Aaron Moreland Finds New Life With The Moreland Contingent
When Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle announced the end of their musical partnership in 2017, few doubted that either would make music again.
Arbuckle formed Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations with former M&A drummer Kendall Newby and gigged with his long-term acoustic project Haymakers.
Moreland, as he had promised, spent time with his family and contemplated his next move.
By the end of the year, he'd recruited three players for his new project, including former M&A and King Snakes drummer Brad Horner, as well as Gabe Moreland and Coby Kennedy of The Czechs.
Known as The Moreland Contingent, the quartet makes its live debut at Barleycorn's on Saturday, Feb. 3. Veteran act Sloan Moon opens.
Jedd Beaudoin: When did the idea of The Moreland Contingent present itself?
Aaron Moreland: When I decided to get off the road with Moreland & Arbuckle and stop touring, I knew I wasn't going to stop playing music. But I just wasn't sure what I was going to do.
I knew I didn't want to travel anymore. I knew I needed to have some sort of a band. I've been in touch with Brad Horner a lot over the years. [Horner is] the drummer that played with Dustin and I for a long time. He hadn't played with anybody in six years actually. He didn't touch a drumstick for two years. He and I started jamming together a little bit. We played with a few different people and ended up where we are now. I never imagined I'd be playing with two 17-year-old kids, which is my son Gabe (bass/vocals) and Coby Kennedy playing guitar, who's one of Gabe's schoolmates who has played in The Czechs (formerly The Czech Republicans) forever as a bass player, but he's playing guitar in this group. That's kind of how we landed it, really, it wasn't planned.
Moreland & Arbuckle had a decade-plus run and there was a lot of touring involved in that. And that kind of thing can wear you down.
It's a grind. It totally wore me down to a nub. It wore me down to a nub. I reached a point where it wasn't fun anymore. It's a terrible feeling to get to the point where one of the things that you love the most is something you start to despise. I got to the point where I didn't want to look at a guitar. I didn't want to get on a plane to go play a show. I didn't want to be in a van. I just wanted to be home with my family. Being forced into doing something you don't want to do almost always creates a situation where you're not happy. And if you're not happy, nobody around you is happy. That certainly became the case for me.
How long did it take, being off the road and being home before you started to feel some of that creativity and drive come back?
Honestly? Almost immediately. Just making the decision that I was going to be done with it? I started to write tunes immediately. I'd hit a dry spell where I hadn't written any songs in almost two years. That's a scary thing for a songwriter. I'd never been in that spot before. The minute I made some of those decisions that needed to be made, I started to playing my guitar and writing a bunch of tunes. It was really relieving. I probably should have done it two years before I did. Looking back on it now.
As you started doing that, started writing again, what did the material start sounding like? I'm imagining that this isn't necessarily just a continuation of what you've done before. It's something different.
It's totally different, yeah. I played mostly blues and a bit of roots rock the last however many years, but I always played a bunch of other, just straight-ahead rock ‘n' roll. But this really ends up sounding more like a ‘70s rock band. It's not really what I planned. I kind of always figured when I stepped out and did something different it'd be a heavier rock thing but for some reason that's not what came out. I couldn't have planned it. I guess that's what being an artist is about, right? I've never really planned any direction that I've gone, I've just let it be organic. That's certainly been the case here with The Moreland Contingent.
You talked about Brad, who was the drummer in Moreland & Arbuckle twice.
Well, King Snakes.
Right, King Snakes first. Obviously, there's a connection there. What do you feel that connection is?
He's the funnest drummer I've ever played with. When I look back over my career I always had the most fun on stage playing with him. I played with some fantastic other drummers but for some reason there's something about the way he plays and the way we play together that's just connected more than anybody else I've played with. That was evident, right off the bat, even after he hadn't played with anybody else for six years. I went over to his house one day and brought an amp and a guitar and cranked it up and away we went. It was a little awkward for about the first three minutes and then after that it was like no time had passed at all. It's like when you see a good friend you haven't seen in a long time. You just pick up where you left off. That's pretty much how it was.
You're going to play your first show with this band. How long has it been since you played a first show?
Oh my gosh. Well, at least 15 years. By now, 16 or 17. I really forgot how hard it is to start a brand-new band from the ground up. Playing all original material. We might have to sneak a cover into a set but I'm hoping we don't. I forgot how much work it is to do that and keep it all your own material. In fact, I don't know that I've ever done that.
Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.
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