Is the Only Truth Really Music? Unwrapping The Moment, Part Two of Two

Written by Peter Jachimiak
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The lord of all, the money-god,
Who rules us blood and hand and brain,
Who gives the roof that stops the wind,
And, giving, takes away again…
George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, 1936.

Truths and Music – A Q&A with The Moment (continued)
PJ: ‘Penelope Wood’ is, full-on Spaghetti Western-style, an aural mini-landscape. Yet, the name of the song, and the song’s female lead character, suggest a very Swinging Sixties-sounding, leather-clad femme fatale. So, what brings the two together here?

RM: During the sessions with Ben, we were thinking about – for fun – genre mash-ups. So, we came across the idea of Ennio Morricone meets English Folk. Again, I guess those soundtracks for all of the Spaghetti Westerns we heard while our Dads watched those films caught our imagination endlessly. But, also, Ade and I are huge Traffic fans, and, for me, this is our ‘John Barlycorn’. In fact, Ben stole the drum idea from ‘Five Years’ (David Bowie), and it works a treat – he did a great job.

AH: This, in all honesty, is – to me – a hard one. ‘Penelope Wood’ is every girl/woman who wants to be more (because she was told that’s what she should be). She tries to live up to their expectations. ‘He’ wanted to be more too. However, it didn’t work out.

BBA: Two words: Salma Hayek [Salma Hayek, Mexican and American film actress, director, and producer]. I have nothing more to add.

PJ: ‘Captain Insanity’? Two things, really: Who’s the ‘Captain’, and who’re the ‘insane’ ones here?

AH: It’s the story of a man who did all he could to fit in; but, despite his best efforts, authority rejects him. Thus, the song outlines his answer to the rejection, his return to his true life, and his ultimate return to an appreciation of why he is here, and what he was meant to be. So, surely, he must be insane?

RM: And this is a newer song, and sounds – as intended – very raw. In fact, I can’t wait to play this live – with brass – someday. And I know who my ‘Captain’ is, and I also know who is ‘insane’!

BBA: Oh, a major mistake there Rob! For, as a general rule, I tend to keep these things private…

PJ: Alternative Country, Alt-Country, or Americana? Call it what you will, it is, surely, a major influence on this track’s overall sound. So, what’s going on here with ‘You Get What You Pay For’, with The Moment, perhaps, ‘going all Yank’ on us? Or a sly, and oblique, critique of the American Dream perhaps…?

RM: No, pure Britannica, Peter – it’s very British. Yet, again, that Johnny Cash influence. I wasn’t sure about this until we were in the studio listening to Buddy drum on it. Then, straight away, I knew it would make the LP. Ade always loved some of the more Americana-type grooves, and even tunes the Wonderstuff tried in their later days – I’m sure that’s an influence too.

BBA: Spot on Rob! The late, GREAT, Martin Gilks of The Wonder Stuff is always an influence on me – and, of course, Pat Collier also worked very closely with them too. Martin died – on my birthday – some years back, and I was heartbroken. He didn’t let me down gently, R.I.P.

AH: Again, the Money God has his fingers in the pot. It is about the struggle for what we are told we should be looking for in life. We are fed a constant message of what we should aspire to be in life. For, the powers that be appear to believe that money, and its acquisition, is the measure of success. Sad, but true. As it would appear that our lives are as good as the ones we can buy.

PJ: With ‘Song Writer Shoes’, there’s seems an earnest call to arms to ‘put up a fight’ and ‘rise up’, to ‘let’s hear your voice’, and plea to ‘say it before it’s too late’, in what ways is this all a means by which a ‘Song Writer’ is desperately trying to rally his audience?

AH: This, in reality, is a message to myself. For, it tells the story of what it is like to be an artist rather than a worker (whatever that is!). I am, in effect, kicking myself up the arse, in an attempt to motivate and create something bigger. The life of the recording artist isn’t what, I imagine, most people think it is. It questions all that I am, and challenges me to be as good as I can be.

RM: ‘Song Writer Shoes’ is one of my favs on the whole record. In fact, I don’t think it is about Ade at all: It’s a message to any budding song-writer. But, to me, it’s also – in a way – a very sad song. It’s a kind of pushing of a feeling where we need to have to write songs that will last. I love the outro. It’s a shame we didn’t push it even more with the brass – as we could have ended up sounding like Sun Ra!

BBA: [Laughs] This is one of two tracks that I was dreading attempting to record, because of the trip-hoppy nature of the verses, and then the what-the-hell-is-going-on-here-then? bridges – but, blimey, it works! You can, though, really hear my relief when I can let rip on the choruses! Again, great song!

PJ: Penultimate track, and we have ‘Leck Mich Am Arsch’: Translate please? And, is this another song of defiance, of about standing up to injustices perhaps?

AH: This is a phrase I first heard used by my Mother-in-law. Its literal translation doesn’t do it justice. But, in its polite form, it means “I couldn’t care less” (or something like that). Thus, the song is my comment on those that pretend to care but, in reality, only care about their own personal Money God. They defend their position by standing behind the flag of religion and false morality – and a twisted, bigoted, sexist, interpretation of morality at that!

