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Stanton Moore: Living Outside the Box

By Published: October 17, 2005
AAJ: Let's talk about the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. That was your first big gig right?

SM: That was the first band I started touring around with really. We kinda toured around a little bit like goin' to Florida and stuff with this other little band I was playing with. But yeah, it was kind of the first band I played San Francisco with and the first band....I think it was the first band I played New York with. Yeah, it was. So yeah, it was the first band I really started tourin' around the country with, and I started touring with them in '94 when I was still in college. I would take off for a week or two at a time when I was still in class and still in college. So I then graduated and I was doing the Klezmer band and Galactic.

AAJ: How did Galactic come about? Did Galactic come out of the Klezmer band?

SM: No, no, I met Galactic before the Klezmer thing. I was doing Galactic, I mean it was Galactic Prophylactic. I started playing with Robert [Mercurio], the bassist and Jeff [Raines], the guitarist, in late '92. Our first gig was in '93, and we kind of dropped the "Prophylactic part of the name and then started playin' as Galactic and recorded our first record in '95. We started hittin' the road in '96. So we just played our tenth jazz fest in a row, so this year we're gonna celebrate our ten year anniversary as a band because we recorded the first record in '95 and toured in '96. It was our tenth jazzfest so we figured it was a good time.

So September ninth and tenth, we're doin' a 2-night-stand at Tip's [Tipitina's, legendary New Orleans club] with a lot of special guests. We're gonna try and make that a big fun event, you know, have a lot of people we've played with over the years, a lot of influences and also contemporaries, you know. So guys like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Cyril Neville. I think we're gonna ask Art Neville. Some of the those guys who are kinda' like our influences and some of our contemporaries you know, like...I don't know if Skerik is gonna be able to make it, but you know him and some of the MC's we have had over the years. So all those different people that we've worked with, toured with, had open for us, or opened for them, you know, affected our music in one way or another. So that should be cool.

AAJ: When Galactic started, was the focus more funk oriented, or was it more jazz related?

SM: Oh, it was definitely, you know, more of a funk thing. And we started to get, before we did our second record, we started to learn about the whole Blue Note soul-jazz groove-jazz kind of stuff. So we then started to kind of check out that kind of stuff and sort of incorporate that a little bit into what we were doin.' When we first started out, you know the only thing that we wanted to draw from was the Meters and James Brown, and do some kind of hybrid in between there. And then we started incorporating some of the Grant Green and Lonnie Smith and Jimmy Smith and Lou Donaldson stuff, you know.

AAJ: Were there any specific recordings that you drew from?

SM: Yeah, like that Jimmy Smith album Root Down, I mean that's really, really funky. And, you know, they're improvising throughout that whole thing. And some of those Grant Green records where they're doin' James Brown covers, where they're improvising througout the whole thing. I mean, in James Brown's catalog, I don't think there's really, except on some live things, there's not really any guitar solos. And then Grant Green kinda opened the whole thing up and said that you could play improvised music with a groove, you know. I mean he's not the only guy to do that, obviously, and not the first. But, you know that's one of records that we discovered,, "Ah killin, you know, this is cool we can play funk and improvise. And so that was totally, you know, fun for us to discover all that stuff.

AAJ: Now contrast that with where you guys are as a band now in terms of the type of music you're trying to play and the direction that you're heading.

SM: We feel like we've tried our best to digest the whole vintage approach to groove music. We've checked out a lot of the funk stuff and the groove and soul jazz stuff. We're all playing on vintage instruments, and then we've tried to take what elements of current technology and current music that we dig. Say like if we use loops or something, we try to use loops of me, you know. We're not really using loops of drum machines. We've maybe done that a little bit, but in general we try to use loops of me and like maybe effect them with vintage pedals or something. So that we're not doing stuff like too much programming, you know. Obviously everybody records with Protools now 'cause they don't even make 2-track tape anymore, they quit manufacturing it. So you don't have much of a choice but to record with Protools or with some kind of computer technology nowadays. But we tried to, you know, as opposed to taking the Britney Spears approach to making music, we try to use that as a recording device.

We're still trying to come at it rooted in the vintage approach, you know, using vintage instruments. So nowadays, you know, we get into different sounds and tones, and really try to get experimental with the tones we're using. Like, Ben might be playing through different kinds of effects which he kind of got introduced to through Skerik. So Ben [Ellman, saxophonist] is playin' through different stuff, so some of the melodies that we have, it's hard to tell if it's a sax or a guitar through distortion. But it's all coming from, you know, vintage instruments. I don't think any of us are playing on anything made past 1970, really. (laughter). Everybody's got either 60s or 50s gear. I think Rich [Vogel] has got a 50s organ.

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