14 with the Las Vegas band The Lords. When he moved out to LA, he hooked up with The Weeds (their “You Must Be a Witch” was the forerunner of all garage rock) who, under the new moniker Lollipop Shoppe, toured the north-west of The USA. Fred met a girl called Toddy Connor and the couple made Portland their home where they opened a music shop.

Meanwhile Fred was playing with lots of bands and Toddy decided to study music. In the second half of the 70s they came across a music that would change their life forever: Punk rock. They fell in love with punk’s energy and spontaneity, and a few years later, along with drummer Andrew Loomis, they formed a band that would showcase all these new influences of theirs. Dead Moon were a totally independent band. They released their music and records on their own Tombstone records. They printed their own vinyl records on an old machine they found in the basement of a radio station. The couple have always been fervent seekers of old treasures and they spent a lot of time criss-crossing the States in search of old instruments and equipment. Their house is a museum stuffed to the gills with punk memorabilia and loads of old instruments and machines. I know that this type of collection has become a rather trite fashion, but the bands that stayed loyal to older instruments during the times of headless guitars and electronic drums have a huge added value as far as I am concerned. And it seems this sentiment was felt by many others who fell in love with their soulful raw music, especially in old Europe

I saw them in San Francisco once. The small pokey hole of a bar was in SOMA, in a silent deserted neighbourhood that was filled with factories and workshops. I got to the bar early and was adopted by a barman called Gill who offered me conversation and a couple of free pints. The band were late getting there and were helped to set the backline up by a bunch of roadies who looked like old bikers fallen on hard times. I later realised, just as the concert was about to start, that the roadies were Fred and Toddy. The three band members grouped around the light shed by a candle stuck in a whiskey bottle that sat on top of the bass drum. The witch coven began. They barely said a word to each
other throughout the entire concert and most of the time their eyes were closed shut. The atmosphere was oppressive and sometimes verged on the violent. There were quite a few bikers and rowdy-looking types at the front and because I’d gone there on my own, I even felt a bit scared at times. I headed back to the bar to watch the concert from the protective presence of Gill the barman. It was like a unique church ritual, a liturgy. At the end of the gig, the band members themselves went over to the merchandising stand to sell stuff and meet the fans. When they had finished with everyone they loaded all their instruments and gear into the van. They must have been about 60 at that time, and their amps certainly weren’t on the small side.

Dead Moon split up in 2006. Many people said that maybe this grandpa-grandma couple were too old for the demanding on the-road lifestyle. Their doubts were soon cleared up the following year when they were joined by the young Kelly Halliburton to form the band Pierced Arrows. The latest I’ve heard is that they’ve signed to VICE records and that Dead Moon have got back together again. Was it money that enticed these charming grandparents back? Maybe, but who cares! If that is the case, well, they deserve recognition from beyond the underground circles. Nowadays, when the uncool has become the new cool, we might just witness something of the sort. “These guys deserve a documentary” you might think to yourself, well, too late my hypster friend, there was one made about them 10 years ago.

Fred and Toddy have grandchildren and their grandkids go along to see the likes of Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters when they visit Portland. When heavyweights like Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl
dedicate songs to their grandparents’ band, well, who wouldn’t want grandparents like that? I know that the whole DIY buzz is cult hip now… but this is the real deal and these guys chose that life style well before the concept of DIY was ever defined. They also have a small supermarket, you know, the type that sells cigarettes, watery beer and a few food items. A little corner shop.
And, well, to be honest, Gill only gave me the one free beer… a small single Do-It-Yourself lie in the service of rock ‘n’ roll mythology. Cause that’s DIY too… or are you going to contradict me?