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Dead Moon - In The Graveyard (1988)


Dead Moon was a United States punk rock band from 1987 to 2006, formed in Portland, Oregon. Fronted by singer/guitarist Fred Cole, the band also included bassist Toody Cole, Fred's wife, and drummer Andrew Loomis. Veterans of Portland's independent rock scene, Dead Moon combined dark and lovelorn themes with punk and country music influences into a stripped-down sound. Fred Cole engineered most of the band's recordings and mastered them on a mono lathe that was used for The Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie". Their early records, such as In the Graveyard, were released on the Tombstone Records label, named for the musical equipment store Fred and Toody operated at the time. Soon they caught the attention of the German label Music Maniac Records, and toured Europe successfully. Not until the mid-nineties did they tour the United States. Much of their following is in Europe.

A U.S. filmmaking team (Kate Fix and Jason Summers) produced a 2004 documentary, Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story, which played in independent theaters around the U.S., New Zealand, and Melbourne International Film Fest, and was released on DVD in the fall of 2006. Dead Moon has recorded for labels such as Empty Records, but most releases are on Music Maniac abroad and Tombstone in the U.S. The Tombstone label has also provided cheap mastering and duplication for other bands, serving more as a cooperative than a promotional vehicle. Though Fred and Toody are in their fifties, they showed no signs of slowing down on their 2004 release Dead Ahead, continuing to tour the globe until 2006, which saw the release of the Echoes of the past compilation.

In December 2006, near the end of the Echoes of the Past tour, Dead Moon announced their disbandment. Their last gig was at the Vera club in Groningen on November 26, 2006. Fred and Toody currently own the Tombstone General Store in Clackamas, Oregon, and are building a shopping center nearby.

Pearl Jam covered the song "It's Okay"; they often segue it with their song "Daughter" in live performances. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam has also covered "Diamonds in the Rough" and "Running Out of Time" with C-Average.

Fred and Toody formed a new band called Pierced Arrows with Portland punk musician Kelly Halliburton, whose father played in a band called "Albatross" with Fred in 1972, of Severed Head of State, Defiance and formerly Murder Disco X. Pierced Arrows played their first show debuting on May 18, 2007 at Portland’s Ash Street Saloon with the reformed Poison Idea. Andrew Loomis now plays drums for a band called The Shiny Things from Longview, Washington, along with Terry French (vocals) Becca D. (lead guitar) and Marc Nelson (guitar).


Folks often like to laud the most remarkably enduring of rock music’s veterans by dubbing them ‘immortal’, and if you generate enough money that people are willing to pay for your blood to be changed in a private Swiss clinic, that illusion is more likely to be prolonged. At some point, though, cold reality is going to kick in. In the case of Fred Cole, singer and guitarist of Oregon’s Dead Moon, his fifty years of writing and releasing music – all the more astonishing for never having a bloated paycheck as motivation – were put on ice in March this year, when he needed emergency open heart surgery. A diagnosis of 80-100% arterial blockage sounds a bit hairy, to say the least, but true to form, Fred recovered faster than expected; the business of being a brilliant, singular and enormously admirable totem of underground rock can continue from its paused position.

Formed in the late Eighties by Fred and his wife Toody, who married in 1967 and have played in bands together since the early Seventies, Dead Moon are no longer a going concern, although the couple’s current band Pierced Arrows is along similarly anthemic, stripped-to-a-skeleton lines. They maintained a fierce release rate in their time, however, starting in 1988, ’89 and ‘90 with the three albums tackled here, on account of their CD reissue on Portland punk label M’lady’s (they’re also available on esteemed archive imprint Mississippi, should you prefer vinyl). Fred and Toody, plus Dead Moon drummer Andrew Loomis, would never have claimed to have invented a new rock’n’roll language – time-honoured imagery, which some might call clichés, are embraced here with passion – but at no point on these albums does it feel like a superfluous Xerox of the past.

A Dead Moon song, typically between two and three minutes long, might call back to blues, country, rockabilly, the mid-Sixties garage explosion that kickstarted Fred’s career in 1964, and the autonomous DIY punk scene (which the band managed to be a glowing example of, while largely existing outside of it). Greg Sage, of Portland’s occasionally brilliant Wipers, heartily endorsed Dead Moon early on, and the band’s debut LP In The Graveyard has a Wipers-y feel at times. Less instrumentally deft and lower of fidelity, sure, but ‘Graveyard’ and ‘Don’t Burn The Fires’ combine a yearning sweetness and a punky forward momentum with a determination to present electric guitars, bass and drums in as un-manipulated a fashion as possible. (source)

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