Posted December 22, 2007
By PATRICK EMERY
Fred Cole has been around the block a few times. Cole started out playing rock’n’roll in the early 1960s, when American rock’n’roll was in the throes of establishing itself as a musical genre of consequence. Cole’s career in the 1960s mimmicked the garage style he became enamoured with, and remains associated with. Garage bands formed by friends playing notable tunes of the day, in whichever venues would take them. Cole’s early recordings are the province of dedicated collectors, and display the raw attitude and intensity Cole has perpetuated ever since.
But it’s Cole’s work in Portland garage rock band Dead Moon for which he’s best known. Cole formed Dead Moon with his wife, Toody, on bass and Andrew Loomis on drums in the late 1980s. Dead Moon went on to establish a strong reputation in Europe – a German backpacker I met in the mid 1990s in the Coles’ hometown of Portland was almost offended at the lack of respect afforded to Dead Moon in its home country – with American acceptance marginal, but passionate in those margins. In 2006 Dead Moon broke-up (on the eve of the band’s Australian tour, no less) and it appeared that Fred and Toody Cole may have retired from the artistic field they’d graced for so many years. Thankfully reports of their retirement were grossly exaggerated. Fred and Toody re-appeared not long after with the Pierced Arrows, with Kelly Halliburton on drums. Pierced Arrows make their debut outside the United States with an Australian tour in January 2008.
This interview with Fred Cole was conducted by email (hence the skeletal nature of the responses)
How old were you when you first started playing in a band?
Was The Lords your first 'real' band?
The Lords was the first band I really made any money in.
Do any of your 60s recording remain, or are they collectors' items?
All the early stuff is long gone – although the reissues are still out there.
What sort of music were you playing in the 60s, and what were your primary influences?
Mostly Rolling Stones, Beatles, and Love covers and a lot of Them. Hits of the times mostly.
When and how did you meet Toody?
We met in Portland in 1966 as the band was heading to Vancouver BC. We broke down in Portland and she was sweeping floors in the club we got a gig in. We’ve been together ever since.
Was Toody into the same music you were at the time you met?
What led you to settle in Portland originally?
Toody and the fact the band went over great here. We all loved the city.
What was the artistic and music scene like in Portland in the 1970s?
It went to hard rock like every where else, lots of glitz.
Toody started playing with you in the late 1970s. What led her to join you on stage (and in the studio)? Was she a willing band member?
I wanted to go into the punk scene which had just started and thought it was the perfect scenario to get her on stage playing bass, I was right.
You were playing in country themed bands for much of the 1980s – was led you to return to your garage origins with Dead Moon?
I loved doing a lot of the country stuff but really missed the roots of rock. We were both ready for a change and Dead Moon happened.
By the late 1980s and early 1990s there were a number of quality rock'n'roll bands in Portland, including Dead Moon, the Wipers, Hazel and Dharma Bums. What was your assessment of the Portland scene at the time?
Kelly, Fred and Toody. Andy Batt photos
It was a Mecca for originality. There was lots of support from the fans and the scene happened, it was great.
While the music media flocked to Seattle to drool over the 'grunge' bands, Portland seemed to be largely ignored. Do you think the Portland band scene was overlooked at that time?
Yes, but I'm glad it was, it would have ruined the scene if it had gotten tagged like Seattle.
I met a German backpacker in Portland in about 1994 who was confounded that more people in the US (and especially Portland) didn't know (and appreciate) Dead Moon. Do you feel that Dead Moon were appreciated more outside the US than within the country itself?
For a lot of years, but once we started touring the stated it evened out.
What led to Dead Moon breaking up last year? Had the band run its course, or was it a case of personality clashes?
We had been doing the same thing for so long we all started feeling like we we're just going through the motions. It was just too many years of repetition.
To what extent are the Pierced Arrows an extension of Dead Moon, and to what extent is it a departure from where Dead Moon finished up?I feel we've gone back to what we had done in the Rats and taken a bit from Dead Moon. Kind of a cross between the two bands.
What led you to get Kelly Haliburton on drums. I understand you played with his father in the 1970s – is that correct?
Yeah, his dad used to play keyboards in a band I did called Albatross. I met Kelly while he was on tour in Germany and really hit it off with him. He's a bass player but when we thought of doing PA we thought it would be cool to see if he was into trying drums. It worked out.
Is the Pierced Arrows' set mainly originals, or do you delve into your back catalogue?
It's 99% new original material.
Do you have any plans to record new material with the Pierced Arrows?
We're in the process of mixing the final tracks for our 1st LP titled "Straight To The Heart" It’ll hopefully be out in late Jan 08.
You've been at this rock'n'roll gig for over 40 years – do you think you'll ever stop?
I hope not as long as I can drag my sorry ass up on the stage!
I've read that you and Toody plan on opening a shopping centre. Is that true? If so, what will you be retailing?
No, we're so busy with other things it's the last thing we want to do. We have Tombstone Territory which has seven retail spaces available and hopefully we'll get them all rented out.
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES:
3/1 - MELBOURNE, AU - DING DONG LOUNGE
4/1 - ADELAIDE, AU - JIVE
5/1 - BALLARAT, AU - KAROVA LOUNGE
6/1 - GEELONG, AU - BARWON CLUB HOTEL
7/1 - LIVE ON THE AIR ON 3PBS
8/1 - MELBOURNE, AU - THE TOTE
10/1 - SYDNEY, AU - THE ANNANDALE HOTEL
11/1 - WELLINGTON, NZ - THE ADELAIDE
12 /1 - COROMANDEL, NZ - KUAOTUNA HALL
13/1 - RAGLAN, NZ - AQUA VELVET
15/1 - AUKLAND, NZ - WHAMMY BAR
16/1 - AUKLAND, NZ - THE KING'S ARMS
Also, don't miss Kelly's other band, SEVERED HEAD OF STATE, currently on tour down under:
22/12 - BRISBANE (FORTITUDE VALLEY) AU - JUBILEE HOTEL
23/12 - BRISBANE (WEST END) AU - AHIMSA HOUSE
26/12 - SYDNEY (MARRICKVILLE) AU - MAGGOTVILLE
27/12 - MELBOURNE AU - LYGON ST. WAREHOUSE
28/12 - AUKLAND, NZ - ELLEN MELVILLE HALL
29/12 - WELLINGTON, NZ - THE ADELAIDE
31/12 - MELBOURNE, AU - THE ARTHOUSE
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