DOUG ESPER INTERVIEW
Doug Esper is currently on tour with Chuck Mosley, providing percussion rhythms and backing vocals to Chuck's acoustic musings.
However Doug has given much more than this to Faith No More's one-time singer, Doug is a friend road manager and advisor. If it wasn't for Doug's encouragement and hard work Chuck may not have returned to music at all. We found out more. Photography by Anthony J Frisketti.
How did you and Chuck first connect?
In ’96 I heard Chuck had moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where I live. He had a new band going and his bassist was my buddie’s instructor. September 23rd 1997, a Tuesday night, I went to go see FNM at the Cleveland Agora and Chuck was standing by himself in the lobby. I saw all these people pass him by having no idea that he was right there. I went up, knees shaking, and said hello. Chuck is very approachable, open and honest to a fault. I ask if there was any chance of him playing As The Worm Turns or any other tune, and he said they had asked but that he was too nervous. I laughed it off, but now having known him, I realize it was 100% true. After that I saw him at shows, in my bands old practice warehouse, and eventually I interviewed him at an internet radio station I worked at for a while.
What is he like to tour with?
Oh man, this is such a loaded question. I could take this into a million different directions. Chuck dubbed us ‘Felix and Oscar’ from the Odd Couple. It fits. He and I go about things in vastly different ways, we have our own routines, habits, preferences, goals, diets, and totally diverse upbringings. I mean, really, anytime you stick two human beings into a small suv and ask them to drive around for weeks at a time, keeping bizarre hours, and isolating them from their families it’s bound to get tense/ugly/crabby/smelly/exhaustive/goofy/hilarious and a million other things. Would I not mind less WW2 documentaries at 4am played at top volume? Sure. Would he mind if I didn’t fret over every decision or roadblock? Of course.
But, damn if we haven’t played some awesome shows and shared some incredible experiences. Do you know how incredible it is to stop what I’m doing each night to watch Chuck open the set with one of my favorite songs, “Chip Away”? A few weeks ago we spent three days in NYC, walking around and talking about his various time spent there, shows he’s played, people he met, and how the food compares to back in the day. I asked Chuck to write a book with me about his life and now I have enough info for three volumes of interesting content. And the guy talks to EVERYONE. He knows more about random strangers we pass on the street or sit by at a rest stop than I do about my extended family. He is infinitely curious about the goings on around him, which is cool and frustrating at the same time cause…man, we got stuff to do.
I’ll say this, using the movie Trains, Planes, and Automobiles: Chuck is the genuine article. What you see is what you get.
He is not a caricature. He does not put on an act. He does not contain the ability to be anything else aside from himself. It is beautiful, refreshing, comical, and nerve-wracking all at once.
Are there any shows on the US 'Reintroduce Yourself' tour that have been more memorable so far?
So far, Chuck and I have played rock clubs, record stores, restaurants, a converted horse wagon factory in a basement, a forest, a hair salon, a sushi joint, a ski lodge, and a hot dog place, so I could mention each show and have something unique to say.
We played with many great bands and many great venues. Chuck got up and did Chinese Arithmetic in Indiana with Beauty behind the Wreck. I helped hold up the guitarist of Daikaiju while he played up in the air during a song, Paul and Thee Ice Picks played in ski masks when it was no less than 1000 degrees onstage, Anthony from Long Gone Day and I drank coffee from a bowl, Dead By Wednesday joined us for two weeks of shows playing acoustic for their first time, and did I mentioned Marc Rizzo (Soulfly, solo) plays guitar for them?! Just watching him play was worth the price of admission, let alone seeing Rob their vocalist find his way with no distortion to blend with.
Do you want to know why I now love the state of New Jersey? We played Dingbatz in Clifton and it was awesome! The crowd was loud and rowdy, they sang along to almost every tune, overpowering chuck a few times, the opening bands were cool, the club employees were easy to deal with, and so many people had amazing stories about Chuck to share. In the crowd were a couple Australians, Sean and Michael, who were on holiday and saw last second Chuck was playing. They came out and helped us close down the bar. There was a fan from Bulgaria, who I had emailed with a few times when his VUA cd got lost in the mail. He had recently been transferred to the states so he brought his gal and it was a thrill to see them get to see Chuck play when they never expected ever to be close enough to.
The next night, we played along the jersey shore, which is way more beautiful than I ever imagined. Chuck got up and performed the worm song(that’s what chuck calls it, relax, I know the real title) with one of the openers, Johnny B. Morbid and they rocked it out. Once again, loud, rowdy crowd, great staff, and top notch promoter.
