INTERVIEW: Robert Bly Moore from Sterile Jets
Long Beach’s Sterile Jets make “weird noise” rock and are proud of it and believe music audiences will catch on to something unique and different. The band also prides itself on not conforming to a single style or genre. They are influenced by old school metal, punk and post hardcore. The band features Robert Bly Moore on guitar & vocals, Wm B.ILL Partnoff on bass & vocals and GS Bean on drums. On the group’s latest CD, “No Gods No Loss,” they “write about things going on in their lives with a focus on loss, pain, anxiety and the oddities of life.” Also prominent is “the trajectory of the country and where the world is heading, and the institutions.” Recently, Sterile’s Jet band member Robert Bly Moore spoke to SoCalMusicToday to further discuss the new CD, talk about the instruments they play, the music-making process, rehearsals, the challenges they face as a band and more.
How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
The three of us have been together since February 2012, just a few months after I’d moved from Indianapolis to Long Beach. We met when I put an ad on Craigslist looking for a band. B.ILL and Bean had been looking for a new guitarist for a while, and found my ad.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
B.ILL formed the band back in 2009, but it was much different than the current lineup. It went through several lineups, and sounds. Once the three of us settled in, we started forming a more cohesive vision for what Sterile Jets was. Namely, loud, weird, heavy rock and roll.
What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available?) What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?
None of us really have much in the way of brand loyalty. I’ve played everything from Danelectro to Gibson to Godin guitars since joining the band. I’m currently playing a Godin Core HB live, which I discovered while searching for smaller guitar makers. I loved the look and sound of the Godin; I do a lot of controlled feedback, and it’s the best guitar I’ve ever owned for that. B.ILL plays his Gibson SG bass live, but has played Dean, Stagg and Ibanez as well. He likes the SG because of the Gibson neck, but I suspect he also likes it because Mike Watt plays one (ha!). We also use a hell of a lot of effects pedals. Bean plays Yamaha drums and Zildjian cymbals for the most part, but again, it’s not out of brand loyalty.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues?
We just finished a small 10 day tour up the West coast, and played some great spots. The Hideaway in San Francisco was a rad spot to play, as was Seattle’s Funhouse. We love playing Harold’s Place in San Pedro as well. Our favorite place to play is also our favorite local record store. Dyzzy on Vinyl in Long Beach.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?
We try to change up the set list for every show, mostly to keep things fresh for us. We have 15 or so songs rehearsed at any given time. We do throw in covers from time to time, but they’re not ones that everyone will pick up on immediately. Usually we pick lesser known songs from bands like Flipper, Fang, Black Flag… our latest cover is a song called “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” by Mclusky. We just released a video for it.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
B.ILL and I write the lyrics. We write about things going on in our lives. The things that cause feelings of loss, pain, anxiety. Our observations of the oddities of life. I usually feel compelled to write when something is eating away inside me. On our latest record, “No Gods No Loss,” we’ve been getting more political. Writing about the trajectory the country and world are heading, and the institutions and people who are taking it there. The election, and the eroding of democracy in our country, currently has me writing more in that direction.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
We spend a lot of time jamming, especially when we’re trying to write new material. That’s how most of our music comes about. When we’re free-form jamming, I feel like it frees up the conscious mind, which in turn makes the music a little more organic, a little more immediate, and a lot less planned out. By recording the jam sessions, we start to lay down the groundwork of a song, and over time, B.ILL and I arrange it into what you hear.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
We vary on that. When we’re rehearsing new songs, or getting ready to go into the studio, or go on tour, we set aside certain days of the week, and make things a bit more structured. Playing through our set material for an hour or two, then taking a break and free-form jamming for a while. Other times, we might play it by ear a little more. We normally make it a point to get together and rehearse a couple of times a week, regardless.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
When we first started playing together, B.ILL or I would bring a song we’d written to the group, and teach the rest of the band how to play it. Some of those songs, in retrospect, didn’t have a very unique sound to them. And they definitely didn’t sound like what we envisioned for Sterile Jets. Once we realized that the music we wrote was better when we all had creative input at the beginning of the process, our music began to evolve into what it is now.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
I’d say our biggest challenge as a band has been connecting with people who are into weird noise rock as much as we are. Other musicians seem to love us, but it’s a challenge to find an audience for music that would never be played on the radio. The internet makes that possible to some degree.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
Find musicians you like, who are as committed as you are. It’s hard enough to share the creative process with other people, but if those people aren’t like-minded and aren’t committed to it at the same level, things are going to fall apart. We have disagreements, pretty much all the time. But we are all committed to trying to make the best music we’re able to, and we all have great respect for each other as people and as artists. That helps to smooth over the creative disagreements when they arise.
Sterile Jets Content: