Interview: Steve Moriarty of The Gits

“We were actually able to do the thing we wanted to do in life, with the people we wanted to do it with. I mean, how often do you get that?”

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Note from Rachel: One of the defining Seattle bands in the pre-grunge era, along with Nirvana and other bands that went on to become famous, was The Gits. In the late ’80s, all the members of The Gits and I attended the same college: a small school of 500 students called Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. A few years later, at the height of The Gits success, its singer, Mia Zapata, was raped and murdered in Seattle. A search for her killer was fruitless until around a decade later, when the case was reopened using new DNA technology that eventually identified the perpetrator and brought him to trial. Exactly 20 years after we met (and spent a summer traveling the U.S. in a van researching Indian tribes), I interviewed Steve Moriarty, Gits drummer and one of the chief forces behind the murder investigation as well as the self-titled Gits documentary. The interview became the cover story of the Spanish magazine Popular 1 in February of 2009. Here’s the original, English-language interview.

RACHEL ARIEFF

How did the idea come up for the documentary, and what was the experience like for you emotionally?

STEVE MORIARTY

Before anything ever broke in the case, there were these two women, Jessie and Carrie, in L.A. Carrie had brain cancer and was very sick. She came across a Gits song on KALX, a radio station in L.A. They were playing “Whirlwind”, and she heard it, and just freaked out, and started listening to The Gits. And she thought it had really helped her get through the cancer. It changed her life a lot. And she was a filmmaker, and had made some films, and she wanted to a five-minute short film on that song, or a video, or something on The Gits, like a short art film.

And we agreed to work with her on the film, and one thing led to another, and it ended up being a full-length documentary. But it started out being a short film by someone who was just inspired by a song. It took a while of coaxing before we would agree to do it. Because a lot of people had promised, and wanted to do films, but had never come through, or never had the means, or never had the talent to put anything together. But we were reluctant because there was no real ending to the movie. We hadn’t found out who had done it, and it was a very sad place to go for us, emotionally. So it was a really difficult decision to do it, and then really difficult to hash up, try to explain what had happened, and go through all the minutae of what the band was like, and our relationships in the band. It really forced us to look at what it was, and what we had lost.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What year was it that Carrie got in contact with you?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think it was about 2000.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was the audience response like when they saw the documentary?

STEVE MORIARTY

We thought that people wouldn’t like it, but people loved it, and freaked out. And a lot of folks who had never got to see The Gits live, but were into the music from the recordings, saw the film and really appreciated it. I would say that 99 percent of our fans never got to see us play. At the roughest, roughest, roughest versions that we screened as a work in progress, people had a really strong response to it, and probably had a lot to do with the film actually getting finished. People’s response to it.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

Are there new fans that have discovered The Gits after seeing the documentary?

STEVE MORIARTY

I get a lot of emails from people just recently. But since 1993, every year there’s been a whole new group of people that have gotten into the band. I’ll get emails and letters from high school kids, and students at Columbia doing their dissertation on Mia or on the band. Actually a lot of people doing research on women in rock-n-roll, or the history of women in music. And there were a few books that were written that included sections on The Gits – books on women in music, and historically that period in rock-n-roll.

So there’s always been an interest from everything from kids in high school, to kids in college that hear The Gits on college radio, to people in academia. So it’s been interesting, to say the least.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

Do you still keep in touch with Matt and Andy?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, we’re like brothers. We communicate a lot. They’re both in Seattle and I live in Oakland now. But I see them as much as I can, and we stay in touch.

RACHEL ARIEFF

The journalist Ann Powers appears in the documentary saying that girl bands nowadays like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Distillers are all influenced by Mia Zapata, and they don’t even know it. Do you agree with her statement?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think the first part I agree with. The second part, I don’t. I know for a fact that the singer in The Distillers is a huge fan. And I’ve never met the woman in The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but there was a pretty strong knowledge in the music scene of The Gits in New York. I know that the Sonic Youth people did benefits for us. And there was an awareness of The Gits in the New York music scene.

RACHEL ARIEFF

So do you see an influence of Mia and The Gits in bands now, in New York or elsewhere?

STEVE MORIARTY

I actually hear a lot of influence in Kristin Hersch’s music. You know, from Throwing Muses. And the singer from The Distillers too. But you could be influenced by Mia as far inspired musically. I think a lot of women are inspired to be in bands when they hear a strong woman fronting a band. I don’t know that the music really influenced other bands, because I felt like Mia was a pretty unique vocalist, and was inspired by a lot of non-rock-n-roll people like Bessie Smith and more old blues styles, and soul. And so i don’t know if it’s really possible to have been influenced by The Gits musically, but more inspired just to do it. Just inspired by the fact that anybody can play music and that you don’t have to be a virtuoso to form a band and to get up there and sing, or to try and play drums, or whatever. I think a lot of musicians have said that they were inspired by what The Gits did, as opposed to the way we sounded. I mean, we put a tour of Europe on our own. We did everything without the help of a label. We put out our own records eventually. And we booked all our own tours ourselves. So I think it was really a DIY inspiration that we had with people.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

That comes through in the documentary really well. I saw a shot of the list of cities that the band went thorugh on the European tour. I saw cities in Germany and Northern Europe, but did you get down to Spain?

STEVE MORIARTY

No. We wanted to, but we couldn’t get to Spain. That was before the internet, so all I could do was send out 45’s and letters asking for a gig. And we just didn’t have the wherewithal to do much more than places where a lot of people spoke English. And at that point, I couldn’t connect with many people who spoke English in Spain or France or Italy.

RACHEL ARIEFF

You said something in the documentary that I thought was interesting musically. You said that you had trained to be a jazz drummer, but you ended up playing rock-n-roll. You said that you thought jazz was a better art form than rock. What do you mean by “better”?