In Seattle the crowd sang so loud during Crab Song that Chuck stopped singing and let them carry the tune. Mark Bowen came! The limited time I had to speak with him and watch him and Chuck talk about old days was neat. I tried to convince him to get up and play, but it’ll have to wait until our next trip to Washington, ha.
Colorado Springs, CO. Douglas MF’ing Duffy! So, I was not aware of Cement until after they broke up, but for years I have loved the two discs and to have the singer and drummer onstage together performing with me was a treat. Add to that, Douglas and his wife were so fun and genuine. Check out Doug’s art and check out the youtube video of him joining Chuck and I for the VUA track Tractor. I’m grinning ear to ear the entire time, just watching Doug take control of my conga.
I can’t let this question go without mentioning Mr. Beery’s on long Island. Originally on July 19th we were scheduled to play a different club, but they canceled last second, with no warning. Chuck and I were devastated and considered just driving home and canceling the other shows as we count on each dollar to continue…then Greg Prato (Author of several books about bands including Faith No More and Mr. Bungle) suggested we call Mr. Beery’s. Not only did they step up and offer us a stage but they bent over backward to make us comfortable, to promote the show, and help us soldier on. The crowd was awesome, the sound was stellar, and …oh yeah, and Roddy!
Knowing you are a huge FNM fan to appear onstage with not only Chuck but also Roddy must've been amazing?
DUUUUUUDE. (Do you mind if I call you dude?) Chuck had talked to Roddy a few times leading up to our east coast leg and they had discussed playing some songs, but nothing was set in stone. Then the show gets canceled. I assumed things were DOA at that point, but when the show got rescheduled, Roddy confirmed he was still on board. About a month earlier, I had thrown out the suggestion that we play The Beginning by Imperial Teen. It is a fairly straightforward song. Roddy sings the main vocals, so I thought he could sing/play guitar and Chuck and I could provide the “oo-wah’s”.
I wasn’t even sure I was going to play along or if it would just be Chuck and Roddy until we pulled in the parking lot and I asked if there was a plan. There wasn’t, but Roddy said he wanted to play, “Butch”. I asked if he minded if I kept a beat and he agreed. With no practice or sound check, I was nervous.
Roddy grabbed the guitar, sat down, and just went for it. I kept a fairly steady beat, but as we hadn’t talked about backing vocals I wasn’t sure if I should attempt them or not. I certainly didn’t expect it would anger Roddy, but who knows, right? So I sorta half-sang to myself, half moved toward the mic to hedge my bets. The night is mostly a blur so I’ll have to hope photos and video surface of other songs, ha. Shout out to King Chivas for posting the Butch video.
Do you want to know what I learned that night?
Roddy and Chuck are both goofballs and I don’t even know if they realize how similar they are onstage with their banter and presence. Could you imagine a Chuck and Roddy acoustic tour? Now that would be fun.
Roddy had just seen Ghostbusters. After the show, about three AM, he saw a guy wearing a Ghostbusters shirt walking down the street in NYC. He started singing ( dododo do-do do-do) the theme from the original movie to the oblivious shirt wearer. It cracked me up. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled interview…
What prompted Chuck to add 'Take This Bottle' to the set?
I've known Chuck for twenty years. In that time I've floated a lot of ideas to him, of which 99% get rejected before I even finish. Patton has obviously performed many/almost all of the Chuck material live for decades and even recorded As The Worm Turns in the studio. I floated the idea that a few Patton era songs really fit Chucks range and style and it would be cool to hear his take on them. As with every other thing I say, Chuck was skeptical. After a few practices though, and when we decided to just do a medley of songs, it really fit the mold. I think a recorded version of it with Chuck’s style infused would make for a killer track, but for now it’s just a treat to see and hear it live. Sometimes we extend it and I sing the second verse…I apologize to those in the audience on the nights we do as, well, I’m a conga player for a reason, heh.
You will soon bring the show to the Uk. What are you looking forward to most about visiting?
Black pudding, fried Mars bars, Whisky, and the loudest, most passionate Chuck fans on the planet…or so I hear that’s the case. I was actually in the UK in February on vacation and had a chance to hang out with Bob Anderson a great dude from Edinburgh, Scotland. You know how sometimes you meet people and you just click and you know you were meant to get rowdy and cause a ruckus together? Yeah, so Scotland, you’re on notice. Throw Frank Quinn in the mix, (happy birthday today, bud), some amazing area bands like Lords Of Bastard (go get their I’m Fun EP) and Girobabies, along with Chuck and it’s a party.
