Pierced Arrows, the Portland punk band that was Dead Moon before drummer Andrew Loomis left, plays Friday, Dec. 30, at Seattle's Funhouse. Principals Fred and Toody Cole may be grandparents, but they haven't slowed down.
How many punk rockers get to hear words like this? — “Isn’t that Gram and Cappy’s song?”
That’s what Fred and Toody Cole’s grandchildren said when they heard Dead Moon’s “Diamonds in the Rough” on the video game EA Skate 3.
Based in Portland, the Coles have brought their anthemic, lo-fi rock’n’roll to international audiences for years, first as the Rats, then Dead Moon and now Pierced Arrows, who play the Funhouse Friday. Steadfastly dedicated to the do-it-yourself ethos — and each other — the Coles prove that growing older doesn’t have to mean mellowing out. They are in their 60s.
A couple of weeks ago, backstage at the Showbox, Fred said he thought he had lost his hearing aid onstage a few nights before but found it in his hair the next morning. Needless to say, Pierced Arrows plays really loud. They’d have it no other way. Their raw, passionate music is imperfect, but in the first-take-is-the-best-take sense.
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Through Dead Moon’s 20-year existence, the Coles gained a massive cult following, especially in Europe and along the I-5 corridor. (The 2006 documentary “Unknown Passage” tells their story.)
Dead Moon disbanded in 2007 when drummer Andrew Loomis, afflicted with phlebitis in his legs since childhood, could no longer tour, but also because “everyone wanted to hear the same 30 or 40 songs,” said Toody. “It was time for a change.”
With their three children well into adulthood, the Coles had planned on being “basically retired,” Toody said, but within four months they were already reconsidering. Enter drummer Kelly Halliburton, Portland punk and longtime friend.
“Fred was in a band with my father back in 1972 or ’73, called Albatross,” Halliburton recalled. “But I didn’t really interact with Fred and Toody much until I saw Dead Moon in Germany, where I’d gotten married and lived for seven years. [Eventually] I moved back to Portland, Dead Moon broke up, and the stars aligned.”
Pierced Arrows — new name, if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it sound — was born.
Four years later, the Coles continue to embody the band-as-family idea, capturing a new generation of listeners with timeless music and prolific tours. Their 2010 album, “Descending Shadows,” is as cathartic and catchy as anything they’ve ever done.
The band’s high-energy, sweat-and-beer-drenched performances are celebratory affairs. Friday marks both their second-to-last show of the year, and Toody’s 63rd birthday.
“Gram and Cappy” aren’t slowing down — they’re at the top of their game.
Charlie Zaillian: firstname.lastname@example.org