Berg's Pursuit of Happiness Continues

by Andy Pedersen, The Daily News of Halifax, November 16, 1995

At 36, Moe Berg has been pursuing happiness in the music industry for more than a decade. But over the years, the uncompromising lead singer of The Pursuit of Happiness has accumulated his fair share of regrets.

Not the least of which is the challenge he recently offered the local pop act Grace Babies: that the band didn't stand a chance against his band on the ball hockey court.

"That's one of those things that I'm really regretting," said Berg yesterday from the Annapolis Valley. His Toronto-based band played last night for students at Acadia University, and will perform three shows for Halifax students starting tonight at Mount St. Vincent University.

"Not only did I say we'd beat them, I was stupid enough to say that they won't even be able to score a goal on us. Now, I'm having second thoughts about it all. I guess they've really been preparing for it."

And what about other regrets? Here, the long-haired bespectacled singer is less forthcoming.

"Oh, I've got a million of them. Too many to go into here," is all he'll say. "Let's just say that I'm the exact opposite of Sinatra."

Even the songs on the band's latest album, Where's the Bone? (Iron Music Group), don't offer the same kind of window on the caustic popster's worries that his earlier songs did. Berg says that's because of a new style of songwriting he is experimenting with.

"This was the first time I've stepped outside of myself for inspiration," he says. "All my songs on our first three records were pretty introspective. It seemed that my only inspiration came from whatever was going on in my life at the time."

Talk-show madness, racism, peer pressure - and even the hollow left in the nation's spirit by the Wayne Gretzky trade - fuel this latest batch of edgy pop tunes. It's a step in a different direction from the personalized alienation, heartbreak and frustrated rage that inspired Berg's songs through the band's first three records.

As always, there's a healthy dose of humour and irony running throughout Berg's tunes.

"I hope it's not bitterness that people get from this record," he says. "I'd be more inclined to use the word irony. I just find it becoming increasingly obvious that things are going badly and they're only getting worse.

"And I think the only way I'm able to deal with that is by trying to inject some irony and humour into all."

But despite his increasing frustration with the world around him, Berg says he can always turn to his audiences for some hope.

"I'm just hopeful that the young people will be able to learn from it all so that they don't end up repeating the mistakes of their elders," he says. "I've always had faith in young people that overall, they'll do the right thing."

That faith was renewed during the pre-referendum rhetoric.

"Really, it was only the high school and junior high students who were making sense to me through the whole thing," he says. "They were making the only real sensible statements on both sides, I thought. It was all the older politicians and people who were...well, you know the kinds of statements that were thrown around."

1995 The Daily News. All rights reserved.

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