Ian Moore has had one of the most curious career paths of any Texas musician Chatter can think of. Moore and his current band the Lossy Coils have already released one of 2011's best albums, the hard-driving power-pop masterpiece El Sonido Nuevo (Spark & Shine Records). But the album he's about to self-release, The First Third, is the one that changed the course of his career.
The Austin native was once a guitar prodigy who recorded and toured with the Joe Ely Band before forming his own group with Michael Villegas (drums), Chris White (bass) and Bukka Allen (keys). The Ian Moore Band released two albums that, alongside the Arc Angels, ruled rock radio in the early and mid-'90s — especially in Texas — with soul-drenched hits like "Blue Sky," "Harlem," "Muddy Jesus" and "Bar Line 99."
But the late Phil Walden, president and co-founder of the band's label at the time, Capricorn Records, disliked their third album so much that he and Moore actually came to blows. Some songs reappeared on 2000's And All the Colors, but The First Third is how they were originally conceived. (Walden died in 2006.)
Chatter did not know Moore during those days, but we began moving in the same Austin social circles after he moved to Seattle with his family about a decade ago (give or take) and became a frequent visitor to Texas. Our conversation last week was typical of two longtime acquaintances, one a journalist and the other who studied to be, who could talk for days about music.
"I had a bunch of songs that were big hits, and [now] I don't ever play those songs in my show," Moore says about his original band, which reunites for six Southwestern shows starting Thursday and Friday at the Continental. "A lot of people get really pissed off, and I understand it. They're like, 'You're Ian; these are your songs.' I wanted to have an opportunity, with the guys I wrote the songs with, to play the songs people ask me for every night."
Chatter: How did the fistfight with Phil Walden happen?
Ian Moore: He was just so angry at me for making the record, and he wasn't very good at communicating his feelings, and I was...you know. The irony is if you listen to the record, it's definitely the most focused, song-oriented, but still — if you listen to El Sonido, I think the songs are great, I'm really proud of the production, but I think it's an underground record. It shouldn't be, but it is in this realm.
It's power-pop, some elements of psych and some hip classic-rock stuff, but it will never be a hit, and I know that. But that record, The First Third, is probably the best chance I ever had at mainstream success. But it's all about timing, and we were just out of sync with the label.
C: I think the first time I ever saw the Ian Moore Band was at the Alamodome opening for the Rolling Stones in 1994. Do you remember anything from that show?
IM: The Stones shows were interesting because No. 1, it was such an obvious apex of a career. I realized that until I died, that would be the easiest way to go [when somebody says], "So you play in a band? What kind of stuff have you guys done?" that would be my opportunity to go, "Yeah, we played with the Stones."
But on the other hand, I also realized this is right around the time we were making the third record, and there was an enormous amount of tension between us and the label. The band, what we were doing and the music we were excited about, what we were trying to make, was not really working with the fans.
That's what I remember most about the Stones show. I remember hanging out with the Stones, of course, which was awesome and fun, but I remember feeling that there was going to be a time period of a lot of reconstruction, and that there was probably going to be some fallout and things were probably going to get challenging for a while.
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