Al Schnier (guitars, vocals) * Chuck Garvey (guitars, vocals) * Rob Derhak (bass, vocals) * Jim Loughlin (percussion, vibes) * Vinnie Amico (drums)
Hailed by American Songwriter for their “mind-bending musicality,” moe. is treasured for their mesmerizing musical synergy, unfettered showmanship, and smart, resonant songcraft. For three decades, the band has corralled myriad musical forms on a truly original journey rich with crafty, clever songwriting and astonishing resourcefulness. Fueled by an impassioned fan base, moe. has spent much of those thirty years on the road, encompassing countless live performances marked by eclectic wit, deep friendship, and exploratory invention. Having built an enduring legacy with hard work and a confirmed commitment to creativity and community, moe. seem as surprised as anyone to find themselves at such a significant landmark.
“The career just very subtly unfolded,” says co-founding bassist-singer-songwriter Rob Derhak, “without any of us noticing it actually happened.”
Al Schnier (guitars, vocals), Chuck Garvey (guitars, vocals), and Derhak first came together at the University of Buffalo in 1990, musician-friends uniting to play for the sheer fun of it. The band followed a handful of cassette-only releases with 1992’s FATBOY, recorded in an apartment studio above Buffalo’s Top Shelf Guitars with a bird’s eye view of Mighty Taco.
“We liked music, we liked to party, and we wanted to put those two things together,” says Derhak. “We wanted to do what seemed like the coolest thing we could possibly do and not have to work a regular job. It didn’t even seem like a decision had to be made. It’s was like, this is what we’re doing and it’s happening. The idea that thirty years later I would be a dad, paying a mortgage and earning a living, based on our band, with the same guys no less, that never even crossed my mind.”
Finding themselves with an increasingly avid local following, moe. ventured forth, now with master rhythmatist Jim Loughlin among their ranks. The more the band traveled, the more they grew creatively, evincing a remarkable willingness to progress as they went along. moe. quickly became part of a burgeoning scene centered around NYC’s Wetlands, a grassroots revolution that embraced freewheeling genre fusion — spanning funk and free jazz, country and classic rock, prog, new wave, calypso, pop and everything else under the sun — fan interaction, and unrestrained improvisation.
“We adapted,” Derhak says. “Initially we didn’t have quite as much of the same ideal at first. We didn’t jam or have long extended solos. But as we went from being an opening act to being a headliner, we didn’t have enough material to do two long sets. We needed more material so our songs started to stretch themselves out. We became a jam band.”
2020’s THIS IS NOT, WE ARE — the band’s 12th studio album and first since 2014’s NO GUTS, NO GLORY — includes eight new songs, most of which were road tested over the past two years of touring. In addition, the LP features one song making its first appearance anywhere, the Garveypenned “Undertone.” Self-produced by the band, THIS IS NOT, WE ARE sees moe. once again pushing their music forward while simultaneously rifling through their back pages on songs like Derhak’s nostalgic “Skitchin’ Buffalo” and the Al Schnier composition, “Crushing.”
Impossible to pigeonhole as anything other than simply moe., this one-of-a-kind band has never been easily categorized, their sonic adventurousness and tongue-in-cheek humor distinctly and undeniably their own. Despite current circumstances, moe. is celebrating their milestone anniversary with characteristic self-deprecation and wistful optimism. Here’s to the next thirty.