Article By: Leanne Ridgeway
“The Tourture Never Stops”, or seems so for Mos Generator in 2018. They finished up the ‘Tour Of The Shadowlands’ dates across the U.S. and Canada only a mere two weeks ago and are already gearing up for a quick U.S. West Coast run. Next week, the trio hailing from the Pacific NW is once again hitting venues with Fu Manchu.
This stint will make it three tour treks since their ‘Shadowlands‘ album was released in May via Listenable Records. Their 2018 ‘Road Dogs Tour‘ started off supporting Fu Manchu [photos here], then the main stage set at France’s Hellfest in June, then a two-month endurance marathon that just ended. Road Dogs, indeed.
I had some time to chat with Mos Generator at both their Descendants Of Crom headline date, as well as their show a few days later here in Albany, NY. Those chats sparked a realization that we should have a full-bore interview. We recently did just that, in a lengthy conversation with Tony Reed and we’re sharing the results of that with you today.
You can stream Mos Generator’s ‘Shadowlands‘ album below and also find options to purchase it. We also have the week of new ‘Tourture Never Stops’ dates at the bottom (updated as of today – 11/4), after this fun interview with Mr. Reed.
Get a copy of ‘Shadowlands’ at one of these locations:
Riff Relevant [Leanne]: First, you recently finished up your lengthy ‘Tour Of The Shadowlands‘ dates; how is the “post-tour depression”?
Mos Generator [Tony Reed]: I’m still in tour mode, so I’m trying to get my focus on the work that was piling up while we were out on tour, but it’s hard when I know we’re going out again so soon. I’m still in that weird purgatory place in my head.
Riff Relevant [Leanne]: I imagine it must be difficult to get back to the normal home and work tasks after being out on the road for a long stretch.
Mos Generator [Tony Reed]: It’s hard to concentrate for the first week, I start to do something and can’t get into it. I’m still amped up from tour and it doesn’t settle down knowing that we’re heading out again for a short run with Fu Manchu soon.
I’m doing sort of mindless stuff so I can unwind. I just mowed the lawn this morning and I’m pretty proud that I managed to finish it in three songs! “Modern Love“, “China Girl“, and “Let’s Dance“, and it was done. I’m kind of sitting around now but was thinking about going to look at some records at this flea market type thing in town.
Riff Relevant: We had talked about Bowie at Descendants of Crom, you were looking forward to hearing the new, reworked eighties Bowie stuff in the ‘Loving The Alien’ box set.
Tony Reed: Yeah, it wasn’t really done in the way I’d hoped, but I think ‘Let’s Dance‘ is a brilliant record. The songs are cool, it’s an era of its own. I was 14 when it came out, Bowie was hitting it big then. Cable and MTV were late to arrive in my area growing up, so I didn’t get to see music videos until later on. Eighties’ Bowie was one of the first music videos I ever saw. That era of Bowie were some great records in their own right.
Riff Relevant: What’s a current ‘holy grail’ vinyl that you’re looking for?
Tony Reed: It’s not really a holy grail, but BBC had this broadcast of Pink Floyd, live at Wembley Stadium in 1974. At that set, they played ‘Darkside Of The Moon’ in full – it’s included on CD in a box set, but it’s a killer remix. They were still a four-piece then, before they started really having more people on stage. I’d love to have that one on vinyl.
Now I just want stuff to be released that I know already exists. That’s more important than anything I can find. Things that have never been put on vinyl. Like for instance, Rush recorded four shows in England on the ‘Permanent Waves’ tour. Just to have like a ‘Permanent Waves’ live in full, on vinyl? It would be amazing.
King Crimson, of course, and many other recordings that were only ever released on CD. I’d love to have some of these things on vinyl.
There’s another record that’s not anywhere in the wild, but there’s this one Black Sabbath recording. It’s like a very rare, unreleased, demonstration acetate disc. It’s a rough mix of Sabbath in the studio, of “When I Came Down“, an unreleased track that no one’s ever heard in its entirety. I met the guy who owns it and he let me listen to it once, and I got to hold it. He also let me record the B-side, but even though I’ve actually touched the record, I don’t think I could afford what he’d be asking for it to buy it from him. I’d guess it’d be somewhere in the thousands.
