Some of the greatest songs of both the classical and modern form center around a series of cataclysmic and disruptive life events that occur while behind the wheel. From dust bowl travels in a busted jalopy with the family Joad, to every country western song about a broke-down pick-up truck, the vehicle plot device becomes a container for personal exposition with metaphoric turning points and On The Road collision wreckage.
This is “Single Car Accident”, the A-side of a new 7-inch from the man behind The Murder City Devils, and Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death; Spencer Moody. The guitars drive like heavy-lidded-blood-shot eyes staring out into a darkened two-lane highway, with chords toned like twisted metal. Shouting the title with all the asphalt and gravel he can kick up, Spencer starts the song with the autobiographical introduction, “that's the story of me.” The bruises and hurt that stem from and surrounds the “Single Care Accident” pits the woeful speed that causes the crash against the physical and emotional pains growled in the headache haze of, “a little lost, a little slow.” Moody packs an omnibus of anguish, where he and producer Dann Gallucci create a world large enough to match the larger-than-life character of Spencer's delivery. “Accident” places you as a witness at the scene of impact, where only the strong enough to survive the ordeal stand to tell the tale.
Along with the b-side, “Polish Handgun”, the “Single Care Accident” 7-inch will be released September 9 via Riot House Records. Spencer Moody is also busy readying a new MCD album in August, while continuing the processes of “psychic healing” from life's crashes, bumper-busters, and pile-ups through new meta-narratives. Having left Seattle in 2012, Moody is based out of Los Angeles where most of the Murder City Devils reside.
Stream “Single Car Accident” below, and scroll down to read our conversation with Spencer where we explore his various modes of songwriting, performing solo versus with a band, the Seattle of 1994 versus 2014, and more.
When it comes to song ideas, song writing, when do you know whether or not it is a solo Spencer Moody song or a Murder City Devils song?
When I'm hanging out with Murder City Devils dudes and it's time to make a song that's how I know its a Murder City Devils song. Other wise it's a Spencer Moody song or a Triumph of Lethargy [Skinned Alive to Death] song.
Where do you find the differences and similarities between playing solo versus with MCD?
It's lonelier solo. Scarier.
Was there a real life car accident experience here that you are drawing from on, “Single Car Accident”, or was it a witnessed event?
It's a metaphor… it's the story of me.
Is there any kind of J.G. Ballard-like trajectory on the mortal and the mechanical relationship of fallibility and human frailty at play?
It's about comfort verses engagement. It is about the human relationship to the mechanical. That's true.
Can you describe the behind-the-music/behind-the-scenes sessions for “Single Car Accident” and “Polish Handgun”?
We had limited time and limited practice. It was mostly live. Dann Gallucci was producing so that made things work. Every one stayed loose and did great, we let it be.
Even though it might seem like a cliche inquiry, but I have always wondered what do you see when you look at the Seattle scenes of 2014 versus the Seattle of 1994, '96, '98, etc, in terms of contrasts, comparisons, thoughts, etc?
I don't know. I left Seattle in 2012. It's still a great place to make and see music. The folkies and the punks seem to be able to bridge the gap, but mostly I'm out of the loop. When I was a kid in the early '90s there were lots of house shows and people engaged and invested in keep the all ages scene alive. I think Seattle still has that, its what a town needs.
What are you and The Murder City Devils working on, future releases in the works?
There is a new record. It is being mixed now.
As a rock icon of the Northwest, what sage wisdom can you impart?
Remove your self from the dominant culture as much as possible. After you have done so don't replace it with something equally stupid.