Joseph Patrick Moore – The RockTronix Interview
Article by Eric Larson, © Copyright 2015 FretlessBass.com
We first contacted Blue Canoe Records ten years ago, and in 2007 bassist and label founder Joseph Patrick Moore was gracious enough to participate in our “18 Fretless Questions interview”. Moore’s musical journey started at the early age of seven, when he studied the alto saxophone, followed by drums in his school marching band. But during his sophomore year in high school the electric bass took hold of him and has held it’s grip ever since. Moore attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a concentration on electric and double bass, majoring in classical studies and jazz performance, and then transferred to The University of Memphis. By 2003 Moore founded Blue Canoe Records where he continues his career as professional musician and label owner.
After many different solo albums and collaborations over the years, in September of 2014 Moore released the rock ensemble known as The RockTronix, featuring Wayne Viar on drums, Chris Blackwell on guitar, and JPM himself on bass. Though this is primarily a rock album, it has a nice variety of styles represented, making it a very interesting album, giving the listener many different experiences and variations in a solid group effort. From driving hard rock, to reggae, to blues, to funk, to flat out jams, there is something for everyone on this album. Amazing solos from every band member throughout make this an album to play loud, over and over again.
I was fortunate enough to ask Moore some questions about his latest project The RockTronix, released in September of 2014.
FB: I’ve been listening to your 2014 release The RockTronix. How did this project come together?
Joseph Patrick Moore: In 2013 I was invited to play the summer NAMM Bass Bash hosted by Roy Vogt. I brought a trio with me, consisting of Wayne Viar (drums) and Chris Blackwell (guitar). We had such a great time that we decided to collectively form a band. This band is called The RockTronix and we’ve released a CD and Music Documentary Movie both titled Magnificent Obsession.
FB: The three songs on this album that feature fretless bass (“Surrender”, “Magnificent Obsession”, and “Jack in the Box”) are quite unique from one to the other. Do you have a favorite?
Joseph Patrick Moore: For me it’s a toss up between “Surrender” and “Magnificent Obsession”.
“Surrender” on soundcloud.com
“Magnificent Obsession” on soundcloud.com
“Jack In The Box” on soundcloud.com
FB: What fretless bass/basses did you use on this project? Are these instruments you have used on other projects or are they new to you? Do you own many fretless basses?
Joseph Patrick Moore: I used my custom MVP Pedulla 5-String Buzz. This bass is the only fretless bass I own. That said, I do have a NS Design CR4 electric fretless upright and a traditional upright bass. The Pedulla MVP Buzz was used on those three songs (Surrender, Magnificent Obsession, Jack In The Box).
FB: What other gear did you use while recording fretless on this album (pedals, effects, amps, strings, etc.)? Does your gear vary depending on whether you are using fretless or fretted basses?
Joseph Patrick Moore: I didn’t use any effects/pedals on those three songs. I used an Aguilar DB751 with a 1×15 and 2×10 cabinet. The cabinets were mic’d (D12) and a splitter sent the Bass DI into a Wunder Audio Preamp. I do have a general setup that I use a lot, but tend to swap out cabinets depending on the situation.
FB: How do you choose what songs to play fretless bass on? Do your bandmates or producers offer any input?
Joseph Patrick Moore: Oddly enough, usually the song itself will chose. When I hear a song demo/idea, I’ll often try to imagine what I’m playing would sound like on fretted, fretless and upright bass. Sometimes I may experiment and try all three until I settle on one of them and/or an overall approach. Sometimes all three basses would work on any given situation and it’s just a personal preference or vibe thing that makes since for that song/artist.
I’m always open to trying everything and I’m never opposed to bandmates, producers, engineers or anyone else suggesting ideas. To me, that’s what a recording studio is, it’s a place to experiment and to try things. You’ll usually know if an idea is going to work or not, pretty quickly.
FB: What was the writing process like with this group? Was it collaborative or does one band member write and present to the group?
Joseph Patrick Moore: It was a collaborative process and each member wrote song’s for “Magnificent Obsession”. I did have several ideas (riffs/style/form/titles) that I presented, but we would flush it out collectively.
FB: Was this project recorded live as a band, or is it done in pieces? Do you do many bass overdubs during the recording process?
Joseph Patrick Moore: We recorded everything live. We did three takes of every song and we would go back and select one of them in which to work from. For the album Magnificent Obsession, I did very little overdubs and 97% of the bass was live. That said and when I’m working on my solo projects, I tend to overdub a lot, both as a separate part (chords/melody) and/or a re-take/fix.
