DL: If you're into jambands‚ it's a really nice thing to not have to cross the border to see a show and not have to travel hours and hours to see a show. If an American band comes up and plays where you live - it's like this never happens - it's just awesome.
MM: Right. So‚ Nero...I was told a while ago that it was against the law to ask this question‚ but I'm just curious. (laughter) I know it's the cliché question - about how you came up with that name‚ but I'm going to try to make it interesting.
DL: Okay...good.
MM: I was reading up on Nero‚ the Roman Emperor and…
DL: He was a real evil bastard. (laughs)
MM: Right‚ a real evil bastard who watched the city burn while he sat and composed music. I thought that was fascinating. (laughs)
DL: That's where the name came from. A good friend of ours‚ Steve‚ said to me one day a long time ago...I think it was 1997‚ before we were an instrumental improvisational band. He said if he was to have his own band‚ he would name it Nero. He didn't play anything so it was more of a suggestion. I asked him why he would name it Nero and his response was that there was this Roman Emperor named Nero who fiddled while Rome burned to the ground. I thought‚ "Wow‚ that's a cool concept." I looked at it like: as bad as things are‚ you still find joy in music and you still find release in music. And when things are terrible‚ you can still find beauty through music. So I thought that was a great band name. So with me being ignorant to Roman history‚ I didn't know that Nero was this evil guy that put the heads of Christians on stakes and bathed in their blood. (laughter) So after a while I thought - I wonder if people think we're a death metal band. So that's where the name comes from‚ but we don't play up that imagery. (laughter)
MM: I like the other concept better: No matter how bad life can suck‚ you always have music.
DL: Yeah...and it's true for us. No matter what's going on in our lives‚ we have this band that has been our focus‚ our work‚ play‚ love‚ and everything. So whatever else is going on‚ we have this. And we're trying to bring that to other people too - that we can provide some kind of escape to whatever is bad is someone's life. There's always some kind of insight‚ joy and happiness to be found in music.
MM: Yeah‚ that makes it worth it.
DL: So...no‚ we haven't had any Christian groups target us. (laughter)
MM: Right...that might be a good marketing tool.
DL: When the crowds really drop we'll bring out the fake blood. We could be the only satanic jamband or something like that...you know‚ subliminal messages in the music and stuff. (laughter)
MM: That's hilarious. But you know‚ back about five years ago I went to a Phish show at Vernon Downs‚ right outside of Syracuse‚ and I was walking to the gate to go into the show and there were all these people holding signs and protesting. They said‚ "Follow Jesus‚ don't follow Phish." And I was like‚ "What is going on?" I don't know - it was like this idea that we were this mindless herd that follows and worships this band. It was really weird‚ but...
DL: My fiancé is a school teacher and she's really into music - even though she's not a musician‚ music is everything to her. She's always trying to turn on all these other teachers to music. You know‚ like‚ "You have to listen to this‚ and you have to listen to this." And there are a lot of people that just have no interest in it...and it's probably people like that who could protest like that‚ not realizing how important music is to some people's lives. It's not like they're a mindless herd that needs something to follow‚ it's all about the music‚ and music can bring people happiness and it can be one of the most important things in their lives. I guess there are a lot of people out there who can't understand that...like it can't just be about music‚ it has to be about something else.
MM: Right‚ like people are hiding from something. That's the thing that really turned me off about that‚ because if these people really understood what they believed in‚ then they'd be happy about the fact that people are getting together for this communal celebration...which for the most part is a peaceful gathering. Sure‚ you have your bad eggs and there's some ugly stuff when you get that many people together‚ but for the most part it's a positive celebration. It's unfortunate that people don't understand the basis of their religion‚ but I just had fun with it. My attitude was that I might as well be a wise-ass about it. "Huh? Follow Jesus...where's Jesus playing? Can Jesus rip like Trey? Maybe I'd pay thirty bucks for a ticket‚ go on tour for a week." (laughter) It's like - sorry for having some fun. I guess that's a little bit offensive‚ but still‚ it's a little bit offensive to show up at a Phish show‚ or anywhere‚ telling me what I'm doing is wrong.
DL: How offensive would it be to show up at church with a sign that said‚ "Follow Phish‚ not Jesus." But religion can be taken so seriously...obviously.
MM: Yeah‚ the world is about to end because of how serious it is. (laughter) That seems to be the underlying conflict in the world: My God is better than you God. Why can't we just get together and understand that it's all good and our underlying beliefs and philosophies are the same? (laughs)
DL: I just learned this interesting fact; maybe you already know this‚ but Muslims‚ Jews and Christians all take the Old Testament of the Bible to be truth. They all believe in that‚ and after that is where they have their divergences. But they all hold the Old Testament as a common thing...and it's strange that there is so much division after that point.