Being a rock star is hard work.
Endless touring, closed quarters, stinky bandmates, adoring fans, festivals and Caribbean cruises.
Just ask Al Schnier, vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist of moe., the widely adored jam band. Speaking from his home in New Hartford, N.Y., Schnier says he just recently returned from the band's yearly seafaring outing, a collaboration with the Rhythms company at Sea Cruises.
The trip, touring Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, went well, he says. A surprise 39th birthday party was thrown for him, and he enjoyed the extended meet-and-greet with roughly 700 rabid moe. fans, as well as the rest of the cruisers of the more typical citizen-and-honeymooner variety.
Suddenly, though, disaster struck. Or mild irritation, at least.
Because the waters were too rough, the ship was unable to dock at its last destination, leaving the boat to tool around in circles.
An arduous life, to be sure.
Schnier, however, faces these difficulties bravely. His group has been together since 1990, when it played under the moniker Five Guys Named Moe. A while later, the name was shortened to the brief, lowercased proper noun, moe, and a useless punctuation mark was added. The lineup was also settled: Schnier was joined by Rob Derhak on vocals and bass; Chuck Garvey on vocals and guitar; Jim Loughlin on percussion; and Vinnie Amico on drums.
Schnier credits moe.'s success to the band's ability to maintain perspective, and its avoidance of a VH1 "Behind the Music"-like descent into drug and alcohol abuse. He's also aware of how moe.'s extreme availability from the cruise to the band's numerous annual festivals to continuous show dates helps out.
"The upside," he says, "is that we really like what we do; if we didn't do this, we'd be fish out of water. On the other hand, we're getting older, and have families now, so there's reason to be home.
"Back in our heyday, going home meant going home to each other. We had a house that was freezing, and so it was the same guys in this dump. Why not go on tour? At this point, it's about striking a balance."
On The Conch, released earlier this week, moe. demonstrates they still have the energy and the oomph to produce super dance-friendly drumbeats.
In fact, they're almost too even-keeled for a rock band, preferring to focus on nurturing their friendships with peers and each other. Schnier regards moe.'s success with almost quaint bemusement.
"There are plenty of guitarists playing at your local Guitar Center, and they're better than either Chuck or me," he says. "But when it comes to popularity in music, it really doesn't have anything to do with technical ability. Johnny Cash only knew five chords, and he was amazing. You don't have to be Eddie Van Halen to pull this off. It's only rock music, you know?"
moe. with Jeff Austin
Fillmore Auditorium, 1520 Clarkson St., Denver
Saturday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $25; visit ticketmaster.com.
I miss you, Lenny! My family and I thank you for all the special times…
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