Portland's Pierced Arrows continue a loud-and-proud garage tradition
When it comes to matters of the heart, rock 'n' roll has always been a hotbed of dysfunction. Look no further than the batshit-crazy antics of Kurt and Courtney or Ike and Tina for a crash course in the deranged outbursts that invariably ensue when two musicians hook up. Thankfully, there are couples like Fred and Toody Cole of Portland's Pierced Arrows, who are doing their best to break the toxic mould.
“It's just really amazing to share something that's so important to you with somebody else who really gets it,” says Toody. “It's not like you have to go for two hours trying to explain to somebody and they're going, ”˜Yeah, yeah, cool hon, I don't get it, but whatever'. It's a very special thing.”
Despite having celebrated her 41st wedding anniversary recently, the 60-year-old—on the line from Clackamas, Oregon—sounds every bit the honeymooner. And in a way, she is.
Three years after the disbandment of Dead Moon, the legendary Pacific Northwest garage act the Coles founded in 1987, the veteran husband-and-wife duo are at it again, this time with the help of drummer Kelly Halliburton, playing under the new moniker, Pierced Arrows.
“Our first show was May 18 , the anniversary of Mount St. Helens' blowing her top,” Toody says. “We managed to pull it off awesome, though, so we knew right then it was going to work out.”
While it's clear that the upbeat mother of three is re-energized by the prospect of working on a “new” project, she notes it's not as though the couple is in uncharted waters.
“To me, Pierced Arrows is just the next generation,” says the husky-voiced musician. And if you're familiar with chief songwriter Fred Cole's previous outfits—most notably Nuggets staple the Lollipop Shoppe—you'll agree that assessment is bang-on.
Making no attempt to disguise its musical reference points, Pierced Arrows draws upon the quintessential sounds of '60s garage, injecting it with moody undertones and a penchant for straight-ahead driving rock. According to Toody, even she has a difficult time ascertaining where Dead Moon ends and Pierced Arrows begins.
“Before Pierced Arrows it was Dead Moon, and before Dead Moon it was the Rats, and before the Rats it was King Bee—everything from as far back as you can go has been a continuation of Fred's career,” she muses, adding with a hearty chuckle: “I'm just happy to be on the train.”
With the Pierced Arrows identity still locked up in the notoriety of the Coles's musical lineage, the question remains: will the trio be able to move beyond its “formerly of Dead Moon” billing?
Toody thinks so. “As awesome as Dead Moon was, and as much as it meant to us and so many different people, it was just one step in the evolution,” she says. “I think people are finally starting to get that.”
Pierced Arrows plays the Railway Club on Saturday (February 21).