Thursday 28 May 2015

The Art of Being 'Unfuckwithable': A Conversation with Mojave Lords

Music can be many things to many people. It has the power to soothe, rejoice, excite and take us down a wonderful trip in the folders that we store in our minds for secret and intimate moments that can create a beautiful place or a tear drawn homestead. The thing is; music, at its purest form is made from emotion by emotion and so flawlessly delivers emotion to and fro. It is when you put on an album, cd, Mp3 whatever is in your arsenal at the moment; the body becomes one with the music.

In a time when everything is thrown into a genre, whether insane or not, people want to pigeon hole this gift. From organic, scream no whip latte doom to hold the goth, Marshall stack, down tuned dune buggy experimental sock hybrid, prog; it has a tag. My question is; who the fuck came up with this tagging of sorts. Is there a meeting with people sitting around a dim lit cave coming up with names to sort music into?  A sort of Walmart institution, but with really hard to find Ipod covers, like ones only made in the Czech Republic by a guy named Sweet Nuts.

Whatever happened to listening to music for the sheer thrill of listening to music? Not looking for underlying abstract clues and who they want to sound like but if we dig it or not. Listening to shake our ass and singing along in the car like a maladjusted American Idol contestant.

Bring in the Mojave Lords. They came up with an album ladies and gentleman that is pure undaunted, body moving, krush grooving fun. This album makes you want to forget about the bullshit in the world and dance and sing and play a tennis racquet as if it was Dave C’s Flying V and try to look as cool as Bingo Ritchey. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, there is only one Bingo Richey, and he is his own man. If you must imitate, good luck.
Unfuckwithable’ is an album that deals with an underlying heaviness of the soul, but comes across as a trip in purity and humanity. From the songwriting, to the kinetic fluidity and groove of the drums to the magnificent playing by every musician that graced the console of this gem.

For me, and this is only my opinion, touches on all that makes music still worth listening too. It is a nice ride through different notes that raise the hair on the back of your neck and lets you boogie woogie until the boy from company B gets back.

I was able to chat with Bingo Richey, Dave Catching, Gene Troutman and Brian O’Connor. They were on their way to a Thai meal but took the time to let me know about the making of what became and is ‘Unfuckwithable’.

Gaff- Thanks so much for taking the time and speaking with me.

All- our pleasure, thanks for your time.

Gaff- How did this all come together?

Bingo-  We are neighbors and we work together on a lot of stuff for a long time, David and I really wanted to figure a way to work on a project together because we have worked on so many others peoples records  Figure out a way to spend some time together and make something fucking fun and generate some heat. Brian is here and there are so many fucking talented people that live around here. We are all pals so I figured why don’t we get a band together with all of us lunkheads and motor through it.

Gaff- The actual process, was it all done at Rancho?

Bingo- yup, everything was done here.

Gaff- It has a certain vibe, a great boogie to the album. Did you guys set up time to write or when it came to you, you all just went in and recorded?

Bingo- It was a bit of both. We are always working on songs and riffs independently you know because it’s our craft. We wanna keep boogying, so I would bring a collection of stuff on a thumb drive and Dave had some riffs in his catalogue that weren’t being used, and Brian had some ideas you know, but then we would do stuff and just make it up on the spot too, which is great, so it’s a collection of all of that.

Dave- It was done sporadically too, here and there, so we busted it out.

Bingo- When we finally came together to do the, like deliver the whole thing; we did it in a few different chunks of time because we are all so busy with other projects.

Dave- I just did another shot, your turn.

Gaff- I did a shot of Jameson, is that ok with you guys?

Bingo- Mothers milk, good

Gaff- How long did the album take, from mixing to mastering

Dave and Bingo- 2 weeks.

Gaff- That’s great. With different guys playing on the album, did you all have the cast in mind or simply just giving guys a call and saying hey, come on down?

Bingo- we always have all of our brothers in mind cuz they are always in our hearts. We didn’t know exactly who would be in it, but we knew we wanted a core group of writers, have me Brian and David just be like lets have everything a go like Earth Wind and Fire and just hire a horn section, you know, Barret Martin started stopping by a lot and he fucking killed it. Then Joey was by so we wrote a song with Joey.  You know, Chris Goss would come by and we’d get him to sing some stuff and get some of his arrangement ideas because he is such a genius producer, Everybody has been super gracious with their talents and having fun.

Gaff- Lyrically, is that something that you bounce off each other or did you write most of it yourself?

