Coming off a recent historic three-night run in Colorado, moe. bass player and vocalist Rob Derhak spoke with Glide Magazine’s Ken Lawson to get his take on the recent Grammy Award debacle with Kanye West, “al.nouncements” and his essential go-to musical influences.
moe. recently lost a long-time fan and taper in Eric Vandercar. I would like to offer condolences to you and the rest of the moe. family. Thoughts?
Eric was a great friend of ours. He wasn’t just a fan, he was one of the guys that that we all hung out with. He was a good friend of mine since the mid-90s. It was pretty devastating. It was very tough.
What is your take on this year’s Grammy Awards? Let’s say, hypothetically, moe. wins album of the year in 2016 and Kanye West interrupts your acceptance speech. What does Rob Derhak do?
First of all, I don’t understand how he is even allowed to bum-rush the stage like that. What if I did that? Would I be allowed to just grab the microphone without being pepper-sprayed? Kanye is seeking attention. That’s how he keeps his name out there. If I were Beck I would have told him to go fuck himself and maybe kick him in the nuts. I’m a big fan of Beck, but I don’t think he should have won that Grammy. That album Morning Phase was basically an extension of Sea Change, but I liked Sea Change better.
Any songwriting going on at the moment?
We aren’t doing anything right now. At all. Our last studio album just came out, and we haven’t even talked about any new projects.
Speaking of songwriting, how similar is moe.’s process to something like the Trey Anastasio/Tom Marshall collaboration, wherein one person comes up with lyrics and music is then added later?
It’s actually quite similar. I don’t have a lyricist I work with or someone to bounce ideas off of. The songs that have been most successful have been the ones we all collaborate on. I’ll hash out melodies on acoustic guitar, then I’ll come up with my bass line after I bring it to the band and we work on it from there. That’s not always the case, but most of the songs I’ve written in the past few years have worked out like that. We then take the songs on the road and let time turn them into what they need to be.
Who are your songwriting influences?
It’s hard to say where I’m at right now. When I write, it’s really just inspiration from the moment, something I see or hear. As far as influences I can’t get away from, that would definitely be Little Feat. I’m a big fan of theirs. I’m still a huge Steely Dan fan. Frank Zappa. Those are three main things from my youth that I listen to over and over. Also, when you speak of Zappa, that could mean anything. He had so many different elements of music going on, so many time and chord changes.
Zappa used quite a bit of xylophones in his music, and now your percussionist Jim Loughlin uses them extensively. Coincidence?
That was unintentional. Jim just started picking that whole thing up. His main instruments have been timbales, congas and acoustic guitar. Honestly, he just wanted to branch out and try something different. Jim has become this insane powerhouse on xylophone. It has helped bring back that Zappa influence we originally had.
What songs are starting to really catch their stride right now at shows?
Outside of obvious stuff like “Rebubula,” which we have actually toned-down playing lately, some of the newer songs like “Silver Sun” are fun. I could teach a monkey how to place the bass line to that song, but it’s fun to play. “McBain” has really taken off lately too. We’ve been playing that song for a few years now but it has become a big fan favorite.
What would you consider to be moe.’s definitive album?
Most people who have “only sorta” heard of moe. probably have No Doy. It is probably the best snapshot of the band. It’s not my personal favorite, though.
You guys recently did a series of live webcasts. Any plans for more of those in the future?
That’s a great question. It’s something I definitely would like to do again. I think it has gone off pretty well so far. I don’t read or keep up with the message boards and all that shit, but I think the fans liked it and we would love to keep doing it.
Speaking of message boards, there has been talk online that the 2/6 Denver show at the Ogden was one of the best shows in recent history. People are wondering who wrote that setlist.
I wrote that setlist.
What are your feelings on al.nouncements?
Next question [laughter]. Seriously, Al is into it. It makes people happy that get their names announced, so that’s good. It gives me a longer break to use the bathroom and drink a beer.
This last question will help answer a small debate I had with Vinnie Amico in an earlier interview. I’ve always been fond of that Triumph shirt you often wear on stage. I say it’s from the rock band, and Vinnie swears it’s from Triumph Motorcycles. Who’s right?
Vinnie wins. Triumph was a big Rush knock-off group back in the day, a power trio from Canada. Great band, but it’s not their shirt. By the way, I don’t own a Triumph motorcycle.
moe. celebrate 25 years with a spring tour that includes a 3-night run in NYC March 12-14. For tickets and more info check out moe.org!