STEVE MORIARTY

Jazz is definitely a better art form than rock (laughter). For me as a drummer, playing jazz is a lot more challenging, and has a lot more history. And great, great musicians. I mean, there are so many crappy rock musicians and rock bands. I can’t say that rock-n-roll drumming has a history of amazing influences. But jazz drumming is so complicated, and so complex. And there are so many polyrhythmic techniques, and ways of playing. When you’re talking about rock-n-roll, you’re talking about 4/4 slow, 4/4 a little faster, and 4/4 really, really fast. So it’s really limited as far as the complexity and the syncopation. But I always thought that as a young musician that I needed to play jazz to really have a challenging experience playing music. But I actually found out that jazz didn’t fit my temperament. Punk rock and rock-n-roll was more my temperament (laughter). And if I was going to play music that was really true to my heart, that I needed to play rock-n-roll and not jazz, because I wasn’t a heady intellectual about music. And I can appreciate jazz now, but in playing it, I need to sort of pour my guts out onto the drums, and I can’t do that when I’m thinking so hard in order to play a 7/8 time, or an 11/17 time on the drums. I need to rock out. Blow my brains out (laughter).

RACHEL ARIEFF

You said also that you didn’t know much about punk rock before you started playing with The Gits. You listened to bands like The Kinks. Was it weird, scary or intimidating for you to play in a punk band?

STEVE MORIARTY

It was really exciting. Where I grew up in Indiana, in the seventies and eighties, punk rock never reached that far into the inland-midwest of the United States. Punk rock was really limited, when I was in high school, to the coasts. To New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco. And there wasn’t the internet, and it was really hard to be exposed. I mean, basically, my exposure to music was what was on pop radio, and what was on MTV. About as far afield as I could get was what I saw on MTV. And there were some sort of poppy punk bands there, but not really. So I was really in an isolated community in the U.S. So I had to really dig deep to find interesting music. And about as interesting as I could get was The Ramones and The Talking Heads, and Television, and new wavey stuff that would play on Saturday Night Live. Or Devo, for example. But as far as independent bands, there really weren’t any where I was living in Indiana.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What part of Indiana did you live in?

STEVE MORIARTY

I was in Indianapolis. But it was a really backwards existence. It was about 10 years behind the rest of the country. For example, up until 1975, a woman could not even stand at a bar and order a drink for herself at a bar.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What??? Really?

STEVE MORIARTY

It was illegal for a woman to order a drink at a bar until 1975. So it was a really backwards place. And it wasn’t until I met Andy and Matt that I actually got turned on to punk. And Mia was the same way. She was from Louisville, Kentucky, which was as backwards as Indianapolis, if not more so. And so she brought that influence of Kentucky bluegrass, blues, gospel and soul to the rock-n-roll. And Andy and Matt had grown up in New York, so they went to see all kinds of punk bands at CBGB’s when they were in high school. So they brought the heavy punk and the tempo to the band, whereas we brought the country blues, I guess (laughter).

RACHEL ARIEFF

All the members of The Gits met at Antioch College, right?

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STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, we met at Antioch. Andy and Matt lived at this dormitory where I lived. We were all really heavy drinkers at the time. I met Mia at a bar. She introduced herself to me, and I was really nervous. And then she was drinking shots of tequila at a place called The Saloon. (laughter)

RACHEL ARIEFF

I remember that place.

STEVE MORIARTY

She taught me to drink shots of tequila in the afternoon. So I got really drink with her, and staggered back to where we were living. And Andy and Matt would blast this really weird music in their rooms. And I would go listen to it. I’d be like, “What’s that? What’s that?” And they would turn me on to these cassette tapes of these New York punk bands, and English punk bands that they were listening to.  And bands from the West Coast too, like The Violent Femmes, and Social Distortion, and The Dead Kennedys, and Agnostic Front. And the New York Dolls, and Stiff Little Fingers, and The Jam. The Clash. And when I heard that stuff, I had to hang out with them all time, because they had this wealth of knowledge that I really was fascinated by. So when they wanted to form a band, I was right there, ready to play with them. And I think they saw that I had a set of drums, and they wanted me to play with them.

RACHEL ARIEFF

In the documentary, someone talked about how some people had misconceptions of Mia because of her strong stage persona. In truth, she was actually quiet and timid and very gentle. What was she like back then?

STEVE MORIARTY

She was this quirky, funny girl. I remember she would have drinks and then ride her bicycle around town. And I remember one time she was coming over to see me at my house after a gig at 2 in the morning. And she came over on her bike, and I was sitting on the porch having a cigarette. And she was going too fast, and she crashed right into the bushes of the house that I was living. Beers rolled out from all over the place. And I remember she just jumped up, and was like, “HEY, HOW ARE YOU DOIN’?” So she was reckless and funny and sincere, and really quite shy. She really stuck to her close friends. And she was just quirky and funny and youthful. That’s what I remember most about Antioch. We used to get in trouble together, and hop into people’s swimming pools illegally and cause trouble around the little town.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

I remember her on her bike all the time. I was totally intimidated by her.

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter)

RACHEL ARIEFF

The first time I ever saw her was at a gig in Corry Hall. I think you were playing blues covers, not punk.

STEVE MORIARTY

Right. Because Andrew was living in London for that year. So we didn’t want to have a rock band, we wanted to have a blues band. So we had this other guy who kind of knew how to play guitar. That was actually really fun. Did you ever see The Gits play there?

RACHEL ARIEFF

I don’t think I ever did. The show I caught was at my Prospective Weekend.

STEVE MORIARTY

That must’ve been a fun night. Probably had a keg of beer or something there.

RACHEL ARIEFF

It was weird because I was with my father.  He was really conservative in a lot of ways, and he was just blown away by Mia.

STEVE MORIARTY

Oh really? Wow. Interesting. See, that’s what I wanted to do, was on our last tour, we were driving back from our last show, which was in Eastern Washington somewhere. And Mia and I were talking and plotting, and we didn’t want to tell the guys, but we were talking about doing a solo record of her. To get a piano player or a guitar player and it would be sort of country-blues or some other kind of mellow blues music, of Mia singing solo. I think that would have been really great if we’d actually done it. So we were working on an album ourselves, and I wanted to produce it and help her put out her solo stuff. I thought it would be really powerful. We were really happy. She was really psyched to do something herself. ‘Cause on that last tour, she had played a couple of solo shows along with our show.

Photo: Jackie Ransier

Photo: Jackie Ransier

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did she play acoustic guitar and sing?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Yeah, ‘cause her voice really needs to be in the foreground. That’s why I loved that blues night that you guys did. God, I’d never seen anything like that.

