For 30 years, jam rock band moe.’s combination of musical styles and focus on creative improvisation has been wowing their impassioned fan base worldwide.
What started at the University of Buffalo in 1990, with a few friends coming together to play for fun, has morphed into a lifelong journey.
The more the band traveled, the more they grew and progressed creatively. The member embrace a fusion of many different genres, spanning funk and free jazz, country and classic rock, prog, new wave, calypso, pop and everything else under the sun. You never know exactly what to expect at a moe. concert.
In advance of their show in Jackson on Wednesday, June 21 at the Center for the Arts, MOE guitarist/vocalist Chuck Garvey and drummer Vinnie Amico joined KHOL DJ Kevin P for a phone chat.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Tuesday, June 13.
KEVIN P/KHOL: Your bandmate has been quoted as saying, ’30 years is a long run to be with the same guys. I haven’t been married for 30 years.’ Can you touch on what that’s been like, some of the ups and downs?
CHUCK GARVEY: It’s great because we’re family. There are highs and lows in that, but also we’ve been through a lot. And if someone has a bad stretch the band supports that person, like Rob when he had cancer and with my stroke, we’ve noticed that a lot. We have our own families and kids and wives, but this band family is as important as almost any our other family members.
VINNIE AMICO: We’ve grown together as a family, just like a marriage. I’m going on 30 years of being married to my wife this year. And I’ve been in the band almost that long. And our relationship, it’s such a parallel, and the way my relationship has grown with my wife and the way my relationship has grown with the band and the way that we all communicate is very paralleled. We love each other. We’re like brothers, right? And that has been a growing thing for our whole career, as is the marriage. And I know Chuck’s been married 20-something years and Rob’s been married 20-something years. We’ve all had these relationships that we have grown together with the band. We’ve all been through a lot of stuff together, personally together, along with the band. It’s not like you separate the two because when you’re on the road for a month and stuff’s falling apart at home, it’s not like we don’t feel it. Everybody goes through this stuff when you’re on the road. And then we all feel that together because we’re all living on a bus together and playing music every night.
KHOL: Chuck, you recently rejoined the band after suffering a stroke a couple of years ago. It must be so exciting for you to be back with the band and performing again. Can you walk us through that experience of getting back on stage healthy after so much time off?
GARVEY: It was really hard for my wife because, after the stroke, I only had like five or 10 words that I could speak, and I had to work on that at the bottom level. It was so hard to build it up from nothing, but it was lucky I could still get P.T. and O.T. and work on my strength so I could walk again. It could have been really bad for me, but I was lucky. And then I had to really work on everything. There’s no way that I would be able to speak like this even like six months ago. It’s still, as you can hear, it’s still hard for me to speak. I have to really focus on what I’m saying and the words and the sounds that I’m making. And there’s a lot of brain power [being used]. I get tired just speaking sometimes.
But the whole thing, like working on my guitar playing and all that stuff, it took a year plus for me to get to this point where I could think about joining the band. And that was really fun because I knew I could play, but I didn’t know if I would fit in or be a real useful member in the same way as before. But the first time that the whole band was in the same room playing, it was really fun. It was difficult, but it was still fun and it was working. It’s almost like talking with your friends and everyone kind of riffs and makes jokes or whatever, but we were doing the musical version of that. The family aspect is still there, you know, they were supporting me. And that feels really good and it made my progress take off.
With my speech and musical abilities, I’m always playing catch-up with the band, but that’s kind of fun. I want to be right there pushing some limits and learning new things to play with the band. Even just hanging out helps my progress in many ways.
AMICO: And I know coming from our side, seeing Chuck and watching his progress and then being on stage and hearing him play for the first time [was inspiring]. We played this last week and he’s frickin playing his ass off, which is amazing to me. He went from not being able to move his right hand to shredding a guitar. That just blows my mind, you know?
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Chuck Garvey and Vinnie Amico from the band moe.