Moist’s Kevin Young

Moist’s Kevin Young

Moist pushes back to the surface

It’ll be a Funtastic reunion when David Usher and the boys from ‘90s rock band Moist return to the Okanagan after more than a decade.

That voice, along with those guitar and piano opening lines, are still familiar to those who lived through the ‘90s.

Like the title track off their 1994 best selling debut album, Silver, Moist is all about the build up to a dramatic crescendo – increased by the theatrics of the band’s charismatic front-man David Usher.

The same could be said for the band’s history as one of the most recognizable Canadian alternative rock bands of the pre-millennium decade.

With three albums to their name and hits such as Push, Silver and Gasoline that had the band on the charts and are still played to this day, that crescendo would come to a halt by the end the ‘90s when Moist decided to take a break – one that would last 13 years.

While Usher would go on to have a successful career as a solo artist, public speaker, activist and author, the band was never far in thinking it would one day get back together.

That day has come.

Now reunited and touring the past two years, Moist is making its way to Vernon as one of the headliners of next weekend’s Funtastic Music Festival.

“Generally, the response has been positive,” says the man behind those famous keyboard lines, Kevin Young, about Moist’s reunion. “We were not sure when the band got back together after all those years what the interest would be. But young people are coming to our shows thanks to the radio playing our singles. It’s been nice to come back and people treat us generously.”

Young and Usher, who moved from their home in Kingston, Ont. to Vancouver in the late-’80s to attend Simon Fraser University, formed Moist in 1992 with two other Kingston natives, Mark Makoway and Jeff Pierce, and Vancouver drummer Paul Wilcox.

Young remembers playing in the Okanagan, notably Penticton, during Moist’s time out west. However, mid-way through their success, the band decided to move to Montreal.

“A lot of us came from back east and had been spending time on the road out there. We also spent a great deal of time in England. We loved Montreal, so it was a natural move for us,” said Young.

By the time the hiatus came in 2000, Young and Makoway, who had been producing records, were living in Toronto, while Usher stayed in Montreal.

To be clear, Moist never broke up, the band just took a break – a very long one.

“We spent so much time living as a band, we simply decided in ‘99/2000 to take a break. We weren’t necessarily planning to take a break for a decade and change. It was open ended. There was no animosity. It was just ‘let’s take some time off,’” said Young, who kept playing music with a variety of bands and has also played with Usher’s band since his first solo record.

He is also a freelance writer.

“We’ve all maintained our careers in some capacity – what David has done has been well documented – and we thought we have our whole lives to write records, so what was stopping us. Revisiting the band was like pushing re-start. It felt fresh and new again.”

Moist has since added a second guitarist, Jonathan Gallivan from Toronto, as well as bassist Louis Lalancette and drummer Francis Fillion, both of Montreal, and manage to come together fairly often despite the six-hour drive between Canada’s two largest cities.

“Having band members living in two different cities has made us focus,” said Young.

The push to get back together came in 2012. Young says it had a little to do with Moist’s biggest hit, the aptly titled Push, off Silver.

“It started with going back to tunes we hadn’t played as a band in years and recreating them with the sounds of new technology,” he said. “It was like going back in a time machine to re-visit these songs, and we realized how much we loved the material and the dynamic that existed in the studio. We got a sense of that chemistry again. That’s when we thought, let’s do another record and started discussing about going forward.”

That album, Glory Under Dangerous Skies, Moist’s fourth, came out in October and was followed by a nationwide tour.

“We’re proud of the record. It’s a different time now where you can hear feedback so quickly. In this band, we have significantly different tastes. That’s what makes our dynamic.”

Despite being older, and wiser, Moist’s live performances still show that dynamic and energy the band had in its heyday.

“David is still very charismatic,” said Young. “We were not going to come back and do a watered down version of what we used to do.”

The only thing that has changed, besides a new outlook and some new tunes, which audiences will hear when Moist plays Funtastic, is less throwing of the keyboard around, laughed Young.

“There will also be less throwing of the keyboard player around too.”

Moist begins its  busy summer by playing Funtastic at the DND grounds, Sunday, June 28 at 10:30 p.m. The festival starts Friday with a headlining performance by Bif Naked, and a tribute act night Saturday. A number of local bands are also performing throughout the weekend.

Tickets to the Funtastic Music Festival are $25 for a day pass or $50 for a weekend pass, available at the Funtastic office, 3401-35th Ave., online at funtasticsports.ca, or at the beverage garden ticket office near the ball diamonds during the festival. No minors will be permitted.