MOTO Masters of the Obvious

Thank You, Captain Obvious

Masters of the Obvious land in Ventura

By David Cotner 07/19/2012

Despite the name, you might not immediately recognize Masters of the Obvious.  In the interest of general enlightenment, we present five things you should know.

New Orleans had punk rock, too

Founded by guitarist brothers Jeff and Mike Tomeny, drummer Don Ward and singer/guitarist Paul Caporino in New Orleans in 1981, Masters of the Obvious has crossed multiple genres — punk, new wave, noisy soul — over the past 30 years, with Caporino being the only constant in the band.  “We couldn’t really get that many gigs,” he once said.  “Our band kept breaking up. One guy, the drummer, kept going to the loony bin for a while.”

Masters of the Obvious loves cassettes

Being a peripatetic genius with talent and no place to put it was a natural fit with the medium of cassette tapes.  Since 1985, Caporino has self-released music by Masters of the Obvious on the humble format, with almost 20 tape-only titles in the band’s discography. There are caustic, funny titles such as Gangway for Miracles, Wall of Phlegm and this year’s Live in Turku cassette on the noir-named Blast of Silence label.

John Peel played Masters of the Obvious on his legendary BBC radio show

The song “Rot Rot Rot” was singled out for praise by the iconoclastic broadcaster, just before his annual listeners’ poll, the Festive Fifty.  Speaking before playing M.O.T.O. music in 1988, he said, “I thought tonight I’d play some of my favorites of the year.”  He would go on to play selections from the album This Corpse Is a Warning throughout 1991.


Masters of the Obvious has a sick affinity for soft rock hits

Its covers include “I’ve Never Been to Me,” Charlene’s saccharine 1977 smash, and King Harvest’s vomitrocious 1972 hit “Dancing in the Moonlight.” One trusts that Masters of the Obvious was kidding. Then again, it’s also recorded a killer cover of “Killed By Death” for a Motörhead tribute record, so it all balances out.

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet recorded a wedding 7-inch for M.O.T.O.’s drummer

Known best for the theme to Kids in the Hall, the Canadian band recorded “You May Now Kiss the Bride” as a party favor for Rebecca “Beck” Dudley, M.O.T.O.’s drummer in Chicago.  The 7-inches were paid for by Steve Albini and given away in 1991 in celebration of Dudley’s marriage to John Mohr, singer/guitarist with the band Tar. 

M.O.T.O. (Masters of the Obvious) will play a free show at Billy O’s on Thursday, July 19, at 10 p.m., with an earlier free show at 7 p.m. at Grady’s Record Refuge. Joining them will be Surprise Vacation and Horse Marriage.


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