Moist’s David Usher, Mark Makoway look back on band’s 25th anniversary

Moist frontman David Usher in Montreal, on Sept. 24, 2017. Mario Beauregard / CP Images

Twenty-five years ago in the storied grunge era, Vancouver rock band Moist barged onto the scene. In a particularly fertile period of Canadian rock music, Moist, along with fellow bands of the time like The Tea Party, I Mother Earth and Sloan, had legions of fans in a blink.

Starting with their 1994 debut album Silver, the band, featuring members David Usher (vocals), Mark Makoway (lead guitar), Jeff Pearce (bass), Kevin Young (keyboards) and Paul Wilcox (drums) shot to success with their first single, Push.

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Now, a quarter-century later, the band is celebrating their anniversary with a 2CD/digital deluxe edition (out Nov. 29) and a 180g 3LP deluxe edition (out Dec. 13). Both versions of the anniversary release feature the newly remastered four-times platinum Silver, alongside rare demos, acoustic versions of their smash hits, and previously unreleased live tracks recorded in L.A. in 1994.

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Earlier this year, Usher, Makoway and Young reunited with Pearce to tour together as a unit — for the first time since 2013 — for the Silver 25th Anniversary Tour. The group performed the album in its entirety, as well as favourites from their 25-plus year career, at select venues across Canada.

Global News sat down with the band to chat about their legacy, what it feels like looking back and how they feel playing their hits now, as older gents.

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Global News: Congrats on 25 years of Silver. You’re releasing a 3LP/2CD deluxe remaster of the album. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Mark Makoway: It was quite a process of putting it together, actually. We’ve got the original album combined with a live recording that we did back in the day — in December ’94, down in Los Angeles — as well as some rare b-sides from that period. So everything is very much taken from the Silver era.

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You’ve remastered the next two albums on vinyl as well. Mark, you’re now Moist’s main producer, was it solely your responsibility to revisit those?
MM: We actually did those with Universal. The biggest process was actually sourcing all of the original tapes, because initially, we were with EMI, but EMI was absorbed by Universal quite a few years ago. It basically turned into a bit of a detective work. [Laughs] It was such an amazing journey going back to everything and finding all of the original master tapes though.
Was that the first time you heard some of those recordings since that era?
MM: Absolutely, yeah. It was a trip. We listened to a lot of stuff that wasn’t even on those albums too — just to make sure we found all of the material. It’s remarkable how much recording we did back then. [Laughs] There’s massive archives of it all just waiting.

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You’re finishing up the Silver 25th-anniversary tour right now, and you’re playing the album front to back, how’s that been going?
David Usher: It’s pretty amazing, it’s been a really fun tour. Playing the entire album in the middle of the show has been quite an experience. Everyone’s been reacting really well to it. Us as well… it’s just been quite amazing to play it all the way through again.

MM: There’s also some tracks on Silver that we haven’t played since ’94. [Laughs] So going back and working on those songs again in anticipation of this tour, was quite a journey in itself.
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It must be gratifying to be able to look back at the success of your hits, play them live again, and still have fans react to them so well.
DU: Yeah, we’ve been at this for such a long time. It’s amazing when you’re able to stand up onstage 25 years later and to be able to play to all these sold-out rooms, and have everyone singing every word to every single song. It’s just fantastic. You really can’t help but be a bit overwhelmed by it all.

(L-R) David Usher and Mark Makoway of Moist perform at the Festival d’été de Québec on July 10, 2019, in Quebec City. Barry Brecheisen/WireImage
On your tour, you played the Phoenix as well as the Horseshoe, and both are considered such important and historical venues in Toronto. I’m wondering if you could share any memorable anecdotes from some other iconic Canadian venues from back in the day.
MM: First of all, we played about 400 shows on the Silver tour alone… [Laughs] We played right around the world. Everywhere from Canada, the United States, to Europe and Asia — Thailand specifically, for a couple of shows at least. There’s almost too many venues to count. But we still have such fond memories of those shows. It’s surreal. We’re very lucky to have been able to play shows across the world for as long as we have.
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Whenever you look back at the ’90s — if you even do — do you have generally happy memories of that era? Do you ever miss it?
DU: [Both Laugh] That’s a good way to put it, “If you do.” [Laughs].

