Aaron Moreland of Moreland & Arbuckle “I wish I could say he did so then I’d have a reason to want to punch him! The guy who does our videos seems to have a dying need to have a theme of Dustin getting his ass beat!”
Heralded as “Roots Rock from the Heartland”, Moreland & Arbuckle have been deemed “Too Rock for Blues Festivals and Too Blues for Rock Festivals!” One thing is for damn sure, the put the POWER into Power Trio! The band features Dustin Arbuckle on Vocals & Harmonica, Kendall Newby on Drums & Background Vocals and Aaron Moreland on Guitars & Backing Vocals.
Moreland & Arbuckle’s sound is an amalgamation of their influences ranging from Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, Son House, ZZ Top, Death Metal bands, Howlin’ Wolf, Mötley Crüe and a plethora of others from all genres. The band has released six albums and constantly touring the U.S. and abroad.
I had the opportunity to sit down and interview two-thirds of Moreland & Arbuckle before their hometown show on Friday November 28th in Wichita, KS. and judging by the conversation, 2015 promises to be another banner year for the band as they plan on more touring, recording another album with Producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon & The Sword), compiling an album of rare gems from their early independent days along with unreleased material spanning their career and much more…..
Legendary Rock Interviews: Good evening gentlemen! Are you ready for your 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Throwdown in front of an eager hometown crowd?
Aaron Moreland: I can’t wait! I am super excited!
Dustin Arbuckle: Yeah, it was a great show last year so it should be a lot of fun tonight!
LRI: Can you give readers a history of Moreland & Arbuckle to bring them up to speed?
DA: We met over a dozen years ago at an open mic night out at The Roadhouse Blues back when it was open!
LRI: Damn, I miss that place! I wish they’d re-open it as a music venue.
DA: Yeah, I agree! It was kind of by accident that we got thrown on stage together. That is not when we really connected though. That was a few months later when Aaron was making a record with a another friend that he was playing with at the time. They wanted a harmonica player on a few tracks. We got connected through some friends of mine.
After that, we felt that there was some chemistry and we started playing gigs together. Aaron joined the band I was playing with at the time & once that band broke up a few months later, we started The King Snakes. After we went through a few different drummers and bass players & settled on the guitar, harmonica and drums combination line-up, eventually it became the three piece Moreland & Arbuckle incarnation that we play 99% of our gigs as today.
LRI: Your sound is often called “Roots Rock From The Heartland” but it is really a blend of Delta Blues, British Blues Rock, REAL Country, Folk and Soul. Who are some of each of your influences?
AM: My influences are more than I can name. Led Zeppelin are a HUGE influence on me. I like a ton of Traditional Blues like Son House, Charley Patton, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Robert Johnson. I also like tons of Death Metal stuff like Slayer, bands like that. Iron Maiden, the list goes on forever for me….Nirvana, Pearl Jam, it’s vast…
DA: A lot of the same Traditional Blues stuff for me. Some of the stuff that first bit me was the 1950’s Urban Blues stuff like Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and early B.B. King.
Obviously a lot of harmonica players are big for me. Guys like, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Walter, Lee McBee who is a guy who was from up around the Kansas City area who just passed away this year, he was actually a HUGE influence on me from a singing and harmonica playing standpoint.
I love a lot of Soul music, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, The Temptations, stuff like that. I am huge fan of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and the Traditional Country stuff. Bluegrass like Ralph Stanley. All sorts of stuff, Stoner Rock like Queens Of The Stone Age….
LRI: Have you checked out Crobot?
AM: Crobot, I’ve never heard of them. Good stuff huh?
LRI: I think you’d digg them. They are along the lines of QOTSA, Clutch, Zeppelin and The Black Crowes. I did a review of their debut album. I really like it! You mentioned Otis Redding, have you heard of Vintage Trouble?
DM: Heard of them but haven’t got to hear any of their stuff. We were on a festival bill with them in England last summer but we didn’t get to stick around & hear them play because we had another gig that night.
