Guitarist Al Schnier recently wrote in to discuss the band’s songwriting process, setlist creation and his hobbies outside of music. They played Liberty Hall, in Lawrence, Feb. 12.
For more info on moe., check out http://moe.org/.
How have your views on improvisation evolved since you first started out?
I think our goals remain the same. The idea has always been to stay open minded, take chances, yet staying within some sort of cohesive boundaries. We’ve always maintained the notion of trying to make our improv come off as sounding intentional.
How do you approach recording in the studio differently than recording albums?
It’s a totally different medium. those fixed length, yearbook photos of our songs, need to be a record of that song in place and time, within the context of the album.
You tour all over the world. What have been some of your strangest moments on the road?
I remember sleeping under a ping pong table, in the early days. The strangest moment came when I woke up to the sound of someone peeing on the floor next to me.
How do you go about writing the setlist? Do you have a certain process for crafting a setlist?
We all have different methods. What remains common is that we start by eliminating any songs we’ve played in the last 3-4 shows. Then you take what’s left, & go from there. Other factors include key, who sings, who solos, length, energy level, popularity, musicality, flow, etc.
How do you approach songwriting?
A lot like improv. See all of the guidelines above. I’ve also tried to focus a bit more on the craft. I’ll take more time with chord melody structure than I used to. I also take more time with lyrics than I used to.
What do you feel has remained constant about your sound?
It’s still moe. We still like being moe.
Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents musical?
Not at all. My parents were very encouraging, though & started me on piano at 5.
What are your hobbies outside of music?
Skiing, running, hiking, camping, vintage guitars.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Traveling. being away from our families can be pretty trying. It’s amazing that moe. has been together for 22 years, & we’re all still married. we have a great family organization & couldn’t do this without the support of the whole team.
moe. has been together for over 20 years. How do you want moe. to be remembered?
That band with the black & yellow stickers, right?