Park City to get a earful of moe.
November 30, 2012
When people see the spelling of the band name moe. they usually think it’s a typo, because of the lower-case M and the period.
But it’s not. The band came up with the moniker after going through various line-up changes since forming in 1990, and settled on the current name a year later.
Guitarist Al Schnier said, like the band Schnier, percussionist Jim Loughlin, guitarist Chuck Garvey, bassist Rob Derhak and drummer Vinnie Amico the music has also gone through some changes.
"We all liked Frank Zappa, but also appreciated bands like Primus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone and others in that early alternative-rock scene that had a bit of an edge to them," Schnier said during a phone call from his home in upstate New York. "We mutually found ourselves liking those bands and lesser-known ones like 24/7 Spyz and Urban Dance Squad and a good dose of that found its way into the music that we played and the songs that we wrote back then."
These days moe. adds different flavors of the various musical cultures from all around the world.
"I don’t think there was a time when we actually just sat down and decided that we would play this sort of music or that sort," Schnier said. "The one prevailing method we’ve always had was to play music that we enjoy."
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Park City will get an opportunity to hear moe. in action when the band plays Park City Live, 427 Main St., on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Schnier said his own eclectic taste in music stemmed from his love of classic rock to his discovery of the Grateful Dead.
"Early on, like a lot of kids, I listened to Kiss, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath," Schnier explained. "Those were the things I was drawn to during elementary school, but at some point along the way, I heard the Grateful Dead. I was 13, when I first saw them, which was pretty young compared to most kids at that time."
Schnier found himself drawn to the band’s extended jams and musical textures.
"The Dead’s music was something entirely different than what I was listening to," he said. "I mean, I had always been a huge music fan, and there was great classic-rock radio station where I was growing up and it would play deep tracks from Genesis and King Crimson, and all the great B-sides from Bruce Springsteen, but when I came across the Grateful Dead, it was so exciting."
Not only did Schnier find the music awe-inspiring, he also liked the Grateful Dead’s psychedelic album art, which was usually created by Bay-Area artist Stanley Mouse.
"When you think about the stuff I was listening to, like Led Zeppelin, it’s easy to see how I had expected something totally different when I started listening to the Grateful Dead," Schnier said. "I mean, based solely on the albums’ artwork, I was expecting something heavier and dark."
While Schnier did concur that some of the Grateful Dead’s music does contain dark elements, he remembered how it led him to other musical styles not found in blues-based, guitar-driven rock.
"It introduced me to what I call ‘organic’ music and American roots music," he said. "It was totally eye-opening."
Garvey and Derhak formed moe. while attending the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York and later recruited Schnier.
"It was kind of interesting that we all grew up in the same area of Utica, New York, but met in Buffalo, which is three hours away," Schnier said.
The three were brought together through mutual friends and a love for music.
"Growing up in Utica, we had all developed the same musical vocabulary, even though we had played in different bands at the time," he said. "Because we have all these different creative forces in the band, we end up trying a lot of different things."
That experimental element has helped moe. not only develop it’s own style, but has kept the band together for more than two decades.
"In this day and age, it’s unlikely that somebody will stay at the same job for seven years, and for people to stay at the same job playing in a rock band for 22 years is next to impossible, but for us, there is no sign of us slowing down any time soon," he said.
One reason moe. has stood the test of time is because each band member is invested in the band.
"We’re all involved in the songwriting process at one point or another," Schnier said. "Even when one of us brings in a song that has its infrastructure together, the rest of the band is there to nail up the sheet rock and put the finishing touch on it."
Throughout the decades, the band has learned that anything can become a moe. tune.
"We found that switching gears even in the middle of a song is fine, as long as it serves the greater purpose of the art," Schnier said. "When we were younger, we did a lot of that gear-changing because we were much younger and playing more for ourselves than for our audiences.
"That process has always been interesting, but that’s the thing that makes us moe.," he said. "There is always some common ground in the songs we write that we can identify with that makes the difference."