Rob Derhak of moe. stopped by 98.9 WCLZ’s studio in Maine Friday to guest DJ and spin some of his favorite tracks while also sharing his thoughts on going through treatment for oropharyngeal cancer.
“I feel great,” the bass player said. “I’m a healthy young man.”
Derhak stayed busy by writing new music while traveling to Boston for treatment.
“I did a lot of writing honestly,” he said. “I think I wrote like 15 songs. I’m not saying that they’re all good songs. Some of them are just nonsense that an opioid-addled mind was just jotting down. But some of them came out pretty good.”
The band is getting ready for the upcoming shows and shaking off a little rust after a 6-month hiatus.
“We are rehearsing some new material and practicing some of their older stuff,” Derhak said. “It’s been a while.”
Derhak described the last few shows before moe. took a hiatus due to his health.
“It was very emotional sort of, shows,” he said. “I didn’t have a full handle on what I had to go through at that point. The turnout of fans and well-wishing people was just beyond like anything I had ever dreamed of or imagined.”
He went on to say how he didn’t expect the tremendous amount of support from fans.
The fans gave Derhak a lasting feeling of optimism after their last rendezvous at the Playstation Theater in New York City in July.
“Nobody was upset in the sense that we were quitting or stopping or doing anything,” he said. “Everyone was just like ‘you got this,’ ‘you’re gonna be OK.’ It was just this giant room filled with people throwing their love at the band and myself and it was overwhelming and amazing.”
Besides talk about the return and hiatus, Derhak shared some of his favorite songs from other artists and talked about his personal life.
He explained how certain songs influenced him and shaped how he plays bass today.
“Bonin in the Boneyard” by Fishbone was a funky song he described as: “One of the reasons I started playing bass in the first place. I was really drawn to these heavy bass-influenced bands.”
Derhak told a story of how he came to enjoy Primus after a guy at a record store recommended the album “Frizzle Fry.”
“I brought it home, put it in and it was just so off putting,” he said. “This is nonsense. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Then he said he would give it another chance.
“Yeah no, no, then I just kept playing it again anyway,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, I just found myself. It was like when I switched from regular Coca-Cola to Diet Coke. Diet Coke is disgusting. My point is I got so I got so used to drinking Diet Coke by forcing myself that I couldn’t drink regular coke anymore. This is disgustingly sweet; this has character. And then I became obsessed with Primus. It just became like one of my biggest influences ever.”
Another small factoid Derhak shared is he went to college to be a lawyer.
“That’s what my dad wanted me to be,” he said.
He said he was into philosophy, arguing and rebelling against everything. But when he discovered film and video and media studies that was the outlet that led him to an artistic life.
The playlist Derhak created for the show included Steely Dan, Little Feat, J.J. Cale. Bonefish and Primus got some playing time. Jethro Tull’s
“Locomotive Breath” gave Derhak chills, and he described the first time he heard it in high school: “It was the first time I was ever like, ‘Whoa, music can do this.’”
He played a Peter Gabriel song with Kate Bush that he really liked and then ended the show with a moe. song, he wrote about his daughter, “Blond Hair and Blue Eyes.”
Moe. returns from their hiatus on Friday, Feb. 2 and 3 at The Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY, followed by two shows Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine. The band heads to the Palace Theatre the following weekend in Albany, NY, on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24.