moe.: The Jam Cruise Perspective with Al Schnier and Rob Derhak
Photo by Dino Perrucci
Before you started work on your last album you went down to Nashville to work with on some songs for publishing purposes. How did that experience come about and are you still working with writers down there?
Rob: Well no, I think we had higher hopes for the Nashville session stuff. The reality of what happened is we had a great thing going with a publishing company [Cherry Lane]. and they were setting us up with a lot of cool stuff and a larger publishing company bought them, so that’s not happening anymore. So it was a nice thing. I bet you we might have that option coming up soon, though.
Al: Yeah, I could see maybe doing a little more of that.
Rob: Also, we’ve been kind of busy, too. I haven’t had the time to go down there [and] explore that.
Al: The other thing too is that from those experiences that the whole Nashville songwriting thing is such a machine and process that you go through if you’re already a songwriter in Nashville with connections.
Rob: There’s a pretty tight knit club down there.
Al: Yeah, so being the two northern dudes who play rock music who are just showing up and are like “yeah, we want to do this.”
Rob: We went down there [Nashville] thinking we were writing songs with other songwriters. We did a couple together and we did separate ones too. My impression was that we’re getting together, see what happens, write a song and get it pitched to some country artists. And I think what the other guys were under the impression that we needed help writing songs for ourselves. So I was like, “why are we here, doing this, again?” I’m not really sure, it may or may not have been the case, but it seemed like those guys were hoping that we were going to use their songs.
In terms of your upcoming tour plans, do you have any exciting shows on the horizon you can discuss at this point?
Rob: A trip to Europe. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a festival out there, or if we’re going to expand off of that, depending on what we do back home here. We’ve got an album coming out, Snoe.down is happening.
Do you think the album will come out this year or in 2014?
Al: 2014, that’s the idea, so that we would maybe get some recording done either early or late summer or definitely in the fall. Then the release date would not be until this time [of] next year or later, maybe pushing it into the spring of next year or so.
Really, you just need time to figure out the producer?
Al: That’s the thing. We might as well start doing that now.
Al, in November you both opened for and collaborated onstage with your friends Strangefolk at the Cap in Port Chester, NY. They joined you onstage during your opening solo set and you sat in with them on a few songs as well. You even covered two moe. tunes. Can you talk about your experiences watching them as a fan and friends as well as how your collaboration took shape?
Al: To answer your first question, watching them as a fan and friend was awesome. It was great. Just to see those guys together again and to hang out with them backstage was really great. And having been with all of those guys together in one place since we all played in [The Gathering of the] Vibes together. It’s been a long time since we’ve all been together in one place, and it was really good. It was a really good atmosphere.
They all had their families there. To watch them play from the side of the stage — I even commented on this when I was there — before I went there, I had to learn a couple of their songs, so I listened to Weightless in Water and Lore when I was at home and we were preparing a Thanksgiving meal, so I was putting them on and we were listening to it and I haven’t listened to Strangefolk since I had seen them and I forgot what a great band they are. Every song was great. Those records still stand out. They’re really great records. To see them performing, at this point, everyone’s ten years older, ten years wiser, the maturity and the chops have all improved by ten years. It’s not like they’re Led Zeppelin or playing speed metal where their dexterity or anything about their age would impede what they’re doing right now. If anything, it’s improved their game and it’s the best I’ve ever seen Strangefolk play. It was amazing how good they were. The drumming was amazing that weekend I thought. He [Luke Smith] was really on top of his game and Trafton’s guitar playing was like the best I’ve ever heard him. Reid [Genauer]’s voice is as good as it’s [ever sounded], and [Erik] Glockler is like the unsung hero of that group. It was cool to see that from behind the scenes too because he remembers everything about those songs. He’s the one who has like maintained this vocabulary of all of the arrangements and everything so he became like the musical director of the whole thing. It was so good to see those guys playing. I can’t say enough good things about it. The vibe in the room was great.
How did they end up covering moe. songs?
Al: I can’t remember if I picked those songs or if they did. Reid [Genauer] and I were talking about songs maybe a week before the gig, and I can’t remember who picked the songs. I think he might have picked one and I picked the other one and I can’t remember which was which, but I showed, and they knew them. They did their homework. It was easy.