STEVE MORIARTY

If I could find some recordings of that, it would be really good. I think I should try to dig them up.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Yeah, that’d be great. When was the first time you heard Mia sing?

STEVE MORIARTY

I used to hear Mia playing. She would sit in her room, and had this old acoustic guitar that was out of tune. And she would just try to pluck out blues songs, and Iggy Pop songs, and sing. Or she would sing along with the stereo. I would hear her singing by herself, doing that same kind of bluesy stuff that sounded so cool. And they decided to have the band, and then asked me to play. So Andy and Matt had already heard her singing in her room, and decided that she could be the singer. And she also liked punk rock a lot, too. So it wasn’t that she was taken out of this protected place and brought into this world. She was really into underground music as well.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What the first show you did like?

STEVE MORIARTY

Well, actually when I get back to what turned me on to punk rock, it’s that the four of us helped build the stage and organize the Dead Kennedys show at Antioch. The first year and first month that we were there, the Dead Kennedys played. And we built the stage. I don’t think we had a band yet to play, but once we saw that show, we saw people freaking out and stage diving, and people came from all over Ohio to go to it. And they packed the theater building. And the FBI showed up. We had to have them thrown out, because they were taking photographs of all the people at the show. It was really weird.

But once we saw the Dead Kennedys play, and Jello do his thing, we were all just blown away. And we thought, “We want to do that. We want to do what they’re doing.” I had never seen anything like it, coming from Indiana. People just jumping off the stage, head first. That was 1985. After that, I couldn’t get enough of punk rock, and the scene, and the music, and the movement. And I just had to find out more about it, and just went out and made tapes of people’s records, and bought records, and tried to listen to it as much as possible. And to play that kind of music,a nd to figure out the rhythms and beats. The actual heartbeat of punk rock, and try to recreate that on drums.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you talk to Jello when he was there?

STEVE MORIARTY

Oh yeah, we talked to Jello. He just kept making comments about how the campus was so dark. He kept talking about how it was such an invitation for women to be raped. “Gosh, it’s so dark here. It’s like a rape waiting to happen.” He was funny and quirky and wouldn’t shut up. He just talked, talked, talked, talked. But they were really nice. They ended up staying and doing their laundry at Antioch, and eating in the cafeteria. (laughter) I’m playing with Klaus Fluoride, from the Dead Kennedys, which is funny. In San Francisco.

RACHEL ARIEFF

How long has that been going on?

STEVE MORIARTY

For the last year. It’s a band called The American Professionals. It’s more pop-punk.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Do you have a website?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, American Professional dot com. But the MySpace is a bit better, I think. It’s good music. It’s less angry and more ironic.

RACHEL ARIEFF

In the documentary, Maria Mabra called Mia a “heavy angel” and compared her to Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Did you want to say more about it?

STEVE MORIARTY

She just loved old blues, and she loved the lifestyle. She always used to say she just wanted to live with a big shaggy dog and have a cabin in the woods. That was I think all she wanted to get out of the band. We all really, really, really wanted to try to figure out how to do this for a living.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was her family musical?

STEVE MORIARTY

No. Her family really wasn’t. Mia was the black sheep of her family.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I loved the way her father came across in the documentary.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, he was really sweet.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I feel so much for him whenever I see the documentary. When he said that Mia was on loan ot him, and now she belongs to everybody, was one of the most generous things I could imagine somebody would say about the death of their daughter. No rancor at all, just a graceful man.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. Very sad. I mean, the whole thing was just so excruciatingly sad and difficult. And it’s still difficult every day for me. I think about Mia and The Gits every day. It was just the best time of my life. And to have that, and have it so violently ripped from you, and to know that the person you loved ended her life that was, is just brutal. It’s a brutal thing to live with every day.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

It’s not something that gets healed.

STEVE MORIARTY

No. We were like a family. It was like having my sister raped and beaten to death. Awful. I can imagine what it must feel like in places like Croatia to have your family members murdered and destroyed in front of you.

RACHEL ARIEFF

When Mia was killed, did it feel like there was a “before” and “after” and your youth or innocence was taken away?

STEVE MORIARTY

I sort of felt that way. I defininitely went to a very dark place after that. It changed my life in a big way. I mean, I definitely looked at things differently and was a lot more negative and drank a lot more. And really sank into a dark, dark place. Life was a lot harder after that. I don’t know if I lost innocence. You shouldn’t have to lose innocence. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I don’t think I was innocent, and I don’t think anything good ever came out of what happened. It was just a shitty thing that we had to survive ourselves, and our own grief. People say, “Oh, well, at least you got to do the record with Joan Jett, and at least an organization that teaches self defense to women came out of it, and those are all good things that came out of it.” And I’m like, “Those things could have existed anyway. Nothing good ever came out of Mia being murdered, except that we lost Mia. It was just a shitty, horrible thing that happened.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I didn’t live in Seattle and I wasn’t part of the scene at all, but the thing that I recognize in The Gits’ history is an ethic that the students shared at Antioch: doing things yourself, being creative, and not trying to fit into the preexisting structure. In Spanish there’s a word for it: “ilusión”. The Gits documentary does a good job showing how the band, and what was later labeled as the “grunge” music scene in Seattle, shared an innocence as far as one’s limitations. You don’t know that you can’t do it, so you just do it anyway.

STEVE MORIARTY

I think there was an element of that, yeah. We didn’t know what we doing. We were doing it because we had to do it. We knew that as four people, we had to make music together. So it did give us a lot of illusion about life. We were actually able to do the thing we wanted to do in life, with the people we wanted to do it with. I mean, how often do you get that?

RACHEL ARIEFF

I liked what you said in the documentary. You said, “We were young, a little bit drunk, a little bit angry, and we had a lot of energy.”

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, that was definitely where we were at. (laughter)

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was Antioch College important to the history of The Gits?

STEVE MORIARTY

The thing is, we met there and formed the band there, but we were only together as four people for maybe a year total because of the co-ops and stuff like that, and we’d go off to different co-ops and do different jobs. So we weren’t able to meet as a band very often. So it wasn’t until we moved to Seattle that we were able to be a band full time and rehearse four or five times a week and do what we needed to do.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Antioch attracted a certain kind of person, though.

