Gary James' Interview With Dustin Lentz Of
The Doors Tribute Act
They've played all over the Midwest and are referred to as "The Ultimate Doors Experience." We are talking about Moonlight Drive. Dustin Lentz portrays Ray Manzarek in the group.
Q - Dustin, you refer to this band of yours as an "Experience Band". That's a new one for me. I haven't heard anyone use that term before. What do you have against "Tribute Band"?
A - I guess you could say it includes Tribute, but more than anything our main focus is not to sound like The Doors do on their studio albums. Our main focus is to give someone who comes to the performance the full experience of a 'live' Doors concert, which is extremely different from what you would hear on their albums. So that goes from the emotional side of what somebody would have been witnessing when maybe Jim Morrison freaked-out, lost control of himself. He didn't look at it like that. He looked at it like that's how he presented himself through art. That's the experience we're trying to give to the audience, honesty.
Q - I'm assuming you're too young to have ever seen The Doors 'live'. Would I be correct about that?
A - Yes. Definitely.
Q - You probably watched the videos and read all the books about them.
A - Oh, yeah. I grew up obsessed about them. It's kind of classic music is what I listen to anyway. Honestly, it was the first Rock group I ever grew up on listening to. It was the first piano tablature, outside of classic music, that I ever got was Doors' music.
Q - How long has Moonlight Drive been performing?
A - About seventeen years.
Q - And before that you were doing what?
A - It was mainly just Blues acts, Jazz stuff.
Q - Why did you decide to put Moonlight Drive together? Was there more money in it?
A - No, not at all. It started one night, my father and I had actually been doing an open jam at a place called The Road House in Wichita, Kansas. It was an old road house on the side of the highway. Awesome Blues place, though. My Dad and I obviously loved The Doors and we had this singer show up wanting to get up and sing some Blues songs. He told my Dad he wanted to do Doors and he looked over at me and immediately we went into a couple of songs. The guy, it was scary how amazingly close he sounded to Jim Morrison and that was Rob. With the stylings I had down for the last ten years before that, same with him, we just decided it would be a real fun idea to do and it was just immediately successful once we put it together.
Q - Immediately successful?
A - Yeah. The first show that we did in Wichita at The Road House, we sold it out. I mean, it's only six hundred people, but it was shocking that people were that into The Doors.
Q - Must be that people are really into 'live' music in Wichita?
A - You can always hear the typical cover bands, a lot of Blues bands, but don't have any tribute bands, cover bands. Don't have a lot of original acts here, unfortunately. So maybe it was lacking at that time, so people were kind of excited to see something like that.
Q - How many gigs do you do a year?
A - It's probably thirty. Maybe two or three times a month at the most.
Q - In and around the Wichita area?
A - It's mostly outside the Wichita area. Being the tribute band, it's hard to keep playing monthly in and around town. You don't want to burn people out. So maybe a few times a year we're playing Wichita. The rest of it's outside of Kansas usually. It's all throughout the Midwest.
Q - Have you ever met Ray Manzarek?
A - Not Ray Manzarek, but we have met Robbie Krieger. That was a time when me and Rob, who plays the part of Jim Morrison, went out to California. We were talking to a guy who was looking to do some bookings for us. He was the keyboard player for one of Robbie's groups, long after The Doors. A Jazz / Blues type band. But he was a keyboard player for them and knew him. We were in a studio there and were invited to come out and get to hang out with him for a little bit, talk to him, which was pretty unbelievable.
Q - What have you come to appreciate about The Doors that maybe you didn't appreciate in the beginning?
A - I have to appreciate the courage of the music and the members playing the music. We have had many shows when Rob, who plays Jim, gets into that part so much that he's just out of his mind. It's poetry and madness. As a band, it's hard for me to imagine, in front of ten or fifteen thousand people, when your front man can no longer perform and you're up there yourself and have to carry on all the responsibility. By listening to the music you can never feel that, but when you go through that yourself, it's a huge trip. Really changes how you respect what they did.