On the back of the new Moistboyz album, IV, there is a picture of a plain old beat up looking Boss distortion stompbox. There are no knobs, buttons or other flashy gizmos in the picture, just the input/output jacks and an on/off footswitch. Scrawled in black marker on the blank space above the footswitch is the word “moist.” This simple picture describes The Moistboyz perfectly; loud, punchy, no frills rock ‘n roll filled with pissy lyrics and muddy guitars distorted beyond recognition. But what is left out of this picture is a band trying very hard to separate themselves from their “primary” acts – Ween and The False Front – while also bringing something new to the table in the form of “guns, booze and dirt rock.” But what this means exactly is where things get interesting.
“There’s nothing artsy, or fancy, or tricky, or subtle about the Moistboys. Or clever, we’re not trying to do that,” Moistboyz guitarist Mickey Melchiando says over the phone on the eve of The Moistboyz’s North American fall tour. “We’re trying to make cheap, good, loud rock n’ roll for the common man. You put it on and it gets you off, its not like its fucking art, we’re not trying to make high art. You’re not going to see us doing any triple CD concept albums. It’s direct, and it’s in your face.”
The Moistboyz have always approached their music with this attitude. The band formed in 1992 while Melchiando and Guy Heller, a.k.a. lead vocalist Dickey Moist, were living together in the same farmhouse. Heller contributed to some of Ween’s early four track efforts, most notably on various tracks that were included in the watershed album Pure Guava. Eventually Melchiando and Heller started to lay down their own tracks with Melchiando on guitar and Heller on vocals. It was from this musical intermingling that the Moistboyz were born. “We started doing this really aggressive music and it was really getting us off, and we were really doing so much of it that we had enough to fill up a tape,” says Melchiando. ” We decided to call it Moistboyz.” The material on Moistboyz I, their first album, was taken directly from these early recordings.
Comparing Moistboyz I and Ween’s Pure Guava is hardly an earth shattering revelation, both were recorded via 4 track and low fidelity means while sharing a similar drum machine driven backdrop. The music on I sounds like, and in reality is, rare B-sides that were left on the cutting room floor of the early Ween albums. But if I is the legit half brother of Pure Guava, then IV is it’s incestuous bastard stepchild. In other words, there’s hardly a comparison anymore.
“This record is definitely not low fidelity, this is a super high fidelity record that we just did. By comparison, I would say that the first Moistboyz record definitely sounds like early Ween, we did it on the same four track,” says Melchiando. ” If you go back to the master tapes, one of the songs was on Chocolate and Cheese was Moistboyz. I was doing both things every day.”
Indeed, the Music on IV sees The Moistboyz piecing together their own identity while eschewing the reflexive classification as a Ween side project. The album kicks off with the cranky guitar scronk of “I Don’t Give a Fuck Where The Eagle Flies.” The textured guitars favor bass frequencies while the vocals and the crack of the snare punch through the mix in the treble end of the spectrum. The dropped-tuned “Officer Please” uses this same low-end approach, this time including a harmonic falling guitar piece multi-layered with at least 3 tracks of distortion crunched guitar. “The Stalker” is the only song on the album to favor a slower, effect heavy modus operandi blending a low level of fuzz tone and auto-wah to complement the dreamlike quality of the spacious chords. The pee-your-pants-laughing-its-so-funny “Everybody’s Fucked Her” is indicative of the vocal style Heller adopts, especially with the chorus lyrics: she’s tried and true/except for you/you get to cruise/the overused/she’s been around/all over town/but everybody’s fucked her.
With these songs, IV makes the Moistboyz’s case that they will not be relegated to side project status. Melchiando demands that there should not be any connection between The Moistboyz and Ween anymore. “You know it pisses me off when people consider the Moistboyz as a side project of Ween. It’s very much it’s own thing, we have a lot of songs. We have four albums out and ten times more material than what is on the records that’s unreleased. We’ve been a band for about thirteen years now,” notes Melchiando.
Melchiando goes on to clarify that while this is true, there are some eventual stylistic connections that are unavoidable. “There’s no way with me being in both bands that it’s not going to have some similarities. I have my natural groove and natural tendencies as a songwriter and a guitar player and I don’t put anything aside like ‘Oh, I’m saving that one for Ween,’ or ‘That’s too Moistboys for you Aaron (Freeman of Ween), so I’ll just work on that with Guy.’ Its not like that, but, I mean shit, I’m half of both, they’re two partnerships and I’m half of both.”
Stylistic similarities to Ween or none, The Moistboyz have finally found their sound in the form of simple guitar driven rock songs that have a tendency to push the envelope beyond the realm of this vanilla classification. But whatever their musical classification, there is an unmistakable thumb-your-nose air about The Moistboyz. Both Heller and Melchiando feel that The Moistboyz is their statement against today’s version of rock ‘n roll. “It’s been my statement against today’s version of rock n roll since ‘today’s’ rock ‘n roll in 1992 when we started.” Melchiando adds with a laugh “Its my revenge!”