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Published: 2018/01/23
by Evan Klonsky

White-Canvas Improv with Spafford’s Brian Moss

EK: Some jambands have decided to go in a more electronic direction over the last decade, and you guys aren’t one of them. Is that a conscious effort on your part?

BM: We’re not an electronic-based band. Our motto or slogan has become more along the lines of electro-funk therapy, because there’s elements of electronic music – whether it’s [bassist] Jordan [Fairless] and his pedals, using effects and drum pads. And if it gets there, it gets there. But for us, we play all these styles because we enjoy all these styles of music.

EK: Recently I saw a quote from Jordan where he said something along the line of, “I love hearing Brian shred. He is after all the most tasteful guitarist I have ever met.” Can you talk some about how you play your music with intention? And the quality of the notes over the quantity.

BM: Oh man, it takes years and years for it to work. And I’m still working on it every day. That started many years ago – you can get a lot more out of one note, one sustained note, in the right place at the right time than you can with too many.

EK: There’s an emotion to it – like at the end of “Abaculus” for instance. It’s really moody, and I love that.

BM: That last 10-minute section of “Abaculus” is my favorite part. That’s kind of when we knew this was the final triumphant return of this journey. That’s also why we didn’t release it into tracks. We wanted to release it as one track, one experience, one album to listen to from the beginning to the end. That’s how we played it and that’s how we wanted it to be listened to.

EK: And did you rehearse any of that at all?

BM: Oh god no. That was one of those things where we just showed up into the studio that morning and it was the first jam that we kicked out for the day. And it went for an hour. Then we went and ate Chipotle and it wasn’t until we came back and were like, ‘Wait a minute! That was really good.’

EK: Does it not always work like that?

BM: Not necessarily. We’ve probably recorded everything that Spafford’s ever done, whether in the studio or not. We have a lot of archives. But right now we’re definitely focusing on the live shows and releasing everything online.

EK: In that way, do you consider practicing and playing live to be almost interchangeable? That it’s all just one experience?

BM: Not necessarily. I have three tiers of playing: The first one is practice, which is done behind closed doors. Nobody looks at you, not even your girlfriend or your mother, because you’re going to sound like shit. You’ve been working on something that your fingers don’t know how to do yet. With rehearsing, you’re trying to put those things into play but they still don’t really sound that good, though they’re getting there. And no one’s going to get mad at you because you’re not doing it in a live setting. Then there’s performance. What you have, always, is a bag of tricks that you’re practicing and moving up the tiers where you’re rehearsing and then finally putting that into performance. You always have bags of tricks at each level that you keep moving up until they’re all being performed. Currently I’m working on things that I wouldn’t dare to try live because it’s just not there yet.

EK: Something for the fans to look forward to?

BM: Absolutely. We do enjoy doing the free-form, open-ended jams. It’s something that we do and one of the things that people can hope to look forward to seeing at one point, even though you might not know when it’s going to happen.

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