Simply put, an engine is known for transforming copious amounts of energy into a mechanical force, thus creating motion. Engines are used in various forms, powering locomotives and vehicles, which enable the ability to go places and propel the next destination into sight.

New Orleans native and esteemed drummer Stanton Moore compares his approach behind the kit to the delineated machine. In the following interview, Moore elicits this metaphor when asked to label his role in a band, providing context on his ever-adapting position, which shifts based on genre, lineup and setting. The discussion then turns to Crescent City’s lush live music scene and an artist’s decision when narrowing down gigs. The conversation then offers hope for fans of the Krasno/Moore Project before confirming a new album from Galactic, which features “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma Thomas joining as a collaborator.

So, rest your head against the window and let the engine do the work.

Chug-a-chug-a…Full speed ahead.

As a drummer, how would you describe or label your role in a band, drawing on the fact that you play in various formats?

I see myself as the engine that is propelling the music forward. Sometimes, that needs to be a revved-up engine when it’s a high-powered funk thing, but I’ve been spending a lot of time lately playing more, swinging–for lack of a better word–more jazz-focused stuff. I have a piano trio that plays Mondays in New Orleans at the Columns Hotel, and then I’ve been playing at least one Tuesday a month at Harbor with my piano trio and then one or more Tuesdays with Peter Harris.

Peter Harris is a great bass player who plays four nights a week at the Bayou Bar at the  Pontchartrain Hotel. So I get to play with all these great New Orleans musicians, and if I’m playing more of a ballad, which I’ve grown to really love, it’s a completely different approach than propelling a funk band.

When I’m playing a ballad I’m still the engine propelling the music forward. Or, more like I’m purring, and we’re at a very low revving, just gliding along the coast instead of propelling a funk band.

So, I think of myself like the engine, and sometimes I need to be high octane. Maybe we’re driving along the coast at night with the moon visible above us, but I still have to keep things moving forward.

That’s great imagery. Has it changed throughout the years and span of your career?

As I get older and more comfortable, I am keeping that low rev going. It’s definitely something that comes with maturity and experience, but I’m as happy now swinging out, playing shuffles, and playing ballads in front of 30-50 people as I am playing in front of 50,000 at Jazz Fest. That takes a lot of musical growth.

I’m also now in my 50s. So it took me until I was in my 50s to get comfortable with that, but I love doing it. In both instances, I see myself as the engine, propelling different kinds of vehicles for different settings.

One of the perks of being in a city like New Orleans, with mass opportunities for performances and collaborations, must be the offers. How do you narrow down proposals and decide which to accept?

It comes down to three elements that I consider: the music, the camaraderie, and the compensation. If I’m getting to play incredible music with great camaraderie, then it’s like I’m not focused on the compensation. It pays what it pays, and that’s fine. It helps me grow musically, and I’m getting to play with some amazing musicians, so those two things are very high–I love doing that.

I’m noticing I’m growing as a musician by doing those on a regular basis, on Monday night with my piano trio, occasional Tuesday nights with my piano trio at Snug, and occasionally gigs at the Bayou. All that stuff is helping me grow. And then I’m getting more calls to play more of that stuff, which helps me grow as a musician. But then, if I have to leave my hometown and travel, which is challenging, I want to make sure the compensation is worth it.

It’s gotta be two out of the three are hitting for me to really consider taking an offer. We often say when we’re traveling musicians: We’ll play, we love to play, but what we get paid for is the travel and the unexpected challenges that come with the travel.

It’s not all gonna be 100%, but it’s gotta make sense.

That lends to my next question, hitting on the element of camaraderie: Are there particular standout collaborative live moments? Artists you are or were particularly keen to work with?

I’ve been so fortunate, and there are other people I’d love to play with, but I am also very grateful that I’ve gotten to play with so many of my musical heroes, including Maceo, George Porter Jr., Dr. John.

Pivoting, I praise your Book of Queens project with Eric Krasno. Considering your approach with that record, pulling and covering female-originated material, do you have plans to continue said motif?

Kraz and I are working on another record, and we’re both so busy right now. We’re definitely planning on making another with that project. Exactly what that’s gonna be, we’re not sure. But definitely working together with Eric Finland. Eric Finland is going through some health stuff right now; he’s doing good. He’s just got to focus, so we’ve got Joe Ashlar playing with us—Joe is an amazing organ player. We plan on doing another record with me, Kraz, and Eric Finland.

It sounds like a sizable amount of your time has been spent in studios as of late. I’ve heard rumblings that’s the case for Galactic as well?

Speaking of female artists, we are working on a record with Irma Thomas, the New Orleans queen of soul. It’s going to be ten songs with Irma, so this will be the first record that we’ve ever done that focuses on all vocals with one artist.

We are very fortunate to have Jelly with us. Jelly has been very involved in making this record. She has demoed the songs for Irma, then Irma comes in and records them. Then Jelly sings background, Jelly and Josh, another great singer who’s kind of a mentor to many New Orleans singers.

He’s got an eight-octave vocal range, and everybody just knows who he is…Everybody hires him and he’s got this huge personality. So Jelly and Josh go and overdub backgrounds to the Irma vocals, and so it’s by far one of the strongest things we’ve ever done. And it’s gonna be a whole new record with new material. I think nine originals and one cover.

In the recording realm, I heard you released some albums in vinyl format. Can you talk about that trio of drops [III, Emphasis! (On Parenthesis) and Groove Alchemy]?

I have this organ trio, Robert Walter, Will Bernard, and I. We released those three records on vinyl and I’m releasing those three records on digital as well.

Those records were all out, but now I own the masters. They were reverted to me, so we re-released them on vinyl and digital.

As if you don’t already pack your schedule, you still muster opportunities to offer drum lessons.

For any drummers out there who want to check it out, my online drum academy is growing and doing better all the time. And then there’s my YouTube channel. I want people to be aware of that, and I do a lot of drum lessons behind the scenes.

Working all the time, growing and all that stuff, it’s really fun and exciting.