STEVE MORIARTY

I think it did. I think the four of us were misfits in our own way, from our own parts of the country. And when we came together, we just found kindred spirits. The school really attracted a lot of freaks.

RACHEL ARIEFF

One of the members of the band said it really well in the documentary: “Antioch was once a great college.” It was a great college in the past, but out of the wasteland of this destroyed university, this band formed.

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STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. Because the university was so ill-prepared to serve the students, the students really had to create their own educational program. We had time because there weren’t very many classes to take. There wasn’t a music program, so we had to make our own music.

RACHEL ARIEFF

D.I.Y, but you’re paying tuition.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, paying tuition for it (laughter). I’m still in debt from that damn school. How many years has it been?

RACHEL ARIEFF

Jesus Christ. Twenty years.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, yeah. I’m still in debt. That’s how expensive it was. And now they’re going out of business, you heard about that?

RACHEL ARIEFF

Yeah, that’s sad.

STEVE MORIARTY

I think what was more of an influence on me was living in Spain, as a matter of fact. I lived there from 1984-1985 in Tudela, Navarra, which is another sort of backwards rural community. When I went there, it was during the Reagan era. There were anti-American protests every day. I remember he visited some region when I was living there. I was walking down the street in Pamplona during an anti-American protest, and I ended up ducking into a bar to hide so I would be out of the way of these screaming Communists and Anarchists. People used to pick fights with me all the time, because I was going to high school there.

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Photo courtesy of Ursula Dohn-Edwards

People would pick fights with me because I was living in the Basque region, and the anti-American sentiment was really “cool”. It was really cool to hate Americans then. And I was by myself. I was a skinny blonde kid that stood out like a sore thumb there. They used to write graffiti on the schoolyard wall that said, “Yankee go home”. But that was also when I got turned on to radical politics. One of my best friends there was a communist lawyer from Madrid. I first realized that there was another way to look at The United States, and another way to look at imperialism, and my own community. I really learned critical thinking in looking at the U.S. from a Spanish, or Basque, or Catalan perspective.

RACHEL ARIEFF

You didn’t go to Spain, you went to the most hard-core part of the peninsula.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you have any idea what the hell you were getting into when you decided on Tudela?

STEVE MORIARTY

I had no idea. I fell in love with a Spanish girl, and learned to speak Spanish that way.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Are you still in touch with her?

STEVE MORIARTY

No, unfortunately. Her name was Marisa Sinsano.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Rolls off the tongue.

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter)

RACHEL ARIEFF

What year did The Gits move to the Seattle? 1989?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was the music scene like when you arrived there?

STEVE MORIARTY

There was no scene. There were two places you could play on Tuesday night and Friday night. There were two bars you could play. And everybody in town wanted to play these two venues.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What were they called?

STEVE MORIARTY

They were called The Vogue and Squid Row. There were bands and a lot of musicians there, but there was no real organized scene. But right then was when bands like Soundgarden and Mudhoney and Green River and Screaming Trees and Tad were around. Nirvana was just forming. They were playing shows in ’89. They were from Olympia.

Photo: Charles Peterson

Photo: Charles Peterson

So these bands were playing around and Subpop, the label, was just starting. They were first putting out singles when we moved there, but we didn’t sound like those bands. For one thing, of all the Subpop bands, we were the only band that had a female singer. And we felt like we had more of an English punk influence, and the other bands had more of a metal influence. So we didn’t really fit in with them. However, at one of our first shows in Seattle, we opened for Nirvana at the University of Washington.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was that show like?

STEVE MORIARTY

There were like 2,000 people there. It was the biggest show we ever played. We hung out with them backstage, and just drank and threw stuff around the dressing room, and that’s all I remember.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was Kurt Cobain like?

STEVE MORIARTY

He was really quiet. He just played around with the bass player, Krist Novoselic. They just threw ice at each other, and chased each other around a table and got really wasted before the show. They were silly. We shared our tequila with them. We were really into tequila. So we opened for them and we saw their show, and for the first time I really thought they were good.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you like Mother Love Bone’s music?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think Andy had died shortly after we got there. They were just too rock-n-roll, too typical for me. I didn’t like their stuff as much. But they were kind of like us. They didn’t really gain any notoriety after their singer died.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you like any of the other bands of the scene, like Tad or Mudhoney or Screaming Trees?

STEVE MORIARTY

I liked Tad a lot. I thought he was really nice. He used to come over to our barbecues. And I was a big fan of the Screaming Trees. But they were a whole other world away from our music. They were like mellow, psychedelic rock. In fact, the guy who recorded our first album was the Screaming Trees producer and that’s why we picked him.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Is he the guy that appears in the documentary?

STEVE MORIARTY

No, that’s a different guy. His name was Steve Fisk. We had to fire him because it sound right. He made us sound like a Screaming Trees album, and we realized it didn’t sound good for The Gits. We needed a more direct, non-produced sound.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Is this the guy who did your first EP, “Kings and Queens”?

STEVE MORIARTY

He recorded “Frenching the Bully” but we fired him and got someone else to mix it. Steve Fisk is kind of a famous producer. He produced Portishead and some other bands.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Who produced Second Skin and Social Love?

STEVE MORIARTY

That was Scott Benson.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Were you happier with those results?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, we were much happier with that. It was just much more raw and it sounded great. It just pushed the speakers right in your face.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Before everything was lumped together under the name “grunge”, did you have any idea that this music scene would become so popular and successful?

STEVE MORIARTY

No, not at all. It was really hard to see it from inside. I had no concept of any sort of national thing, except for when The Gits toured Europe in ’91. The way I knew that Seattle had this huge thing going on was that when The Gits toured Europe, people would put on the posters, “The Gits, FROM SEATTLE”, and people would come to see us play. Not because they knew who The Gits were, but because we were from Seattle. That was really strange, and that was the selling point for our band at the time. Every band from Seattle was touring Europe and having good shows in Europe. So we decided to book the shows by ourselves in Europe.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Why did 7 Year Bitch become so popular? They started after The Gits, and you all were their mentors.

