You may know Trevor Moore from his sketch group and show The Whitest Kids U’ Know, which ran for 5 seasons on Fuse and IFC. If you haven’t watched it, look up the “Abe Lincoln” sketch. It’s good, we promise. Trevor has been touring the country performing songs from his 2013 album Drunk Texts To Myself in addition to material from his new album and comedy/music special of the same name, High in Church. The musical event premieres on Comedy Central on March 6th. We had a chat with Trevor about Christian rock concerts, the worst place to get high, and the best way to deal with writer’s block.
Paste: What music inspired your special?
Trevor Moore: I was really listening heavily to The Band. Have you ever seen The Last Waltz?
Paste: No, but I’ve heard of it.
Moore: It’s one of the best rock documentaries that’s ever been made. Martin Scorsese made it. One of the songs from High in Church is me trying to do a song that kind of sounds like The Band. I recorded the album up in Woodstock, NY, which is where they did a lot of their stuff.
Paste: You mention country music in your special. Did you like country music at all at any point? Most people don’t like to admit they do.
Moore: It definitely wasn’t something I liked when I was a kid. It was everywhere and this was like the Garth Brooks era. It actually took me going off to college to kind of get into country music. I got into the more classic stuff, like Willie Nelson.
Paste: Are there any musicians you’re dying to work with or that you want to duet with?
Moore: A lot of people I like are dead. Gerry Rafferty: dead. Warren Zevon: dead. It would be awesome to do a song with Trent Reznor and Willie Nelson.
Paste: Your parents are Christian rock singers and you used to go on tour with them growing up. How’s the crowd different at a Christian rock concert versus the crowd at a punk show? Less moshing?
Moore: In my recollection, they’re just like giant churches. It’s not rowdy. I’m sure there are some that are, but for the most part there’s no tailgating. It’s a tame crowd.
Paste: So it’s really just like those infomercials for Christian rock CDs? Everyone’s very calm.
Moore: Yeah. There’s a lot of swaying and hands in the air.
Paste: Do Christian rock singers have groupies or is that not a thing?
Moore: Well my parents didn’t, but they had people follow them. Some people would follow them around and went to all the shows. There were some people who would just get obsessed with them. A couple would come to live with us for a while. My parents would take them in because they thought they could help them.
Paste: The music video for “High In Church” was great. Did you ever actually get high in church?
Moore: No that never actually happened to me. It’s mainly based off of my friend Sam from The Whitest Kids U’ Know. That happened to him when we were in college. He went home for Christmas and he and his friends got super high. Then his mom came in and was like, “we have to go to midnight mass.” He was like, “oh shit, I forgot.” Then he was way too high in church. I thought it was a fun story. I’ve been in places where I should not have gotten high.
Paste: Like where?
Moore: I was too high one time and I needed to get inside so I pulled into a restaurant. It was a Rocky and Bullwinkle’s restaurant, based off the cartoon characters. I don’t think they exist anymore. It was down in the South. I had never really been to one before. Anyway, I sat down at this table and I was really paranoid, trying to gather my wits. Apparently, the walls would open every half an hour at this restaurant, which happened to be right where I was sitting. Two giant, animatronic Rocky and Bullwinkles come out of the wall and they do a whole dinner show like a “who’s on first” routine and they’re talking. The reason the table that I took was open was because it was right in front of the stage. Rocky and Bullwinkle came out of the wall and stood right over my table and started riffing. Everyone at the restaurant was staring right at me because that’s where the show was. That was the worst.
Paste: That whole story sounds like a music video waiting to happen.
Moore: I know! High at Rocky and Bullwinkle’s is a little less relatable than High at Church.
Paste: Were all the songs in your special a compilation of work from over time or was it material written specifically for High in Church?
Moore: It was primarily songs from my new album, which is also called High In Church and comes out March 10th. It’s primarily that I took a couple songs from my last album and everything else is from the new album. Drunk Texts To Myself came out and did well and then Comedy Central said they’d do another one. I basically started writing for this album and then found out they were going to give me a special, which was great.
Paste: Are there any activities that help inspire you when you’re trying to write music?
