Zach Wolfe

Zach Wolfe

Last month I had the glorious opportunity to see Atlanta-based band Mood Rings open for Cults but I didn’t because I was too busy getting drunk or straightening my hair (or getting drunk while straightening my hair). At any rate, this is now a deeply felt regret as yesterday evening they opened for Connan Mockasin at Mercury Lounge and they were just swell — despite being down their synth player, who could not make the 14-hour drive for personal reasons. Luckily, his absence was well compensated for with generously used effects and a setlist consisting largely of songs they had written back when they were a four-piece.

Most notable was, naturally, their frontman, Will Fussell, who delivers dreamy vocals and a performance devoid of esoteric pretentions. It doesn’t hurt that he looks damn cool with his grown-out bleached hair (insert obvious Kurt Cobain reference here), turtleneck and ill-fitting high-waisted jeans. Their album, VPI Harmony, which came out last year on Greenpoint label Mexican Summer, has been serenading me for the better part of the day.

Though I didn’t catch Mood Rings at Webster Hall last month, I did happen to meet Fussell while he was in town (at a hoity-toity magazine party, of all places). Being the kind fellow that he is, he agreed to meet me today for Moroccan eggs at Café Mogador to discuss last night’s show, the rock scene in Atlanta and all things Mood Rings. He wore, as he often does, a turtleneck.

BB_Q(1) Where did you get the scarf you were wearing last night?

BB_A(1) I found it. It was in the basement of my old house in Atlanta, in a box of stuff. I used to hang it up on my wall when I had a room.

BB_Q(1) What do you have now?

BB_A(1) I have a futon in the living room of my manager’s house.

BB_Q(1) How did you meet your bandmates?

BB_A(1) I was in this weirdo folk band growing up. Chris [Alley], who you met last night, walked up to me at an art gallery and said, “You’re in that band. Cool, let’s start a band.”

BB_Q(1) How did you respond?

BB_A(1) “Okay, maybe.” We started as Dirty Girls. It was like grunge music mixed with The Ronettes. We changed our name because no one would book us and it just happened from there – we kept on playing. We added a fifth member about a year ago.

BB_Q(1) Are you aware that you and Chris look like brothers?

BB_A(1) Yeah, people have told us that for a long time. I think we might just start saying that.

BB_Q(1) What was the first band you were obsessed with growing up?

BB_A(1) When I was really young, I would listen to all the ’70s and ’80s music that my parents liked. I remember having a fondness for Rick Springfield – I listened to Don’t Talk to Strangers a lot. I liked Van Halen a lot. I think the first music I decided to like by myself was stuff like Roy Orbison, Kris Kristofferson and Elvis. And that’s when I started trying to play music.

BB_Q(1) Can you recall the first time you played for an audience?

BB_A(1) I was in choir when I was 6 or 7. There are videos of me doing solos. It was a take on Wizard of Oz and I had a song about straw for sale… Really embarrassing.

BB_Q(1) What is the music scene like in Atlanta?

BB_A(1) For a long time it was controlled by garage rock just because of the Black Lips and the explosion of that. Nowadays there’s still a harder punk scene and then there’s pop with ’70s/’80s vibes and very intricate guitars – very technical stuff.

BB_Q(1) What’s a band you’re envious of?

BB_A(1) Well, obviously last night the show with Conan was absolutely insane. Up until recently, I think it was that band Women. I loved that band for a really long time. They don’t exist anymore, but their remnants are spread across Calgary and Western Canada.

BB_Q(1) Do you have any pre-show rituals?

BB_A(1) I probably should. We prayed last night. Chris more or less prayed to the sound guy. “Dear Lord, please don’t let the sound guy fuck up.”

BB_Q(1) How did you get Bradford Cox [of Deerhunter] to write your bio?

BB_A(1) He was just at the coffee shop one day.

BB_Q(1) Have you ever had a hilarious groupie situation?

BB_A(1) Kind of. We were in Mexico and these Native American girls came up to the whole band, giggling, and were like, “Oh, let’s buy you guys drinks.” So we said, “Okay, cool, we would love to have drinks bought for us.” One was telling us this whole story about how she was working against the government and there’s nuclear waste spilling onto the Indian reservations. As time goes on she keeps getting more and more drunk and weirder and weirder and trying to hold onto me, and I had this hat that I really liked – this bucket hat – that was pretty goofy. She took it off my head and put it on and I walked away, and when I came back she refused to give it to me and also denied that she ever took it.

BB_Q(1) She was no longer wearing it?

BB_A(1) No, she had hid it somewhere. So I’m drunk at this point, and it’s getting more and more heated. Then I tried to level with her and say my dad gave me the hat, it’s very emotionally important for me to have it back. I could see in her eyes she was thinking about whether or not to give me the hat…

BB_Q(1) So what happened?

BB_A(1) She didn’t give me the hat. I just left Mexico and she had stolen it. She’s saving the Indian Reservations in my bucket hat.