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The Mooney Suzuki Aim to Update 'Garage Rock' Sound  - 2004-10-06


The term "garage rock" refers to the raw, basic music made by aspiring bands that practice in garages and warehouses. The four-man band known as The Mooney Suzuki says they're committed to updating old-time rock & roll and garage rock for the 21st century and has a new album, Alive And Amplified.

New York City band The Mooney Suzuki cites influences from the 1960s, such as The Kinks, Rolling Stones and MC5, along with punk from the 1970s and 1980s. They take their name from members of the pioneering 1960s' German synthesizer band, Can, referring to them as "the godfathers of electronica." That type of music inspired The Mooney Suzuki to replace the electronic samples with real guitars and drums.

Guitarist and vocalist Sammy James says, "I'm not anti-computer, but anyone can turn on their computer and make electronic sounds. The idea of artistically limiting yourself to a specific set of techniques is what excites us." The Mooney Suzuki made their debut on an independent label in 1999, and wrote music heard in television commercials for Coors Beer and Nike shoes. Steady touring led to more exposure and a new deal with industry giant, Columbia Records. After traveling with the Lollapalooza Tour in 2003, they performed the title song for the Jack Black film, School of Rock, then headed back to the studio. They decided to turn away from the Detroit sound of their first two CDs to 1960s California pop, with influences from The Beach Boys and The 5th Dimension. The result is The Mooney Suzuki's album, Alive And Amplified, which was produced by the hit-making team, The Matrix.

Alive And Amplified combines the flash of late guitar god Jimi Hendrix along with classic rock, the raw sounds of garage rock and catchy pop melodies. They also borrow from 1950s surf music and the psychedelic 1960s.

Guitarist Graham Tyler admits, "It's just a matter of playing stuff we like, whether it's soul or straight-up rock and roll or garage stuff."

Group member Sammy James adds, "I feel that you can be a lean, mean machine and be sloppy around the edges in a good way. The best soul and blues music is like that. The spirit has not been beaten out of it. There will always be an element of rawness and filth to what we do. We love the sound of wrong notes."

Steven Van Zant, a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, invited The Mooney Suzuki to play at his recent all-day Underground Garage Festival in New York City. The band has also been featured on his radio show, "Little Steven's Underground Garage." The band is about to start a major club tour of the U.S.

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