Mo's Wild Years

After a lifetime playing sideman to a string of eccentric talents, Moris Tepper discovered what he likes to do best -- make music for himself

Even as he's being pulled in a thousand directions at once, producing and engineering for other people and the like?

"Yeah, sure. We have to pay the bills and the rent and we have to survive. And sure, I'd love to be able to work on my own stuff and never have to worry about doing anything else for money, but I don't think it's ever going to happen. But man, it's okay. I've got to be open and trust the songs to come through. Working in my own studio, with no budget or engineers, I can do that for my own music and not worry about whether I'm communicating what I want to an engineer, or whether what I'm hearing is what someone else is hearing.

"Working with these musicians for the tour, especially, I have to rehearse 100 times over, because you want to keep the integrity of the music you think is so bitchin', but you also want the humanity of those players to come through in performance. Every one of those 100 times is more pleasurable. It sounds like people who care. That's why we always leave some time during the performance where nothing's written, where we can write on the spot and that humanity can express itself.

Moris Tepper: "When I first walked into the studio with Captain Beefheart, it was scary. I mean, it would have been scary if it'd been Barry Manilow."
Moris Tepper: "When I first walked into the studio with Captain Beefheart, it was scary. I mean, it would have been scary if it'd been Barry Manilow."

"I'm telling you, man, it's a beautiful experience."

Moris Tepper isn't home yet. Or maybe he is. But wherever he's calling from, he's having a hell of a good time.

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