MM: It was a really great period for music in general… Particularly for upcoming Canadian rock bands. It seems that the stars really aligned in Canada and there were so many great bands that we had the pleasure to play with. Artistically, it was all just so unique. It’s so interesting how many different visions were going on back then. We were glad, and genuinely just really lucky to be a part of it all.

DU: We spent a lot of the ’90s living this crazy sort of gypsy life; living in tour buses and hotels all over the world, and it was just a very strange way to live, but at the same time, really neat. It was a period that I think we all look back on as being this incredible experience that most people don’t get to live. It’s something that you just can’t recreate.

Moist frontman David Usher performing at the Oasis Rock & Roll Marathon in Montreal, Que., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Mario Beauregard/CP Images

Do you find that the songs from the first three albums still resonate with you the same way they used to when you’re playing them live? Or do they hold a different meaning to you now?
DU: It’s funny because we went through a lot of this back in 2013 when we were recording the Glory Under Dangerous Skies record. We thought about how simply all the older material really interwove with all the new stuff. Every one of our records tells a different story and reflects a different period, but there’s always that thread that you can easily pick out a Moist song from a catalogue of any random songs. It seems that for whatever reason, whenever you get this group of people together into a room, something special happens.

Would that be different if you guys weren’t so close anymore?
MM: Yeah, definitely.

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So we don’t have a Van Halen-type relationship on our hands?
DU: [Laughs] No, not at all. Wait… we should talk about the other guys while they’re not here. [Both laugh] Seriously though, we’re all great friends and we really enjoy doing this. We’re all doing other things too, so if we didn’t like doing this anymore, we just wouldn’t do it. Every time you step on stage now, you look at things differently, because we’re not in the same whirlwind that we used to be. So you really get to appreciate things for what they are. Like we were saying before, when when the audience is singing the words back to you, they know all the songs, and there’s this connection, that holds such a strong feeling, but now I think we really get more time to really appreciate exactly what that is.
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MM: It’s very gratifying to feel that energy too. A lot of artists don’t get to enjoy this process, and we are incredibly grateful that we’ve been gifted with it.

DU: A lot of bands don’t like each other either. You know? They don’t actually like the people that they play with, which is sad. But we’re lucky that we get to go out, hang out with our friends, and play music that we still love to play. We’re pretty damn lucky that way.

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It must be pretty great having Jeff Pearce back in the band then, right?
MM: Yeah! [Laughs] We certainly missed Jeff when he wasn’t in the band. We loved playing with Louis too though. He’s such an incredible bass player, and a super genuine guy, but there is something really special about having that original Moist chemistry going again. There’s also an unmistakable quality when Jeff and David sing together too. Jeff brings an urgency to choruses and things that I’ve just never heard anywhere else.
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DU: It really is great to have him back. I think we all have a better understanding of each other right now too. When we were first starting out, there was such a whirlwind around us, that sometimes it was hard to appreciate exactly what everyone added to the band. Now, I truly think we have a much better understanding of how much each person’s personality contributes to Moist and makes it work overall.

MM: There’s a crazy chemistry to it. [Laughs]
DU: Yeah. [Laughs] A voodoo. [Both laugh]
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Any thoughts about making a fifth album? If so, will we have to wait 14 years for it?
MM: Oh God, I hope not. [Both laugh] We were just in Montreal and Ottawa playing shows, but before we played them, we went up early to actually get into more songwriting. We are all songwriters by nature, so we’re always doing that, but we’re now making a conscious effort to bring together some ideas that hopefully will be the foundation of new music. Let’s say maybe next year.
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]


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Physical copies of the new Moist albums can be purchased through MusicVaultz.

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As of this writing, Moist has no scheduled tour dates.

Updates and additional information can be found through the band’s official website.

— With files from Chris Jancelewicz

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