Also, for an American who grew up imagining England as this fantastical place far away where magical bands like The Beatles and Sabbath and Zeppelin come from…not to mention that whole adventure about a ring happened, and now I’m coming to spend a month exploring and experiencing it all and meeting you folks. I want to tour Nottingham with Gary Callard, meet Carol and Midge and their dogs, watch DJ JIM BOB get the dance floor bumping, and I want to drink at every pub in the land until I understand your foot(ball) fetish.
Now, a moment of complaint…why Ireland, why?! We wanted to visit your shores so badly, but you haven’t opened your doors to us. I’m 33.3% Irish…doesn’t that count for anything?
The new Indoria album 'You’ll Never Make The Six' is due for release in the UK in September through InfiniteHive. Chuck has a role on every track. What can we expect to hear?
So, three years ago we released the disc, There’s A Gleam. Chuck came in to do guest vocals on a song and we realized that he and my wife (Michele, vocalist for Indoria) sound awesome together. Adam Probert (bass, engineer, founder of Indoria) and I pitched him an idea the next year about doing a one-off studio project focused on mellower/acoustic tunes that he and she would sing. He agreed. We started writing and demoing stuff in late 2014-ish. By mid 2015 we had several songs “ready” to record.
Now, Chuck lives life on his own terms, at his own pace, on his schedule. So we sat and waited a while, but ultimately the itch to make more music won over and thus Indoria started working on new material. When Chuck became available the songs had all sort of blurred together, so we decided to just put it out under the Indoria moniker. I sing a couple, Chuck sings a couple, and my wife sings a couple and then we each do background and smaller parts on each other’s tunes.
In April of 2016 Chuck and I started practicing for his acoustic tour. During one of those practices he started noodling around with a song he had played at a coffee shop a few times doing solo shows. Not knowing what it was, I started slapping the conga (not a euphemism). Chuck asked me to keep the beat and we played it several times that day and we’ve performed it at every acoustic show thus far. We did a break-neck paced recording of the song and added some extra instrumentation by Donald Spak on sort of a lead guitar part and Chuck doing a few “noise” guitar parts. We added it onto the Indoria disc, though it really is a Chuck Mosley tune with a little of our flavor added.
Outside of that, the disc has six new songs that range from 80’s British synth rock minus the synth, folk, rock, pop, and even a lullaby. My five-year-old son provides guest vocals on one of the tunes, which means a lot to me as the song is about missing family while out on the road. There is a remix of the first song we did with Chuck on the American version of the disc, but we are cooking up an exclusive UK edition through InfiniteHive which will have more bonus tracks, remixes by some people you’ll recognize, and possibly a live version of Bella Donna the new song we’ve been playing on Chuck’s acoustic tour. That is, if you guys would want that? Hell, the photos by Jay Byrd that we used for the booklet are stunning enough, the music is just a bonus really.
Have you been recording in between your shows?
Ha, we just finished 16 shows in 17 nights. We haven’t been doing anything between shows besides driving and indulging in the occasional shower. Most of the material was recorded at Adam’s studio in 2015, with a last run of vocals this spring.
Will you be taking this project out on the road?
Indoria was very active back in the day playing shows and whatnot, but it’s not like there’s a huge demand for us out there. It would be difficult to pry the members away from steady jobs and families to play without major interest. I assume Chuck will keep playing Bella Donna and perhaps we can incorporate more of the tunes into his set until he goes back to VUA. I do think we may open for Chuck at some point here in Cleveland.
For now the goal is to get this disc out into the world and start fresh with new tunes, so hopefully it doesn’t take three years to get the next collection done. Our line up tends to change between each disc, so right now, we’re just looking around to see who wants to jump in and be a part of the team. One of my favorite guitarists, Mike Martini (unified culture, the alter boys, original pranksta, mudfoot, and Venomin James) threw his hat in the ring recently and I think that would be a blast! We typically have a more diverse sound with dense keys and extra instrumentation but as You’ll Never Make The Six was envisioned as a stripped-down one-off type project we kept it simple. Now we can go back to the headache that is 14 synth tracks, 9 guitar parts, 47 random noise tracks, three vocalists, and a partridge in a percussion tree.
Feel free to check out douglasesper.com I have our first 2-3 discs up for free to stream the tunes. If you like it, tell someone about us. If you love it, check out itunes, indoria.bandcamp.com, amazon, or other fine retailers to purchase our new disc.