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Moriarty traverse la Manche: Vous ferez bien un tour de Moriartyland?

By Joffre Agnes

Moriarty, it's a strange universe somewhere between France and the United States, between folk music, rock, country and blues. It’s a "family" of five musicians: the diva Rosemary Moriarty (singer, xylophone, thumb piano, spoons, tambourine) and her four brothers Thomas (chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, kazoo, drilling machines, Jew's harp), Arthur (Tchekovian guitar), Zim (double-bass, acoustic guitar, music box, suitcase drum) and Charles (electric and resonator guitars). It's five musicians made for the stage, one extraordinary voice, and a lot of stories they simply have to tell you. They have been playing together for years in cellars and bars before releasing an album, almost by accident, which has since gone gold in France.

They perform at Madame Jojo’s on 8th December for the release of their single “Jimmy” and their album “Gee Whiz but this is a Lonesome Town” in the UK. How about a little tour of Moriartyland?

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Bohemian, artists, story-tellers, Moriarty is one of those great bands you interview with pleasure… and always with surprise. When I was lucky enough to reach Arthur Moriarty on the phone, he was standing in a random cheap international call-centre, the familiar type where expats from everywhere go. A place which, as he pointed out, suits their image perfectly. 


English audiences don’t know you yet. However the English press is already speaking about you, describing you as "out of the ordinary" who only ever give out clues to their identity, never answers. Would you say that is true?

No, we don't do so on purpose. We are complicated, our identity is confused. We are all born in France with American parents- sometimes we feel like Europeans, others like Americans. I think that explains why it is so complicated to label us. We are changing, continuously.


So how did this strange band form ?


I met Thomas (harmonica, kazoo, drilling machines, Jew's harp) in a sandbox... we were two years old! So we could say that Moriarty has existed since then!

More seriously we began playing music when we were in our twenties. Thomas played harmonica and wanted me to accompany him. Therefore he bought me a guitar and we began just the two of us! Then we met the other members totally by chance, one by one, during a party, on a bridge…


How did you choose your name ? You may know that in the UK, Moriarty is Sherlock Holmes’ sworn enemy…

(Laugh) We didn’t choose him because of Sherlock Holmes. The thing is, we are all hooked on literature and when we were in our twenties we read the same book : « On the Road » written by the American author Jack Kerouac. It's the story of a man whose name is Dean Moriarty. Keen on jazz, poetry and women he makes a spontaneous road trip across the United States, experiments with drugs and meets all sorts of people. We loved it. You should definitely read it!

I’ve also read that it was the name of an aviator who flew under the Eiffel Tower.

Exactly. In fact that is very funny :  We learned from Google that Moriarty was a kind of “sponge-name” with so many meanings. For instance it’s a word used in Edinburgh for “party”; it’s the name of an aviator who flew under the Eiffel Tower during the 80s’, an actress who played with Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull”, a town in New Mexico, United States… The list seems to be endless. And that is perfect for us: like this name, we act like sponges and absorb whatever we can, wherever we can. 

I know you don’t like to be labelled but if you had to describe your style and influences, what would you say ?


The first thing I would say is that we are telling stories. That is the main point: all begins with the text. When we grew up, in France, as uprooted, we felt the need to write. And all the things we wrote were naturally in English. As far a music is concerned, we never chose one style and our melodies change all the time…

That may be because you are made for the stage. Releasing a CD wasn’t one of your plans, you used to play in cellars and bars for years before doing it. And now your CD has gone gold. A beautiful success-story. Are you surprised ?

All this happened by chance. We had been introduced to a record label but we didn’t expect it !
We are very proud of this CD but we still prefer being on stage. That’s very important for us, therefore we recorded the CD live, without any effects. And yet people say that seeing us in concert has nothing to do with listening to the CD! Our pieces are never frozen, there is always some place for improvisation. The set is never the same… We absolutely don’t want to rest on our laurels.

You seem toalwaysbe  looking for new experiments on stage: from the mythical Olympia in Paris to a jail, what’s next ?

It's true that we have played in several unusual places : a jail, a mental institution, a ruined castle in Italy… Now I’d loved to try the English pubs since our CD will be released here soon! Or a church in Peru… that sounds like a great plan, don’t you think so?






12/12/2011 - d.courville a dit :

Holy Toledo, so glad I clicked on this site first!

10/12/2008 - agnes.joffre a dit :

The show was absolutely outstanding! I just can't wait for the album release!


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