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STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, we were their friends and mentors and lovers, but I think they filled a niche. There were hardly any women playing rock-n-roll in that scene. And they filled a niche of women who were strong and doing hard music, at a time when that didn’t exist. So they filled a void. And they inspired a lot of women to do music.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was there some envy between The Gits when 7 Year Bitch got to play in New York before The Gits did?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, there was, because they formed a band and it seemed like overnight they were opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and touring all over the world. People were giving them money and they had all this support, and we had a harder time. They were also more social people. They were more in it for the social interaction when we were in it just for the music. They were more gregarious, and they had a lot of connections, so they were able to put together the business of music much better than we were.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you teach Valerie how to play the drums?

STEVE MORIARTY

I did, yes. And she doesn’t play anymore, which is too bad.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Why not?

STEVE MORIARTY

She just quit after the band broke up. She never played again.

RACHEL ARIEFF

They went through a lot of shit. First with Stephanie Sargent, and then with Mia, one year after the other.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. And when Stephanie died, that pretty much took care of any sort of envy or competition that we had. We knew we were just in it together, and we realized there was a lot more to this music thing.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was The Gits’ lack of interest in social networking the reason why the band remained underground at a time when so many other bands from the scene were going on to commercial success?

Photo: Jackie Ransier

Photo: Jackie Ransier

STEVE MORIARTY

I don’t know. I don’t know. I think that we were on the verge of getting a contract. And I think we wrote really catchy songs. Our third album would have probably been more noticed. I think we were just into doing it the hard way. We didn’t take any shit, and didn’t do interviews if we didn’t want to, we didn’t do things that didn’t interest us. And music is all about doing shit that doesn’t interest you, if you’re gonna be successful business-wise. All we cared about was playing music in live shows. That was the most important thing – and our friendship. So all that peripheral crap that you have to do to be successful as a musician, we just didn’t know, and didn’t have any interest in learning.

The way that we got gigs is I booked a club. So I was able to book my own band at this club, the O.K. Hotel. And for about two years in the nineties, it was THE club in Seattle where all the bands would play. Nirvana played there on their way to record “Nevermind” to make money. Mother Love Bone played there, Soundgarden, everybody.

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Photo: Jackie Ransier

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was it annoying for the band when Seattle became so hip all of a sudden with the record industry?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think we didn’t really notice because we were in the middle. People would talk about it being really popular, and we just wouldn’t… We noticed there were a lot of band. I knew as a booking agent that there were a shitload of bands. Hundreds and hundreds of bands. Seattle became this rock-n-roll capitol where you could go see a show any night of the week and see three or four really good bands, and have your choice of ten different clubs that would have music seven nights a week. It’s still a great place for live music. I live in the Bay area of San Francisco now – in Oakland – but the music scene here isn’t half of what it is in Seattle. Rock-n-roll is just part of the culture there, and it’s part of what makes it tick. And it’s still that way. I don’t know why, but it’s just a really good place to play music. Probably ‘cause it rains all the time.

RACHEL ARIEFF

It’s an artsy part of the country. How was the Gits’ European tour?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think it was the best experience we had as a band. We just played small places and squats. Small clubs. And half the gigs we booked when we were already there. But we had a great response, and are still in touch with people that we met there on that tour. It just taught us that we could do anything we wanted to. We didn’t have to be held back. If we wanted to tour Europe, we could.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was that before the West Coast tour?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think it was before the West Coast tour that we did. But we did dozens of West Coast tours. We toured up and down the West Coast for years. We probably played L.A. and San Francisco 20 times. So we were really busy as a band, but we sort of stayed regional because our van wasn’t  equipped to make it all the way to New York, you know?

And we had to work shit jobs to live, so we could only take week-long tours.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What job did you work at?

STEVE MORIARTY

I worked at a health food store, delivering the carrots.

RACHEL ARIEFF

And Mia was waitressing at the Frontier Room?

STEVE MORIARTY

She was a dishwasher at a pizza place when she was murdered. She didn’t show up for work.

RACHEL ARIEFF

How did Stephanie Sargent’s death affect Mia?

STEVE MORIARTY

Mia was really crushed. They were really, really tight. I don’t even know how it affected her, you know? It must have been pretty deep, though. It wasn’t long after that Mia was murdered. But on that last day, hours before, minutes before she was killed, she was toasting Stephanie, ‘cause it was the one-year anniversary of Stephanie’s overdose on heroin that Mia was killed. Mia was thinking of Stephanie on the last day of her life. That says a lot.

It was sad. It was an exciting and sad and intense time.

RACHEL ARIEFF

How was the recording of “Enter The Conquering Chicken”?

Art: Mark Pollard

STEVE MORIARTY

We didn’t ever know what Mia had sang because she would kick us out of the studio when she was doing vocal tracks. So we had to go back and discover what was on tape to put the album together. When we put the album together, she was due to go back into the studio and finish her vocal tracks for the album the day that she was killed. So we didn’t really finish the album. So everything on it was her first takes. We decided to go do a tour to work on some of the vocal parts, so that she could come back and do the recording after the tour.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did Mia do the art on that album?

STEVE MORIARTY

She didn’t. It was a guy named Mark Pollard.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I knew Mark Pollard from Antioch.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, he did all the art on all our records.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was it like when Atlantic was suddenly interested in signing The Gits? Was the band worried about compromising its integrity or identity with this big company?

STEVE MORIARTY

Well, right then, record companies were letting bands do whatever they wanted to because they realized that they couldn’t predict how Nirvana and some of these bands had broken, because they were completely DIY. So they were signing all the independent bands and letting them have complete independence in their contracts. Atlantic had signed 7 Year Bitch and given then complete artistic freedom to do whatever they wanted. And so we expected the same, that we would have gotten complete artistic freedom to do whatever we wanted to, and Atlantic would just put out the records. Because they actually had a long history of independence. They were the first independent label. Atlantic was the label of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC and had a rich, long rock-n-roll history, and had worked with a lot of “difficult” rock bands that did their own thing. So although they were a huge company and had resources, the guy pretty much said, “You can do whatever you want to. We’ll just help you have a career in music.” We were like, “Cool.”

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Photo: Charles Peterson

RACHEL ARIEFF

So you weren’t afraid of becoming rock stars?