Riff Relevant: Many of your friends and fans are well aware of your long-time love for Black Sabbath. How many of their records do you currently own?
Tony Reed: I don’t know for sure, I probably have around 60 copies overall. I probably have more Bowie records than I do Sabbath, but he had a bigger catalog. I do have a whole lot of Sabbath bootlegs… but Bowie, too. And Queen had a lot of bootlegs, too. I try not to always buy bootlegs, I still need them to be listenable products.
Riff Relevant: Speaking about Black Sabbath, you’ve had another band, Luke’s Wall, with whom you’ve played drums for a long time. It’s essentially a Sabbath tribute, where you perform strictly Ozzy-era songs, yes?
Tony Reed: Luke’s Wall has been together for over 20 years. My first show was ’99, but I know we played before that. This is all of the dudes from Woodrot except the singer; one of the other guitarists is the singer for Luke’s Wall. He’s a touring rockabilly/ psychobilly musician, James Hunnicutt.
He’s been out touring for years, like The Goddamn Gallows and that kind of thing. Joe (White) and Eric (Seipp) are from Woodrot and Golden Pig Electric Blues Band from Port Orchard. These are the guys that inspired me to play heavy rock again, prior to Mos Generator.
Cool heavy riffs, cool vocals. They’re one of my favorite bands. We just play Sabbath for the fun of it, we don’t do any dress up. We just play it to sound as close as it’s gonna get. If that’s what you want, this is it.
We don’t dress up as Sabbath, it’s not a gimmick band. I’m the drummer in Luke’s Wall, which is super fun for me. It becomes an emotional thing for me because the music of Black Sabbath means so much to me. When I’m playing, it becomes an experience. We don’t get to do it that often, so when we do it’s so much fun for me.
We named it that to show that we’re not going to just play the ‘hits’, we’re going deep into the mix. We don’t play shows out too far, we usually stick to the home base region. We’ve never even played in Seattle. It’d be fun to think about going further, to show people that it can be really done well.
If you’re in the Washington state area, you can check out Luke’s Wall on December 14th or 15th. Click the dates for the info:
- Dec. 14 – Port Angeles, WA @ Little Devil’s Lunchbox
- Dec. 15 – Tacoma, WA @ The Plaid Pig (w/ CFA, Teepee Creeper)
Riff Relevant: How did the Fall tour go? There were some really huge drives between some of the gigs. The next run coming up with Fu Manchu seems to concentrate on a beeline up the West Coast.
Tony Reed: I think we played really well at every show this last tour. Even if some dates may have started out with some sound difficulties, or with the van hitting some unplanned mechanical snags, we still made it to every venue in time to play.
No matter what was happening on our tour, I think we all definitely played well. We just like getting in front of people. Luckily, we ended our last few shows of the tour with some dates that were really well-attended, so that made for a positive end.
The new Fu Manchu dates are coming up really soon, we’re doing a week-long run. They start in San Francisco and we join on there. It’s going to be a nice last, somewhat local, run of shows for the year, that’ll be cool. It’s a nice run and we really appreciate Fu Manchu bringing us out with them again. We get to end the year playing some potentially sold-out shows, which is always a great time.
Riff Relevant: 2018 seemed almost nonstop for Mos Generator. You also went over to Europe during the summer to play bass on dates with Seedy Jeezus, supporting their ‘Polaris Oblique‘ album and the special ‘Breathin’ Thru Reeds‘ release you appeared on. What was it like to tour with a band where you weren’t in the role of the ‘leader of the pack’, so to speak?
Tony Reed: It was cool, but sometimes a bit weird. It was interesting, though. Usually, when coming offstage, I’m sort of used to still being ‘onstage’ and talking to folks at the show, talking about Mos Generator or answering questions, and always manning the merch table.