LRI: They are excellent! It is like Otis Redding fronting a rock band.
DA: That’s what I have heard!
LRI: Their manager turned me on to them. Their manager is Snake Sabo from Skid Row.
DA: No shit!
LRI: Aaron, I had read somewhere that you influenced by Mötley Crüe. I was curious if that was just Mick Mars as a player or the band as a whole?
AM: Both! I liked the whole band a lot. I like Mick a lot! That was one of the first bands I really just freaked out on and bought all their material. I think I was twelve. (Laughs)
LRI: I am a huge CrüeHead so I’m wondering your thoughts on Mick Mars as a player and how he influenced you? Have you heard the 1994 album they did with John Corabi? That album features Mick’s best work to date, in my opinion.
AM: No. You know, I went and saw them this summer in San Francisco. Believe it or not, I’d never seen them! Growing up where I grew up, it wouldn’t surprise you if you knew where I grew up. It is a very small town in Kansas.
LRI: Where was that?
AM: Madison, Kansas.
LRI: Up by Emporia?
LRI: My brother Jason & his wife, Sammi used to live there and about a year ago moved to Lyons, KS. but I believe his Mother-In-Law still lives there. (Last names edited out for privacy!)
AM: I just think that they were a cool band. When I listen back to them now, I’m like “Ehh, Vince Neil isn’t the greatest singer!” but “Kickstart My Heart” is the tune that when it came out, I listened to that probably one hundred times in a row!
DA: Geez! (Laughs)
AM: I just played it, backed it up, played it, backed it up, over and over. I was on a band trip. I played Trumpet in the school band. We drove from Madison to Pittsburgh, Kansas or somewhere & I sat by myself and the whole time, I just played it. It was a cassette so it took a little time so it wasn’t instant but I got to the point where I could back it up exactly perfect.
It just blew my mind, that song. I just listened to it last night and thought “What is it about that song?” and then the drums come in and I was like “Yup, that’s what it is!”, just the pulsating…..” (plays drum pattern on leg)
LRI: I’ll have to bring you a copy of the album they did with John Corabi back in 1994. Tommy’s playing is better than anything else he has done plus Corabi added so much depth as far as his singing and songwriting that it pushed everyone to step their game up. Mick’s parts are insane! Real bluesy and heavy!
AM: I will have to check that out!
LRI: Back on October 18, 2011, Moreland & Arbuckle’s “18 Counties” was featured in the FX series Sons Of Anarchy during season seven/episode #4 ‘Fruit For The Crows’. How did that opportunity come about?
AM: We noticed a huge uptick in sales, an uptick streaming of the song, plays online, etc. It came about because our label pitched it to the right people. To be honest, I’ve never even watched Sons Of Anarchy. I know some people love it but I’ve never watched it, I’ve never even seen that episode!
DA: I’ve watched that episode. I’ve seen bits n’ pieces of the show since, it looks like a good show but it was one I never really dug into.
LRI: It’s just a violent soap opera with motorcycles. I digg it! Actually, it is my favorite shows and having been a fan of yours since the Roadhouse days, I didn’t even know you were going to be on it. I was sitting there watching it and your song came on and I thought “What the fuck, that is Moreland & Arbuckle, holy shit!”
Dustin & Aaron: (Laughs)
LRI: On your last album, “7 Cities”, you covered Tears For Fears “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. While you have covered songs on your albums in the past, a Tears For Fears tune was one helluva curveball. How did you come to choose that song to cover? Was it because it tied in thematically with the concept of the album?
AM: That is entirely why. Because it did tie in thematically with the record. Plus, it worked so well when we played it. It was like “This is perfect!”
DA: It is basically just a shuffle. If you listen to the groove, it is basically just a Blues shuffle!
LRI: “7 Cities” also features the song “Tall Boogie”. Is that song about pot?
