Were musical obsessive-compulsive disorder a condition, R. Stevie Moore might be its poster boy. Over the span of 40-plus years, Moore has somehow managed to find time to eat while recording approximately 400 albums to cassette and CD (albums, not songs) to be released through his DIY home-based distro. Spanning and blending genres from punk rock to power pop, new wave and old-fashioned country music, Moore has attracted rabid fans and collaborators including Ariel Pink, Mike Watt and Philadelphia's Dr. Dog. Despite such ardor, Moore's limits have largely been financial as of late. In December of last year, he relocated to Nashville from his longtime home in New Jersey to skirt potential homelessness. Some strength restored, Moore has found a friend in Kickstarter, through which his fans have enabled him to continue recording and to launch his very first world tour at the age of 59. Moore makes a stop tonight at the Jackpot in Lawrence. We caught him mid-tour to answer a few of our questions.
You grew up around prominent musicians who worked in a recording environment that was pretty tightly structured. Home recording the way that you did, it was pretty unconventional. Was doing everything on your own a type of rebellion or something you couldn't help but do?
Both. I think I was born to "buck the system" somehow. Rules shattered. But also, I don't really believe I have ever truly set out to do anything specific other than just release the raw creativity from within. No preplanned agenda or anything.
Do you think it would have ever been possible for you to work in a mainstream environment, dealing with labels, etc.?
Hard to say. Requires discipline. I might have been able to adjust with full integrity intact, but maybe not. Forever I have admitted I would sign anything if it came to me, but I didn't. And of course, that is often artistic suicide to allow myself to be gobbled up by the big bad men of showbiz.
Four hundred albums -- that works out to something like two songs per week for 30 years. How quickly do you write a song and then put it down?
There's never any real set way. Some are instant, some take time, some never develop regardless of the time element. And my career has had both the normal hot streaks and slow writer's-block dilemmas. Extremes R Us.
You recently moved back to Nashville after many years in New Jersey. Can you talk a little about what brought you back to Nashville?
A personal relationship issue, d-i-v-o-r-c-e -- I was left with no option but to retreat south, on my own. And now I feel almost homeless, since I am on the road so extensively.
You've obviously played many shows over the years, but am I right in understanding that this is your first tour? Has touring been enjoyable for you so far, or would you rather be working at home?
Yes, first ever tour. Played many isolated shows over the years, gradually increased throughout the 2000s. I am now really starting to adjust to the pressure and stress of one-nighters. Loving it immensely when on the stage. I don't work at home recording as much as I used to.
How did Tropical Ooze become your backing band? How did you choose what to play? Your catalog is a bit daunting.
Long story. A new friend is making a film documentary on me and knew of his own friends being able to learn my tunes with high enthusiasm. Yup, I have thousands of songs, but it's never a problem picking faves. Piece of cake. It's not really as complicated as one might think.
I read that there is a documentary crew accompanying you on tour. What has that been like? Do you have any expectations for the film?
I rarely even notice the camera. Much footage has been shot, but the compiling and editing has barely even started. So it's gonna be awhile until there is anything to show. Zero expectations. I trust it will be a stunner.