Moore: I’m constantly writing down melodies or tunes that get stuck in my head. I have tons of recordings of me humming stuff. Once I think of a concept for a song and I can’t think of a melody for it, I’ll go through those tunes that I have. Like, “oh this could be the chorus.” I usually write the choruses first and then the hook. Then I fill out the verses and stuff. The hardest part of the writing process is the choruses and the hooks and then actually building it all the way through. If I feel like I’m hitting a wall, I’ll just take a shower. For some reason, I think clearer in the shower. I’ve read about why that is. It has something to do with driving and taking showers. It’s like an activity, but your brain doesn’t need to be completely engaged because it’s muscle memory. It actually frees up your brain to think about things. So when I’m writing a difficult script or a song and I’m a hitting a wall, I’ll take like five or six showers a day. That’s what I do for writer’s block.
Paste: I’ve heard running helps too, but I don’t like running. Showers are easier.
Moore: I’m a very clean person.
Paste: Comedians go to open mics when they want to try out new material. How do you test out new songs to see if they’re funny?
Moore: I tour pretty much year round, like once a month. Usually if I have a new song, I’ll just work it into the set list. It’s usually all stuff that I know works and then I’ll throw in a new one. If that one works, it becomes part of the set.
Paste: I have a few questions about Kitty History. It was my favorite part of your special. In a way, I feel like I was tricked into learning history. Where did that idea come from?
Moore: That’s one of my favorite songs on the album. I’m a big fan of conspiracy theories, even ones that I don’t believe in. I’m just fascinated by them. With this one I was like, let me just take the stuff that’s pretty provable, the stuff I don’t think is crazy that I think actually happened. Let me line it all up and connect the dots between them. You just take stuff that’s easily Google-able and you put it together, and there’s a story. I wanted to write it all into a song. It just became an exercise I was doing. So I had this song and it was cool, but not that funny. I didn’t know what to do with it. Then I thought, what if I used the juxtaposition of putting it to this really happy, upbeat Beach Boys song? Then all of a sudden, it’s just this very dark subject matter that’s being delivered with this surf sound. So I did that. Then I thought, what if the whole thing was cats? I just used the multi-universe theory because mathematically, there had to exist a planet where everything happened like this but everybody was a cat. I used the cats as a third layer, as an entry part to this dark history of the United States. Then it all came together. There were also corny jokes in between like, “Christopher Columbus pooped in the sand.” I was writing it to try to lure people in so they’d think, “ok, this is just gonna be little cat jokes.” Then when you see kitty JFK getting his head blown off, we’ve taken a turn.
Paste: Are there any other historical events that could be reenacted by cats?
Moore: Yeah. I’d love to pitch an Adult Swim show where it’s all of history with cats. You could do everything. The Revolutionary Way, The Bubonic Plague…
Paste: You read some great texts during the Drunk Texts To Myself song. What’s the weirdest drunk text you’ve sent yourself?
Moore: Actually, I can go through my texts right now and find a good one. I used to keep a notepad and wrote stuff down. I woke up once in the middle of the night and I had this great idea in a dream. I thought it was so brilliant so I wrote it down and went back to bed. The next day I woke up and I read it. It just said, “pajama boy thinks he’s John Lennon,” which made no sense. Ok here’s a good text that I just found. I’ve never seen this one before. It’s from a month ago. I texted myself at 1am, “cats seemingly know English less than other animals.
Paste: That’s a lot to think about.
Moore: I don’t know where that came from, but I actually 100% agree with that. I can tell my dogs to go outside and they will, but I can’t tell my cats shit.
Paste: Are there any sketch groups you’d like to see get back together?
Moore: Kids In the Hall, although I don’t think they broke up. Kids in The Hall and Monty Python were the people that I always looked up to. Monty Python just played their last show. I went to the theater. It was multi-telecast to all these movie theaters across the country so I watched their last show. Kids in The Hall are the nicest guys. Dave Foley was actually in the special. He’s awesome.
Anita Flores is the two time raffle-winning recipient of an iPod mini and a 25% off coupon to Bertucci’s. She has also written for Paste Magazine, Nerve, and Portable TV. Follow her on Twitter for the latest updates on pizza and Kelsey Grammer’s career: @anitajewtina.