Dustin & Aaron: Yes, yes it is! (Laughs)
DA: Driving around on country roads under the influence thereof. So, yeah! Well done! (Laughs)
LRI: I ask because the lyrics through the use of the term ‘Tall’ which is used as a slang term for “High on Marijuana”. So, I take it you support the movement for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in Kansas. Am I off-base seeing the connection?
LRI: I say legalize it, throw a joint in the bottom of bags of Cheeto’s like a Cracker Jack prize, tax the hell out of it and put the money in to our education system like how Colorado does!
DA: Yeah, it has worked out pretty well for them!
AM: We are in the wrong state, buddy!
LRI: This question is for Aaron. In the videos for “Purgatory” & “The Devil In Me”, Dustin seems to get his ass whipped by you and Kendall? Did he stiff you in a poker game or what’s the reasoning behind using your singer as a punching bag?
AM: I wish I could say he did so then I’d have a reason to want to punch him! The guy who does our videos seems to have a dying need to have a theme of Dustin getting his ass beat! (Laughs)
DA: (Laughs) I am scared of what is going to happen on the next record, man, because I don’t know what Lonnie is going to come up with next time! (Laughs)
LRI: (as video director Lonny Quattlebaum) All set Dustin? Now don’t worry that you are about to jump out of an airplane without a parachute because we have twenty cameras on you so it will all look great on film! See you on the ground!
AM: He seems to be in to the idea, I’m not sure why but that seems to be what is happening!
DA: It is fun and it has made for a couple of real good videos! I always end up with a few bruises afterwards but it is not like it is ever anything that bad!
LRI: I was wondering, is someone pissed off at you and just not telling you?
DA: The “Purgatory” video was tough because it was freezing outside and we shot it all in one day! We were up for 24 hours straight and in the end, the scenes where we are all running around, we are all running around in t-shirts. It was like thirty-two degrees when that stuff was going on. The pulled punches didn’t hurt nearly as much as the cold.
LRI: I hope they pre-cut that or rigged that board before they smacked you across the back with it!
AM: (In a very sarcastic tone) Ahhh, it was pretty flimsy! Although it hurt, didn’t it?
DA: It still hurt but it wasn’t that bad! It was like doing a belly flop in to a pool is about what
that felt like.
AM: You said you were sore for days afterwards.
DA: Yeah, when you dropped down on your knee and it looked like you were pounding on me. Your knee caught the top of my hip bone. That was…..
AM: I tried to go easy on you!
DA: I know! That one was on accident but the one that hurt the most was the one you didn’t mean to do! (Laughs)
LRI: Or so he says!??!
DA: (Laughs) Yeah, right!
LRI: Will there be any more videos released to promote “7 Cities”?
Dustin & Aaron: No!
AM: That was it!
Moreland & Arbuckle – Purgatory
Moreland & Arbuckle – The Devil And Me
LRI: Any chance of revenge in the videos for the next album, Dustin?
DA: You know, I leave it all up to Lonny Quattlebaum’s vision! He is our director and cinematographer of all that kind of stuff. So, we will just see what Lonny comes up with.
LRI: What kind of gear do each of you use?
AM: It is always changing but I can give you the basics. Lately, I’ve been using a ’68 Princeton. Some dudes in Wichita built me an amp that I always use. I am using a different one of it tonight that they built me. I play various Gibson’s and my Cigar Box guitar.
LRI: Was the Cigar Box guitar locally made or how did you come to acquire it?
AM: A friend of mine in Tennessee made it!
DA: I usually play through two vintage 47’s like single 10-12 watt amps that I pony-up, do like a FrampTone A/B/Y splitter & I use a, most of the time, a old Electro-Voice RA-10 microphone.
Occasionally, I use another EV, which is an old 630! I use an anti-feedback device to kill some of the feedback.
LRI: Aaron, how did you acquire the cigar box guitar that has become a trademark for you & can you give readers the scoop on how it differs from your usual Telecaster or Les Paul?
