Drummer Stanton Moore Puts Music in Parentheses

Second Line (Strut)

Stanton Moore
Amy Opoka

Stanton Moore is a busy man. One of the most sought-after New Orleans-style funky drummers in the world, you can find him jamming with an incredible mix of musicians and bands (including Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine), starting music workshops for young musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans, and discussing his love of a unique blend of musical styles (as well as his love of parentheses!). Now he’s bringing a trio to SOhO (Thu., May 8, 9pm). In a jam-packed recent conversation, he riffed on all these wide-ranging subjects and more.

As the title of your new album suggests, every song name on Emphasis (on parenthesis) includes parentheses. This humorous approach to creating the song titles also effectively captures the rhythm and style of the music on this album. What inspired this creative flurry of parentheses? Well, I tend to like to put things in parentheses in my emails, writing, and songs. Especially with the last Galactic record, From the Corner to the Block, when we were trying to come up with titles, I was putting parentheses on just about every song. So, the guys were like, “Well, man, you know, not every song gets to have parenthesis before or after it.” And I started thinking : well, why not! So then, when it came time to start naming this record and the titles, I just thought it would be cool to go full bore ahead with that whole concept, since I do it so much anyway.

Tracks like “(proper) Gander” and “(who ate the) Layer Cake?” bring out your love for many heavy metal bands (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath) while “Wissions (of Vu)” draws inspiration from the Wu Tang Clan. How did you structure the album to create such a cohesive flow with such a broad range of influences? That was pretty deliberate, really. The way to make such a cohesive flow was by using the same three guys [Moore on drums, keyboardist Robert Walter, and guitarist Will Bernard] on the whole record. On past albums I’ve had different lineups and different guys for different songs, and with this : starting with my last record, but especially this record, I knew that just having the same three guys would be the continuity.

Do you have ideas brewing already regarding new albums or projects we can look forward to hearing in the future? I’m already starting to get ideas together for the new trio record and currently working on the new Galactic record. But what I’m really excited about right now is the new Garage Trois record with Marco Benevento on organ. It’s really different than anything I’ve done before and the songs are just killing. That’s been recorded and being mixed right now. I also just did this project “Streetsweeper” with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and MC Boots Riley of the Coup who’s been out with Galactic. That is recorded and in the process of being mixed. I also did a record with Will Bernard which has John Medeski and Andy Hess on bass. I have an all-star brass band which we don’t have any plans to record yet, but we have a Jazz Fest gig. And there’s also talk of doing a “Dragon Smoke” record, which is myself, Ivan Neville on keys, Eric Lindell on guitar, and Robert Mercurio on bass. I’m also working on my second book and DVD project Groove Alchemy to release in ’09. The book is almost finished and filming for the DVD should begin in November or December.

You were born and raised in New Orleans and still reside there when you’re not on the road. From your perspective as a musician, what has the impact of Hurricane Katrina been on the music community in New Orleans and how has the community responded? Since there have been many schools that haven’t been able to get their music programs up, I’ve started with the Vidacovich family (my drum teacher/mentor and his wife) a workshop for young musicians at Tipitina’s every Sunday. All types of bands-brass bands, jazz bands, blues bands-play three or four songs and then get the kids up with them to play for about two or three hours. My Trio’s done it, and Galactic, and Down (a heavy metal band) to name a few. It’s great fun and exposes the kids to different genres and styles. In the aftermath of the storm we’re just all trying to do what we can to continue the tradition of New Orleans music, all types of New Orleans music, and do the best that we can.

If your upcoming performance in Santa Barbara could be expressed through food what dish would it be? Crawfish etouffee with a side of potato salad.


Stanton Moore Trio and special guest play SOhO (1221 State St.) on Thursday, May 8, at 9 p.m. $15. For ages 21 and up only.


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