Moe.’s Al Schnier Talks Holiday Concert, New Material, And Writing Music For The Puppy Bowl

first_imgThis weekend, moe. will hit the Capitol Theatre and Garcia’s for their first ever “ Holiday Concert” series. The band will play The Cap on Saturday night and will move to Garcia’s on Sunday for a special acoustic brunch set. You can find all of the details here.In anticipation of this holiday run, we sat down with moe.’s guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, Al Schnier. Al’s holiday spirit was in full effect, and he discussed a wide range of topics, covering the upcoming holiday shows, his work on moe.’s new album and their forthcoming live record, how he got involved writing music for films, and a great story about his musical collaboration with Keyboard Cat at The Puppy Bowl. See below for a full transcript of this interview, and get excited for this weekend’s double header at The Cap!Live For Live Music: This weekend, moe. is putting on a special holiday show at The Capitol Theatre called “A Holiday Concert.” What was the inspiration behind putting that show together?Al Schnier: We’ve sort of dabbled in doing a holiday show in the past, but we’ve never really done a proper holiday show. It’s something we’ve talked about for a while, and the timing was right, it’s just something we wanted to do. Last year we did a run around this time of year in San Francisco, and we just got to bust out a couple of our holiday songs from our Seasons Greetings record, but that was about the extent of it. Vinnie [Amico] and I had done a bunch of holiday shows with Floodwood, our Bluegrass group, it became a cool tradition that we were doing, so it’s nice to put together a show this time of year, so we thought we’d give it a shot with moe. It’s been about a year since we played the Capitol Theatre, so all the stars aligned, it was perfect.L4LM: I know that everyone here in New York is really excited for the shows. Usually, when moe. plays this kind of special shows, be it a Thanksgiving run, a New Years run, a Halloween run, the band has a few tricks up their sleeve. What can we expect from moe. at these special holiday concerts this weekend?AS: That remains to be seen! I can tell you this much, we are together right now working on new material. We haven’t gotten to the holiday portion at all yet, although that’s our intention. We’re playing Saturday night at the Capitol Theatre, and Sunday we’re doing something a little bit different, we’re doing a brunch show, an acoustic brunch in Garcia’s, which is sort of like the Sunday brunch shows we used to do at our snoe.down event. Those are always so much fun, and we wanted to do something similar to that. I think what we’ll do is spread out the holiday music over both events. But, right now we’re just focused on working on new songs, and I have no idea what we’re going to play this weekend.L4LM: That’s great that you guys are working on new songs. Is there a new moe. album in the works?AS: I guess that’s always the case. There’s always a new album in the works. Right now, my head is just kind of spinning because I’ve been working overtime trying to get our Fillmore record finished. When we were out in San Francisco in the Spring we recorded a show at the Fillmore, and we’re going to be releasing that on Record Store Day, we have a really great double album that will be coming out on vinyl. So, we’re just finishing that up now. It’s a pretty involved process to go through that whole thing and get it ready to be released on vinyl, and trying to do that, at the same time we’re on tour prepping the two-night Halloween show and prepping the Holiday show and working on new material, there’s just been a lot on our plate right now. But, it’s all been good.L4LM: With 2016 coming to a close, I was wondering what were some of the best shows that you’ve seen, or that you’ve been a part of, in 2016.AS: Wow. OK, so, right away a standout show is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Philly at the Citizen’s Bank Park. I went to the first night of those shows, and it was just amazing. I mean he played for over four hours, it was one set over four hours, and the first two hours of it were songs from his first two records and unreleased material, it was just phenomenal. Another standout show from this year, or a pair of shows actually, was Pearl Jam at Fenway Park, I get chills just thinking about it, those shows were amazing.Our Halloween show, again, I love the Fillmore in Philadelphia. Doing the Quentin Tarantino Halloween show was so much fun, we put in a lot of work and it was so much fun to do. I really have to tip my hat to our crew for doing such a great job on those shows. For some reason, another thing that stands out was when we went out to play Red Rocks this past