They came. They skied. They partied at Crystal Bay Casino for two nights. And now there’s no moe. in Tahoe.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the New York progressive-rock jam band entertained at the Crown Room April 12 and 13.
Moe. was formed in 1991 around the college scene in Buffalo , New York. The group is Rob Derhak (bass), Chuck Garvey (guitar), Al Schnier (guitar), Jim Loughlin (percussion) and Vinnie Amico (drums).
“It was really by accident,” Schnier said. “Rob and Chuck started playing music in college together, just in the dorm room. They started the band, and it was just a fluke more than anything. I think they did it for a Halloween party originally. One by one, we all sort of joined the band along the way.”
It took some time before moe. got serious about its musical career.
“The thing is, it was several years before we decided to do it actively with any serious intent,” Schiner said. “It was never supposed to be a career; it was just something that we were doing. When we first started doing it we didn’t make any money for so long. All of the money used to go back into the band.”
Initially, the band lived communally in a house in upstate New York; food, rent and utilities were covered by the project’s income, with each member drawing a $40 weekly allowance.
“At some point, we went from that to a point where we were making $100 a week, and then we got to where we could move out of the house and everyone could afford their own rent,” Schnier said.
Asked when the musician felt that they had “made it,” Schnier laughed.
“The main goal was to get everyone in the band health insurance,” he said, comparing that achievement in 1995 to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s just like any other job — if you’re struggling out of college, you’re like ‘man, if I could just get a job with benefits and get my parents off of my back I’d feel like I’ve made it,’ ” he said.
Looking back, Schnier sees the group as musically having stayed true to its roots and founding influences over the last 25 years.
“Ironically, one of the things that sets us apart at this point is that we’re still pretty firmly rooted in playing rock music,” he said. “When we started, that seemed to be a bit more of the norm, although we came at it sort of from a different way. Everybody in the band had come to it from a point of listening to Jane’s Addiction, Fishbone, Primus, improvisational rock.”
For its anniversary, moe. has been taking things relatively easy, scheduling tour stops in a more intimate fashion than usual.
“It’s kind of cool because we spent the year … just visiting all these different cities,” Schnier said. “We’d do these three-day runs and kind of park ourselves in a major city some place and just hang out with our fans for three days. It’s more of a low-key pace than we’re used to and it was a really great way to celebrate our 25th
After a year or so on this restful schedule, however, the band is ready to kick back into high gear.
“(We’ve been) totally resting on our laurels, and now it’s time to get to work,” Schnier said. “We’re planning on recording this year and getting a lot busier.”
The band is toying with a number of different ideas for a follow-up record to 2014’s “No Guts No Glory.”
“We’ve talked about everything from going to a legendary studio and maybe having that be a part of the process, or going someplace different, going to a different country and making the record,” Schnier said. “Just doing something a little out of the box, something different than we’ve typically done with our records.”
Before the show, Schnier said he was looking forward to playing Crystal Bay, a venue at which moe. appeared numerous times in the past.
“We’ve played Tahoe a bunch, and we like the area,” Schnier said. “Especially that we get to come in for three days and thankfully you guys got dumped on this year, so there’s a nice base and we get to ski for a few days. Anytime we get to come to Tahoe and I get to ski, I’m happy.”