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Published: 2011/12/23
by Dean Budnick

Rob Derhak Picks moe.‘s Warts (Ten Years On)

DB- What do you think of Al’s disc?

RD- That’s what inspired me to do this. I’m not going to do anything like it, just the fact that he was able to get his act together enough. When he first gave me a copy two months ago I was amazed with how hi fi it actually sounded, and he’s lending me the program to do the recording so I’m gonna give it a shot.

It’s not my scene but I think he did a great job. After I heard it I told him, “Man, it sounds like I’m shopping at Old Navy.” He was like, “Cool that’s exactly what I want.” I don’t know if that’s exactly what he wants though. (laughs)

DB- What music are you listening to right now?

RD- Right now I’m listening to a lot of Christmas music [more on this later]. I listen to [Pink Floyd’s] Obscured By Clouds a lot. I love that album. I’ve always lived with people who had and I finally went out and bought it. I really dig it. I really think it’s a cool album. I also listen to Mingus.

DB- What about more contemporary stuff?

RD- I listen to Martin Sexton and singer-songwriter stuff. You know who I like is Kid Rock. I get a lot of shit for that but I think his songs are hilarious and his band kicks ass. I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Ha Ha the Moose. Those guys are pretty good [Editor’s note circa 2001: Ha Ha The moose is Rob’s side project with moe. members Chuck Garvey and Jim Loughlin].

DB- [Laughs] You think?

RD- They’re horrible live but I have a couple of their albums.

DB- Speaking of which, do you have any plans to record with the group?

RD- Yeah I really want to. Me and Chuck sat down and we started up all these new tunes and we said we have to record them. So maybe that will be next, after this solo deal or maybe well go out on tour again and I’ll record it live. Well do a little more rehearsing and come up with a tighter set. (laughs)

DB- On the mini-tour with Al, after you introduced “Summer, Oh I” Al says that now everyone’s going to request it because it’s obscure. Do you receive a lot of requests like that from moe. fans and what’s your take on those?

RD- It used to drive me nuts. But some people really just like a song we don’t play anymore. If I get the impression that’s really the case then sometimes we try to bring it back and do it at least once. But when it’s due to them sitting there like statisticians with their palm pilots out so they know how long it’s been since we last played it and they’re yelling at me all night long, that drives me insane. But now we now have the inner ear monitors so we can’t hear what anybody’s saying anymore. All we can hear is what we have in our monitors, so they can scream until their lungs explode [laughs].

DB- Do you ever revisit those old songs on your own, maybe during down time?

RD- What’s in the past is in the past for me. In my opinion some of the stuff we play is too old. I would prefer to just play new stuff but it’s difficult. People have a lot of their favorite songs they want to hear and I like a lot of the older stuff too. But between rehearsal and live shows they are some songs I’ve played like 30,000 times.

DB- Can you give me an example of a song or two that you think is somewhat tired?

RD- I got tired of playing “Dr Graffenberg” and we’ve kind of bailed on that one lately. “Yodelittle” can drive me nuts. Anything that’s old, its not bad but sometimes its just done for me. I think things need rest to make them interesting. Sometimes when you don’t play something for a while and you go back to it you forget what you were playing and you make up something new and that makes the tune a little more fun to play.

DB- What song most surprises you, in terms of taking you somewhere that you didn’t expect.

RD- “Livin Again.” When Al first brought it to the band I thought it wasn’t going to fly. But I always get into it and then I think, This tune is really cool, the direction it goes. It kind of reminds me of older Pink Floyd stuff in the middle. The other tune is “Assfinger” which I really enjoy playing. I don’t know if Chuck wants it to be called “Assfinger” but that’s what it’s called now [It would later be renamed “Bullet”].

DB- What song do you think most needs work?

RD- “Lazarus” needs work. There’s too many hard things to play in the middle and none of our fingers do it at the right time and in unison. I still haven’t memorized all the words either [laughs].

DB- Which reminds me, on the moe.links page, the section with song lyrics is called

RD- The Rob to English dictionary [laughs]

DB- Right. What’s your response to that?

RD- I can’t say anything because its true. It used to be a lot worse than it is now. I’d mumble everything. I guess I figured that if I always mumbled everything that when I screwed up no one would ever know. {laughs]

DB- In terms of your singing, what other vocalists have inspired you? Who do you emulate?

RD- The people that I love I couldn’t even come close to signing like. I think maybe Eddie Vedder I may try to emulate the most but he has incredible range. I love how Sting sings and Paul McCartney. Also, Joan Osborne, I have this thing for her voice. I think her voice is amazing.

DB- I have a question for you about songwriting. On No Doy you guys started assigning separate credits for lyrics and music. Was that due to some transformation in how the band wrote songs?

RD- No, we really didn’t know how to do it before then. A lot of the way we work is I might come in the with basic chord structure with the words written. So the words and the basic melody were written by me but I didn’t write it entirely. Everybody put their stamp on it and made it into a real song. So we tried to come up with a way that everyone can get proper credit. An exception is a song like “New York City” where I wrote the guitar part and the vocals and the bass line.

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