summer. While the Red Rocks show was fantastic, we played with Gov’t Mule and Blackberry Smoke, but our show at the Boulder Theater was really, really good. There was something about that night was really special, it was just one of those things where there was something really special about it. I don’t know if it was because we were jetlagged, or exhausted, or just having all of our fans there, but it was one of those really good nights.L4LM: Speaking of Tarantino, I know that you recently released a track that you wrote for Django Unchained, I was wondering how you got involved with that and if you’ve written any other music for use in film or TV?AS: moe. had been working with a publishing company, and that was the intent. They were supposed to be bringing those opportunities to us so we could do stuff like that. That was about the closest I had ever gotten to doing anything like that. We would get these e-mails from time to time from our person there, saying “hey, this is a unique opportunity, do you think you’d have anything that could work for something like this?” I happened to have this piece that I was working on that would sort of fit with the Tarantino project, and they actually liked it. They said “Hey, this kind of works, but could you tweak it a little bit, make it sound like this, or that” and I said “sure, yes, anything for you!” I did, and I re-submitted it, and then I was just waiting and waiting. And then I started thinking, “well, if this works, then maybe I’ll fly out to LA, and maybe I’ll do the music for the Guy Ritchie movie, and then I can work with Wes Anderson, maybe the Cohen Brothers will call!” But yeah, it never happened. And, of course, the song they ended up using for the theme song was entirely different from the one that I had submitted. But, it’s cool, I was just excited to be a part of it.There were a few other things too. There was some weird Ryan Seacrest show at one point that I had submitted some music for. There’re a few things that I’ve actually written music for but, again, they’ve never gotten used. So I have all these weird theme songs that I’ve written music for they’ve just never gotten used.Listen to Al Schnier’s song “Django Unchained” below.L4LM: Sounds like you have some good content for a future moe. bonus record.AS: Oh yeah, it’s really strange. One of the things that I actually did get to do that is still one of the funniest things was for the Puppy Bowl. This was two or three years ago, I did a bunch of the music for Puppy Bowl. I had to make up a bunch of the fight songs for Puppy Bowl, and I did the music for the halftime show. Their halftime show “guest superstar” was YouTube sensation, Keyboard Cat. Keyboard Cat was gonna be out there, and I had to re-create a Bruno Mars song as if Keyboard Cat had created it. So basically the Keyboard Cat version of the Bruno Mars song, as if the Cat was being backed up by a ripping band of puppies. So I had to go and reproduce the Bruno Mars song as if Keyboard Cat was playing the melody. And they were like “So this is good, but can you make it sound…worse? somehow? Have you seen the Keyboard Cat before? Make it sound more like he’s just hitting the keyboard with his paws” and I was like “OK!”. So I had to go back and make it sound like the keyboard was being played with fake paws, and they ended up using it in the halftime show. It was one of the most surreal things.L4LM: I don’t know if any story can top writing music for Keyboard Cat and being asked to make it worse. Wow. Well, I have one more question for you, I know you mentioned that moe. is working on new music, and I know you are making your return to Jam Cruise this year, and I’m sure you have a lot of plans that are lining up, so I’m wondering what you’re most looking forward to in 2017?AS: Ya know, I guess, there’s still so much work that we have to do. I feel like, it’s funny because we’ve been doing this for 26 years now, and I feel like we’ve been afforded the opportunity to do that work, and I’m actually really looking forward to, sort of, rolling up our sleeves and doing some of that work. 2017 is probably going to be a busy year for us, we’ve got a lot on deck. There’s a lot of stuff that we’re going to be announcing, and I can’t say anything about any of it now, but I’m really looking forward to 2017.We’ve already made a lot of positive changes within our organization, and everybody in the band has just been really focused on our work. It’s been great the last couple of months. We’ve been getting a lot of good work done, and 2017 is only going to be better. We’ve already got a lot of good shows on deck, and we’re about to roll out some more tour dates, and we have some more big announcements coming, and 2017 is just going to be a great year for moe.last_img read more