Last May, at the Ash Street Saloon in Portland, Ore., Toody Cole and her husband, Fred, unveiled their new band, Pierced Arrows, marking the first time they had played live since the breakup of their legendary band, Dead Moon.
Pierced Arrows With Unnatural Helpers, the Wires, and Pure Country Gold. The Funhouse, 205 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400, www.thefunhouseseattle.com. $8. 9:30 p.m. Fri., Aug. 17.
"We were hearing what everybody was saying: 'Oh, they're gonna retire,' or, 'Yeah, the next band's gonna be a country-and-western thing,'" says Toody. "But Mom and Dad aren't ready to mellow out just yet."
For 20 years, the Coles and drummer Andrew Loomis slogged through the underground, delivering unparalleled sets of ragged Northwest garage punk. And their strict DIY ethic and age (the Coles are nearing 60) made them role models to any-one disillusioned with mainstream standards.
But in November 2006, when Fred announced that Dead Moon were calling it quits, it felt like a huge defeat (Toody had been quoted as saying death would have to intervene to break the band up). In the months after, the Coles, who run Tombstone General Store in Clackamas, Ore., to supplement their modest music-generated income, also immersed themselves in renovating an apartment building they own in Portland. Meanwhile, Loomis joined a new band called the Shiny Things.
But anyone who knew the Coles knew they wouldn't stay down for long. "We came back from tour, and once we decided Dead Moon was over, we hung out for about three or four months," says Toody. "We thought we'd take a longer break, but Fred started getting antsy, and we both decided we wanted to do something else."
Shortly thereafter, the couple called up Kelly Halliburton. A former bass player for Defiance, Halliburton had first introduced himself to the Coles in Europe three years ago, saying he was the son of Gary Halliburton, a guy Fred had played with years ago in a short-lived Portland band. At the time, the younger Halliburton was living in Europe, but he had since moved back to Portland and occasionally touched base with the Coles.
"Fred called him up and said, 'Hey, do you wanna come play drums in this new band?'" says Toody. "Kelly says, 'Um, well, yeah, but I'm more of a bass player.' Fred says, 'Well, come on over and give it a shot.' Kelly says, 'OK, but I don't even have a drum kit.'" She bursts out into a raspy laugh. "So, we pretty much started from scratch. It's great though because he's not a perfect musician—and we sure as hell aren't, either."
At this point, one can count the number of shows Pierced Arrows have played on one hand. But Fred has already written enough new material to fill a 40-minute set. And from what Toody says, it sounds like a cross between Dead Moon and their previous incarnation as the Rats (which sounded a lot like Dead Moon).
A song called "In My Brain" has a swampy, bluesy, AC/DC vibe; while another is a ballad Toody sings set to a military drum march. A track called "Frankenstein" is more a straight-up punk-rock song, and a song Fred recently started working on, "Shea's," has a bit of a jazzy feel to it.
For live shows, Toody says, they've been practicing Dead Moon's signature number, "It's OK," to play "only every now and then, because it's kind of the anthem." But most exciting is the resurrection of "Over the Edge," a song Dead Moon played just once or twice, and the old Rats song "Burnside," which Halliburton had to download online because the Coles couldn't find a copy.
"It's weird; there's still a lot of Dead Moon in our sound," Toody says of Pierced Arrows. "But, you know, with someone new in the band, it's naturally gonna sound a little different. But Fred and I, the way we play isn't gonna change much.
"We should have our stuff pretty well together by the time we play Seattle," she adds. "We're still nervous as shit as a band, which is cool. It feels good to have that rush again."