Have Mercy on the Mooney Suzuki

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We're ex-art students. We're not selling enough records to make a living. We're not on the radio, so OK, give us money and exposure.

 

If bands had never experimented, the popular music lexicon would be boring and empty without "A Quick One While He's Away" by the Who, Cheap Trick's "Dream Police," several Kinks albums, and anything the Flaming Lips have ever released. This is just one reason why I implore you to check out the fourth album from the Mooney Suzuki.

Sammy James Jr., lead singer, rhythm guitarist and spokesperson of the band, says, "[Have Mercy is] unlike our early stuff. It 100% fails to be the exact same thing as our first record. At the same time, it's our best record."mooney4

You can throw around the clichés "stripped down" and "back to their roots," but I think Have Mercy actually sounds like it could be a pretty good Black Crowes' album. Absent are the high-energy rockers of their previous releases, but the rock 'n' roll is still of a high caliber, literally, when describing the song "Good Old Alcohol" which would make Ray Davies raise his glass and drain it with pride. Sammy's rant at the end of the song is the most amusing music moment of 2007 thus far.

As always, their new CD is full of great lyrics that you expect from the Mooney Suzuki, like "Everybody wants someone like Adam and Eve/ everybody needs someone that they believe," "You'll never be older than dinosaur bones/ and you'll never be older than the Rolling Stones," and "First comes love, then comes complication."

Have Mercy is an album by a band that refuses to fit into the "garage band" mold. The song "Down But Not Out" was even featured on a recent Acoustic Café radio show. James says, "The garage rock thing is a double-edged sword. It helps us because the garage rock community is so passionate and alive, but at the same time, the window of what they like is very narrow. They're quick to turn on you and use the same amount of enthusiasm to express the displeasure of how we sound now."mooney3

When I asked if there was a "garage rock capital" in the world, James told me, "Garage rock has enough spirit and energy that it is its own unique thing. There is no capital of garage rock. Garage rock means people trying to be a British rock band, but not being good enough to pull it off."

Although the Mooney Suzuki do not get much radio airplay, you've heard them in commercials for TGI Friday's and Suzuki and the movie School of Rock. James says, "A lot of bands say no to those kind of things. We always thought of our music from a visual perspective before the musical perspective. We used to just write music as the accompaniment to the live shows we wanted to do. I want to jump off the amp, but I want something dramatic to happen. We're ex-art students. We're not selling enough records to make a living. We're not on the radio, so OK, give us money and exposure. We need it."

The Mooney Suzuki was recently on a Little Steven's Underground Garage tour with the Woggles and the Zombies, among others. Nashville was blessed to host the last night of the tour, when hijinx are known to happen. As the Woggles were performing their last song, the go-go girls onstage were joined by some different-looking "girls" who looked suspiciously like members of the Mooney Suzuki in small pants, fishnets, and pink wigs. When I mention this, James protests, "No, that wasn't us. That was some really ugly dancers, girls that have seen some hard times." But I have pictures that may prove otherwise.

The current lineup of the Mooney Suzuki includes Will Rockwell-Scott on the drums, longtime lead guitarist Graham Tyler, and Reno Bo on bass guitar. Check them out on their tour with Albert Hammond Jr. They may be Alive and Amplified in a mellower way now, but their live show is sure to provide buckets of Electric Sweat. | Angie Glover

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