See Magazine (Edmonton) speaks with Moses Mayes
See Magazine Article Link: http://www.seemagazine.com/Issues/2007/1108/mus3.htm
Get down, Moses
Winnipeg funktronic outfit have a "Rockit" in their pocket
w/ Girl Nobody. Fri, Nov 9. Velvet Underground (10030-102 St). Info: 428-7827
fitting. As keyboardist Nathan Reimer of Winnipeg's Moses Mayes gets on
his cellphone while his band makes its way from Canmore to Calgary, a
barely decipherable chiming can be heard on his end of the line.
"Are you close to an ice cream truck?" I asked.
"No," he laughs. "We're listening to Herbie Hancock."
of course, particularly with his breakthrough track "Rockit," could be
credited with singlehandedly birthing the now-omnipresent hybridization
of jazz and electronic music, which includes Moses Mayes among its
adherents. Turns out the band even got to share a stage and meet their
hero in Saskatoon a few years ago.
"He did a perfect imitation
of our saxophone player and basically said he thought it was great,"
Reimer recalls. "Nothing too specific, but that's fine. In terms of the
music that we pull a lot of our inspiration from, Herbie Hancock is
right at the top of that list."
When the band, initially an
eight-piece, first got together, their sound was largely shaped by
their then-drummer's obsession with dance music and the other
musicians' jam-based approach to jazz and funk. "What we ended up with
was a combination of players who were into a lot of the [jazz] fusion
stuff and [our drummer] just knowing that house beat through and
through," Reimer says. "I have yet to meet anyone who knows the finer
points of a house beat more than he does."
It proved to be a
winning combo, and soon Moses Mayes was spreading the groove all across
Canada, releasing two long-players and an EP and grabbing support slots
not only with Hancock but the late James Brown as well. Then, during
the period preceding the recording of their third album proper, Second
Ring, the band went through something of a transition period. Members
started getting older and pursuing diverging career paths, leaving the
trio of Reimer, turntablist Grant Paley, and guitarist Mark Penner to
deal with the band full-time, hiring out musicians to fill the roster
on an as-needed basis.
"It's tricky, actually," Reimer says. "A
lot of our ability to tour or not tour comes from whether or not we can
find the musicians. It took a long time, close to deadline, on this one
just to find a drummer. Our saxophone player has just recently moved
out to Toronto, but we really like and want him so we had to fly him
back, and our drummer, in fact, lives in Canmore. We actually have to
pull from several different cities across Canada in order to make any
sort of tour happen."
As such, the live Moses Mayes experience
very much depends on whoever they have on tour with them–and with three
drummers with varying backgrounds to choose from, the band's sound
changes wildly from incarnation to incarnation. "One summer," Reimer
says, "because of the drummer and the horn player we had, we were able
to do more of the fusion-y type stuff, whereas some tours, when we've
got our original drummer, we focus more on that housier side of things."
Reimer says the revolving door of players has been educational, at
least for those on the inside, with the core lineup learning and
adjusting to new techniques the hired help brings to the table (or more
accurately, to the touring van). Those long stretches on the road, he
says, are often used to discuss and fine-tune their sound. Which leaves
me guiltily wondering if I've interrupted just such a session.
that was just mellow, chillout time," Reimer assures me. "But it's not
uncommon for that to happen, to be listening to something and pretty
soon you're discussing backing up solos and how to come up, say, behind
a saxophone solo and make that more effective. It's always about trying
to push things to make our music as good as possible."