With the Seedy shows, I was just walking off stage and basically had to do nothing but pack up my gear and hang out. So, touring and playing bass in a band that isn’t mine was a different feeling and was a fun experience. I love the Seedy Jeezus guys, but it was definitely strange and it was an amazing learning experience for me.
Riff Relevant: Are there tour plans in place for 2019, or are you, Sean, and Jono going to take a break from travels for a while since you’ve had such a packed year?
Tony Reed: For 2019, we’re trying to confirm some Australia dates and we’re really hopeful about that. It’s been brewing for a couple of years and we’ve really been looking forward to touring down in Australia. We should find out about that soon, I hope.
We do have some plans to slow down on touring over the next couple of years, but we have a lot of releases in the works that we’re planning to finish up during that slow time. We have leftover songs from ‘Shadowlands’ and that era of recording that we’d like to put it out as a series of three 7” records inside of a book. It’s something we’re pretty excited about doing and having it be something different, especially with the artwork we’re thinking of. It’s something we don’t normally do with our releases.
South Spit Records handled the releases for reissues of ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, ‘Songs For Future Gods’, ‘Nomads‘, and the hardcore records. My buddy in Lord Ellis owns it, he’s down in Arcata (CA). He and I have started talking about working together to build the label up more while we’re taking time off from touring. We’re still talking, but he’s a great guy.
We recently had a one-day jam session that lasted all day. We recorded it, so we plan to put it out on a release. There’s no title yet for that, we may decide to put some vocals over the top of it, but the whole thing will probably be 70% instrumental. It’s a challenge to go against my habit of editing things over and shortening songs down, so these jams are going to be fun and definitely going against our grain.
Riff Relevant: You jammed out a bit onstage at the Albany show, it was fun to see you guys sort of let loose and see where it would go. You all had talked about that session you recorded, it sounded like you had a great time feeling your way through it as it went.
Tony Reed: The session literally went for six hours straight, we just let the recording continue as we jammed out. It’s good to let all three of us just put ourselves into a jam like that and let our own selves come into the song. It’s great to do that live, just naturally bring ourselves to another place, based on how we feel at that point. Then it’s all of us, with me not ‘leading’ at all, and all of us work as one. For me as a guitar player, I did a lot more looping of guitar parts, things I’ve never done before. It was a lot of fun.
We’re also planning at some point to have a Mos Generator Live album, from our set in Manchester, England on October 1, 2017. Someone multi-tracked the show and sent it to me. When I finally listened to it, it sounded like a really great performance and recording, so we’re going to release it and put it out there. We did some different things that night, too. We played a King Crimson cover and we opened with a song we don’t normally open with. I’m going to experiment with some of the mastering and start the plan for the releases.
Riff Relevant: Mos Gen has digitally released some incredible covers that you put out on Bandcamp as free downloads. The “Light Up The Sky” cover was especially jaw-dropping. Any plans to throw them into the mix of these releases?
Tony Reed: We have been thinking about maybe putting out a Mos Gen album of covers. There are so many things we could choose from, like Sabbath and Van Halen. There’s a lot.
We’ve got an idea going that maybe Side One would be like “new band” covers by current Mos Gen members, and Side Two would be covers recorded by the original Mos Gen era. If any labels out there are interested in putting that out on vinyl, let us know!
Riff Relevant: Mos Generator has delved somewhat into science fiction themes for certain songs over the years. We had a whole discussion just about the Planet Of The Apes soundtrack/score. What were some other sci-fi influences?
Tony Reed: The Twilight Zone series is a huge influence on many things for me, from lyrics to song titles… a lot of the classic sci-fi stuff is. The Thing is one of the greatest movies ever made, in my mind.
Alien (the original) and also like the movie Altered States, which is basically what the song “Cosmic Ark“ is about. Obviously, Planet Of The Apes is a huge one. I was in a sci-fi book club when I was in grade school, if that says anything.
