Spencer Moody On Murder City Devils’ Breakup: ‘Everyone Was Ready For A Change’

After unearthing an ultra-hard-to-find interview with Dead Meadow yesterday, today it seemed fitting to trudge up an even rarer one with Dead Low Tide. This piece is so obscure, in fact, that only two eyeballs have seen it thus far: Shortly before it was due to run, Dead Low Tide bit the dust, and the article was scrapped.

In the interview – conducted July 17, 2002 – Moody talked about the life of DLT and the death of his then-former band, Murder City Devils. Incidentally, the now-reunited MCD have three East Coast shows happening next week: two on February 12 at Philadelphia’s Theater of Living Arts, and one the follow day at New York’s Nokia Theatre.

(Adding some historical context, MCD and DLT are hardly the only bands to have featured Moody over the years. Among the buckets of bands on his résumé are Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, Rabbit Ears, the John & Spencer Booze Explosion, and Smoke and Smoke – the latter another project that found him partnering with Kunka. The below-mentioned Coady Willis, meanwhile, is part of the reunited MCD, and also a player in Big Business and Melvins.)

When in doubt, do without. So said two-fifths of Seattle’s now-defunct Murder City Devils: the gargly screamer Spencer Moody and his thrashin’ partner Coady Willis. After happening across onetime Enemymine and godheadSilo bassist Mike Kunka – notorious for his pummeling, eight-stringed weapon – they reached the swift conclusion that MCD’s second guitar and keyboard were expendable. That a thicker, sparer, three-pronged attack would trim the blubber and centralize The Rock. Less is more, and the Dead Low Tide they became.

“It’s really different, that there’s only three people playing instruments,” Moody corroborates during a phone conversation held on his 27th b-day. “Mike builds up so much sound, and it created a lot more room. There’s a nice sort of minimalness to the music, but then some weirder elements also. Kind of sparse but sometimes complicated at the same time. We weren’t afraid of space in the songs.”

Some of the songs he’s referring to are contained on the DLT’s promo record, the “Ill Eagle” 7”. As if the title cut (named after a local fireworks stand) wasn’t gnarly enough, the band decided to distribute limited-edition vinyl versions of that formative song and other rough demos at various stages of recent tours with Sparta (at SXSW this past April) and the Melvins (late spring). They then collected five of the cuts for the promo-only “Ill Eagle” 7” – a mere nibble of what to expect from DLT’s first full-length, due this October.

The super-trio is able to fuse razor-edged assaults à la The Jesus Lizard – deafening sonic barrages and belly-shaking rhymthic rumbles – in a single bound. Beads of acid-sweat drip from the mind-warping “Barrel Vault” to the slower, drawn-out trances “Lazer Lazer Lazer Love” and “Shake & Slide.”

Such an intense concentration of sheer splitting sound was not always found with MCD, who packed high-energy aggression throughout their career but closed it with the anticlimactic, unfocused Thelema EP.

Speaketh Moody: “The thing with MCD is that everyone didn’t feel a connection to the older songs anymore. It would’ve been hard to just stop playing all of our songs and start over as the same band. I think everyone was ready for a change. Derek [Fudesco, bassist] obviously wanted to be playing more poppy music and some of us wanted to play a more different, weirder kind of music. I think it was just time for us to part and do different stuff.”

Add to that the premature departure of keyboardstress Leslie Hardy and R.I.P. MCD.

So how much of a buffer was there, timewise, between MCD and DLT?

“None, really,” he replies. “Mike came to the last MCD show, we hung out and a week or two later went up to Port Angeles [Washington], where he lives, and practiced for a couple days. That was sort of it.”

Barring any more afflictions – Kunka’s bout with a recent illness bumped the full-length’s release a month ahead – DLT will be ready, lock, stock and barreling. We can only hope that the Tide will abide.

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