RM: Another great favourite of mine on the LP. Some of Ade’s most contemporary, and best, lyrics – and pure ‘Holder vitriol’. It’s also the best performance by the rhythm section. I particularly like the guitar riff. Oh, and we asked Pat Collier to mix this and he, as a result, gave the tune a different feel by changing the guitar interactions. It was great, but we – in the end – went with our original idea.

BBA: Like Rob, I feel that both the bass and drums really lock together. I’m not that well known for that, so apologies to all the long-suffering bassists that I’ve given such headaches to! The song builds and builds and is a joy to play. On one of the takes that Adrian has, I think I just continued the coda for about five minutes on my own! Oh, and I can’t possibly bring myself to translate the lyrics, of course, as I was brought up a shy choirboy in a brothel in Soho.

PJ: Finally, the title track, ‘The Only Truth Is Music’. So, if music is the only ‘truth’, what does the band feel are the ‘lies’ out there?

AH: At times, life can be shit. The daily grind and worship of the Money God makes it a constant struggle. On a personal level, though, escape can be achieved through music…

RM: Despite what Ade has said, this was written for me!!!! A recent change in his life really distilled his ideas here. He even lifted a vocal rhythm from one of my fav tunes ever recorded [but they’re not telling which one!]. As such, it’s a perfect way to end the record.

BBA: What a fucking melody! And what an opening line! This is the song that I heard on the tour ‘lawnmower’ that convinced me that I wanted to be part of the album. If I’d had my way, it would go on for at least 20 minutes or so longer – so, watch out live boys!!!

The Moment, The Modfather, and Mod
PJ: What with The Only Truth Is Music coming out in the wake of Paul Weller’s latest offering, and as the ‘Modfather’ is still the figurehead of the ‘youth movement’, Mod, that we all came out of, what does he mean to The Moment today?

RM: Mmmmm? I am struggling to find any connection between our new album, The Only Truth Is Music, and Weller’s to be honest. I mean, I have the Weller LP, and it’s fantastic in place (although, not so hot in others). He is a different song-writer to Ade, and his experiences in life are not ours. Weller has access to some of the best producers, engineers, musical equipment, and studios. He also has nothing else to do on this planet, and has as much time as he needs – so, no, I can’t see much of a connection really.

PJ: In what ways is that lack of ‘connection’, Rob, reflected on a more personal – even, dare I say it, existential – level?

RM: I feel that, again, our long-player and Weller’s come from completely different planets in the way that they were made (recorded, mastered, distributed, sold, and so on), and, as well, there’s a massive difference in fan-base, etc. He lives in another world to me. And that’s quite strange, I guess, as when I was young, it felt like he was my next-door neighbour, or a mate from my estate. Now, it’s a very different story (even though I still love his music). I have met him on a few occasions. The first two occasions were away from the music business, on CND demonstrations at Molesworth and Hyde Park in 1985. I spent at least four hours with him, and it all felt very much like he was one of us. Yet, as time goes on, I guess working life and family take over more, and as the job gets more responsible, you lose the time to do those really important things – like making music, art, and the like. We also have the added problem – when The Moment are making records – of Ade living in Germany.

PJ: …and ‘Mod’?

RM: As for the Mod music thing, I really struggle with this too. Mod music to me is a huge ‘jigsaw’, with many different pieces fitting together to give this very broad base of genres. To me, our record – The Only Truth Is Music – has many of those genres, those sounds, interwoven throughout. So, it is a Mod-sounding LP I guess? But, in the end, it has been born out of a pure, gut-wrenching need to show people what we can do. For, The Moment have worked and struggled through life to get to the position where not only do people remember us, but some are still willing to come to our gigs, and buy our music. This is our audience.

The Moment, the Money God, and Modern Times
Funny thing nostalgia. Whether it’s going back to the place where you were born, a vain attempt to relive a particular aspect of your youth, or replaying vinyl records that you once cherished in your teenage years, you find that – no matter how hard you try – you can’t ever ‘go back’. Yes, you can stand outside and gaze up at the house of your childhood. You can – in your 50s – buy, and put on, a pair of striped Jam ‘badger’ stage shoes. You can even play The Moment’s records of old to death. But, what’s the bloody point? For, that’s not what The Moment are about. That’s why The Moment have turned their collective backs on nostalgia. That’s why their new album – The Only Truth Is Music – isn’t some lazy exercise in attempting to replicate their sound of old. Instead, it is very much a record for modern times. In short, The Moment both live and play for the moment. For, The Moment – as I’ve said all along, to anyone that I’ve ever met who cared to listen – are, in their rejection of the Money God, of the moment in an era of a growing anti-capitalist, anti-bigoted mindset.

So, let us end with a final few words from the drummer, about The Only Truth Is Music’s title track, The Moment, and ‘the moment’:

BBA: People will be playing this song forever – and, in the end, that is all that really matters. It’s been an honour, a joy, and a lot of fun so far. So, here’s to the next moment in time… X

Part One Here 

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Peter Jachimiak

Peter Jachimiak

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