Posted: January 18th, 2013
On December 21, 2012, a cosmic confluence of sorts aligned within the moe. universe. Far from the end of the world, 3 contestants for the “6th member of moe.” contest were announced. After thoughtful review and deliberation, the band selected guitarists Taylor Frederick and Matt Mahoney, and pianist Joe Bellanti, to perform with them during moe.’s New Year’s Eve run in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine. We asked all three to reflect on what it was like “to be a member of moe.” for one night—to share with everyone their thoughts about the whole experience—in a brief Q and A.
First up, TAYLOR FREDERICK, the “6th member of moe.” contest winner for the 12/28/2012, show at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Q: What motivated you to throw your hat in the ring and enter the contest?
A: My own personal ‘Moe.ssena’ famoe.ly informed me of the contest literally as soon as Relix Magazine posted it. They knew it would be a great opportunity for me, and my friends have believed in me from the get go to pursue my dreams as a musician. I figured what the hell, I'm gonna give it my best shot, and if that's not enough, at least I know I tried. I never in a million years would have thought it would get the attention it did. So many strangers were messaging me saying "Hey awesome job!", "You got this!" I thank not only my famoe.ly, but all the fans, strangers, and support I received from everyone over the course of the contest. It was very heart warming, and was the best Christmas present a guy could ask for.
Q: What made you select “Plane Crash” to perform with the band?
A: I wanted to pick a tune that was not only a fan favorite, but one that I could show the fans that I deserved to be up on stage with moe. I wanted to make everyone a believer, because judging by all of the responses from fans over all the social media sites there were a couple of "skeptics.” I originally had 3 tunes picked out, which got narrowed down to two after speaking with Jim about what he thought. He told me he originally had that tune in mind when I said it so we stuck with that. Judging by how the crowd erupted, it was a good fit, and for the most part I was happy with how I meshed with the band and played overall.
Q: You mentioned in another email that your experience was surreal. I can only imagine, but could you elaborate?
A: I was introduced to moe. when I was 15 years old, and saw my first show when I was 18. I've been learning/studying all their music since, and have seen a very good chunk of shows since then. When you're that young, and you just remember looking up on stage and saying "One day, I'll be up there", and then that day comes quicker than you expected!? It's a surreal feeling. Knowing that you were chosen by one of your favorite bands, who you have looked up to for many years, to come on stage with them and play, is nothing short of a dream come true.
Q: What was the level of anticipation before going on stage?
A: After the quick sound check, and how smoothly things went, I was ready. But as far as the time being by myself in the green room, hearing the band and the crowd, it started to sink in—hahaha. The nerves stopped though as soon as I heard the crowd cheering and that first chord was played. After that it was just instinct and it felt natural as ever being on stage with them.
Q: Had you ever played in a venue such as the Palladium or performed before that many people?
A: I've had the opportunity to play in a theater before but nothing to a crowd that size. I think the closest I have come to that would be when my college band "Electric Thermal Funk" recently opened up for Jimkata at the Oneonta Theater in Oneonta, NY.
Q: How long have you been playing?
A: I've been playing guitar since I was 13
Q: Are you in a band now? And do you perform regularly?
A: I currently play in a couple college projects "Electric Thermal Funk" and "The Collective". Keeps me playing and keeps me out there doing what I love. I mostly play in my college's Frank Zappa Ensemble "The Mothers of Intention". I've been playing with them now for 2 years and absolutely love it. I try to book as many gigs as I can with all my projects. I’m still searching for that one project that I can focus all my time on. But until then a few projects that I can book with seem to take up my calendar pretty nicely.
Q: What about the fan response?
A: I haven't heard one bad thing yet [knock on wood]. But after I finished playing everyone out in the audience was coming up to meet me, taking pictures, autographs, it was pretty cool (hahaha). It's nice to know you did a good job and made people appreciate what you had to offer to the mix. They're being honest with their responses, and for the fans to accept you playing with their favorite band means a lot in my eyes.
Q: How does it feel to know your performance video is up on RELIX?
A: It's a feeling I can't explain. Knowing your face is up their being showcased next to moe., Umphrey's McGee, Phish, and all these other amazing bands that I personally look up to, just makes me smile from ear to ear. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right, and to continue doing it till I myself am in the magazine again for my own personal work. Hopefully, that day will be right around the corner.
Tomorrow: Night 2 performer, pianist JOE BELLANTI, discusses his experience at the Palladium, and touches upon how entering the contest was a catharsis for getting his "moe.jo" back.