Portrait of R. Stevie Moore by David Shrigley for BOMB, 2007.
“Aficionados of fertile pop imagination, resourceful home studio technique, and more stylistic diversity than most record stores can offer are highly recommended to get with [R. Stevie Moore] … . ‘Unsung hero’ only touches on the injustice of obscurity for this wry, heartfelt artist … . Why no major label has ever signed him remains one of the modern era’s mysteries.”
—The Trouser Press Guide to ’90s Rock
R. Stevie Moore is famous, among the musicians and critics who love his work, for not being famous. A hyperprolific do-it-yourself pioneer, Moore began making solo recordings as a teen in Nashville in the ’60s and has, to date, recorded over 400 albums. All are available through his cavernous website (www.rsteviemoore.com), a pun-studded evolution of the mail-order cassette club he launched in 1981 in his New Jersey home studio.
BOMB’s first encounter with Moore was true to the DIY legend: We ordered Shrigley Field, one of Moore’s 2007 albums, in May. Inside the mailed package, which Moore had bolstered with a scrap of Kashi cereal-box cardboard and the center tube from a roll of toilet paper, we were surprised to find a Sharpie-markered CD-R, hand-labeled by the man himself.
But on to the music: R. Stevie Moore is a sonic acrobat. Keywords include pop, punk, country, kiddie, rock, roll, funk, folk, and spoken word. On Phonography (1976), Moore’s first proper release, the catchy tune “She Don’t Know What To Do With Herself” is followed by “The Lariat Wressed Posing Hour,” a hilarious meta-fictional interview between a nervous talk show host and one “Rodert Lampley,” a man from Georgia pretending to be a Wisconsin congressman. All of these characters are played by Moore.
BOMB was thrilled when the artist David Shrigley—whose 2005 book Worried Noodles inspired Moore to record Shrigley Field—agreed to conduct the following email interview, and also draw a portrait of Moore.