AM: A friend of mine in Tennessee, we just happened to be friends and he happened to be making them. I picked it up & played it and it worked out! Serendipity at its best!
LRI: It has three guitar strings that run through its own guitar amp & one bass string that runs through a separate bass amp. Is it harder to play than a Les Paul or other guitars?
AM: Oh no, actually, for me, it is easier!
DA: Less strings man! (Laughs)
AM: It was great, a couple weeks ago I broke a string and played through the whole song on, not the cigar box but a regular guitar, on five strings & Dustin says “Well, he didn’t know he could play a five string guitar so now he is going to go down to four!” and I picked up the Cigar Box guitar! It was well played! (Laughs)
DA: (Laughs) I think I made a joke that before the end of the set that he was going to get down to one string! Which of course didn’t happen because he doesn’t have a Diddley Bow.
LRI: You recently released two new vinyl albums through Analogue Productions Originals called Direct-to-Disc Sessions Volumes One and Two? What can fans or those interested in the band expect from these releases & where can they purchase them?
DA: They can get them at our website, http://www.morelandarbuckle.com or at a show.
AM: They can also buy them at http://www.acousticsounds.com They came buy them here in Wichita at Spektrum Muzik or through their website at http://www.spektrummuzik.com/
DA: The record came from a session we did at Blue Heaven Studios up in Salina Kansas after we did a Blues Masters At The Crossroads there in 2010. For people who aren’t familiar with Direct-To-Disc, what happens is they actually cut the master lacquer as you are playing and recording.
It is the most old-school pure form of analog recording!
LRI: Like how they recorded Robert Johnson in the hotel room in San Antonio back in 1936 or whenever he cut his sides?
DA: Right! Exactly!
AM: We did them four years ago so it is nice to put them out!
LRI: Are you happy about the resurgence of vinyl?
DA: It is awesome!
AM: Nothing sounds better! If you have a good turntable. I can play shit off my iPod and it sounds terrible compared to vinyl on the same system.
LRI: Any chance of a live DVD or with your promo videos on it as bonus content?
DA: No, no plans but people keep saying we should do one. Who knows, maybe someday but no plans now!
LRI: Any plans of re-issuing the long out-of-print King Snakes & Floyd’s Market albums?
AM: No, we are not going to re-issue any of that stuff but what we are going to do is, sometime down the road, is do a “Best Of The Early Years” with tracks off of those first few records that are out-of-print….
DA: ….and a few unreleased things.
AM: We’ll put it on something so that will happen in the next year!
LRI: You’ve recently started work on a new album, will you be returning to Stone Gossard’s studio to work with Matt Bayles (Mastodon & The Sword)again?
AM: We are but we are doing it out in Omaha at that dude Bright Eyes studio.
LRI: When can fans expect the new album?
AM: No way to know yet as we’ve got to record it first! (Laughs)
LRI: You start a tour of Spain on December 2nd then have dates in Switzerland and Austria for a few weeks ending in Switzerland on December 13th. Any chance of a hometown show before the New Year?
AM: This is it till February or later!
LRI: You’ve played with an eclectic range of bands over the years from ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Buddy Guy, etc. What was the strangest billing you were ever a part of & who would you like to share a stage with that you haven’t?
AM: We’d like to play with The Black Crowes!
DA: I agree with that!
AM: Strangest was….
DA: Cowboy Mouth?
AM: Cowboy Mouth! They were like a 90’s pop-rock band, not grunge at all!
LRI: Was that in the U.S.?
DA: Yup, in Texas! It was two shows in Texas!
AM: We played with Sinead O’Connor….that is kind of a weird pairing!
DA: That was a festival in England & she headlined that night!
AM: We didn’t get to see her doggone-it!
AM: I would have liked to see it just to see what it was about.
DA: It would have been interesting!
LRI: What can fans expect from Moreland & Arbuckle in 2015?
AM: Maybe a new record, more touring! Lots of overseas work.
DA: Those are the main things, touring and hopefully a new record!
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