The early 90s were a golden age of Canadian rock music with bands like Our Lady Peace, Sloan, Moist and I Mother Earth dominating the national charts. Now that we’re 25 years out from many of their debuts, those legendary bands are experiencing a renaissance. We’ve had a chance to chat with some of those greats as they’ve come through town this year, including Tea Party and Our Lady Peace, and recently caught up with Moist as they bring their appropriately titled Silver Anniversary tour, celebrating the 25th anniversary of their multi-platinum certified debut album Silver.
Longtime fans of the band will be excited to know the setlist includes a complete performance of that debut album, including breakout hits “Push,” “Silver,” as well as closing track “Low Low Low,” which the band had never played live before this tour.
Of course, they’ll also include fan favourites from the of their catalogue, up to their most recent album, 2014’s Glory Under Dangerous Skies.
We caught up with keyboardist and founding member Kevin Young on the eve of Moist launching their tour. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Apt613: I know you technically formed in Vancouver, but being from Ontario, we obviously claim ownership of the band as ours.
Kevin Young: That’s fine. Anybody who wants to own us can. Yes, we definitely first met each other in Ontario with the exception of our drummer at the time, who’s a born and bred B.C. guy.
Looking back at Kingston as a hotbed of Canadian rock at the time, what kind of magic was going on in town?
There was a very healthy music scene in Kingston when I was growing up, even if I didn’t know that much about it. When I was in my late teens, it seemed like there was more music going on. With the Tragically Hip, The Headstones, the various bands that myself and the other guys from Moist played in at university in Kingston, there was a lot of music. I can’t tell you what it was, but for Kingston’s size of town, it punches above its weight when it came to having some really, really stellar music.
It felt really communal and it felt really like everybody was just trying to help each other out and find the best way and the best people to make music, and the best way to make a living, at least make it a part of a living.
It wasn’t just that. It’s different now, but when we were in Kingston doing a show over this past summer, we all went out after the show and we went to see some old friends of ours play, one of them being one of my favourite keyboard players in Canada, a guy named Spencer Evans, who years, years back played with Cowboy Junkies. He’s just one of those stellar musicians that you may not know, but he’s Kingston based.
We had a chance to interview the Glorious Sons this summer, before they played Bluesfest, and we were talking about the fact that Kingston just seems to always produce these huge bands out of a small city that can compete against any of the Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto scenes.
I think there’s something very cooperative in Kingston. When I was growing up, and when I first started playing in Kingston, there was one band that I played with that… when I moved out west, Mark Makoway, our guitarist, joined that band. So we were constantly playing with different people. I think because there wasn’t such a level of competition that you might have seen in a major market, it felt really communal and it felt really like everybody was just trying to help each other out and find the best way and the best people to make music, and the best way to make a living, at least make it a part of a living.
It’s interesting to see nowadays a lot of the bands that came out of that time still have that kind of mentality… these bands where everybody’s playing with each other at some point throughout their careers or touring together. It seems like that spirit still exists today.
There is, but I think that spirit is part of the Canadian music scene at large to a certain degree. There’s a stunning number of artists, for the size of Canada, and for the distance it takes to get from one place to another, if you’re an artist based in a remote area, to get to the major centres, it’s hard. In the United States, there’s a major city every three hundred miles. It’s a much more difficult prospect to tour Canada in some ways.
I think because of that, and because we’re all Canadian, and we’re proud when someone does well as a Canadian, then it doesn’t matter what genre they’re in. We celebrate that. I think Kingston was kind of a microcosm of that. On a larger scale across Canada, when someone does well, we all celebrate their success.
When someone does well, we all celebrate their success.
I’ve had the opportunity and the honour to play with a variety of people from different bands over the years, and I’ve played in projects outside of Moist. I count myself lucky to have played with some of those people, and with Moist, we’ve toured with some of these artists, shared stages with a lot of other Canadian bands, like Matthew Good Band way back in the day, and with I Mother Earth and with loads of other bands that we would hook up with at festivals over time.
