The Mojo Slide play “Original filthy blues rock ‘n’ roll mixing a bit of alternative rock with a tasty dollop of soul and country with fresh and funky riffage!” New single ‘To Kill A Monkey’ has just been released and we caught up with rhythm guitarist Matt to get some background on the band and talk about the new single. Catch up with Matt below…
What are the origins of The Mojo Slide? How long have you been playing together?
The band formed in 2011. Mark (the lead singer) and Mikey (the drummer) knew each other from work… not that Mikey knew how to play drums at that point, he learnt especially for the band. The rest was filled in from adverts online, internet dating for musicians!
How did you feel performing your first gig as a band? And how was it?!
First gigs… unless you’re a superband who have all been professional for years, I think everyone looks back on them and is a little glad how much they’ve improved as a band! This one was before I joined, but I know that Mark got food poisoning and immediately ran outside and threw up on the pavement. The gig was acoustic and was ok but a bit quiet. One of the tracks we’d only finished writing a few days before, ‘The Sky Is Falling In’. Funnily enough, whilst the album version is electric, the acoustic version stayed with us and featured on our acoustic EP.
What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe The Mojo Slide?
Filthy blues rock ‘n roll… a little bit of rock ‘n soul… A review from Louder Than War said that we’ve “dragged the 1970s kicking and screaming into 2020, and it couldn’t be more welcomed”. We’ll take that.
‘To Kill a Monkey’ is the new single, I believe it’s a track that’s been kicking around for some time now, but only just recently recorded, considering that it’s a total banger, what took so long?!
Yeah, it was written about 10 years ago. I can’t remember exactly why it didn’t feature on our debut album ‘Twist Your Bones’, I guess like many new acts, there are those tracks that heavily feature in the live set but it doesn’t feel right to put it on an album yet. This track is a regular set-closer, and it feels great to have a worthy version of it on this album.
In the DIY promo video for the single, drummer Mikey is filmed in the toilet wearing a morph suit, and Donald Trump pops up on the harmonica! Looks like you guys had fun with this one?!
Yeah, we definitely had fun. I think it would have shown in the video if we didn’t. The song itself is a bit bonkers and a straight-laced video by a band taking themselves too seriously just wouldn’t have fitted. So we dialled in a bit of madness, ate some bananas, and let the good times roll.
The track is lifted from your most recent album ‘Manic Panic’, have you revisited the album since its release? Or is it a case of it’s out there, move on to the next?
We are really proud of this album, and I’m sure many of the tracks are going to feature in our future live sets (when we’re finally allowed to gig again!). That said, we’ve got about an album’s worth of new songs, some of which we managed to try out in gigs before the lockdown. We definitely want to hone some of these new ones, live, that haven’t been played yet.
In what ways has the band grown since releasing the debut album ‘Twist Your Bones’ a while back?
I think we’re about the same height, maybe a little wider and with a few grey hairs. Seriously though, I think we’re tighter playing together and in our writing, with more focus on which ways we can try and experiment and push our sound forward. We have a better idea of what works and know about what we’ve done before that we really want to hang onto.
The band released a four-track EP of classic Americana covers including your own slant on Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ and Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues’, do you get nervous releasing covers of such iconic pieces of music? And if there is a better set of lyrics than “When I was just a baby, my mama told me/ Son, always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns/But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die/ When I hear that whistle blowin’, I hang my head and cry”: what are they?
We relish giving our own slant on them. Whilst there is an expectation for many original bands to play covers, and we like how they engage a crowd, we insist on trying to give our own slant on them. We’re not a covers band. One cover we do live, that isn’t on the Americana EP, is a full-on mash-up of ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ and ‘House Of The Rising Sun’
There are so many good lyrics, a classic one Mike likes is ”War, children, it’s just a shot away, It’s just a shot away”. Great line, great track, the Rolling Stones really are a great band. Also, Mark loves the line “As soon as you’re born, they make you feel small, by giving you no time instead of it all, til the pain is so big you feel nothing at all” from the legend John Lennon. Mikey likes Baby Shark, that’s why he plays drums.
In terms of a similar audience: who would be the ideal act for The Mojo Slide support?
Can we get Oasis to reform? We supported a Johnny Cash tribute act once, which fitted pretty well too.
What are your first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
I don’t think there was ever a lightbulb moment, I just always felt that it was something I should do. So I started with violin lessons and never looked back.
Personally, who has been the biggest influence on you becoming a musician? Would it be a teacher, a family member, another musician?
I really don’t know. Maybe my first violin teacher? Though slowly learning all the songs by Muse and Soundgarden in my bedroom as a teenager definitely channelled me more to playing loud rock!
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
Muse at the Olympic Stadium. They always put on an amazing show. Not a fan-boy (honest).
What current social issue are you particularly passionate about?
Probably a toss-up between homelessness and bereavement counselling. It’s perhaps unsurprising how mental health provision (or lack of) feeds into a lot of that.
What album do you have in your collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
All the band members probably have some interesting saved albums. I have one called ‘Elegies for Theremin and Voice’ by Carolina Eyck. I wish I could play theremin like she does, check her out on YouTube, her cover of Morricone’s Ecstasy of Gold’ is incredible.
Although 2020 was a year to forget, there was some great music released; what would be your album of 2020?
You’d definitely get a different answer from every member of the band on this one. I’ll go for something a little more obscure, there’s a band called Patrón, who released an album called Patrón. It was produced by Alain Johannes who has played and worked with Queens Of The Stoneage. The album has a really cool vibe.
Who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
Further to the question about lyrics, whilst Elbow are a pretty big band, Guy Garvey probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a lyricist.
What are your plans for 2021 should COVID ever disappear?!
Will it ever disappear? We just want to gig again, it’s been way too long.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?