moe.: The Jam Cruise Perspective with Al Schnier and Rob Derhak
Photo by Dino Perrucci
When it came time to do the show, did you decide a couple of weeks before to do these albums or what is more of a spontaneous kind of thing? Like ‘Hey, why don’t we just go through our own catalogue?’
Al: It wasn’t too long before that [when] we decided.
Rob: [It was] about a month or so, maybe. I don’t remember exactly.
Al: Yeah, we set aside enough rehearsal time for us to go through and make sure that we—
Rob: We did “Brain Tuba,” which took a bit of rehearsal. That song was kind of weird. None of us remembered anything about it.
Al: And apparently, besides the version that we learned, there’s another version of it that has lyrics.
Rob: Oh really?
Al: Yeah, I don’t remember about lyrics in the song, but—
Rob: We must have played it like once.
Al: So here’s the thing though, the version that we played and as I was going through it, it seemed like the version as far as I could remember it. But then Jim [Loughlin] told me after the fact that there was some disgruntled fans because we didn’t play the right version of “Brain Tuba.” We played some earlier incarnation of it or a later incarnation, I don’t know which incarnation we played, but we played one revision of the song that didn’t also include lyrics. I don’t remember Chuck ever writing lyrics to that song, but—I don’t think Chuck ever remembers writing those. [Laughs.]
Rob: Well that’s it. We’re not doing it anymore. [Laughs.]
It has been about a year since you released your most recent studio album, What Happened to the La Las ? Looking ahead, have you guys started writing songs for the new album, or are you still in that phase before you play the songs live?
Rob: Yeah, we’re gearing up for the next album right now. We’re talking to the producer. I’ve already lost two songs. I left them on my iPhone—got a new one. But, yeah, I think we’re in the beginning stages of getting that going.
The last album is the first time you guys had worked with an outside producer for a number of years—and you really let him choose the songs that were on there and sort through kind of your own decent or not so decent collaborations. In retrospect, did you feel like that recording process let La Las breathe as more of a classic album? Do you think you’d follow a similar approach on your next album?
Rob: I think it was a good start. I think one thing that we’re changing about the next process is we’re going to have a lot more time on our hands and a lot more involvement from the producer. We can actually have time to let things develop between the band and the producer and I think we’re going to try to get him involved early on before we even go into the studio, so we can really know what we’re getting into. That was the one thing that was tough. We talked to our producer on the phone, but we met him at the studio and for three weeks we had no time to go work on songs with him or do anything.
Al: And, he also didn’t have any history with the band or the songs, so he was coming in kind of fresh, and there were a lot of good things that came from that, but on the other hand—
Rob: If we had two more weeks with him, I think some of the rougher edges would have been trimmed out a little bit—[some] different decisions would have been made. I’m not trying to say that we’re not happy with the album because we are happy with the album. Just the way we’re going to go about the next one, we’re going to do more of the same with more time to let things develop.
Al: And like Rob was saying, this time, since we’re going to be choosing a producer further out from our initial studio date, and there might be several studio dates along the way, we haven’t decided on that just yet. A lot of it will depend on how busy we get this summer. We sort of know our schedule through Summer Camp at this point, but once we firm things up the producer, then we’ll actually be able to start actually having listened to demos and getting involved in the process early on, so we don’t have to start retrofitting songs that we’ve been playing for two years or ten years even. [We want to] collaborate early on.