February 13, 1998 in Seven

Record Deal Will Help Bring Moral Crux Out Of Obscurity

By The Spokesman-Review
 

They’ve certainly paid their dues. And now, finally, it’s time to reap a few rewards.

Long-time Washington punk staple Moral Crux is getting some well-deserved help from its friends. After years and years - a decade to be precise - of slogging it out on their own, these four guys from Central Washington have been signed by Panic Button/Lookout Records.

Singer James Farris is thrilled, but he’s not losing perspective.

“The reason we’re doing this is because we love doing it, anything that comes after that is just gravy,” he says. But he points out with obvious pleasure, “Finally, we’ll have good distribution.”

He’s right. What this all boils down to is that fans from around the country will finally be able to lay their hands on Moral Crux music with ease.

Not so in the past.

Formed in the late ‘80s in the Ephrata/Moses Lake area, Moral Crux cranks out stripped down ‘70s-style pop punk with a social message. In addition to Farris, Moral Crux is guitarist Jody Waymire, bassist Justin Warren and drummer Roger Hinshaw.

Their work has appeared on numerous compilations and 7-inch records, as well as four full-length albums. But, since much of it was released on very small labels, fans weren’t always able to find Moral Crux’s music in local record stores.

Farris thanks friend Ben Weasel of the band Screeching Weasel and the founder of the Panic Button label for changing that.

In 1994, Weasel was responsible for Moral Crux landing on the “Punk U.S.A.” compilation put out by Berkeley label Lookout Records. That album garnered the band broad exposure.

Then in October, Weasel signed the band to his new label.

“He’s a guy that I trust with anything. He’s just real honest.” And that’s a rare quality in the music business.

The next full-length Moral Crux album is now expected out in September. It will be only the second for Panic Button.

“I’d rather be on a label like this where there’s just a few bands,” Farris says. “You know you’re going to be pushed.”

The album will be recorded in Indiana at Sonic Iguana, where early Green Day work was done. Moral Crux’s music will be distributed by Lookout Records, a seminal independent label known for helping launch Green Day as well as releasing work by the Queers and Operation Ivy.

As for Farris, he’s just glad to still be playing music.

“I really feel fortunate that we’ve lasted this long,” he says.

So what is their secret to longevity when plenty of others bands have folded in much shorter time spans?

“We’re just too dumb to quit,” Farris says with a laugh.

Looks like it’s paid off.

Moral Crux headlines the show at Ichabod’s North tonight. They’re joined by The Fumes and Hai Karate, a Seattle punk outfit with members from Gas Huffer and Bottom Feeders and The Dwarves. Jet Pack opens. Cover is $5. Show starts at 9:30 p.m.

You’re feeling very sleepy…

Canadian hypnotist Anthony Cools (this is, apparently, his real name) comes to the Bayou Brewing Company Sunday and Monday night.

Cools, a DJ-turned-hypnotist, mixes comedy with his mind-altering talents. He hypnotizes volunteers who then perform skits heavy with sexual innuendo - skits with names like The Invisible Kissing Bandit, Phone Sex Operator and Great Balls of Fire.

According to his press materials, “This show is uncensored so anything can happen.”

Uh, OK.

Cools has also apparently parlayed his hypnotism talent into helping people lose weight and stop smoking.

Hmmm. Paint me skeptical of the whole hypnotism thing. But hey, at least it’s something different to do on a Spokane weekend.

Cost is $5. Both the Sunday and Monday shows start at 8 p.m.

The Idaho blues

Head to Spirit Lake, Idaho, Sunday for the Cabin Fever Boogie blues festival. The Linger Longer Lounge will host four bands: Cafe Blue, Yo & De Cats, Charlie Butts & the Filter Tips and Carl Ray & The Bluesgators. Tickets are $9 and the music lasts from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Moses Lake blues fivesome Robbin and the Bluez Hoodz performs at Mad Daddy’s tonight and Saturday. The band features not only the usual guitar and drum lineup, but a Hammond B3 organ player as well. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Cover is $6.

What’s this?

Christian skacore. Now there’s a music category I’d never heard of. But that’s what Five Iron Frenzy, a group of eight young musicians from Denver, call their music.

Mixing ska with a bit of punk and a bit of The Lord, the band features three horn players. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of MxPx, Goldfinger and The Descendants.

Despite my increasing boredom with the skacore thing - not to mention the glut of bands jumping on the religious bandwagon - these guys do have some catchy stuff. And, thankfully, they’re not annoyingly preachy.

The song “Fistful of Sand” off their latest CD called “Our Newest Album Ever” mixes that rabid ska beat with an Eastern twist. The song “Litmus” is a refusal to bow to Christians who accuse them of not preaching enough in their music.

Five Iron Frenzy performs Sunday at an all-ages show in the Shadle Park High School auditorium. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: Send nightclub news to Winda Benedetti at The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201 or fax it to (509) 459-5098. She can be reached by phone at (509) 459-5089 or by e-mail at windab@spokesman.com. Deadline for Friday publication is the previous Friday.

Send nightclub news to Winda Benedetti at The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201 or fax it to (509) 459-5098. She can be reached by phone at (509) 459-5089 or by e-mail at windab@spokesman.com. Deadline for Friday publication is the previous Friday.


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