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THE FADER

n y c

MAY/JUNE 2005
(Miles Davis cover - the Photography issue, #30)
HEAVILY FOCUSED




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by Alex Wagner

PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL SCHMELLING


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B.gif loomfield, New Jersey has a low
skyline of aluminum siding and
suburban disrepair that is punctuated
by the tower of a neo-Tudor castle,
home to an exiled prince named R. Stevie Moore.
Lately namechecked by Ariel Pink, who cited RSM
as a great influencer that the rest of humanity
happened to be sleeping on, Moore gigged with
Pink wearing two hats and a muu muu, while
talking into a pack of cigarettes as if it was a cell
phone邦oore says, "My life and music is about
a juxtaposition of incongruities."

These days the maestro is burrowed away in the
castle's ground floor apartment, working as the
full time manager, producer, and top-selling artist
of RSM Records, a bedroom label selling the
back catalogue of his 400 albums. The son of
famed Nashville session musician Bob Moore (Roy
Orbison, Elvis), Moore bucked his country roots
and began sifting through the musical explosion of
the '60s and '70s, pasting together a sound that
culled equally from the Shaggs, Rundgren, Zappa,
Bad Finger, XTC and above all else, the Beatles,
though his favorite group of all time is Killing
Joke紡nd Bacharach and Brian Wilson were also
highly influential. Sigh. What you really need to
know is this: "My favorite stuff," Moore says, "is
the stuff you find in the garbage can, like a tape a
little girl made at her birthday party."

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the battle of r. stevie moore is not just a footnote
marston moore



His sound reflects this: innumerable self-produced
home recordings that find acid Chipmunks vocals
and noisy industria at home with genuine pop
harmonies末these aren't albums, but diaries of
sound that are in constant, fluid production. "The
album's done when the CD runs out," says Moore.
In the late '70s, his uncle, Harry Palmer saw the
flame in the embers and released Moore's albums
Phonography and Delicate Tension; in the mid-
eighties, French label New Rose produced vinyl
of his cassette tape compilations. Press followed,
but little末except for a couple hundred more
recordings末came afterwards. Moore credits (or
discredits) himself. He didn't wait for "that Magic
Phone Call," he refused to harass people ("I am
not a social animal. I am not outdoorsy."), and he
avoided the club circuit saying, "I'm an acquired
taste, very directionless and without focus."

Maybe that last part held water in the era of
Conway Twitty or mid-career Madonna, but cut to
the present day and see our Redwood in the forest
of lo-fi beardo saplings; sure, Ariel Pink is linked to
Moore's magic, but what about Animal Collective?
"I e-mailed Paw Tracks and they never got back to
me." Devendra Banhart? "Who's that?"


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Oh, something seems so wrong here末buried
amongst stacks of vintage vinyl, a forgotten bag
of Cheez Doodles, an inbox filled with internet
orders and a lifetime of conflicting interests, Moore
says, "I want to make music that matters末but I'm
always looking for some bit of celebrity. Or at least
enough money to pay the bills." R. Stevie Moore
still tells people "Steal my music!" Think better: go
buy it.ALEX WAGNER
www.rsteviemoore.com


52 THE FADER


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(asked and snapped thurs 24 february, bfld nj)
(fieldnotes finally hit my street thurs 21 april)


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