A chat with Kristian Hartridge – Moom. Sometime during 1995/96
by Pete Clemons
Having seen the group ‘From the Jam’ several times over the last years I have often wondered if the guy who appears for them on keyboards, Andy Fairclough, is the same Andy Fairclough who featured in a band called Moom who I raved about many years ago.
I am still not sure. But each time I see ‘From the Jam’ it does set off my curiosity – so if anyone can confirm or otherwise……………
But if it does happen to be the same Andy Fairclough, I have this over-riding, never to be forgotten memory of him from when I first saw Moom play. It was when they supported Porcupine Tree at The Roadmenders Club in Northampton during 1994/5 ish (without checking my ticket stubs, Porcupine Tree as I remember, played the venue 3 or 4 times).
Apart from Moom being very impressive, to me at least, the stage wasn’t big enough to accommodate them. They were only a five piece but Andy was performing on this huge Hammond Organ which sounded magnificent. Trouble was that it couldn’t be fitted onto the stage alongside the rest of the guys. Consequently Andy was set up on the dance area just in front of the stage.
Moom were a Northampton based and formed during 1992. Andy, along with Greg Myles (drums) and Jim Patterson (bass) started a band called Medicinal Compound. This trio were joined by Kristian Hartridge (guitar, vocals) and Toby Kay (strange noises). And with that Moom was born.
By late 1993 Moom had saved enough money to finance some recordings which they released on cassette. It had been recorded at the studio of Robert John Godfrey (of Enid fame) who also did the mixing.
Richard Allen, head of the then wonderful Delerium label, read about Moom. He got hold of a copy of their cassette and soon offered them a contract for the album. ‘Toot’ is a collection of the best tracks from the original cassette.
‘Toot’ grabbed my attention immediately. It was an album that displayed stunning skills of musicianship. It does not follow a single theme. Instead it revolved around many elements and evoked memories of the ‘Canterbury Scene’.
This impressive debut album was followed up by the equally splendid follow up release ‘Bone Idol’. And, as far as I know, that was it. The band simply faded away. But the legacy they left us with, I think -even after all this time, is still quite absorbing and an exciting listen.
Apart from knowing I really enjoyed hearing Moom, I really knew nothing else about them. It turned out that some of the band members were also turning out for the Grateful Dead covers band ‘The Cosmic Charlies’ for example. Anyway, undeterred I was determined to get them mentioned in Coventry’s long lamented Deliverance magazine and set about an interview of sorts.
Again the questioning was a little naïve but here is an account of what followed……….
How long have Moom existed?
Since 1992. Gregg, Andy and Jim were playing around Northampton with a mainly instrumental band called Medicinal Compound. I returned after living in Birmingham for a year and began writing songs for my old friends. I joined the band and we changed our name to Moom.
Are you pleased with the album and have you been surprised by the good reactions to it?
‘Toot’ represents our first year hanging out and playing together. Although in some parts it is musically undeveloped and limited in performances, it remains a warm and interesting album. It’s also a beautiful recording. Since ‘Toot’ our skills both individually and jointly have grown.
Does ‘Toot’ differ from it’s original cassette only release in 1993?
The Crocadillian suite was left off the vinyl version for space, It was a case of lose one long song or two short ones. We went for musical diversity. The CD has the entire album on it.
Do you mind being compared to bands such as Caravan and Hatfield and the North, and have any of these bands influenced you?
I think we are compared to Caravan because of similarity between the sound of ‘Toot’ and the fact that my first attempt at vocals coincidentally sounds like Richard Sinclair or whoever in accent. None of us listen to Caravan or Hatfield and we certainly don’t sound like Caravan anymore.
You all appear to be really competent musicians. Have you had any formal training or are you self-taught?
We are all self-taught. We have invented our own musical language. This gives us our sense of adventure. As we think of new places ot go we must push ourselves to learn how to get there. It is this which keeps us travelling through music and prevents us from becoming predictable and one tracked.
Do you enjoy playing live?
We love playing live. Every time we play we do a different set and embellish old songs through improvising. We promise a unique performance at every gig.
Will you be venturing out of Northampton now?
We have played all over the country at festivals, pubs and venues. We have played numerous private parties and freak-outs. We have supported bands like ‘Here and Now’ and ‘Merle Saunders’. We have probably played more in London than anywhere else.
Do you have any new music ready for future release?
We have enough material for at least two albums. We should be recording one of these very soon. Perhaps a live album would be good.