The all met as fellow students at North Kingstown High School.
Post-graduation, they started out their musical life in various band incarnations, under the names: UFOS, Tapir and Wart-Hog Duo.
So, they could only go up….
Meet MOGA – an arbitrary word for a distinctly unusual folk and psychedelic rock band that websites like Go Local Prov, among others, have hailed as a group that “elegantly combines folk and electronic elements, producing a signature sound that is both genuine and inspired. If you ever wanted to hear a folk record produced by Brian Eno, MOGA may satisfy that desire.”
MOGA (rhymes with ‘toga’ as in ‘party’) is made up of four North Kingstown alums. The ‘M’ is for Max Fisher, who originally hails from Buffalo, N.Y.; the ‘O’ is for Olive Williams, who hails from Northampton, Mass.; The ‘G’ is for Greg Mallozzi of Providence; and the ‘A’ is for Alex Pendergrass, who hails from Pawtucket.
The group already has a growing following in the R.I. area, playing clubs and caves, and they recently returned from a gig with two other bands in Philadelphia.
They are up-and-coming and young; quite young. Each is 22, except Greg, who is 21.
Some of them took music lessons briefly as kids and some didn’t.
“We were all into/brought up on different styles of music when we were younger. More or less came from families that liked good music. Al is all self-taught on keys, Greg, more or less, self taught, Ollie took jazz band and choir in high school and Max took drum lessons and was involved in school band, etc. We all dabbled in various rock bands when we were kids, too,” said the group collectively.
Unlike many 1960s and 1970s groups, they didn’t start out in some parent’s garage. More like a basement.
“We had a keyboard that we would try to re-create video game music with. Then we found an old guitar that Greg would somehow make sounds out of without any knowledge of the guitar,” said the group. “Then, Max came into the mix and brought over a synth and a drum set. Al proceeded to make sounds out of the keyboard and synth (also without any knowledge) and Max would bang on the drums.
“Then, at some point, a bass got thrown in the mix. We recorded weird experimental stuff for a while under the name "UFOs.” A few friends came and went. Then, Oliver came by one day with some good bass playing and singing. He instructed us how a ‘song’ should be formed, so we followed his lead and continued with it.”
The group has covered everything from Creed to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The cultists are forming.
“We have a following of trolls and druids who come to most of our shows when we play in caves. We also play in a lot of the great local Providence venues (AS220, Firehouse 13, The 201, etc.) and we have a great group of friends who always come out to support us. In the last year or so, we've been seeing more and more unfamiliar faces at our shows, though, which is great,” said MOGA.
Word of mouth helps spread the joy, but so do websites like MySpace, Facebook and Tweeter. While they get bigger, MOGA still prefers to play smaller venues.
M-O-G-A all take turns writing their songs and they say it’s hard to pick a favorite. They have a new LP called “Jamboree,” on which they say they are all “very proud of every song. They are really equally great to us.”
As for the best song they have covered, they defer to a song called “Long Distance Operator” from The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan and The Band.
“It's a great funky blues track that we find suits our style very well,” said MOGA.
Anyone who would like to give a listen to MOGA can find them here:
*Thursday, Dec. 23 at AS220 in Providence with Ana Mallozzi and Sean Kennedy.
*Wednesday, Dec. 22 at The Middle East in Boston
*January 14 at The 201 in Providence
*January 15 at Plough and Stars in Boston
For more information, go to www.myspace.com/muchomoga .