It’s been a while since I’ve really brought that into the songs. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last few years, so a lot of my recent lyrics have been delving more into the human condition.
Riff Relevant: You’ve talked about how you’ll remaster certain albums because you want to fix something that bugged you about it. Have you ever wanted to ‘fix’ a Mos Generator album?
There’s a lot of songs I’d like to remix just because I don’t know if anything will ever be able to be at the point where I want it and be completely satisfied. It’s rare for a song to sound exactly like I wanted in my head. “Shadowlands” is probably one of those rarities where the finished and released song is very much the same as what I first heard in my head when it was written.
Riff Relevant: In Jono‘s Drummer Spotlight interview, he mentioned certain Mos Generator songs that are a staple part of your live setlist. Are there certain songs that you’ll never play live?
Tony Reed: So many songs we literally just cannot play live. Sometimes it’s due to recording the vocals later (I can’t sing and play both simultaneously). Sometimes the songs just don’t translate to live performance well. Some songs we love so much, but crowds just don’t get into it live, so we don’t play them.
Sometimes as we’ve toured, we feel like we’re proving ourselves to new audiences, so we stick with the songs we know have worked in other live settings. Sometimes it’s just got to always be for the crowd’s enjoyment versus our own, to make sure that they get a great night. There are some songs we’ll always play live because it gets such a great response and we love playing it.
We’ve got a couple of places we’ve played before that have offered for us to just play any date we want, just to perform one album in its entirety. Like ‘Late Great Planet Earth’, but for us, it would need to be a full production, light show, the whole nine yards.
I’d thought about if I’d like to take the ‘Lost Chronicles‘ idea and go out and tour with that in Europe or something, but it would still be a lot of work to plan out and handle touring on my own.
Riff Relevant: I’m not a music gear nerd, but I like to ask about it to learn new things and pretend I have any idea what I’m talking about. What’s your always-have list of live gear?
Tony Reed: ESP LTD Viper with my personal mods, a Rola Lead 100HW amplifier, and a Marshall 1960B cabinet.
Riff Relevant: When seeing Mos Gen live, I’ve noticed a distinctly faster tempo on a lot of your songs, compared to the recorded versions. Is that common for you?
Tony Reed: Live is always faster, but on this last tour we managed to control that more consistently than before. We always tend to play our songs faster live, sometimes it goes faster than expected, but adrenaline takes over.
But if we can keep it under control at a faster pace – sometimes it’s a challenge – but when we do it, it’s a fun song to play and the rhythm of the guys is going so strong and I’m flying through things and we don’t realize it sometimes. I’m such a control freak normally, that when we can get that almost loss of control, I like it, and want to keep doing it and challenging myself.
Riff Relevant: What’s the most frequently misplaced item on a Mos Generator tour?
Tony Reed: Jono’s hat. He’s lost the same hat three times. We managed to get it back a couple of times, through the miracles that are our friends, fans, Ebay, and USPS Priority mail.
Riff Relevant: One last thing… Mos Generator has been on a few of the Magnetic Eye Records ‘Redux’ tribute releases. ‘The Wall [Redux]‘ has gotten an amazing amount of attention. How was it to be a part of that album?
Tony Reed: I’ve talked about it a few times with different folks, but there’s another very personal reason I had for wanting to cover the song “Goodbye Blue Sky” specifically – aside from being part of this amazing release and my love for the original Pink Floyd album.
That whole scene from the movie, it’s actually my son’s favorite part of the album and his favorite part of the movie. So, it’s something really special to have done that particular song. It’s a challenge to do something like that song, which is so out of the ordinary from the others and also from what we normally do as a band.
There you have it… Much thanks to Tony Reed of Mos Generator, as well as to Sean Booth (bass), and Jono Garrett (drums) for all that they bring to the rock show. Go check out a live date. You won’t regret a single second. Fill those venues.
Mos Generator ‘The Tourture Never Stops’ Tour Dates:
Nov. 09 – Bremerton, WA @ Manette Saloon (w/ Beaux Cheveux)