Bingo- I wrote the majority of the lyrics but David Catching was definitely involved from top to bottom with it. We bounce stuff off each other a lot. I get the idea of a story line and we would work together on it, pretty much all of it start to finish. There’s maybe a couple of phrases here and there that we didn’t.

Gaff- The album itself has an internal feel, did you have certain things in mind when you were writing the album, like Whole New World has, “Got my nightmares tied in a sack”, or Microwave Me Baby, “If you pound on the door I’ll pretend that I don’t know”

Bingo- “Microwave me baby” is like a love song about radiation therapy, our brother Brian’s radioactive because he’s been getting treatments for cancer. So to me, like the majority of the record, the concept was like a battle between a dude and his fucking ego trips in his head and trying to not listen to the voices, you free some wolf saliva and make samurai swords out of it. You kill that shit as soon as it pops up. That’s what I try to focus on. It seems an interesting way to focus on what we are as people you know. It’s a little bit more articulate than looking in a mirror and screaming you know. When you break it down I think it’s kind of like that.
Gaff- lyrically it’s nice and deep, it hits pretty hard and you all should be commended on that. Obviously, the playing is great, but I think lyrically is where it catches people

Bingo- Thank you very much

Gaff- Welcome, in terms of gear for the album, were you guys playing anything different? Dave, did you play your Flying V and Black Les Paul, or were you guys switching up and fucking around with some different pieces of gear

Dave- in terms of gear we had limited time and access to stuff so we experimented pretty hard core with everything

Gaff- Did you all use a lot of different pedals, there is some great sonic traits to this album. Were you into boutique pedals or just plugging in an MXR pedal and having at it?

Dave- Sky was the limit. I never plugged into a pedal that didn’t have some use. For this one we were pretty much going right into the amps.

Bingo- I know one piece of equipment that we used throughout was the Lim lm 1, in order to get our grooves going. The Lim is an analog drum machine

Dave- Made famous by Parliament and Prince. Bingo actually used his Epiphone Les Paul on most of his tracks.

Bingo- with Lollar pickups.

Dave- you didn’t have your Lollar pickups

Bingo- no I didn’t that’s right. Woops

Dave- sorry Lollar

Gaff- Were you guys using any of the Creepy Fingers at all

Dave- Brad and I are old friends; fu Manchu did a record here. I have about 15 of his pedals as he first started making them I would buy them as he always gave me a great price and I always have his pedals on my board.

Gaff- where you guys going into Marshalls into half stacks or combo amps

Dave- At the studio we were using 2x12s at the most, I don’t have a lot of 4 12s around and we used a lot of baby amps also,

Bingo- Zinky was a good one we were going through

Dave- we used the Decade Peavey, Music Man

Gaff- The one thing that really stands out in terms of the boogie is that the drums have a really spectacular sound, was anything recorded on tape or straight to pro tools

Bingo-straight to pro tools, lots of sound board gear, they used the patch bay

Dave- with a killer drummer and a killer drum kit, we just put a few mics around there and couldn’t go wrong.

Bingo- there’s a maple Gretsch kit that is a favorite

Dave- why don’t we let the drummer answer the drum questions

Gene- as a drummer that played on the album, the drums and the drum room are one of the signature elements of Rancho

Bingo- we have to bring you in the car with us because we are going to get Thai food.

Gaff- So the album is out, what do you guys have coming up in the live world, is there shows or any tours you are planning on doing

Bingo- we have a couple of showcase things coming up, we did some shows around Halloween in New Orleans and were there for about 2 weeks rehearsing and writing and jamming with our friends there. We played in Memphis and I met fucking met Charlie Pride which was a highlight and then we played Nashville, we are doing a couple of gigs coming up, playing the Viper Room with a band we are going to be producing called Thelma and Sleaze, they’re from Nashville, we met them and they are fucking great.

Gaff-Any plans for getting out east?

Bingo- we are certainly hoping too, we are just throwing it up the flagpole and seeing who is gonna salute man. I don’t know anybody but fucking Dave knows everybody and so does Brian and all of them, hopefully if we could find a reasonable situation with a booking agency or a great manager. Whatever happens it’s gonna be great. I feel like I’m getting taken to school with these people but it’s like getting taken to school in a limo, an armored limo.

Gaff- there are so many genres of music that bands can get pigeonholed into, for me this is a great rock album. It at times has the backbeat of early Neil Young albums. Do you guys listen to a ton of different music while recording and in general?

