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Published: 2012/08/08
by Dean Budnick

Vinnie Amico: Post-Mono, Pre-moe.down

The vibe at moe.down has always been really chill and positive, at least it was at Turin. I wasn’t at the other site and I heard it was a little different there.

There was a different vibe at the other site for sure.

That’s what I heard. I was at Turin for year one and a few times afterwards and I’ve always been a fan of the festival.

It’s a little bit smaller than some of the others and then on top of it, there’s always kids events. There’s always kids there because the fans bring their kids because they know they can go to the Kids Tent and do stuff with their kids all day. I think that mellows out the vibe a little bit. Makes it a little more family friendly, makes it a little more family-oriented. It doesn’t necessarily feel like we’re at this big hippie festival, it kind of feels like, ‘Hey man, we’re at this big picnic with our families and everybody’s hanging out and there’s this great music all day long.’ And it’s got more of that vibe. I know, when you’re camping in the Gen Pop it’s still a crazy party scene, but the festival itself, the vibe within the grounds and the music area and the kids tent, it all feels very fair like. Or very family friendly and just mellow and not such a big, crazy, hippie, drug and alcohol fueled thing. It’s just a lot mellower and not so much about that, I think.

Looking back on Amsterdam and Europe, I’m curious what your memories and experience were with those shows.

I had a blast. We had gone to a lot of new places that we hadn’t been before. We had been to Amsterdam and spent a few days so we kinda knew the vibe in that town and everything. And with Jam in the Dam, we’ve met a lot of people from Europe so it’s nice to go over there and see these people that you’ve become friends with that you haven’t seen in a couple of years. Jam in the Dam is still a lot more Americans than Europeans, so you’re still getting that thing.

As we got into some dates in Germany there were less Americans, more Europeans. Granted, I want everybody to come, Americans and Europeans alike, but being in Europe and having some actual European fans and not just American fans following you around was kinda nice. We saw that in three or four of the dates we did in Germany which was awesome. Italy was like that as well- more Europeans than Americans. Paris and London were, a lot of Americans which was great, it was a lot of our friends. So it was like doing a smaller show in America, except you’re in London.

There were certain shows that stood out to me as being more European, and me not recognizing a lot of people in the crowd. And there’s two shows in Germany in particular, Lorsch and Plauen. When we were in the Dominican Republic we met these guys from Germany, really great guys. We ended up hanging out with them in the Dominican because they were just genuine great guys, but they were from Germany and spoke with these heavy German accents. So, Lorsch was their hometown and there’s this nice music venue, 500-seater, in town and three doors down was one of the guys we met, Peter’s, bar.

So, we’re walking through this town, just a bunch of Americans in this German town, and up pulls this nice ’73 Mustang Convertible. Beautiful, American, frickin’ mint car, and there’s Peter the guy who owns the bar. He’s like ‘Hey man get in!’ So we take a ride around, he shows me the town and then have a couple beers at his bar. We do the gig, which is mobbed and everybody’s raging because these guys have hyped us up and built us up. Everybody knows moe. because they play us at the bar right down the street. And then we get done, and go down to the bar which is mobbed and everyone is buying us drinks. It was just an amazing time, because these guys were such fans and have kind of promoted us in that area. And it was a great show and the town was cool and it was awesome.

We were also in this town called Plauen which is an old German town, and there are buildings there from the 1100’s/1300’s. The show was really cool, it was in this little club that reminded us of Broadway Joe’s. The people are raging with big huge beers and everybody’s getting hammered, it was awesome. So, it was just cool. Different experiences, you know. Being in Germany and having these shows with a ton of people and everyone knowing the songs. It was just a great experience.

What did you notice about the audience over there compared to the crowds you play to here?

It’s tough for me in the back. Once I get playing I sort of concentrate a lot and don’t really know what’s going on out front. One thing that was different is that in America the first few rows especially on the East Coast, it’s like I know every single person because I’ve seen them for the last ten years or whatever. So there’s that, although you do see certain people that you know because they came over to Europe.

What’s that like to look out there and know most of the people up front?

It’s amazing that I see these people come to this many shows all the time. I’m psyched about it because they actually care about it that much. I’m blown away that we get such support and such a deeply rooted fan base at this point that people continue to come to see us play. And it’s a testament to us that we actually still play well and continue to write new music so there’s stuff to keep these people’s interest so they don’t just bag it. I love it and I love how adamant they are about it and how they like to be up front and they’re fired up that we’re there and playing for them.

You mentioned that you play with some other projects when you’re off. I’m particularly interested in Floodwood. Can you talk about that band?

It’s sort of newgrassy, Dawg music-y, straight bluegrassy band with drums. It’s killer. The musicianship is great. We’ve got about 30-35 originals already. Probably 45 songs. So for being a short lived band we’ve got a lot of tunes, a lot of original songs. It’s a great bunch of guys and we all get along really well. We have fun with each other on and off stage. I’ve always liked bluegrass and I was in a band like this twenty something years ago in Buffalo. It was more of a cover band but it was more this kind of music which I’ve always really enjoyed, which is weird because it’s usually just string music and there’s no drummer. The drums definitely add a little rock to it as far, it gets it moving a little bit more. A little more energy, a little louder. Not too much louder but a little bit because I mostly play with brushes. It just drives the music a little more so it makes it a little more accessible beyond being bluegrass. But it’s a great experience. We’re cranking and we’re getting ready to do a bunch of shows in the fall, and we’re really in a building stage where we want to build it up to where it’s a legitimate band and not just a side project thing.

Are you thinking of recording?

I think in a fall we’re going to try to get a record together. We’ve been doing it now, it’ll be a year come moe.down because that was the first gig we did. And we have all these original songs and everyone’s been asking if we have recordings or t-shirts. We have no merchandise, we haven’t been pushing that. We just want to get the music out to people so they start liking us instead of ‘buy, buy, buy.’ We were just discussing today maybe getting a recording going maybe at the end of September/October. We’d like to have it in the can in the fall so that we can get it out in the spring because we’ll be doing a bunch of dates. It’ll be nice to get it happening.

Finally, how about a State of the Union regarding moe.’s music right now. How would you characterize it?

I think we’re really comfortable now. moe. used to have some good shows and some bad shows but now we come and every show we play really well. We’ve become such a tight band, and we always know how each other plays. The jams we played the other night were really good and different. We were able to push and move in some directions which is nice- it’s not just playing the same jam the same way every time. I feel like we can do whatever we want on stage playing-wise and it’ll be good, which is a good feeling to have. Plus we’re still writing tunes. We wrote a couple tunes we played at Summer Camp that we haven’t played since because I got sick. We’re constantly writing songs even though it’s a couple here and a couple there and not 10 at once. We probably have more in the hopper that we just need to get out there. We still like each other’s company.

Everything feels good. I don’t think anybody has any plans of wanting to stop. You see a lot of these bands that have been around as long as us wanting to take vacations or whatever and not want to play anymore, but I don’t think any of us ever think that way. We like doing it. It feels good and we’re playing good. And the state of the music scene itself is so different now that going out there and playing well every night is just good for us and good for the music.

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