R. Stevie Moore is easily one of the world’s most prolific underground musicians alive today. Over 44 years, Moore has self-released dozens of videos, and his discography has its own Wikipedia page with over 200 albums of every genre. From post-punk to hard rock, power pop to electronica, Moore has tried to perform it.
“I’m the perfect kind of guy, with the perfect kind of music for curiosity seekers looking for something outside of the mainstream,” Moore says of his career, “and I’ve been doing it for so long.” His fans once had to mail Moore a letter to receive cassettes, akin to a “record of the month” club, but with a single prolific musician behind its entire catalogue. It was never like subscribing to a single sound though, “my music is like a radio show, it’s just all over the place,” he states proudly.
Moore’s influences exceed his notoriety, with current musicians including Ariel Pink, Jad Fair, Mike Watt and Yukio Yung citing him as a major influence. Pink’s notable collaboration with Moore, Ku Klux Glam, was officially released in 2012. “He was just a home-recording artist too, just playing in the Los Angeles area,” Moore says about working with the modern experimental magnate. “But then he too got a band together and started touring the world, and dropping my name constantly. We’re long-time friends, he used to send me tapes back in 2000.”
A result of exchanging letters with Pink for the better part of a decade, Ku Klux Glam became a turning point in Moore’s career. Leading to invitations for Moore to perform around the world. “My favourite gigs to play are festivals actually, which are so big these days,” he says, undaunted by the prospect of leaving home. “You never know though. Last year we played in Mexico City and Moscow, Russia. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Yet even with an extensive back catalogue, Moore faces similar hardships as younger musicians playing their first tours. “It’s just a long continual struggle and we’re pushing hard. But finally I’m becoming a reference part,” laments Moore. “On tour, one night will be great, but the next night will be totally in the wrong place to play and no one will show up. But that’s just part of playing, you’ve got to put up with it.”
Joining him on this tour are his long-time fans, guitarist JR Thomason, keyboardist TV Coahran, and drummer Reed Stewart. “Some college students, friends of Thomason’s, wanted to put together a documentary on me,” Moore says of his origins, “but then I got back to Nashville and I wasn’t sure what my future was like. Then Thomason calls me and says, ‘How would you like to go back on tour?’ We got together, did a bunch of my songs, and we haven’t looked back.” In this way, Moore’s performances became a fan-led tribute.
Expect R. Stevie Moore’s performances to be the hardest you’ve ever seen a 62-year-old rock out onstage. “I’m shredding my voice, and I’m having fun doing that,” Moore says. “These days I’m pretty much just in a hard rock band.” You might be a bit confused when comparing it to the records you get a chance to hear, but Moore’s made having fun with fans his top priority. “If I had more time and more planning, I’d love to have a little circus,” Moore laments. “But right now I’m up there shaking my booty and playing screaming rock, and I’m having a lot of fun doing that.”
R. Stevie Moore plays the Electric Owl on February 18th.
By Mathieu Youdan