by Jeremy Krinsley

"Hungarians always have bad taste in music," quips Moog frontman Tonyo Szabo "They always try to copy the Germans and the Germans always try to copy the Americans and it's always getting worse and worse."

My interview with the Hungarian swindler started with a moment of mild-mannered panic that I'd relapsed into one of my talking H&M mannequin nightmares, but he proved too soft-voiced and sweet to have the requisite homicidal tendencies. It was funny, then, to witness his stage persona, which made my friend presume him a giant asshole, whereas I was acutely aware of the performative expression involved in his wide-swathing arm gesticulations and starry eyed smiles. It was like a flawless Strokes and Libertines-streaked high school musical performance, with a backing band replete with big hair and precise guitar 'n ass shaking. In mid-show, he shook off some of his squeeky clean soap suds, asking if it was "gross or exotic" that European men weren't circumcised, sending giggles through the tiny-camera bearing teenie tots in front.

Though the band has been together for three years, its first album, a composite of earnest garage odes to Rock, is coming out in April. And with the exception of a single band in the 90's that managed to release a record in Japan, they are the first rock outfit to venture outside their homeland borders. What's more, they managed the coup without ever having met anyone from their label, let alone performing for them live. It was only after the band had been signed that the MuSick Records label owner made the trip.

The Budapest rock scene, by Szabo's measure, is a 200-300 people pack that has mushroomed from the city circa 2000, when "there were five or six people who knew about rock music and the history of rock music, and the new stuff too, who checked Pitchfork media and tried to be geeks." He asserts that his band is the city's vanguard, picking up on the newest strands of rock where most others remain mired in derivations of Blur era Brit-rock (though he admits to borrowing from those sounds too).

The band stepped foot in America for the first time in September 2006 to mix and master the tracks they recorded in Budapest, and, a few months later, arrived in mid February for nearly two months of touring through the country. While he was reluctant to brandish his impressions of our fair nation, he did note that "it was a huge surprise that everyone I met wants to hug me. It was a bit scary at first, but then I tried to get used to it."

Also, his "funny" story went like this:
"In Atlanta we played near to the ghetto and we went to the grocery store, (which was full of freaks), and in front of the door, there was a girl who smoked crack and we filmed it and did a short interview with her and she said that she's a college student, but now life is a bit screwed up and normally she's a lesbian but she fucks men for five bucks and she smokes crack."

Guess she wanted a hug too.

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