BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
Brad Mitcho's a tad edgy.
Not that Mitcho isn't always edgy, but today he's
unusually tense. His eyes are darting back and forth with
that kind of caged-animal,
cramming-for-a-life-altering-test panic. He only makes eye
contact when it surprises you. The waitress at the Brook is
wary of him. He's tripped her fidgeting alarm, and it's
clear he hasn't seen the sun in a few days.
"I'm freaking out," he mutters during our conversation
last week. "I'm trying to get it all done. I come from a
theater background, so I tend to go overboard when getting
ready for a show."
This show, especially.
The pressure's on this weekend as Molly's Yes unveils
itself as a major-label pop band. The Tulsa quartet
actually will play two shows — Oklahoma City on Friday, here
at home Saturday — to celebrate the international release of
"Wonderworld," the band's first shot on Universal's Republic
Records. The CD was due on shelves across the country this
"Wonderworld" is a spiffed-up version of the band's debut
CD, "Paper Judas," which was released locally early this
year. In the hands of Republic, the album's sound got a
shot of steroids and added an extra track. But the umpteen
thousands of copies still read, "Produced by Brad Mitcho."
Molly's Yes — the name comes from Molly Bloom's
life-affirming monologue at the end of James Joyce's
"Ulysses" — consists of Mitcho, bassist and what critics like
to call "sonic architect"; Ed Goggin, a powerful singer with
an unruffled eye on Bono's white flag; Mac Ross, a gifted
guitarist with an ear for tone and texture; and Scott
Taylor, drummer and, like Mitcho, a former resident of
another Tulsa musical mainstay, Glass House. In three short
years, these four have blazed a trail of glory that defines
the phrase "meteoric rise." How high they will go remains to
One thing is clear to Molly's Yes, though. The next
phase of their promising recording career starts this
weekend. Back home.
Mitcho's been up nights working on "incidental music."
That's a phrase that usually sends serious rock fans
scurrying for the beer tent, but it sheds light on the way
Molly's Yes makes music. They don't just make music. They
make an experience.
"The whole vibe of this band has been to take slick
songwriting and apply the electronic element," Mitcho says.
"The artists who have inspired us are people like U2, Kate
Bush — people who are aware of the audio, video and
theatrical element of a show."
Indeed, when Mitcho refers to the "electronic element,"
he's talking about sight and sound. Saturday's hometown
show will be a festival of carefully orchestrated music and
video, thanks to the work and talent of multimedia
designers like Chris White at Tulsa's Winner
Communications. It'll be cool, Mitcho assures, but it's
made a lot of extra work for him.
"Computers can't jam," he says. "I have to create a lot of
music to bridge the songs, and I have to represent the
songs as finished products."
Molly's Yes is not an electronic band, though they are
certainly electronically enhanced. Goggin's emotional songs
and plaintive wails are melodic, accessible and moving, and
he says he writes on an acoustic guitar like any other rock
musician. Once the song gets its legs, Goggin hands it over
to Mitcho, who slinks into his electronic lair.
"The most exciting part is when I write a song and give
it to Brad, and then he goes and does his ... thing," Goggin
says. "I can't wait to come back and see where it's gone and
get to see this Frankenstein thing come out."
"The first time Ed and I were working together," Mitcho
says, "we were talking about all these things we wanted to
do with our music, and we had the same ideas for loops and
stuff. He kept asking, `Do we have the technology to do
that?' Well, yeah, we do!"
So began a year-long journey for Molly's Yes: the
creation of "Paper Judas." Mitcho maintained his intense
focus on the album every step of the way — sometimes to the
point of obsession. Goggin is quoted in the band's new
Republic bio as saying, "He would not settle for anything
less than the best to the point where he almost needed
psychiatric help." The result of the labors, though, helped
the band score three nominations at next month's Spot Music
Awards, considerable radio exposure throughout the state
(no small feat) and a contract with one of the music
industry's most enterprising record labels.
Effects and cool sounds don't make a successful record,
though, and they (usually) don't land your band a record
contract. The Molly's Yes song "Sugar" — which was the single
released locally and nationally — is impossible to eject
from your head because, at the barest level, it's a solid
" 'Sugar' was never meant to be 'Brain Salad Surgery'
(Emerson, Lake and Palmer)," Mitcho says. "It's not hollow.
It's basically three chords and the truth."
"The title of it makes it sound like a confectionery
thing, but the irony is that it's about drug abuse," Goggin
says. "It's a beautiful tune wrapped up in a serious issue.
'Tell Me the Truth' gets into the complexity of a
relationship. I mean, for the most part, this is pretty
grown-up stuff. To me, that's more subversive than coming
out with the angry thing right off. It's like, 'Yeah, we
get it already. You're pissed off.'
"Of course, people like to corner you into being this or
that. We've already taken flack for different things.
People who know me know I'm not this bookish guy thinking
heavy things all the time. But, see, Molly's Yes is a great
name because that last chapter (of Ulysses) is not just a
daydream about flowers, it's about everything, a whole
lifetime of experience, of sex, of love, everything. It's
about all that we deal with as human beings. We, as a band,
can be all those things.
After this weekend's hometown kick-off, the band's plan --
surprisingly — is supposed to lie low. They recently hired a
manager, Scott McCracken (Lauryn Hill, Cherry Poppin'
Daddies, Spacehog), but there are no plans for Molly's Yes
to tour extensively until after the band's New Year's Eve
gig with Caroline's Spine at the Brady Theater.
"Once the record hits, we're going to party here but keep
it pretty low-key until after the holidays," Goggin says.
"Every artist and their dog is coming out with their Last
Record of the Century this fall. We're not going to try and
compete with that, with people like Beck. It would be too
difficult for a new band to squeeze in."
So for now, there's just the party.
Not only has Mitcho been locked up in his home studio
creating cartilage for the show's transitions, but the band
has been working and rehearsing at a fever pitch. This is
the hometown crowd, after all. It's homecoming weekend.
"People in Tulsa are looking to see if we've moved to
that next level," Goggin says, "and we have a certain amount
of gratitude to all the people who helped us achieve this,
from all the media to the people at Christopher Sound and
Vision to basically all the people who came out to the
Brink every weekend to see us. We owe them something big."
Molly's Yes performs Saturday at the Cain's Ballroom,
423 N. Main St., with Shaking Tree. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts
at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7, at the Ticket Office at Expo
Square, Mohawk Music, Starship Records and Tapes and the
Mark-It Shirt Shop.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.