A Six String Aspiration
By Brad Miller
A colorful array of beer bottles complement the overflowing ashtray sitting on the coffee table in front of Max Moscoe as he plugs his guitar into his beat-up Peavey Amp.
Moscoe has been working every day, trying to get back “into the swing of things” after he fractured the metacarpal in his left hand snowboarding twice in the past year. “It’s hard trying to get my hand to do what it used to,” he says smiling as he moves hesitantly up the fret board of his Tobacco Sunburst Gibson Les Paul. “I still have the muscle memory, now it’s just a matter of battling with the physical limitations that come with not being able to move my fingers.”
The University of Oregon student started playing piano when he was 7, picked up the guitar at age 13, and since then hasn’t once doubted his calling in life. “I think of music as a force of nature,” he says while looking down at the two thousand dollar Les Paul in his hands. “It’s like a river, and it’s my job as a musician to be the banks that guide it.” This ideology of being able to “guide” his own music has not only inspired him to pursue the profession of his choice but has been one of the main components that brought this Portland native to Eugene.
Moscoe studies musical technology with professor Don Latarski, a finger-style guitarist who, in his twenty three years at the UO has made an impression as one of the most influential guitarist that the music school has to offer. Through working with Moscoe on a personal level, Latarski is able to describe the aspiring musician as being one of the most dedicated and naturally gifted students he’s had the pleasure to work with throughout his career. Latarski serves as a source of inspiration to Mosoce, sharing his own professional experiences and working with him every day to develop talents such as mixing and producing studio quality tracks.
Sitting alone most nights in his small living room that he shares with two other roommates, the 22-year-old student is surrounded by expensive equipment and the constant reminder of how hard it is to put oneself through college. He doesn’t make much playing shows, sometimes only enough to pay his bar tab at the end of the night, but giving up on his music is like giving up on his future. Student loans and the couple of hundred dollars he makes each month playing at local night clubs is enough to keep creditors from calling and some food on the table, and that’s more than enough for Mosoce, just as long as he has a roof over his head and a guitar in his hands.
Despite trying to remain a normal college student, Moscoe realizes that graduating from a university gives him the best chance of succeeding in life. “You can teach yourself to play music,” he says, “but having someone that has already been there helps you progress to a point where it would’ve taken you years on your own.” Mocsoe was in a number of bands before he realized that his future wasn’t going to be in trying to “find” what sounds good, rather it was in truly “understanding” what sounds good.
Since becoming a Duck in the fall of 2011, Mosoce has been in the lime light of numerous festival appearances and late night local gigs. His bands, Tribal Spectrum and The Grandparents, have become a must see among the electronica crowd, but he says that late nights partying and playing shows don’t get in the way of his school work.
“I try to keep things professional” he says. “I like to party after the shows but I always know there’s something else that needs to get done.” Mosoce recalls arriving home on countless occasions, just after sunrise, grabbing his books and trying to study for an upcoming quiz in his 10 a.m. class.
He believes that playing music isn’t just something that is rewarding because other people acknowledge his hard work, it’s the self satisfaction that is the ultimate drive for him. Playing music has become a form of mediation that not only “puts things in perspective” but has become a reflection of who he is a person. Exploring what’s going on in his mind has become a challenging but rewarding hobby; “it’s a hard earned realization of [his] soul.” Being able to take something from the Gregorian Chants he was required to study and incorporate that with his upbeat fusion of jammy and electronica music proves not only to himself, but to his audience that he’s really learned something throughout his time as a student.
Although being with other people and facilitating a good time is rewarding in its own, Moscoe doesn’t let a good time stand in the way of succeeding. He has bills to pay, the books on the coffee table won’t read themselves. His guitar needs new strings, he needs to replace his beat-up amp, and the degree he’s expected to have earned by next fall won’t have his band name on it, it will have his name and his name only.