Interview with Moonalice at Bottlerock Music Festival 2016

Image Credit: Allison Anilao

Image Credit: Allison Anilao

Rock band Moonalice closed the night on the Miner Family Winery Stage this past weekend at the Bottlerock Music Festival in Napa, California. The four members: John Molo, Barry Sless, Pete Sears, Roger McNamee and Doobie Decibel System member Jason Crosby, participated in a press conference just before their act to talk about working in the music industry and their thoughts on streaming their performance online!

I’m just curious. You’re playing with Moonalice and DDS (Doobie Decibel System). How is it different? That’s gonna be crazy this weekend.

Roger McNamee: No, it’s not crazy at all. The music business is such that we all have to play in multiple things. So, if you think back. The time where I was talking about where it cost a dollar to get in? People were in one band. It was full-time. That was what they did. Now it’s hard for a band to play more than fifty to sixty shows a year. So, if you wanna be a full-time musician, you have to be in multiple bands, right? Barry, John and Pete all play in the David Nelson Band. Barry, John and Jason play with Phil Lesh. Pete plays with people all over the place. The three of us: Pete, Jason and I play in the electric version of DDS. Jason and I play the duo. Everybody is doing lots so what it means is that we get to stay here one more day. We get to play different kinds of music. It’ll just be a duo. Tight harmony vocals but it’s still us. Different songs. Different vibes. In a tent. Hopefully people will be really drunk or hung over. But seriously. You’re lucky if you could play more than one band. It’s a privilege. The hard part is finding an audience.

John Molo: We’ve gone out a bunch of times and I thought I was part of a couple of good bands. I’m like, “I’m not finding them and they’re not finding us.” So there are those times as Roger said, it’s really fun, the music part. But there are a few obstacles along the way, undoubtedly. But, if you know, the drummer from Saturday Night Live said, “A gig is a gig is a gig.” And, essentially, if you could get out there and play some good tunes with some great players it’s just magical. It’s like riding a bike or a skateboard. It’s just a very fun thing.

McNamee: Where you’re going is… Music is inherently about people getting together informally and then if it really works then you do it formally. I mean with Jason and me, you literally showed up at a Moonalice show in SweetWater, sits in, and goes, “We gotta get together.” We get together, try a few songs, it sounds great. Somebody needs somebody to open so we go at SweetWater. Next thing you know it’s a band. And then we get sued by the Doobie Brothers. We went from nothing to getting sued by the Doobie Brothers in a matter of about a few months. It was just unbelievable. So chance plays a really big role in the whole thing. So if nobody sues us tomorrow, that would be a really good day!

You’ve provided live streaming technology for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and probably some other shows you’ve played. Since you’re familiar with Bottlerock, is that something you’ve put on the table with the promoters of this festival?

McNamee: Well, if they were interested. They would ask. I think it’s a different problem here because Bluegrass Festival, it’s mostly mature bands. They’ve been doing it for a bunch of years. They don’t charge anybody. They don’t pay. You know, the artists get well paid. They made it a condition, to play at the festival, you have to be streamed. At a show like this, you’ve got a lot of artists who are super sensitive about having their stuff shared. Personally, I don’t think that makes sense economically, but I understand, and people have the right to make that call. Hell, if the folks here ever asked us, we’d be here in a heartbeat. Are you kidding? Because we figured out how to do it and it’s really cool, right? What’s weird is that it doesn’t cost very much. It took a while to figure out. It started with our drum tech. He just had to point a camera and then next thing you know, we’re broadcasting live. We didn’t anticipate any of that stuff.

Well the problem was that he was a drummer in a heavy metal band and he got the chance to play 20,000 people a night and he correctly said, “I’m gonna go do that.” Setting up drums isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds. What do you think John? Is setting up drums fun?

Molo: No, in matter fact. He’s an outstanding drummer, Glenn Evans, with the band Nuclear Assault. The legendary, iconic heavy metal band. That’s who we’re talking about. But, he has some other skills as well. He definitely does.

McNamee: Again, Moonalice is just an excuse for people to do creative stuff, right? Poster artists. Video people. Social networking people like Gale. We always admired the Grateful Dead and the Grateful Dead’s great contribution is that they never said no. The fans had a great idea and they go, “OK, let’s see how it goes.” That always struck me as a great idea.

[Note: Questions are from members who attended the press conference]

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