An interview with Milwaukee's Moloko Shivers
by Mike Huberty
Moloko Shivers Live
If you lived and breathed rock music in Southeastern Wisconsin in the early 1990’s, then you saw MOLOKO SHIVERS. Shirtless rock stars with cutoff jean shorts in the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS vein, they were the leading edge of The Dairy State’s little corner of the Alternative Nation. With a killer mix of grooves, heavy riffs, and good ol’ showmanship, they dominated the live rock scene for several years until disbanding in 1997. After taking over a decade off, they reformed with a new lead singer, Craig Baumann from Milwaukee jam-rockers, FAT MAWROONEY and have emerged back on the scene with a brand new self-titled album. We talked with drummer, Dave Schoepke, and vocalist Baumann about the new album and the direction of the band as they enter their third decade.
MI: You guys have been playing forever, so what got you into music in the first place?
Dave: For me it was watching classmates of mine in 5th grade play music with they’re rock band at a school assembly. I thought: If they can do it, I can…
Craig: My grandfather was a country singer and guitarist. He taught me to play at age 8. I’ve always played guitar and drum kit. Singing came around age 12. Nobody else in the band wanted to sing. Their loss. It has been a great asset to my music. If I can sing an idea, I can most likely play and visa versa.
MI: So, how did you meet the new singer and what clicked to make you want him to join up?
Dave: We’ve known Craig since he was about 13, he was already making his way into clubs showing up at open jams and freaking everyone out with his voice and great guitar playing. Incidentally he became a fan of the band and came to a number of our under age shows. Fast forward to 2009 and he’s known name regionally from his time with the great FAT MAWROONEY his acoustic project, HONEST MONDAY, and his Jam For Jam productions which he is the originator of (yearly festival that raises money to support housing development in Jamaica). He reminded me that he had the Moloko disc from 1996 and still listened to it regularly so I approached him to see if he’d be into trying to write a couple songs. Turns out that the time was right to begin collaborating. It’s been really fun and a productive, a positive evolution of the band.
Craig: I never intended to work with Moloko. It came up in discussion one night after an OTIS REDDING Tribute show that I sing on. Dave was on drum kit. He asked me to come jam with them and I declined at least once. Once I agreed to meet up and jam, it just clicked. My intention is not to take the place of previous singer, but to internalize his work and continue in my own way. Moloko has a way of conjuring a certain brand of vocalist. Sometimes there are similarities, but I think that the band brings it out of whomever is singing.
MI: Why restart the band with the same name after so much time off?
Dave: Well, Randy (guitarist), Mike (bassist) ,and I had been working off and on with and without singers since about 2005, without any real productive results. However, we had tons and tons of material we were developing and there was a massive pile of material that we hadn’t finished from back in the day. Ironically the sound of the band is pretty much as it was back then, but we feel we’re better, more experienced players. On top of that the writing approach hasn’t changed one bit. So, although there’s a new voice with Craig, we feel that the integrity of the band is virtually the same as was since day one, so why change the name? Plus we like it and truth is, being gone from the scene 15 years is a long time in the music business when you’re not rock stars. We figure more people have forgotten about us than not, and there’s alot more folks who have never heard of us than who have. So, if we’re wrong about that, well then its gotta be to our favor because at least they’d be interested to hear what were doing.
MI: What’s the biggest difference between the new and old sounds for people that have heard you before?
Dave: Not much, other than we have a better handle on the sound of the band in regards to recording production and maybe we’re a little bit more apt to make different choices during the writing process than we did back in the day. Otherwise the band sounds almost the same. The new album consists entirely of songs from our heavier side. We made a conscious decision to track only our more hard rock oriented material with the reason being that if you had any of our releases from the 90’s the approach was all over the map moving from jazz fusion stuff to hard rock, funk, and anything in between that we felt like putting on the album. We still write as songs from diverse genres but this time we felt like staying with just one style approach. In the end, we have what we feel to be a solid, straight ahead hard rock album, which we’re pleased with.
MI: You guys had an incredible stage presence. How’s the new show and where are you going with it?
Dave: It’s a no BS show. No theatrics or extra fluff, that is the main thing that is different from the old days. We’re there to throw it down. That’s it. We’re thankful to have an opportunity to be back with a fresh new outlook, so far we’ve been getting positive feedback on the new album from people who’ve known us as well as new folks. It’s a bit daunting to try and do this again after having so much time pass and with the music climate being in a vastly different state than it was 15 years ago but we feel confident that we’ve still got something viable to say and that our music is still relevant. If we thought it wasn’t we probably would just stay in the basement. Regardless, we make music that makes us happy and is a true expression of our individual identities which holds true with our credo from day one in 1990: Make the music we want to make, for ourselves first and if people dig it, then we’re really, really fortunate.
MOLOKO SHIVERS fans will have a chance to check out the new band and pick up the new disc on November 21st at Club Garibaldi with MR. DEAGUN JONES, CARBELLION, and CIRCLESWITCH.(4506) Page Views Moloko Shivers Online:
CD: Moloko Shivers
• Download Moloko Shivers on Amazon