by Mely Duong
moe. is not only a progressive rock band, but also an all American jam band with country undertones in their latest album, No Guts, No Glory on May 27th through Sugar Hill Records (the second album they have released through this record label). The band had humble beginnings when the members met at the University at Buffalo in 1989 during their college years. Current band members include Rob Derhak (bass, vocals), Al Schnier (guitar, vocals, keyboard), Chuck Garvey (guitar, vocals), Vinnie Amico (drums), and Jim Loughlin (percussion). Over the years, the bands drumming lineup has changed as well as their overall sound.
Each of the five different drummers had a distinctive style, but Vinnie Amico, who has been with the band since 1996, has provided the band with stability in their songs for a good portion of their career. Eventually a percussionist was added in the form of Jim Loughlin, who contributes through a variety of diverse instruments such as the timbali, bongos, conga, acoustic guitar, and some bell sounds. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Al Schnier added keys. “Originally, we were a four piece band, with a lot of upfront bass and two guitars, which is a far cry from our current sound.” One thing for certain is that the band beat around the bush when trying to classify their sound, but overall if you are one for hints of rock infused with country sound this band is for you.
However, the band has seen a good amount of success since their early days of bickering over costs and duties to now when making more money meant more responsibilities. This compounded upon the issue of the band wanting to recapture their cohesiveness in “getting time to be a band” as in their early days. That being said they’ve been working hard to provide listeners with a more dynamic sound wherein they have grown beyond a mundane guitar rock band. “Everyone has to listen more, and the guitars are complementing each other better than they ever have.”
The band highly recommends “Same Old Story” off their new album as it highlights Amico’s drumming. Originally, the song was intended to have a lounge type vibe as seen in the band’s earlier songs such as “Don’t Fuck With Flo” and “Funky Rueben”. But when Schnier contributed a wicked Farfisa organ part, the whole song was turned upside down and became an “Austin Powers meets the Munsters” vibe. In addition, the band added a sample of Dalek from Dr. Who saying “exterminate” at the climax of Loughlin’s solo to further intensify the sound. Much of the album has a unique sound to it, reinforcing the albums main objective of the band just displaying their true selves although there were minor moments of frustration during the recording process. However, looking back, it is hard for the band to recall the minute details they had once obsessed over as they are now happy with the natural sound embodied in the album.
In terms of roles each member plays: “Vinnie, keeps everything solid, he’s a great drummer with an uncanny ability to choose the perfect fill or beat for any song, with out over doing it. Jim, is like Tom Brady, he’s our MVP (although he’s not really a pocket passer). Al will slam dunk a guitar solo whenever you need that in a song. He’s great building a solo and wanking until the jam peaks…and then he takes it to eleven. Chuck can sing all the harmonies, and play all the perfect guitar parts that compliment a song. It’s always stuff that you’d never think of. I play bass, write songs, and sing.”
It is quite evident that all of the members over the years have developed a strong chemistry and brotherhood full of deep respect and admiration for each other. This only serves to contribute to their musical abilities as they push each other to improve and fulfill their passions as musicians. In all honesty, it looks like the band is simply having fun. They are just enjoying their lives and playing the kind of music that they love. “Showing up and having fun is our first priority.”
Fans can expect moe. to be touring quite a bit over the next few months. They are firing up for 2015 which is their 25th anniversary. Next year will consist of special shows and unique events for their silver anniversary. To learn more about the band’s upcoming summer tour dates, check out their website.