STEVE MORIARTY

I’m sure we never really considered that happening. We were fucking starving and fucking broke, and didn’t have money. I mean, the U.S. is different than Europe in that you don’t get the dole in the U.S. if you don’t work. I mean, it’s .really hard. You don’t have health insurance. It’s really hard to get by. Mia’s teeth were bad because she couldn’t afford a dentist. Just surviving as an able-bodied young person is really hard. You’re trying to do music, you want to go on tour, you’re not going to get paid time off or anything. You don’t get that two-month vacation every year. So you’ve got to fucking work and make it on your own. And we were starving and broke, and we really needed fucking money. And so having the opportunity to actually get paid to do music was like, (laughter) we didn’t really have a problem with that because we needed it bad. If you were a rich kid in a band like Soundgarden or something like that, where your parents are able to finance everything you do, it’s easy to talk about “selling out”. But when you’re broke and starving, it’s more of a decision about being able to do music as opposed to doing it a particular way.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What do you remember about the The Gits’ last show?

STEVE MORIARTY

I remember it was on the Fourth of July in eastern Washington where there’s this huge nuclear power plant.

RACHEL ARIEFF

The one where we went to?

STEVE MORIARTY

YES! Yes!

RACHEL ARIEFF

Hanover? Wait – Han…

STEVE MORIARTY

Hanford. Yeah, we played at Hanford.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Oh my God!

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, it was the Fourth of July. And we started playing right when they shot out the fireworks, so everyone ran outside. So we played the whole show to nobody. (laughter) ‘Cause they had to be done by a certain time.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Remember that public relations guy who gave us the tour of the nuclear plant? He had this big, shiny black rock and he said to our group, “Pass it around.” And we all held it, and he goes, “You’ve all just touched nuclear waste, heh heh heh!”

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter) I remember that.

RACHEL ARIEFF

And remember we started asking him critical questions and he said, “I’ve been sandbagged!”

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. God. (Laughter) Oh yeah, he was “sandbagged”. You why I didn’t remember? I was sick. I had strep throat. I had a fever of 110 or something, I was so sick. The whole time I was hallucinating and completely out of my mind with fever. And so there’s that couple of days at Hanford that I barely remember. I remember we got run out of town because the guy was afraid that someone would come and try to get us. We left in the middle of the night, remember?

RACHEL ARIEFF

No.

STEVE MORIARTY

We left in the van in the middle of the night. We were staying at some rich farmer’s house.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

Wait a minute. Is that the guy who showed up and he tried to get it on with Tracy or Esther? We were at some guy’s house and he showed up and cornered her and he was in pajamas. And we got out of there.

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter) I barely remember that. Yeah, that must’ve been it.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Remember when we were visiting the office of an executive from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Arizona? The office was in a trailer, and all of us smelled so bad because we’d been unwashed for so many weeks that he opened the window and said, “Do you mind if I open the window? I’ve got a sensitive nose.”

STEVE MORIARTY

I remember that. (laughter)

RACHEL ARIEFF

We were all sitting on the floor, like a bunch of Manson Family members. And he thought we were just filthy.

STEVE MORIARTY

That was a really fun tour. So we played in Hanford on that last tour (laughter). The last show was in Hanford, can you believe it? It must have been the nuclear waste that did us in as a band.

We listened to the Gits tape on that tour, remember? We had just done a recording. That ended up being a CD, called “Kings and Queens”.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I remember, yeah. I memorized all the songs that were on that tape. “Cut My Skin” was on there, right?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

And you did a cover of “Pirate Love”.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. That never got released.

RACHEL ARIEFF

That was great. I loved that cover.

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter) Oh yeah? That’s good.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I had no clue about punk rock music at all, or New York Dolls or Johnny Thunders or anything. I thought that was your song, and I heard it and I was like, “This is the BEST!”

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter)

RACHEL ARIEFF

The last night that Mia was alive, how did you find out what had happened?

Photo: Jackie Ransier

Photo: Jackie Ransier

STEVE MORIARTY

Oh, let’s see. I was at the bar waiting for her to show up.

RACHEL ARIEFF

The Comet?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. I was there that night. I went home early because I left before everybody got there, I guess, and went home to go to bed, ‘cause I was tired. And the next day, Mia didn’t show up to work. She was supposed to work for a while, and then go to the studio to record. And when she didn’t show up to that, we started to really worry. So people started calling around. And then it got to be late at night, and somebody called the morgue. The medical examiner recognized Mia because he was a fan of the band. He saw that she was wearing a Gits sweatshirt. And her ID was missing, but he knew that she was the singer in The Gits. And so when we called and said we were in the band, they said, “Oh yeah. I know who it is. I think your singer’s here. You’d better come down.

RACHEL ARIEFF

In the doc, people talked about the horrible black cloud of suspicion that fell over the community because these kinds of murders are usually committed by someone the victim knew. Did her murder and not knowing who the killer was break apart the trust in the scene?

STEVE MORIARTY

It totally did. Lots of people’s bands broke up. That camaraderie and that sense of togetherness fell apart. I think The Gits kind of held the community together, in a way. It was kind of a catalyst for other bands, and other people to do their own music, to put on shows, to make recordings, to be in bands, to start bands. And once The Gits ended, that feeling of fun went away. And so a lot of things just fizzled. Our scene just fizzled, and went away. Everybody’s band broke up.

Photo: Charles Peterson

Photo: Charles Peterson

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was there bad vibes between men and women?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yep.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Valerie said something: she’d be sitting across the table from a guy, and not know if this was the killer…

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. I think there was a lot of suspicion, and the private investigator that we hired was investigating a lot of guys. A lot of people that we knew, we would have to give her their addresses and phone numbers, and she would go and interview them. And we would raise money at fund raisers and pay her, and so we investigated just about everybody that Mia came in contact with.

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RACHEL ARIEFF

The investigator doesn’t show up in the documentary, correct?

STEVE MORIARTY

She doesn’t. She should’ve.

RACHEL ARIEFF

There’s a detective in the documentary who takes the case very personally. He analyzes the music scene, the people… He really seems to have an appreciation of the camaraderie of the music community.

