Moe Berg Discusses Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Longevity

by Terry Cockerline, Brock Press, October 12, 1995

(contributed by Andrew from St. Catharines, Ontario)

[Editor's note: I think the numbered lines are a game of "first thing that comes to your mind."]

When I was asked to interview Moe Berg of The Pursuit of Happiness, I was excited because his band intrigues me. They intrigue me because they are one of several bands that have risen to the top of the Canadian music scene in spite of their incessant need to buck convention.

1. New Kids on the Block - righteous

When I talked with Moe Berg, lead singer/songwriter for TPOH, over the phone, he offered insight into the evolution of the Canadian scene in general and how TPOH might have risen to the forefront.

"There was a real seminal moment in Canadian music that happened around the mid to late '80's," says Moe,"...up until that point a lot of emphasis in the Canadian music industry had been towards getting Canadian bands that were sort of half-assed versions of what American bands were happening...Suddenly around '86 there's a whole bunch of bands like the Cowboy Junkies, Blue Rodeo, The Hip, Crash Vegas, Grapes of Wrath and, I guess, The Pursuit of Happiness, who simultaneously started having success outside of Canada and I guess they started having [that] success because they didn't sound like all those other bands...They just sounded like good bands doing their own music."

2. Alternative - obsolete

That's precisely what The Pursuit of Happiness are: a good solid band doing their own music. The Pursuit of Happiness seemed to appear out of nowhere in the mid eighties when their video for "I'm An Adult Now" hit regular rotation on Much Music.

"When we made the video for 'I'm An Adult Now'...it was almost a make work project more than any kind of promotional thing in our mind," confesses Moe.

Since then, TPOH has proven their longevity by releasing four albums and consistently creating hits. In addition, they have toured the country numerous times and above all, played their music on their terms.

3. David Letterman - still pretty funny

Although it's been said that The Pursuit of Happiness has never quite reached the height of success that they might deserve, Moe seems quite content with the success they've had to date, especially in Canada and Australia. The key thing for Moe, though, is the band's longevity. "I think if it carries on like this it would be fine." It seems that fame is just another convention.

4. O.J. Trial - no comment

It's been three years since the release of TPOH's last album, The Downward Road. So what have they been doing for the last three years? According to Moe, he has been rethinking his approach to music. "I sort of changed the way I write songs when I got ready to do this record...That was probably the main reason why it took so long," says Moe over the phone. "I took about a year struggling with that, then it took a year to write all the songs...then by the time you make the record and wait for it to come out...it's three years."

5. couches - TV

Listening to Moe talk about TPOH's new album Where's the Bone (on Iron Music), it is very evident that the finished product was well worth the wait. While the sound of their latest effort is typical of The Pursuit of Happiness' first three albums, there is something about this work that is appealing at a different level. "Ultimately, the sound of the band is the same," ensures Moe. "It's still the same people, it's still me singing, there's lots of backup vocals and lots of loud guitars...the essence of TPOH is still there."

Moe suggests that changes are noticeable within the songs. "From a structure point of view in a different respect [Where's the Bone] is a lot different; it's a lot less verse-chorus-verse-chorus-y. I tried to stay away from that as much as possible. There are a lot of songs where 'which is the verse, which is the chorus'...Then also the subject matter is a lot different. It's a lot more topical and a lot more inspired by things outside of myself than the previous records were...Basically the other records were confessional...They were more about relationships and sexual desperation. This record is less about internal conflicts and more about external conflicts."

6. Sir Isaac Brock - "excuse my ignorance. I know nothing about him."

Now in the wake of their new album, The Pursuit of Happiness are embarking on a whirlwind tour of Canada. When they arrive on Friday, you will see they are indeed living up to their name.

Copyright 1995 The Brock Press


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