The “moe.ron” is a unique specimen – one that calls the open road and all of its diners and “World’s Largest” attractions home.
Typically male, but sometimes female, it holds a certain fondness for the warmth of flannel shirts, enjoys sleeping outdoors and never turns down a hand-rolled cigarette or six-pack of something amber and cold. Like its Deadhead cousins, it lives and breathes jams and thirsts for lengthy tours, is willing to follow its favorite band around the country and back.
The favorite band, in this case, is 90s jam staple moe., a prominent figure in the scene made Top Twenty popular by The Dave Matthews Band and Phish. Out on the road promoting a new album, “The Conch,” they are scheduled to play at the Electric Factory on Feb. 10, an event the moe.rons wouldn’t miss for the world.
“Our fans have gotten pretty die-hard,” drummer Vinnie Amico said, sounding sheepish but proud.
“We get together wherever we go and party. It’s like having a family of 1,500 people.”
Founded in 1989, moe. was originally called Five Guys Named Moe, but when one of the original five members quit, they dropped the “Five Guys Named” and the name became simply moe. The “M” was made lowercase, a period was added, new members joined, albums were recorded and moe. acquired the following it still has today. Despite remaining relatively unknown in the world of popular music, they’ve toured with rock n’ roll legends like The Who, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead, and for the past six years, they’ve hosted their own summer music festival, “moe.down,” an eclectic gathering of bands that Amico describes as “a big family picnic.”
The cold weather equivalent of “moe.down,” “snoe.down,” is a ski slope jam held each year in Lake Placid, N.Y., fueled by coffee and whiskey.”We love performing,” Amico said. “We’re inspired by being in front of a crowd.”
Their last album, “Wormwood,” was released
in 2003 to mixed reviews, but Amico thinks that “The Conch” will win over any skeptics. “It’s our best-produced album,” the drummer said. “We’ve been in and out of the studio for over a year, and it sounds amazing.
It’s much more controlled [than “Wormwood”], and the songs are a little darker andmore interesting.” Their recording process is a laid-back one: they come up with an idea for a song, write down the lyrics, figure out the music, then play it out live and record it.
After a couple of takes, they pick out the best one, then “break it down and build it back up, mess around with it a bit.” moe. uses a menagerie of instruments in the studio and on stage – guitars, synthesizers, keyboards, even a mandolin at times. All contribute to their signature funky sound.Amico said that he and the other members of the band, Rob Derhak, Chuck Garvey, Al Schnier and Jim Loughlin, have always been good friends, but that there’s a different dynamic to their relationship now.
“We don’t see or talk to each other as much when we’re not on tour. We’re spread across the country, living in different places, spending time with our families. But when we’re on the road, we travel in a pack and do a lot of fun stuff together. It’s always a good time,” Amico said. Of course, the moe.rons are inevitably a part of that good time too. moe. loves its fans, that much is clear.
In fact, they just returned from a week-long “moe. Cruise” on the Norwegian Jewel, playing acoustic sets as the ship traveled from Miami to Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands and moe.rons sipped cocktails and basked in the sun.
“Most of our fans are college students,” Amico said. “It kind of goes along with the feeling of our music, the atmosphere of the band. … College students are more liberal, their ears are a little more open to diverse, non-mainstream music. They’re a lot freer.”
Anna Hyclak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.