FB: Where did you record this album? Was this location a place you have recorded before? Tell me more about the studio experience.
Joseph Patrick Moore: We recorded the album in three days in Woodstock, GA at Rush Anderson’s studio. I met Rush in 1997 when I was playing bass with Col. Bruce Hampton. We’ve worked on several projects over the years and Rush is highly regarded by Jimmy Herring, John McLaughlin, Mike Landau, Stanley Clarke and others. When we (The RockTronix) decided to make an album, he was the first one that came to mind. Partly out of our friendship/working relationship and his engineering skills. You can find out more about Rush and his studio by visiting his website. Rush is also featured in the Music Documentary. http://www.rushhourentertainment.com
FB: I hear lots of Police influences, which I really appreciate. Especially in “Surrender” and “Magnificent Obsession”. How did those songs come together? Who are your main influences as a fretless bass player? Do you have different bass influences as a fretted bass player? Tell me a bit about the other band members. Who are their main influences?
Joseph Patrick Moore: Eric, you nailed it. The intention of “Surrender” and “Magnificent Obsession” was to dial up a Police vibe. On “Surrender” I played the fretless with the side of my thumb (using thumb like a pick) in the manner and way Sting often plays bass. There’s a certain sound, attack and timbre that you don’t get otherwise.
I had the initial body, changes and form worked out for both “Surrender” and “Magnificent Obsession” and presented them to Wayne and Chris. We flushed them out together and ultimately split the song percentages into thirds.
I have so many influences (both fretless and fretted) that it’s hard to say. I also like a lot of non-bass players. For those song’s I really tried to call up the spirit of Sting with a touch of Jaco. Those we’re my intentions anyway.
Wayne Viar is the drummer and Chris Blackwell is the guitarist. They also have many influences…you can follow Wayne/Chris (The Band) and check our growing boards of influence at Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/therocktronix
FB: The track “Jack In The Box” has a much more laid back, bluesy feel, with some nice big fretless slides, and some beautiful deep notes. How did that song come together? This song has a fretted bass solo, which is an interesting way to showcase different sides of your playing personality. What made you choose fretted bass for the solo?
Joseph Patrick Moore: I presented the initial form/style/title and Chris wrote the melody on guitar. I wanted this song to be a guitar feature however we decided to add an overdubbed bass solo on top. The bass solo was played with a fretted bass partly to allow for contrast between the sound of the fretless playing the traditional role of the bass and the electric taking the lead.
FB: Tell me about how you supported this album, how extensive was touring? How does the live experience differ with this group, the RockTronix, from other projects? How has the album been received? Are you still touring to support it?
Joseph Patrick Moore: Magnificent Obsession was released on September 30th (2014) and we are really just getting going with this thing. We’ve had a lot of great feedback on both the album and documentary movie. We have a few dates on the books and we’re currently booking other club and festival dates as we speak. The RockTronix live, incorporates laptops combined with Ableton Live. We use triggers, pads and pedals to control the scene launches in Ableton.
The RockTronix Live Dates: http://www.therocktronix.com/live.html
JPM Live Dates: http://www.josephpatrickmoore.com/live.html
FB: Tell me more about the documentary movie The RockTronix. How did that come together? Was this a first for you, being part of a documentary? What was the documentary experience like and what are your thoughts on the final product? Where can people go to see the documentary?
Joseph Patrick Moore: We wanted to document the entire recording process, so I reached out to a friend of mine who started his own film/production company. I reached out to director Robert Paul, who I also met through Col. Bruce Hampton. You can read his own Directors Note here: http://www.magnificentobsessionmovie.com/directors-note.html
Yes this documentary was a first for me and ultimately I’m ok with it because the intention is correct. It is a very “indie” film, but hopefully tells a story and shares our experience of making this album. There are a lot of interviews from all three of us so you get a different perspective on everyone’s thoughts about the group and the process as it was happening in real time.
You can Buy/Watch/Rent/Stream at: http://www.MagnificentObsessionMovie.com
FB: Do you have any plans for future RockTronix projects?
Joseph Patrick Moore: Right now our goal is to play as much as our individual schedules will allow. We hope to continue the recording process and we also want to start recording and sharing our live shows directly from our website. Stay tuned: http://www.TheRockTronix.com
FB: I understand that your label Blue Canoe Records is a digital label. How are things going for the label?
Joseph Patrick Moore: Actually, we are both a digital and physical label, with an emphasis on digital. Not all titles have physical product but most of them do. With most CD releases, physical product is available at Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and live shows. We do have physical copies of The RockTronix – Magnificent Obsession in both CD Album and DVD. http://www.BlueCanoeRecords.com
FB: Looking back on your career so far, what other projects that featured fretless bass are you particularly proud of and why? How do they differ from this project?
