(Written for the Yellow Bird Project, Feb 27th, 2009)
Well my friends, it is time for another Yellow Bird interview! This time we had a chance to catch up with a true indie-rock veteran. His name is John Moen, and you may know him from his previous work with bands and artists like Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Elliott Smith and the Decemberists. These are just a noteworthy few of the many projects that John Moen has been a part of. He has now released his very own album under the ‘Perhapst’ moniker along with the help from some very talented friends. The results are pretty amazing.
Yellow Bird Project: I hope you know, I have replaced in my vocabulary the word ‘perhaps’ with the word ‘perhapst’. So how did this name come about?
John Moen: I am honored. I just made it up and thought it was genius. It IS possible that I was over-served at the time. The word is pretty fun to say, though, is it not?
YBP: Is the Perhapst album a new project or is it something you have been working on for a long time?
JM: The project has been bubbling away for a good long time. I can’t remember exactly when I started it…let’s just say years have passed.
YBP: How has being surrounded by such talented musicians as Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus and Colin Meloy influenced your own musical endeavors?
JM: I think it would be foolish to spend time making music with people who are so greatly talented, and fail to absorb any of their ideas or approach; but I wouldn’t be making records if I didn’t think I had at least slightly different take on things myself.
YBP: What are the advantages of being a musician in Portland, Oregon? Any disadvantages?
JM: The advantages used to be cheap rent, little competition for shows and an outstanding group of peers for support and collaboration. We still have the outstanding group of peers but the town is less of a well kept secret these days.
YBP: “Cruel Whisk” is one of my favourite songs on the album. In it you sing, “cook yourself and spare the bird.” Is this a song about vegetarianism?
No. I admire vegetarians but I have not been able to overcome my meat addiction. The song is quite obviously about masochistic cannibalism. Hmmm.
YBP: I hear you play quite a few instruments. Do the drums hold a special place in your heart or is there an instrument you prefer to play? Any new instruments you’ve picked up lately?
JM: The drums are sort of boring all by themselves. However, playing them to a great song is a true pleasure. I wish I had a harpsichord.
YBP: Your life has been so filled with music. What are some things you like to do that aren’t musically related?
JM: I am raising a daughter. She is super-fantastico but does manage to eat up a lot of my free time. I’ve been known to get into some gardening now and then and I follow the Portland Trail Blazers with much enthusiasm. I also enjoy cooking myself. Ha.
YBP: You have been part of quite a few bands. Which band has been the most fun to tour with?
JM: My first touring experience was with the Dharma Bums. We were quite young (circa 1987) and it was a real adventure. I admit that I have lost the lust for the road, a bit. I have visited more than enough gas stations and slept not-so-well in plenty of random homes and hotels for my taste. This is my job, though. I don’t mean to imply that it sucks, but it certainly isn’t as jazzy and exciting as it once was. Jazzy?
YBP: Is being a part of the Decemberists’ live show as fun as it looks?
JM: It is. We have a good time.
YBP: Now that you have released you very own record. What is next for you?
JM: Release another one! That’s what people like me do. We do not know when to quit. I don’t even know any new chords. It’s ridiculous.
YBP: Finally, what has been the highlight of your musical career thus far?
JM: Having a career at all is the “highlight” of my career. I have been very lucky.
A big thank you to John Moen for doing this interview!
Listen to Perhapst:
Perhapst – Incense Cone
Perhapst – Aren’t You Glowing
Bye for now!
-The Middle Distance Runner
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