Toody Cole of Pierced Arrows on Hanging with Eddie Vedder and Being Rock's Coolest Grandma

Fred and Toody Cole have been married since 1967 and have spent most of the past 25 years playing music together, first as the Rats, then as legendary Portland garage punks Dead Moon (legendary as in Pearl Jam often covers their song “It's OK”). They're now performing as Pierced Arrows, with a handwritten endorsement from Eddie Vedder published Feb. 2 by “In a day and age when authenticity is harder to come by than an honest Republican,” the Pearl Jam leader notes, “legends Fred and Toody Cole deliver on every record and at every show.” 

OC Weekly (Hobey Echlin): How do you go from a cult band like Dead Moon to starting a new band and winding up on a hipster indie label like Vice?

Toody Cole: As big as Dead Moon was, this was the next step. We did our first album on Tombstone [their label]. We went on tour with the Black Lips and that's how we met Vice. It was simple.

Dead Moon is one of those bands where Eddie Vedder [and Pearl Jam] started covering your songs.

Well, a nasty thing happened at the Roskilde Festival [in Denmark in 2000] when they [Pearl Jam] were on stage and people rushed the gates and some of them got killed. It hit Eddie really hard. That's when they first started doing [Dead Moon's] “It's Okay.” He's a really sensitive person. Shit happens. What are you going to do?


Do you hang out with the Vedders a lot?

When we're in Seattle. He's a Northwest boy. We've had this family connection with him for years. I think there's a closer comeraderie with bands in the Northwest. Steve Turner from Mudhoney moved to Portland. We're good friends. We've had barbecues.

So when Pearl Jam covers your songs [Eddie Vedder's sideproject C-Average covered other Dead Moon tracks] do you get paid for that?

Fuck yeah!

Do you feel like with the Vice deal and bands like Black Lips and White Stripes blowing up, the world is catching up with what you've been doing all along?

You do what you're doing and if they catch up, great. But we've been doing this for 20 years. We're happy as hell to have any modicum of success but that's not what we're searching for, all the shit that comes with success. We're thankful of what we've made for ourselves and respect but we prize our anonymity. We'd rather have it that way. It's a delicious combination of people knowing and not knowing who we are.

Is that the key to marriage? Be in a band together? [Fred and Toody have been married since 1967]

The key to any relationship is just meeting the right person, and we just knew from knew day one. We've been around each other 24/7 since we were 17. Luckily we've grown up together, not apart. Music was always part of the relationship, we always had the band house our kids grew up in. I actually didn't start playing bass 'til I was in my 30s.

You guys have children?
Uh huh. Three kids, seven grandkids.

What do they think of you guys doing this for this long?

They grew up around musicians, obviously, but they're really supportive. It's been a great adventure for all of us. We're still really close.

Are they musicians?

Well, one of our sons lives with us with his son. My daughter is a legal secretary with an investment background. And our other son works for the IRS in Boise.

Wow. The white sheep of the family – the good seed, as it were. That must be interesting when he brings his friends from the office out to see you in Boise…

We're actually all very close. Our daughter's daughter is at NYU. The show in Hoboken is 18-and-over, so she's going to come out and bring her roommate and see us.

“Where ya goin' tonight?' 'To see my grandparents play in their punk band.”


Pierced Arrows perform with Lullabye Arkestra at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; Thurs., March 25, 9 p.m. $10. 21+.

Click to read Hobey Echlin's Pierced Arrows feature running on newsstands. 

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