Joseph Patrick Moore: I’m never truly satisfied with my performances on most of my CD releases/songs. I always feel it’s still yet to come. That said, I’m ok (in a general sense) with song’s like “Bebop Charlie (live)”, “What (live)”, “Ashes to Ashes” (fretless bass).
“Bebop Charlie (live)” on soundcloud.com
“What (live)” on soundcloud.com
“Ashes to Ashes” on soundcloud.com
FB: How involved in the day-to-day business side of Blue Canoe Records are you, and what are the challenges of being an artist and a label owner?
Joseph Patrick Moore: I’m “Artistic Director” for Blue Canoe Records and oversee the general landscape/direction for the label. We have an office in Atlanta and Tokyo Japan. Additionally, we have strategic partners and we independently hire out certain jobs for our daily operations. I would say the biggest challenge is “time management”. Juggling art vs. business.
FB: Tell me about a hobby or a passion that you have that is not music related. What does Joseph Patrick Moore do when he’s not playing music or running a label?
Joseph Patrick Moore: I have no life, lol…I like to spend time with my animals (dogs/cats), my wife, and I like to watch movies.
FB: What’s next for Blue Canoe Records and Joseph Patrick Moore?
Joseph Patrick Moore: On the Blue Canoe front we have several new releases from trombonist Ron Westray (Wynton Marsalis) and guitarist Trey Wright. For me personally, I will be going to Japan in March to perform (show/clinic) and to meet with Tom Noguchi who oversees Blue Canoe Japan.
A big thank you to Joseph Patrick Moore for answering our questions about The RockTronix and his other projects! Go check out this album and Blue Canoe Records to hear more from Joseph Patrick Moore, The RockTronix, other collaborations, live dates and more!
A brief history continued from the BlueCanoeRecords.com website:
“After two and a half years in Knoxville, Moore transferred to The University of Memphis in order to pursue more professional performing opportunities. Shortly after his arrival in Memphis, JPM was gigging nightly with The Charlie Wood Trio (a B-3 jazz and R&B soaked combo) on Beale Street at The King’s Palace Cafe. During this time he continued to develop his skills through studio work, teaching, and performing. He worked with James Williams; Doug Wamble; The Memphis Groovetet; Marie Osmond; Jerry Lewis; Herb Ellis; Carol Channing, and many others. During this time he also received the prestigious Milt Hinton Scholarship to further his jazz studies. In 1996 Moore financed, arranged, and produced his first solo effort, “Never Never Land”. It is an elaborate and inspired recording, thought to be one of the finest jazz albums to ever be recorded in Memphis. This debut cd received airplay nationwide, charted on CMJ, and Moore received a nomination for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences premier player award (Memphis chapter/April, 1997).
Later that year, Moore moved to his current home base in Atlanta. Soon after his arrival there he was snapped up by Capricorn recording artist Col. Bruce Hampton (and the Fiji Mariners). Cult legend and jamband guru Hampton regularly invited guest artists to sit in with the band, allowing Moore to network and create musical dialogues with icons such as Jimmy Herring; Warren Haynes; John Popper; Derek Trucks; Oteil Burbridge; Phish members Jon Phishman and Mike Gordon; Shawn Lane; Vassar Clements; Buddy Miles; Michael Ray, and many others.
After his tour of duty with Col. Bruce, Joseph performed locally in Atlanta and on national tours with the likes of Leo Neocentelli (Meters, Neville Bros.) and the eclectic bluegrass fusion “hickhop” band Blueground Undergrass. After two years with Blueground Undergrass he closed out his stint with a farewell performance at NYC’s famed Bottom Line. And, during this period Moore released two more cd’s, this time more funk, world beat oriented, entitled “Soul Cloud” and “Alone Together”.
Not content with these outstanding achievements, in 2003 JPM formed Blue Canoe Records. It is the first independent jazz label, which is an “all digital record label”. He recognized the need to put together a label that would not only feature his own music but would provide an outlet for the creativity of other musicians… without the commercial pressures that have become the norm throughout the industry. Blue Canoe Records is a testimonial to the underlying idealism of great music and the vision of Joseph Patrick Moore.
Throughout the years 2003-2009,
Joseph maintained a hectic touring and recording schedule. Releasing five independent solo efforts and working with many estimeed artists such as:Stewart Copeland (The Police), Earl Klugh, Bob James, Chris Duarte and Michael Tolcher to name a few.”
See more at http://www.BlueCanoeRecords.com