STEVE MORIARTY

Those guys were cold case detectives and actually, they didn’t come onto the scene until 1999 or 2000. They were from another city, but they started investigating cases in Seattle. The city hired two cold case investigators to try to take care of some old unsolved cases. They had something like 300 cases that they could choose from to work on, and the reason they chose Mia’s case was because there was such a community outrage and outcry around it. And then they chose to investigate that case in particular. Because they knew that if they got results, it would really mean a lot for their cold case program.

RACHEL ARIEFF

They’re the ones who connected the DNA on Mia to that of the database?

STEVE MORIARTY

They’re the ones that realized that there was actually some DNA saved from the examination. And the REAL hero is the medical examiner who did the autopsy, and saved DNA samples from samples that could not – DNA couldn’t be extracted from the samples at that time.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Right. And he didn’t blow it off. He said, “Well, maybe this could be used at some time.”

STEVE MORIARTY

At some time in the future. And so it was almost 10 years later that it could be used, and it was from teeth marks on her breasts. That was a landmark decision, because they had never used the saliva sample like that from teeth in order to get a DNA match.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Was it true that Mia’s case was the first in the state to be solved by saliva?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you ever lose hope that Mia’s killer would ever be found?

Photo: Jackie Ransier

Photo: Jackie Ransier

STEVE MORIARTY

A lot of people did, but I didn’t. I had to keep hope, because that was the only thing I really had. To keep hope that they would solve it. ‘Cause I didn’t think I could really live well until I was able to get past that. I didn’t think I could really live my life until the case was resolved. I was really in a ten-year period of limbo.

RACHEL ARIEFF

How did the idea of recording the Evil Stig record with Joan Jett come about? How did you end up connecting with Joan Jett?

STEVE MORIARTY

Joan Jett made a video based on the story of Mia getting killed, except for she played Mia. And instead of getting killed, she kicked the guy in the balls and got away. It came out on MTV and I saw it and I thought it was ridiculous. And at the end it said, “This is dedicated to Mia Zapata.” And I was really pissed, so I wrote her a letter and sent it to her record label, saying, “If you really want to help the investigation, the video is great and all, but what we could really use is money for the private investigator, so send us some money.” So she and her manager got back in touch, and we decided to do a benefit show with her singing Gits songs, and us playing Blackhearts songs. It was kind of an ill-conceived idea, but in the end, it ended up being pretty fun. We ended up doing an album and a U.S. tour.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was it like listening to Joan Jett singing Mia’s lyrics?

STEVE MORIARTY

It was kind of weird. You kind of wished that she was not a rock star and could have been the singer, a new singer in the band. What was really weird was playing Joan Jett songs, and realizing that was one of the first rock-n-roll bands I ever listened to when I was a little kid.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was Joan Jett like? She comes across really well in the documentary.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, she was just a really sweet, simple person. A very emotional, and empathetic person.

Steve Moriarty & Joan Jett

Steve Moriarty & Joan Jett

RACHEL ARIEFF

When she starts crying talking about the band’s story, you realize that she’s been in bands all her life too, ever since she was a kid. And bands are like surrogate famiies, so maybe she understood what it was like.

STEVE MORIARTY

That’s totally true. That’s right.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Valerie Agnew (Steve’s ex-girfriend and drummer for 7 Year Bitch) said in the documentary that right after Mia was killed, she had to go on tour, and had to function while being filled with rage and helplessness, and from that came the idea of a self-defense organization for women. When did Home Alive come about and who was behind it besides Valerie?

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STEVE MORIARTY

It was a collective of musicians and artists, women in Seattle. And they decided to do a self-defense class. It happened when we first started the murder investigation, so it was shortly after the murder. That same summer, I think [1993]. They felt they needed to do something because they were so enraged. It still exists. They’re still teaching.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did other bands pitch in to help the investigation? Didn’t Soundgarden and Nivana play some shows?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. Kurt called me and said that he wanted to help. So we threw together a show at this movie theater. And we weren’t allowed to announce it to the press until like an hour before the show, so it wouldn’t be too crazy, because they were at the height of their popularity, and they wanted to do this underground show. So they showed up and they played, and it was great. They were really cool about it. Nirvana plus a lot of other bands. Probably a list of 50 bands played at different benefits around the country, because it became wider than just the Seattle scene. It got picked up by a lot of musicians all over the country who felt like they wanted to help. So bands like Blonde Redhead and Sonic Youth, but it was commonly thought that Pearl Jam had somehow financed this whole thing, but they never did anything. Nor Soundgarden. They were completely out of our radar, off our radar, and were way up in Rockstar Land somewhere.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was cool about Kurt Cobain was that he’d go on the record quite a bit about violence against women and gays.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, that’s true. And even though he was really fucked up on heroin and stuff, his ethics were still there.

RACHEL ARIEFF

I remember he was on the cover of The Advocate (the most famous gay magazine in the U.S.), and back then that was really risky for a big rock star to do.

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STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. He was on the cover of Rolling Stone with a shirt that said “Corporate Magazines Suck.” (Laughter) I thought he was probably a guy that would have been… We were friends, but I think we probably would have ended up being even closer. I think he got into The Gits afterwards, and then he died shortly thereafter. We started to become friends, and then he killed himself.

RACHEL ARIEFF

How bad was the heroin problem in the Seattle music scene? Because at the beginning of the doc, someone says, “It’s a story about addiction”. It goes into Stephanie Sargent’s death, but how bad was it?

STEVE MORIARTY

Well, it was bad. It was everywhere. It was really easy to get, and it was a really small community, and there was a core of musicians that did it. But that wasn’t our scene.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What did you feel when the murderer (Jesus Mezquía) was arrested?

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STEVE MORIARTY

I was really shocked. I was really just stunned. The only way I can describe it is like somebody hit me in the head. I was just stunned. Didn’t know how to react.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Were you afraid to believe that it was really him?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, I was.

RACHEL ARIEFF

There is an incredible photo of the trial. You’re in the background looking at him like he is a cockroach.

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STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

And you’re saying, “I felt sorry for him because I hated him so much.”

