MOCO - WIGAN WIG ON
One would expect that a meeting with MOCO would produce at least one or two memorable moments. Oddly the first one occurred before the interview even started, on an early summer Sunday evening in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
Waiting for MOCO to materialise from Wigan, conjures up all sorts of pictures of speeding suicide barges, or at least the 4.35pm North East Lancs train to Piccadilly. But careering round the corner, a “classic” shape, well worn VW Polo comes into view. Out climb the band, except for Steve “Mobile” Jones. He skids off into the distance to drop his girlfriend off, “just around the block”. An hour later, after he rematerialises, I eventually have three quarters of the ensemble : Steve Jones (Singing And Songwriting), Anthony Rigby (He of Big Guitars) and Nick Higham (bass). Drummer and Moco “art director” Simon Misra is “working” – a claim hotly denied by the rest of the band.
I once argued with the ManchesterMusic News Editor, that “Greater Manchester County still EXISTS !…” - a bizarre and useless debate really, but significant in that Wigan is one of the ten boroughs that make up Greater Manchester. Sort of like New York State really – only (much) smaller – so Wigan is in fact the equivalent of Harlem, or the north west side of town. Made famous by Pies, The Verve and the writings of George Orwell. With this in mind what is Wigan actually like ?
Rigby : It’s Quite a quiet town really
Steve: A bit like Texas Chainsaw and we’re the frightened Girls ! But compared to when we started out there’s lots more venues now…Lux Bar is every Wednesday and its maybe going to a Friday night as well – a big refreshing change .
Rigby: From full bands to acoustic and open mic’s - its a great night in Wigan !.
Steve: Although the guy there HAS pulled the plug on bands there who’ve put their cigarettes out on the carpet - The old collective club has gone now (its now a strip joint)
Rigby: There’s lots of bands passing through and plenty from Manchester
Steve: Wigan Is The New Manchester !
Nick: There’s a few other venues which are a bit poor, but the ‘Mill’s just had its first ‘gig’. (The Mill At The Pier).
Jonesy, an employee of the ‘Mills’ themed exhibition (that’s traditional mill era Wiganeering) goes on to tell us about his job there, how he’s made to clamber inside moving machinery and gets a good thrashing at tea time (apparently he’s made to wear period, traditional costume – that’s not a joke either !) .
But putting matters back on track quickly (don’t worry they go off the rails again later), What do Moco think of the effect of initial local hit “Floookie Wonderland” and the support of Poolside Records they’ve since enjoyed ?
Rigby: I think it led to a lot of things really – everything maybe ?
Steve: Tony Rodgers from The Charlatans lent some support and Chris Abbot (former Creation Records face and Robbie Williams guru) became our manager. In fact I was watching him the other day on a programme called “Robbies Millions”.
Nick: It worked well – it was really gratifying as well for things to move on as they did
Steve: We still everything pretty much hands on, the music !, the artwork ! there’s even a video now as well !
Guy Garvey (elbow) stops by for a quick hello another local musician made good - ready to wear the Moco T-Shirt. In fact Guy has name checked the band on more than one occasion on National TV and in the NME.
A story unfolds of failed recording sessions (Tony’s a nice guy insists Rigby, but the results just didn’t lead them where they wanted). Eventually Moco beat a path back to Wigan to the studio of Ex-Tansad, John Kettle, who did the original work on “Flookie” and who has now been involved in the sessions for “Where She Goes”, “Miss Manatary” and the much rumoured possible debut album.
Steve: “When She Goes” was the biggest surprise. Out it came and we expected the worst, but then there’s a NME single of the week, Kerrang ! review and loads of other press
Rigby: We were proper lucky and we got the opportunity to play with The Charlatans. We didn’t even expect to get this level of press at the time.
Steve: Tony ( R ) may even threaten to play the organ with us on stage at our single launch party.
On the subject of the video, there’s talk of a meagre municipal grant, calling in favours and the blag of providing a project for new media company wanting to build up a portfolio. As you’d expect it involves their home town, The Pier and some pensioners at a Tea Dance.
Steve: It’s very Monkeys-ish
Nick : We had to come up with a massive business plan to obtain a couple of hundred quid ! I mean some people might look at it and not like it, but its basically been done for petrol money.
Rigby: We’ve been told that MTV2 have been playing it !
Focussing back on the current single, are Moco harking back to their original mission and sound, which was more jangled and cutting as opposed to blastaway chords ?
Rigby: Its as much a case of going in and focussing on production. Instead of complete songs in day sessions, we spent a couple of weeks just really working on the songs, recording and production.
Steve: Watch out for “Wah Wah Wah” though – it’s a sub-two-minute thunderbolt.. they’re all sort of getting shorter and more catchy (hopefully)
Nick: Again it’s the work we’ve been doing with John Kettle – everything we’ve put out so far – even demo has eventually been his recording.
We veer slightly to Steves solo project which made its debut at Lux a couple of Months ago..
Steve: “Bizarro Adult Nappies” – I’ve been asked to do a few more “Testamonial” gigs. Basically there was some squatting in the old (Wigan) Town Hall, which is now derelict – The Police noticed that one of the panels had been pulled away and went in to investigate. It was reported in the papers that one room was kitted out like a kids bedroom and there were some “Bizarre Adult Nappies” left there. Like it could be adults who like to dress as babies….weird..
Well we did ask and apparently its all true. Live wise the band are making their festival debut at Coventry.
Rigby: On the 26th July we’re at Coventry with Blazin’ Squad, Liberty X, One True Voice, N-Trance and thankfully The Suffragettes. 15,000 at £16 – We’re going to get killed ! Genius !
On the matter of current favourite bands / music there’s an impromptu list of
Interpol, Lies, Kings of Leon, Electric 6, Kloot, Elbow and Oceansize. But there’s a special place for Detroit soul mates Electric 6 (they supported them at Night & Day and then The Academy). There was a good relationship with the '6, which has led to an open invite for the band to visit them in Detroit if they can ever afford it !
Locally, there’s still the soft spots for The Obsession and Jackie O and Rigby insists a spotlight is thrown in the direction of The Jules Verne and The Suzukis (Both Wigan).
One thing that we close on is Mr Rigbys rather large afro style mullet:
Rigby: There’s no news on cutting it yet
Nick: The bigger the better !
Steve : It’s a safety feature – if we crash in Julian's Van, it’ll cushion the impact – (Julian lends us his van and Ben is the regular sound engineer - both former Loafer members)
In an ultimate form of irony, half a dozen skin headed townies drunkenly bluster past singing Electric 6’s current theme “Gay Bar”, intermittently replacing “Gay” with “Dry”.
Rigby Loves Cats, collectively they hate Wet Jeans, Wedgies, Any Vegetable and Flying. “I sit on the fence on everything” claims Jones.
“MISS MANTARAY” is out now on Poolside and MOCO appear as special guests of Fi-Lo Radio on Tues the 1/7/03 at the Roadhouse.
words: Jon Ashley pics: Courtesy Of Moco
(c) musicdash 2003