The band moe. has been an ongoing concern since forming in Buffalo, NY, over 20 years ago. Guitarist/vocalist Al Schnier joined up in 1991, and the band has been busy on the road and releasing albums ever since, even putting on the excellent moe.down festival (#15 is in Turin, NY, August 29-31 this summer). I dropped Al a line as moe. were wrapping up their 11th album, No Guts, No Glory!.
You guys are working on a new record?
Yup. We've finished all the tracking at this point. We were working at the Carriage House Studios in Stamford, Connecticut. We'd been there once before, around 2000, working on our album, Dither, with John Siket. It was one of those places where we had a really good experience and good memory of it. Originally we had planned to be on the West Coast to do the recording, but for personal reasons we had to do it in the Northeast. It was good to be back there.
What is it that you like about Carriage House?
There are a couple of things. We've spent enough time in a lot of different recording studios, and a lot of different residential situations. We've even gone so far as to rent a house on one of our records, as well as move in all of our own gear to build a makeshift studio setup. We want a space that's conducive to getting the work done. It has to be comfortable, but you also want the right gear. You want everything to work. Carriage House has the right combination of those things. You have a great collection of gear, but also a comfortable place to work. In this day and age, the personal customer service part of it really goes a long way. It's the easiest record we've ever made. We never felt like we were on the clock, or in somebody else's space. They helped us get our job done. If we needed anything, they were there to help out.
That should be the situation most of the time.
Well, it should be; but a lot of times you get into a studio where you might be dealing with some complacency, or maybe some gear that's not quite in shape that hasn't been cleaned in a while. You spend time putting out fires and checking the gear yourself, when you should be recording.
When you set up a house as a recording studio did you find yourselves pretty distracted with equipment?
Not so much. I have a really good friend named Mark Cochi who has his own recording company called RDR Location. He's got a 48-track HD rig with [iZ Technology] RADAR, a Sony digital desk [DMX-R100], 48 channels of API preamps and outboard compressors, and $100,000 worth of microphones. We weren't wanting for any gear. The only distraction was that several of us were geeking out over the gear while we were doing the recording.
I've gathered that you have a propensity for that, when it comes to recording equipment and guitars.
Yeah. We'd be recording a guitar part and say, "Why don't we do a mic shootout first to see which mic will be best?" An hour and a half would pass by, until one of the guys in the band would finally say, "Hey! Are you guys done? Can we record this guitar part?"
You want to understand what those options are.
Right, exactly. It's cool because everybody in the band has been working for so long, so we're all pretty particular about the sounds we're going after, as well as what we're trying to produce and create. Some of us are more involved on the technical side of things. I personally have to be careful not to get bogged down in that, because I could spend days in the studio having my way with the equipment, more than the songs themselves. I could spend an hour trying to create a sound like I have in my head. I want to build sounds from scratch. Those are fun days in the studio for me.
What was the first experience that you had going into the studio with moe.?
moe. had actually recorded some demos before I started playing with them. There's this great vintage guitar shop in Buffalo called Top Shelf Music. One of the luthiers there, Andrew Buscher, was also a guitar tech with the Goo Goo Dolls. He lived above the guitar shop and had a studio in his apartment with a 16-track, 1-inch machine. There was probably a Soundcraft board and a few random pieces of outboard gear. We...