Paint Their Backstreet Black


The Mooney Suzuki (named after Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki from Can) sound so authentically ’60s garage that their wee-ness is surprising: two sullen members have yet to turn 20! In an environment where the ’60s thing is usually faked through exorbitant style and screech, the Mooneys actually get the r&b part right: Chuck Berry and Little Richard are as big an inspiration as the Yardbirds or Stones or teens emulating them in parents’ garages. The foursome even cites the comparably fey’n’petite Backstreet Boys as an anthropological influence!

Soon after the Jersey-born Mooneys sprang up playing dive bars and open mics in the spring of ’98, an enthusiastic deejay tagged them “mod.” From there, NYC’s most promising fledgling coterie started playing regular ’60s mod nights around town. “We were never into dressing indie,” vocalist Sam, 23, ruminates over goulash and fruit salad. “We were always into dressing sharp, and then it became a ’60s thing.” Guitarist Tyler, 21, mutters that he doesn’t even know what “mod” means. “If they want to say we’re mod, fine,” Sam replies indifferently. “If that’s what’s going to get people to come and see us.”

Their self-titled, self-released EP (available from P.O. Box 293, NY NY 10009 or is a forceful meditation on agog youth with such charming-as-fuck titles as “Turn My Blue Sky Black” and “Your Love Is a Gentle Whip” (s&m for rope-toting 13-year-olds: “I will not soon forget/the night we kissed/and all the marks you left/around my wrists”). Currently attempting to hold down day jobs at cider mills, clubs, and galleries, they may never get the same kind of frothing attention that busted Backstreet grills inspire (imagine Mooney Suzuki pillowcases). But though the band insists a June Coney Island High show with Thee Headcoats was so “cataclysmically awful” that “we cried,” their not-yet-jaded charisma keeps them optimistic. Hopefully, they’ll reach wider, dissolute flocks who are too cool for school and want to French-kiss in the back of cars instead.

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