'Prepare For The Ultimate Barnstormin' Party!'
Singer Kevin Steele formed the Mojo Gurus in 1999 in Tampa Bay, FL. The band cut their teeth in Florida’s seedier rock and blues clubs and quickly earned a reputation based on their hot and nasty live performances. See, the Gurus play good ol’ American hoodoo voodoo, born on the bayou style rock-n-roll with a classic taste that makes most of today's alternative flavor of the month bands sound downright silly.
The band features the songwriting of singer Kevin Steele (whose eclectic influences and sardonic wit have earned him comparisons to a young Bob Dylan) and the raunch and roll guitar playing of Jeff Vitolo. Drummer Tommy Weder and bassist Vinnie Granese lay down a rhythm thicker than mud from a Louisiana swamp.
Together they mix all their favorite ingredients: blues, psychedelic, hillbilly, glam and gospel into one goat’s head soup of a sound served simmering!
With a new CD due out September 20th on Empire Musicwerks, I recently chatted with lead singer Kevin Steele, and first wondered why the time was right to unleash the new album, Shakin' In The Barn? "Because Empire Musicwerks/Universal had the good sense to sign us and chose to release this album on September 20. The timing had nothing to do with the band, we've been ready for years!"
Was it always to be called Shakin' In The Barn? "Yes, and after you listen to the CD I'm sure you'll agree there could really have been no other title!"
Which of the tracks taken from the new album do you feel encapsulates MOJO GURUS at their finest? "I think the entire CD represents the Gurus at their Guruviest but 'Who's Been Driving My Cadillac?','Baddest Mothers' Son' and the title song 'Shakin' In The Barn' would make a nice little Mojo primer."
And, while we're on the subject of revealing things, is it true that you have such a sardonic wit that it could cut glass?! "No, I'm a total dullard and I doubt if it could cut mustard, let alone glass ... and the last time I revealed something about himself, I spent the night in jail!"
How did you all come to find yourselves and then manage to stay together through the ups and downs of becoming known in today's market? "None of us were lost and ... duct tape."
Where does the bands name originate ... and what other choices could it so easily have been? "Mojo from the old, black, voodoo vernacular, a Guru is a spiritual leader of course. You do the math. We thought about calling ourselves the Rolling Stones but who would ever buy a record by a band with as stupid a name as that. Yeah, that was a close one!"
Have you a funny (or inspirational!) story to tell of just one of your musical encounters among the many journey's that you have taken thus far? "Sure, I recently was put in touch with an author out of Chicago by the name of Matt Jones who has written three vampire novels and it all began with a short story he wrote called 'Night Run' which was inspired by our song 'Race With the Devil' I now have a literary vampire counterpart named Steele. I've always been a bit of a horror enthusiast, vampires in particular. So, I found that very flattering."
All your songs seem smothered in personal realism, but can they all truly be such ... or are some just fanciful stories constructed for the listener's pleasure? "I'm a song writer, what do you think? But, thank you for what I consider to be a high compliment."
OK, what "cheesy" '80s song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "Is this a trick question? Why would anybody cover a song they thought was cheesy?!"
If there were just 3 words that described MOJO GURUS' music, what would they be? "Rock and Roll."
What would you say has been your crowning musical achievement thus far? "Well, I just made an album with a guy who's produced John Lennon, The Who, David Bowie, The New York Dolls, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick. So, that was pretty exciting."
Finally, if you were asked to record a single for charity, and had to choose 3 other musicians to aid you in the project (no one from your band!), who would they be, what instruments would they play, and what would the name of the NEW song be?! "Shakira, Beyonce and Christina, they would all play organ and the song would be called "Kevin's #9 Dream"!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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