by Tom Harrison, Vancouver Province, February 21, 1997
Moe Berg doesn't mind admitting that there have been frustrating setbacks in The Pursuit of Happiness' pursuit of happiness during the recent past.
Happily, he's also able to say with some relief that things are better now and the quest continues, unconcerned by the fickleness of pop trends and unstoppable.
"That was definitely a bad time for us," Moe says, referring to a short, unhappy term with Mercury Records that promised to build on the momentum of two albums with Warner Brothers but ended after the release of one album, 1993's The Downward Road, and left the band's future perilously in question.
"We made a lot of hard decisions then. A lot of bands would have broken up in that situation. One reason that a lot of bands DO break up is that they are afraid of losing status. Like, they no longer can afford the tour bus. Well, if that's what's important to them, I have to wonder why they were in music in the first place.
"I have a very strong commitment to what I'm doing; I write every day," he continues, content to let others worry about their pop-star stature. "The band made a decision to continue what we're doing."
Moe and TPOH - Kris Abbott, Dave Gilby, Brad Barker and Renee Suchy - begin their Western Canada tour tonight at the Town Pump and will be at the University of Victoria's Vertigo Pub tomorrow. It will be the Toronto band's first appearance here since the October release of its fifth album, The Wonderful World of The Pursuit of Happiness, and for the band itself, it will be the first time it's played any of the new songs since recording them.
In the past, TPOH would have road-tested its material before recording it. This time, however, Moe showed the band his latest songs in the studio and strove to get performances that were as fresh as possible.
"One of the ideas was to capture the moment when you first learn the song," he explains.
The result is a short and sweet (but, as anyone who knows Moe's tart views on life or love, never too sweet) collection of 14 songs. On the surface, at least, it is the sunniest and most free sounding of the band's albums, which perhaps is also a reflection of the band's current relationship with Iron Music, an independent music publisher, management company and record label that came to TPOH's rescue when it released the band's fourth album, Where's the Bone.
"I've been placed in an environment where I'm free to do what I want," Moe agrees. "So I think I've felt better about writing and I think the writing has improved because of that. Freeing really is the right word to describe the situation."
The Province, Vancouver © 1997