Less than two years ago, Seth and Coco Moody — the musical power couple that fronts Cassette Set, a new-ish local project featuring a pair of well-known Memphis musicians, Graham Winchester and Jack Oblivian — were gearing up for a big move from Wilmington, N.C., to Nashville to pursue new jobs and musical opportunities. As luck would have it, for what would be their last night in town, one of Seth's bands, Deadly Lo-Fi, got offered a gig opening for a touring Memphis act, Jack O and the Sheiks.
"That was a pretty random card throw," he says. "We were packed and about to move to Nashville, and Travis (Burdick, Deadly Lo-Fi frontman) hit me up to do a Monday night show, opening up for Jack and the Sheiks. We were literally driving the U-Haul on Tuesday, so my inclination was to skip it." His wife, however, would have none of it.
"Coco, I remember, said, 'Come on, it's Jack Oblivian. You gotta do it!' So I did the show. [Jack O and the Sheiks] had me sit in on sax, and we had a blast of a night, musically, and those guys are a blast without the music."
A week later, when the tour rolled through Nashville, Seth sat in with the band again. Friendships and a musical bond were formed, and for six months, Seth traveled from Nashville to Memphis for gigs.
"After the Nashville show, I came down and did Gonerfest with them, stayed the weekend, and played a DKDC show as well," he says. "Then, I guess every show after that, I'd get asked to come down. I'd stay the weekend, so it was fun despite the commute."
Wary of the music industry infrastructure and unable to make connections in the local underground scene, the couple grew restless in Nashville. After only six months in "Music City," Seth and Coco relocated to Memphis.
"Every time I'd come to Memphis, I'd meet more and more oddballs like myself, who were also coincidentally good musicians and songwriters," says Seth. "I'd stay at Jack's, and he'd drive me around the city, showing me the good thrift stores, where to get a goat burrito, etc. So as the six-month lease on our expensive Nashville apartment started nearing renewal time, we made the decision to get ourselves here."
Winchester, one of Seth's new bandmates, takes credit for playing at least somewhat of a role in that decision.
"Every time I saw Seth, I would tell him how much more of a Memphis dude he was than a Nashville one and how we were going to steal him one day."
Seth has quickly become a local staple. In addition to playing with Jack O and the Sheiks, he's performed live and/or recorded with Kelley Anderson, Jesse Davis, and Faux Killas, to name a few, and has two original projects — Turnstyles, a duo with Winchester, and Moped 10, a trio with Coco and Oblivian.
Last year, Seth and Coco decided to start a covers band with Coco as the lead singer and Seth on guitar and keyboards. Winchester and Oblivian were quickly recruited to play bass and drums, respectively, and Cassette Set was born.
"The idea of the band is to do songs from the '70s and '80s but not to worry about the details so much," says Seth. "If you're coming up to a part that's intricate, just plow through it like the Kool-Aid guy entering a kid party."
Cassette Set has built a repertoire of over 40 revved-up versions of songs by Tears for Fears, Soft Cell, the Cure, the Cars, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, adding a "Memphis garage-rock flair" to new-wave classics.
"These are songs we grew up with. They're fun," says Seth. "We have a good time, and that's the whole point, right?"
Cassette Set, Loflin Yard, Saturday, March 18th, 10 p.m. Free.