Slow Mojo: bringing back the blues

The UKs own Slow Mojo are aiming to ‘bring back the blues’. Having released numerous singles so far and gigged extensively in the London underground scene, it is hard to argue that they are doing a damn good job at working towards their goal so far. We had the chance to have a brief interview with the band to discuss various topics from their music to the industry as a whole!

The band wear their influences very much on their sleeves, as evidenced by their response when asked about their influences:

Brighty (lead vox): ‘For me personally as a frontman I used to watch people like Freddie Mercury and just think the world of them, how they held the crowd in the palm of their hands, everyone’s eyes just focused on them. I’m a bit of an attention seeker and ended up becoming an MC and rapper, performing on festival stages with a DJ. I’d always been a pretty good singer. After getting bored with doing endless karaoke, I found the other guys on Gumtree and the band just came together naturally. Rest is history, as they say’.

Tim (lead guitar): ‘As a kid there would always be music being played in my house – Led Zep, AC/DC, The Doors, you name it; If it had a good guitar riff it was being played on the stereo. I remember watching DVDs of AC/DC and Angus Young shredding on the guitar and doing the chicken walk, it was nothing I had ever seen before, it was magic! First time I heard the blues was on Back To The Future where Marty McFly plays at the school dance. I got my mum to write out the lyrics for me so I could sing along and re-enact all his moves. I was hooked from then on’.

While diving deeper into their own sound, Brighty tried his best to describe it:

‘We’re a modern blues band, basically. We’ve retained that blues-influenced sound and twisted it up with harder rock, punk, funk and hip hop. It’s good fun music, it slaps you hard and we all have a hell of an energy on stage. Some of our stuff sounds a bit Red Hot Chili Peppers, some a bit Black Keys, some veers into Rage Against the Machine, and we do more blues rock stuff not dissimilar to Alex Harvey’. 

This last 18 months has been some of the toughest the music scene as a whole has ever had to deal with. When asked about how they had coped during the stream of lockdowns, they had this to say:

‘We had a gig booked literally on the week of the first lockdown. So we were left wanting with that annoying feeling of having no closure on our live music hiatus. Worse still our new drummer, Giorgio, had only joined the band a month or so prior so he was denied his first gig with us. But like all acts everywhere we just knuckled down and turned the whole experience into something more positive. We started recording more music from home – we actually recorded a fair chunk of our current output doing everything a bit DIY. Luckily we had the gear and the skills to create something pretty professional sounding. We recorded some home videos to keep up the social media conversations and then started live streaming, raising money and awareness for charities, which certainly filled some sort of void. Though the minute the lockdowns eased a little, we were all back into the studio in a heartbeat, desperate to get some semblance of what live playing felt like again’.

We wanted to make sure the boys were still enjoying themselves though, so wanted to know what their positives were of being in a band:

‘Honestly, it’s just knowing that we’re bringing people some joy. I think that’s been an especially poignant feeling in the shadow of the pandemic. Music is everything. The energy it brings us is the energy we give back to the crowd’. 

Tim: ‘I love watching the crowd react to how we perform in front of them and see them reciprocate as they start to dance and headbang. We get such a buzz from playing live and on stage that it’s like a drug and the high lasts for a good few days after a show’.

‘However, we couldn’t address the positives without also discussing the negatives, of which there were unfortunately more:

‘About the current music industry, for obvious reasons, I think I’d like to see more of a return to more big bands playing live. Don’t get me wrong I love electronic dance music in pretty much all its forms, but the appetite for proper live band music feels like it’s been waning for some time now. There’s always a balance to be struck of course, but I feel like if we’re looking towards a future of purely electronic music at the elite level, then we’re all going to miss out on so much that is special and wonderful about live music’.

Ciba (bass):  ‘We are witnessing a turning point on the music-making thing. See what Brighty just mentioned about the lack of live music and bands kind of fading away.

‘That’s related to how music is being made nowadays. When we started playing music 25 years ago we had to learn how to play an instrument, then endless practice and rehearsal, get some mates together, then more rehearsal, write songs, play together again, then get a gig and so on… Recording?! Forget about that! No computers or £50 audio interfaces. You had to sell your kidney to afford a recording studio (on a reel to reel tape recorder)! 

‘Then here we are in 2021: Young people just don’t get excited enough to go through all this hassle again. Why bother ‘putting a band together’ if all it takes to make music is an app and a laptop? You write a song, upload, get viral and voilá! 

‘This may wind down the bands IMO. There’s still some awesome musicians producing things on this new style no doubt about it, but I do miss the spontaneity of rock bands being born and raw talents popping out of the blue like before’. 

Tim: ‘More often than not today’s popular/chart music feels too ungenuine. The beat sounds the same, the lyrics are pretty uninspiring and there’s a feeling of soulless, manufacturing of music that is there to appeal to the masses that blindly listen to it because it’s in the charts and it’s annoyingly catchy. It’s a money-spinner for companies. The very fabric of music is being torn and frayed for the reasons of profit all the while people with real talent, real understanding and feeling of music and song-writing are left in the gutter because they don’t have the right amount of followers, they don’t look the part or they’re not as marketable as someone who’s willing to get their clobber off and eye-fuck the camera’. 

Giorgio (drums):

‘I think the music industry has followed the same globalization trend that we have seen in many other industries, prioritising high and safe returns over free thinking and innovation. This has made much more difficult for new emerging artists to achieve visibility and has overall impoverished the musical offer.

‘However, this process is not irreversible. I believe change can happen, starting with small steps, both from the top and from the bottom. From the top, with Record Labels and distributors (like Spotify) allowing for specific programmes to fairly promote emerging artists. This already happens in many other industries and can be highly rewarding for both parties. And from the bottom, with us musicians and listeners getting back in our old habits of looking for new bands, listening to new tunes and going to a local live concert, finding some time to step away from the mainstream distribution. If we think about it, it is much easier now than it was in the past, with everything just one click away. In a couple of years, we may find ourselves interested in a much bigger variety of music styles and with a music industry much more receptive of our interests’.

The band are thankfully already back to gigging, with them not long having played their return gig at Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden. We had to ask them about it, of course!

‘[it was] The best. I mean, we anticipated it would feel pretty amazing and it ended up being ten times better. We had our first gig in about 16 months in Camden Town and the atmosphere was just electric. You could sense that the crowd was up for it, that something had been missing and we were all in there ready to rock as one. We just went hell for leather. We sweated the sweat of a year and a half’s worth of missed gigs. Unbelievably, that was also Giorgio our drummer’s first live gig with us since joining in February 2020’!

As usual here at Overtone we like to ask the bands what song they wish they could have written, and I have to say that Slow Mojo did not disappoint in their response:

Brighty( lead vox): ‘So many to pick from! All things considered and given that we play this as our favourite cover song, I’d have to say Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash’.

‘For me personally, I think it would be Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. That song is just everything to me: one of the finest guitar riffs ever written; wonderfully wry social commentary in the lyrics; and road trips with my dad’.

Tim: ‘Lenny by Stevie Ray Vaughan. The man wrote the song for his wife and you can actually hear the love and emotion he has in the way he plays and attacks certain notes, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring’. 

Giorgio: ‘oh, difficult one… Money by Pink Floyd maybe…’

We also ask the band what was next for them:

‘We are in fact right in the middle of recording our last few tunes for what is planned as an EP release this year. We do have a few more gigs lined up, to be confirmed, so we’ll keep everyone posted about that on our social media and we’re going full-on with festival season next year’.

Did you enjoy our interview? Check out our video-format ones on our YouTube here.

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