Pierced Arrows: Reviving a Dead Moon

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Four months: That’s how long Fred and Toody Cole needed to realize that vacationing from rock ’n’ roll just wasn’t for them. After kicking out 20 years’ worth of jams, the married couple–the lowest of the lo-fi, keepers of the Portland punk crypt, and aging DIY figureheads–decided to put their band Dead Moon to rest in the autumn of 2006. All that touring had finally taken its toll on drummer Andrew Loomis’ aching legs and despite a late commercial peak that included the release of both a documentary film and CD anthology, the Coles just felt it was time.

Four months of silence was just about all they could handle.

“By the time spring hit we were just antsy as hell to start doing something again,” says Toody Cole via telephone from the family compound just outside Portland in Clackamas. “It’s like… cabin fever. Fred started writing some new songs and as soon as he gets three or four in the bag, it’s like, ‘Okay, I don’t want to hear what it sounds like when he’s just fiddling around on acoustic guitar. I want to hear some volume here. I want to hear some noise.’”

The resulting “noise” would be the psychedelic ooze from which a new band sprung forth. With self-taught hellion Kelly Halliburton on drums, Pierced Arrows was conceived in the spring of 2007. And Mr. Cole, still the primary songwriter, has been churning out more of the soulful but mangy riffs–as well as a series of seven inches to harness them–that helped Dead Moon develop such a rabid following.

“Fred is really coming up with some wild shit now,” says Toody. “None of us really know, in the traditional sense, what we’re doing. I think that’s why it works.”

But if the reaction Pierced Arrows has received since unleashing their fresh new live set locally is any indicator, another long ride may be in order. “The first gig we played here in town, we were all nervous as hell,” says Toody. “We figured we were going to work our way up the pecking order over the next sixth months to a year. Well, that lasted three gigs and we were headlining again.”

In addition to rediscovering their slapdash groove, the Coles have also taken to the road in a way much different than you might expect: marathon running. Both Toody and Fred ran races together in the early ’80s with their children, and Fred aims to complete the Portland Marathon before his 60th birthday arrives this year. It’s yet another chapter in the couple’s life story, one that’s again rife with wounds and bruises. “Everybody forgets how physical playing and singing at the same time is. Touring is one grueling thing–like running three marathons back to back,” explains Toody. Which begs the question: How much fuel could they have left in their tanks?

“Fuck, I don’t know,” Toody laughs. “The way it feels now? Shit, another 10 years anyway.”

Favorite Portland artist:
Chris Newman Experience.