When you played Bluesfest in 2014 the crowd was made up of such a diverse age group. There’s still the longtime fanbase that have been around since the start, but also younger fans have discovered your music. From your perspective, from the stage, seeing the faces in the crowd, what does that mean to you guys?
Well, it means a lot to us to have both folks who have come to see us over the years, being with us from the beginning, or people that came along the way. It means a lot to those people, obviously, to be 25 years on from our first record and to still have younger fans coming out and people that are discovering that era music for the first time. Looking into the crowd to see that a large group of people of all ages, some after this long… It’s really exciting for us.
What can we expect from the next show? Are there some songs you haven’t played in a long time off Silver?
We’ll be playing the album, as well as a bunch of other songs. And that’s generally the plan. The interesting thing is that over the years, we have played a lot of that record. We often play a lot of songs from it in a set. So really, there are only a few songs that we hadn’t played in years.
Having said that, the songs that we hadn’t played in many, many years… some of them we have not played in 20, 25 years. And the final song on the record “Low Low Low,” we never played live. We might have thrown a fragment of it into a breakdown in the middle of the set back when we first toured it, like as part of a medley.
It’s interesting to go back and listen to the things that we haven’t played and relearning. You’re always putting yourself in that mindset that you were in when you first performed it, because as a player, you tend to change the way you approach things over the years.
As part of the 25th anniversary, you’re releasing a deluxe edition of Silver. What can fans expect in that package?
Yes. So there’s a few packages, including a triple LP, and digital as well. In addition to having it re-mastered, we’re really excited about the final package (available here). There’s a bunch of rarities and some acoustic versions of songs as well as the live set that was recorded in Los Angeles in ‘94. It’s been a while, but also within that package somewhere there will be a list of every show we played during the Silver period of time, which is interesting. And that’s because Jeff Pierce, our bass player, is a very good record keeper. And he had a list of every show we ever played. Putting this package together was a lot of fun, and I hope that people will enjoy it.
My biggest hope is that they’re there, that they’re going to really enjoy the show and hearing the record all the way through. It’s something we’ve never done before and something that I have to say, we’re enjoying a whole lot more than we expected. Not that we weren’t expecting to enjoy it, but the shows where we’ve done that over the summer have been a whole lot of fun for us. And it really reminds us how lucky we are to be able to keep doing this for as long as we have, and how there are people that still care and ultimately that we’re doing it with. I got to do this with a bunch of guys that have become my family and my brothers.
One more question: Now that Jeff is back on bass and you guys are back together for a while, is the desire to start writing again creeping back in?
Let’s put it this way. We’ve said this before. When we first got back together in 2013, after a long, long break, 13 years, the last thing on our minds was doing a new record. Of course, relatively quickly we started writing a new record. Generally, what happens with Moist is that if you put us in a room long enough together, we’ll start writing. And it doesn’t have to be that long. So the band, as we speak, is working on new material.
We have no solid plans for what we’re gonna do with that at this point. No specific time frame at the moment. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s new material coming out in the not too distant future. It’s just kind of an instinct that when we get together and we start to play, we start to write together. And that’s the way it’s always worked.
I was just wondering, because you’ve got the 25th anniversary of Silver now, you’ve got two years before Creature hits 25, so there’s a nice little window next year, open space for new material, whether it’s an album or an EP or something.
You never know. The 25th anniversary of Silver kind of crept up on us. So now I think that we’re more aware that each passing year we’re reaching another anniversary. Right now we’re having a lot of fun playing this record, and we’ll see what happens. Like I say, no firm plans, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got something like that at some point in their future.
Moist will be playing the Bronson Centre Music Theatre (211 Bronson Ave) on Wednesday November 13, 2019, with supporting act Stuck On Planet Earth. Doors at 7PM. Tickets are now sold out.