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. That’s true. I remember I testified in the court, and I wrote this thing and I wanted to direct it towards him. And I did, and I said to him exactly what I thought of him through his translator, even though he spoke English. And I wanted to make eye contact. I wanted to look him in the eye, and know that he knew that he was a scumbag, and that I wasn’t afraid of him. And I really made a point of making eye contact with him the whole time. And as he walked out, and as he walked into the courtroom, and when I was testifying, I just wanted to look at him. I wanted to know for sure that he was busted. I wanted to know for sure that he was defeated, and that he knew that I knew that he was done.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was it like looking into those eyes? What did you see looking back at you?

STEVE MORIARTY

Just blank. Just blank, black pits of nothingness. There was nothing there. Just like, pretty much evil. Just blank, dead evil.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Like a shark’s eyes.

STEVE MORIARTY

Like a shark’s eyes. Like there was nothing there. There was no compassion, there was no soul. Just like a body, just like a big, disgusting, cruel creature.

RACHEL ARIEFF

And the lawyers played the Hispanic card, that he didn’t understand English, or that he was a poor immigrant coming from Communist Cuba?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah, they did. He was shipped over in the Mariel Boat Lift from Cuba. He could have been in a prison or a mental institution there, and was shipped out by Castro when he tried to pollute the U.S. with all the criminals out of Cuba because they would get asylum in the U.S. if they just made it to the beach. So he was one of them, and had probably been all over the country doing the same thing to women.

I find it really unlikely that he had not killed more than one person. He had been traveling around. When they found him, he was in southern Florida. So that was about as far away from Seattle as you could get. People contacted me by email while the trail was going on, saying “Oh, he told me that he’d killed somebody else.” “He threatened my wife.” “He told me he was gonna kill me.” So obviously, I doubt that Mia’s murder happened in a vacuum.

I think that we ended a cycle. We stopped a cycle that would have continued. And I’m really glad. I’m proud of the fact that we didn’t give up and that we kept at it, and we didn’t let our frustrations just end it. And that we kept the private investigation going, and we made sure the cops from Seattle stayed on the case and caught we fucker.

Had we not done that, he still would be out there, doing this – in Florida or wherever he would be. At least I have some some sense of satisfaction that we dealt with this fucker and put him away. But right now, I just got an email saying that his sentence has been overturned by the Supreme Court.

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Photo: Jackie Ransier

RACHEL ARIEFF

From 36 years in prison to nothing now?

STEVE MORIARTY

Nothing now. So we have to go back to trail.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What the fuck? Why?

STEVE MORIARTY

I just found out on Friday. Because the judge made an exceptional sentence of 36 years, and it was thrown out by the Supreme Court because they said that judges cannot impose exceptional sentences, that only juries can. So he could get out early.

RACHEL ARIEFF

First of all, it blows my mind that he was only sentenced to 36 years, and that was the maximum that was allowed.

STEVE MORIARTY

No, that was more than the maximum allowed. The maximum was 26 years.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Oh, so then the judge decided to tack 10 years onto the sentence, and that was the “exceptional sentence”.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yes. Because it was such a cruel murder.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What was he convicted of? Second-degree murder?

STEVE MORIARTY

I think it was second-degree murder.

RACHEL ARIEFF

So that’s why he can’t get a life sentence. I mean, the fact that this guy would ever be let out is outrageous.

STEVE MORIARTY

He needs to die in prison or just die.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Do you think about releasing more stuff by The Gits in the future? Like demos or live recordings? Or the “Corry Hall Tapes”?

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter) The Corry Hall Tapes. Maybe. I’m always up for it. I would like to make a really good “best of” box set that has all the stuff that we like best. But right now I’d like to see this movie get into the InEdit Film Festival.

RACHEL ARIEFF

It should. It’s a really good movie.

STEVE MORIARTY

I think we should. I’m gonna submit it right around the time that this article comes out.  What the movie does is that it’s been turning people on to The Gits that never knew about The Gits. And I think it’s really inspiring to other musicians and people in bands who think of their group as being more than just a band. People that have that feeling of family and community that is formed out of a scene. And I don’t want that to get lost in all the pop bullshit that permeates, and hip-hop culture that permeates pop culture now.

It’s kind of like the seventies all over again with music. You know, it’s like a few huge bands that get all the attention and all the record label stuff, and the DIY scene has been co-opted by the major record labels and pretty much gone away. People aren’t going out to see independent music as much, and there really needs to be a revival in punk music or independent music, because it’s just gone back to this sort of corporate culture and capitalist “gimme”, “me-me” culture of shitty hip-hop. So I’d really like to see some interesting Do-It-Yourself stuff.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Yeah, and especially where it concerns women artists also. Jesus Christ, it’s depressing. If I was a little girl right now, it would be awful. It’s like porn. Commercial pop stars are like porn stars. They look “porn”.

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah.

RACHEL ARIEFF

And then you have someone like Mia who had integrity and was natural and…

STEVE MORIARTY

…wore clothes.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Yeah, wore clothes, and had her own real body, and didn’t prostitute herself. And it was all about her voice and her performance.

STEVE MORIARTY

We had a little respite there for a little while with bands, but they all self-destructed or died.

RACHEL ARIEFF

What are the surviving members of The Gits doing nowadays?

gits-feature

STEVE MORIARTY

Matt’s an artist in Seattle still. Andy – Joe Spleen – is an astrologer.

RACHEL ARIEFF

An astrologer?

STEVE MORIARTY

Well, no. Actually I don’t think he would allow himself to be categorized as anything?

RACHEL ARIEFF

Is he playing music still?

STEVE MORIARTY

No. I’m the only one playing music.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Andy’s not playing the guitar anymore?

andy-kessler

STEVE MORIARTY

No. Those guys pretty much stopped after we broke up the band.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Did you and Andy play in the Dancing French Liberals of ’48 after the band broke up?

STEVE MORIARTY

Yeah. And Matt. I mean, that was The Gits after Mia was gone. Yeah. We continued because we thought Mia would want us to. But we ended it in ’96 or something.

RACHEL ARIEFF

Do you have anything else you want to say?

STEVE MORIARTY

Do you have any pictures of the EFP? I don’t have any.

RACHEL ARIEFF

God! I have some really funny pictures, but I don’t have them with me.They’re in the U.S. and I can’t get anyone to send them to me. I have a really funny picture of all of us naked in a lake.

35092_1460269339601_2190131_n

STEVE MORIARTY

(laughter) See, those are the ones I want.

February, 2009