Bingo- Oh man, we listen to so much, like we all love R&B, Motown and Funk, Disco and Soul, ZZ Top Butthole Surfers and Black Flag. I think its rock too. Our next stuff is gonna be different than that. We try to make stuff that is not the same.

Gaff- Vocally, it has a lot of soul, it doesn’t stay in one vibe which is nice, is there a guy that you absolutely love as a vocalist, or are there too many too count

Bingo- Well there are always too many too count but off the top of my head, George Jones, Ray Price, I’m a baritone. If I could sing high, it would be like ACDC, Brian Johnson is a god.

Gaff- Being that you all are so busy, is this a one off are you going to blessing us with another

Bingo- we already have the script written how the band is gonna break up and how we are gonna do our reunion tour, also the album covers too, we wrote out our whole career on a napkin cuz if we hadn’t written it done, we would have never remembered any of it, but its brilliant
Gaff- Got ya
Bingo- the third album will sound like Timbaland, it will be money, you open up the cd and money will just fall out of it. It’s no money just us buying people as products. (He and I are at this point laughing rather hard) I don’t know, but it has taken on some different twists and turns so it is a lot of fun.
Gaff- So 2 weeks to do the whole album, was the overall experience just really easy?

Bingo- Oh yeah man, most of us can play any position on the field you know, from making coffee or breakfast to running wires, running the console, it was seemless.  It was great, everyone could hold it down, it was a lot of fun

Gaff- The album has a very seemless flow to it

Bingo- Thank you

Gaff- Again, you guys should be commended, after the first listen, the lyrics and vocals get you, the second time the backbeat and the third time everything meshes so perfectly together sonically that you are hooked. The process would appear that it was really an awesome time recording the album

Bingo—well thank you and you got it man, you nailed it, we are working with people that are so focused and dedicated and open and creative to whatever. You know Fred Drake. It’s like him and Dave started that studio so long ago, Fred was a mentor to me as an engineer, I have been living out here for a long fucking time. I bought a house from this dude on a piece of notebook paper so I started working there pretty much right away. He asked do you wanna help us out engineering, I actually had a folk label up in Oregon, just doing folk music recording people, fisherman and farmers and shit, it was cool, so I kind of had some experience and then the first thing they threw me was re-doing the patch bay for a quadrophonic console, so I said ok, let’s put on some coffee

Gaff- Having the engineering background, are they favorite mics you all like to use

Bingo- I hardly ever do, David is at the helm of the studio so much, he knows the sounds that are coming out of what, he is so great at it, I like things a little more slap back, hap hazard, because to be honest, there might be a great fuck up, you know listening to what Steve Berlin did for Los Lobos, it’s crazy because they still have the natural ability to have space between the notes and as such but the shit in the middle of it is tremendous. It comes from not maybe textbook perfect sounds but when you blend it in, it totally makes sense.

Gaff- Which is much more transparent than trying to force something

Bingo- Oh god yeah

Gaff- That’s the kiss of death, ha

With the guitar interplay with you and Dave, the tonalities of the guitars are totally happening

Bingo-awesome, we jam all the time man, play acoustic a lot together too, he’s so easy to play with, he’s really great, there’s a reason why he is a legend. There are some bands; you ever listen to the fall? They have endless ability to invent new rhythm and grooves, Dave has that ability

Gaff- he has great tone

Bingo- yea

Gaff- In terms of players, it is crazy. The guys you were able to record with is insane. Are you someone that just simply loves to be playing, whether it be acoustic guitar or whatever?

Bingo- If I am out here it is, but I have a whole other joint going down in San Diego, helping run a clothing company, me and my wife and we have a 1 year old daughter so that takes a lot of my time. Dave is super busy as the studio is blowing up. It’s great so whenever we can absolutely. It’s hard to book time but he always returns my texts.

Gaff- write on, thanks so much for taking the time and speaking with me

Bingo-Thank you my man, this is the first real interview I have done so thanks again for everything and we will talk soon.

As you can feel and read from the interview, music when done right should evoke different feelings and above all, should be fun and done for the correct reasons. What are the correct reasons, I think that is up to the reader and listener. All I can say is that music shines through when the artists truly dig whom and with whom they are recording, writing, vibing, and letting it flow like a river that has settled into a nice flow and washes all your troubles away.

Do yourself a favor, a gift to you, get the Mojave Lords, “Unfuckwithable” and instantly feel a different groove in your mood and a sense of feeling like the world is a better place to be in.

Eat a peach,


You can read our review of ‘Unfuckwithable’ here

Words and Interview coutesy of: Marc Gaffney and the Mojave Lords