“Moe. is… Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan and Gram Parsons… from hard rock to melodic country, moe can write songs and they can play the bejesus out of them live.” Diese Beschreibung findet man auf moe.org, der offiziellen Homepage des Quintetts (Al Schnier, Rob Derhak, Vinnie Amico, Jim Loughlin und Chuck Garvey) aus den Vereinigten Staaten. Das in den USA verbreitete und beliebte Phänomen der „Jam-Bands“ ist in Europa so gut wie unbekannt. Bands wie Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident, Phish, Gov’t Mule und moe. gehören dazu und beglücken Sommer für Sommer tausende von (ihnen mitunter nachreisende) Fans mit ihrer Mischung aus Rockmusik, Spielfreude und Hippieattitüde.
Unter letzterem sind dabei nicht Flower-Power-Klischees und ähnliche Späße zu verstehen. Vielmehr geht es um eine positive Grundstimmung, ein freundliches Miteinander und zu aller erst die Musik, die alle Anwesenden miteinander verbindet. Seit Ende der 80er Jahre treten die angesprochenen Bands und zig weitere damit in die Fußstapfen von 70er Jahre Größen wie den Grateful Dead. Und auch wenn Phish und andere Bands sich mittlerweile aufgelöst haben, gibt es weiterhin Gruppen wie moe.. Ein Song muss nicht innerhalb von drei Minuten fertig sein, viele Konzerte gleichen fröhlichen Festivals und das gerade veröffentlichte neue Album The Conch beweist erneut das auch Jambands dazu in der Lage sind Studioalben abzuliefern die dem Niveau ihrer Liveshows entsprechen. Trotz all dieser Wegweiser stellten wir (neben zehn anderen Fragen) dem moe.-Gitarristen Chuck Garvey, im Rahmen eines via Email geführten Interviews, noch mal die Frage wie er die Musik von moe. einordnen würde.
Sonic-Reducer: When someone asks you what music-genre moe. belongs to, how do you respond?
Chuck Garvey: It depends – if they are younger, I would say that moe. is a Jamband. If they are older, I might just say we are a rock band that improvises, like the Allman Brothers or The Grateful Dead. The context dictates what I say in that I want people to understand more clearly what we do. It‘s not easy explaining the whole thing!
Sonic-Reducer: The name of your band is always written with a dot at the end. Why?
Chuck Garvey: Not always, but when we first started, I would draw some whacko artwork to get people‘s attention on flyers and local advertisements. I played around with fonts and styles (drawn by hand) and the one with the lowercase letters and period appealed to me.
Sonic-Reducer: You recently released your new record ‚The Conch‘. I read that the approach for your last studio-record Wormwood was to create an album that tries to reflect a moe. live-show in the best way possible. What was your goal with ‚The Conch‘, how do you feel and what do you think about the new record in general?
Chuck Garvey: To keep the process familiar and comfortable, using our own recording equipment, we initially set up onstage at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine. Professional recording-studios are expensive and quite often „vibe free“. We are more used to rehearsing and playing in large rooms with reverb and ambience (aural and visual). So, we decided to record the basic tracks during two live shows at the theatre, as well as eight days of tracking without an audience. I feel it imparted a gimmie some moe. very real and noticeable feel to the disc in that we were able to be relaxed, capture the natural reverb of the space and feel we were doing something „real“ as opposed to creating music in a vacuum at some facility. It became an event.
Sonic-Reducer: ‚In Another One Gone‘, a track off your new record, the name Kurt Cobain pops up. Can you say something about the overall topic of the song and how you relate to Cobain and his music? Was he an influence for you guys and what do you think about the so called Seattle-Scene in general?
Chuck Garvey: Rob wrote the song, so the lyrical content question should go to him. As far as Kurt‘s influence, I think it was large for me…..just to see someone expressing themself without the usual pompous showmanship and ego that seem to be part and parcel of the record or entertainment industry. He did a lot for inspiring lyricists, guitarists and people in general to achieve without guile and bullshit. Refreshing to see a sweet, honest guy win – and also heartbreaking to see him go.
Sonic-Reducer: Staying with ‚The Conch‘. In the song Tailspin you sample parts of a George W. Bush speech. How did that idea arise and what is your take on the current political situation and climate in the USA?
Chuck Garvey: Al included those soundbytes for their obvious thematic relevance. It‘s horrible that the current administration is digging such a tremendous hole in terms of Global foreign relations, the economy, the environment and morale in general. Greed, waste of life and squandering of the gifts of our democratic nation should be grounds for impeachment. I am embarrassed and dismayed at the current state of my country.
Sonic-Reducer: Before you record your songs in a studio, do you always test them at live-shows or do you bring them in the studio and play them there for the first time?
Chuck Garvey: We have mostly (95%) done this in the past. It allows us to fine tune, rearrange and bulk up the instrumentation and arrangements and also see what our fans like. On the other hand, we are keen to do our next album completely away from the road and outside involvement. The process and the surprise factor for our fans sounds like a hoot!
Sonic-Reducer: Nowadays you release your records on your own label Fatboy Records. A couple of years ago you had a record deal with Sony. What can you say about your experiences with a major-label and releasing your music independently?
Chuck Garvey: The majors provide a few helpful services: they have a machine of unnatural hype and old-boy favoritism… AND they are first rate loan sharks. I guess that‘s the formula for success, but things have been changing over the years and luckily, we have found a way to operate on our own terms and retain our dignity and integrity. It‘s hard coming up with lots of cash to launch an album or label, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Sonic-Reducer: Have you ever toured in Europe and do you plan on coming over in the near future and „give us some moe.“?
Chuck Garvey: Yes. We played in England and had a great time. I hope we can come over soon, play some festivals and club dates & see the continent!
Sonic-Reducer: The band exists for quite some time now. Would you say moe. is different today than during the days you started out and what are those differences (if there are any)?
Chuck Garvey: We are basically the same guys who got together to jam in ‚89 or ‚90. We have an awesome job that we are fortunate to continue doing – a creative outlet within which we are our own bosses and get to play Rock & Roll. What else could you ask for? There are just more people coming to see us play and buying our music. Still, quite a large percentage are friends.
Sonic-Reducer: What albums do currently spin in your record-players?
Chuck Garvey: George Harrison, All Things Must Pass. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife. Bill Frisell, Quartet. Charlie Parker. Los Lobos. Doc Watson. ……….
Sonic-Reducer: Thanks a lot for sitting down and doing the interview!
Chuck Garvey: Thanks!