Interview- moe. talks All Roads Run Around Tour, Collaborating with Blues Traveler and G. Love
moe., Blues Traveler and G. Love’s All Roads Runaround tour has been trekking across the Northeast and Midwest all month. The tour features a collaborative set that sees various combinations of musicians on stage. When the tour stopped in Cincinnati this past Sunday, the Dead’s Bertha and Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks were treated with the collective effort, among others, with the latter including a lengthy G. Love (who opened the night) and John Popper harmonica duel. This set is sandwiched by full sets from both bands, with moe. providing the finale.
We caught up with moe. to see how the tour is progressing. Keep reading for our interview, pictures from a hot night in Cincinnati, and fantastic video from Baltimore. See the remaining tour dates here.
GM: The moe. and Blues Traveler tour’s combined set brings combinations of both bands together on stage. Describe the process for deciding what songs are going to get this collaborative effort.
Al Schnier: We’ve settled into a nice routine where Ben Wilson (Blues Traveler’s keyboard player) and I start chatting about potential tunes early in the day. As the day progresses, we run ideas by our bandmates and a plan starts to come together. At times, we will find ourselves in various corners, dressing rooms, or even on the bus, running through parts and checking arrangements. Usually, something still changes about 30 minutes before we go on. It has been very loose and a ton of fun. We still have a lot of songs on deck we’re hoping we can get to before the tour winds down.
GM: I have described moe. as “90s jam” on more than one occasion. There is a nostalgic feel to your sound — is there a cognizant effort to tap into that sound as moe. moves through 3 decades of being a band, or is it just moe. being moe.?
Chuck Garvey: The “90s jam” sound is definitely a thing. It wasn’t Â our specific goal at that time to sound that way, it was more of a mix of approaches that seemed exciting to us at the time. We were fans of Frank Zappa and how he took many styles of music and smashed them together. We also developed our jamming ethic as a result of playing many long, late night sets while combining styles, segues and seeing where the music took us. The only way that we would intentionally go to that sound is by being ourselves. When we put our heads together, that’s what comes out. Other styles and attitudes creep in, but some of our personality touchstones that are the band’s DNA will never be lost if we are true to ourselves.Â
What you or others may feel as “nostalgic” is what happens when feelings and memories of your own experience with music like this come out. I get it too, but it’s not our mission to recreate that. I think the mission is more to keep ourselves satisfied and not try to sound too much like anybody else.
GM: You all (collectively or separately) have jammed with about everyone on the scene and beyond. Where does John Popper fit into that? What’s unique about a John Popper/moe. jam?
Jim Loughlin: John is a great musician to jam with. He is a monster player for sure and has a great voice. Obviously some of the uniqueness with John is that he’s a harmonica player. You don’t really hear harmonica in an open improve situation very often but John handles it really well. He’s not just a solo and split guy either. He plays along with the song. He listens and reacts perfectly and if he can sing he will. He really adds to a song when he sits in with us.
GM: How does the band’s preparation and mindset change (if at all) when touring with G.Love and Blues Traveler as compared to Umphrey’s McGee or another jam-heavy group?
Rob Derhak: It’s a tough question to answer. Touring with these guys is a little different, in that they’re closer to us age wise but they have each had a very different experience with their growth. Both G. Love and Blues Traveler were popular during an explosive era for Jambands. They also had tremendous success with radio, which skyrocketed their success. But much like us, they come from a very grassroots, loyal fan base. That is where we’re able to connect and find equal footing. We’ve been working together as one unit on songs during the collaboration set each show, and the small differences in our approach has made each tune unique and really fun to play.
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