Exclusive Interview: Tex from Moonshine Bandits
To say that Moonshine Bandits qualify as your average West Coast band would be nothing short of an understatement. Tex and Bird are having the time of their lives, making their music their way. Their unique sound, a blend of West Coast beat and country twang, is a strong representation of the California of which they grew up.
“We’re from Central California so it’s very blue collar and agriculturally oriented here in the Valley,” Tex says. “A lot of people have misconceptions about California being all Hollywood or the beach, but where we’re from the main industry is farming. There are a lot dairies, cotton fields, orchards and tomato processing plants.”
Moonshine Bandits’ sound is a hybrid of the music they listened growing up. “We grew up on West Coast hip-hop and West Coast rap, but we also got into country,” says Tex. “The first country song I heard was ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ by Johnny Cash. Now, we do a lot of things in our live show like our own version of Garth Brooks’ ‘Friends in Low Places’ with a hip-hop driven beat behind it. Our content has always been about where we’re from and what we do – outdoor parties and just a lot of good-time type music.”
Moonshine Bandits have delivered another round of “good-time music” on their latest offering, Calicountry, their debut disc on Average Joes Entertainment/Suburban Noize Records set for release February 4.
From the thumping first single “California Country,” and the party anthem “Throwdown,” featuring the Lacs, to the contagious “We All Country” featuring Colt Ford, Charlie Farley and American Idol finalist Sarah Ross, the new album is already turning heads all across the country. Country star Colt Ford and Average Joes’ CEO, Shannon Houchins, are executive producers on the album.
How do they describe their sound? “A lot of our music is hell-raising music,” Tex says. “Our guitars are very loud and our bass is pretty heavy. It’s very much in-your-face kind of music that you can party down to. We’ve got a few songs on there that are a little more personal and a little bit slower. But, for the most part it’s very aggressive.”
Tex says their music is tailor-made for the most important people in the world to them – their fans, referred to as “The Shiner Nation.” The band has over 15 million YouTube views, and has already had a #1 fan favorite video on CMT.com and a #2 video on CMT’s High Five countdown.
So, for Moonshine Bandits, the future is now. With a label behind them that knows how to market their music and get it to the fans, 2014 is looking very bright. “We’re very excited to be there,” Bird said of their affiliation with Average Joes. “They understand our music, as well as the marketing side of it, too, which is such a huge part of pushing the album. We’re just super excited for the world to understand where we’re coming from, having our own sound, and to bring that to Nashville…and on to the world!”
Calicountry is the defining Moonshine Bandits record. It represents everything you guys are known for. Tell me about how much time you spent putting this record together, the guests involved and your expectations for Calicountry.
Yes, this is a big record for us in more ways then one. From a song writing and recording perspective, this album is basically all our past albums put together on steroids. We were able to use more resources on this album. Ty Weathers handles the bulk of our production and has helped with our signature Cali Country sound, and he has evolved as a producer just as much as we have evolved as song writers. Then you add the flavor of Nashville producers Phivestarr and the musicians they use, it makes this project undeniable. We flew out to record in Nashville at Phivestarr Studios and they were able to make us do things outside our comfort zone, but still keep our West Coast flare. We were also able to record out of a studio in Oakdale, CA with Jeremy Penick engineering, which gave us another solid element to our recording process. To top all that off, we got our buddies Colt Ford, The Lacs, Big B, Danny Boone, and new comers Sarah Ross and Charlie Farley all to contribute to make this our best album yet. We are very proud of this album and we expect our Shiner Nation Family to love it just as much as we do. We probably spent a total of four to six months recording. With this album, we really wanted to show the world our sound and where we are coming from.
When you first started working on Calicountry did you approach songwriting or planning out the tunes differently than previous records?
We did approach both the song writing and recording process on this album differently than previous records. We were able to actually sit in the studio with our producers to write and produce the songs as a collaborative team. In the past, we would do most of our stuff through the internet. On this album, there was a much better creative vibe being able to bring in guys like Mark Davis, Mike Hartnett and Hano to play guitar pieces with us all in the studio together. We could bounce ideas off each other and build the song from the ground up. We were able to come into the studio with a real rough concept and start building a song with just a simple acoustic guitar, then turning it into something completely different as it gets worked on over time. We definitely learned a lot on this record as well. We are always open to trying new things because there is no set way that songs have to be written.
Let’s talk about “Feel No Pain,” featuring Danny Boone from Rehab. How long have you known each other? Tell me about having him guest on “Feel No Pain.”
We love working with Danny on music. He is one of the most creative songwriters in the business. We’ve become great friends over the years through touring and collaborating on different songs. Every time we’re on the road together, there’s been a lot of late nights filled with thick smoke, dim lights, whiskey shots and loud music. “Feel No Pain” is a song for anyone that feels they got knocked down, but got right back up, and kept on pushing. It’s a song about not feeling any pain whether physical or mental. No matter how rough things might get, keep on kicking ass.
In a day and time where the rules change so much in the music business, Moonshine Bandits have managed to secure a loyal fan base. What part of the Shiner lifestyle do you think appeals to your fans the most?
We are real. Our music is real. We generally write about things we’ve experienced, people we’ve met on the road or stories we’ve heard. Shiners work their asses off to make ends meet so our goal is to give them a live show or an album that takes them away from their daily job, stress, or any drama that might be happening in their life. We pride ourselves in our live show that is more then just music, but more of an experience or a family reunion. Our Shiners are very loyal and we enjoy going out in the crowd to have a beer with them after a show and meet them. Of course there are times when we’ve done 20 shows straight and need to hit the bus for sleep, but for the most part we do like to meet folks and hear their stories.
You’ve always offered special bundle packages and merchandise with each release. What kind of packages are you offering for Calicountry?
We have a Shiner4Life package that gets you a Shiner camo shirt, autographed poster, our new Cali Country CD, a Shiner beer koozie, a Shiner bandana, and a bag of our Moonshine Bandits Whiskey River Beef Jerky. It’s a pretty kickass package and it’s cheap considering everything you get for it.
It’s refreshing to see a record label stand behind an artist and be so supportive. Tell me about the relationship with your label.
We are thankful to have two record labels pushing this CD. Both Average Joes and Suburban Noize Records have a similar background of building artists with a grass roots campaign. Both know how to market outside of radio and TV. Suburban Noize Records is a west coast powerhouse known for pushing edgy artists that are against the grain. Average Joes is a country-based label out of Nashville that knows how to market groups with a similar sound to us. Their track record with Colt and The Lacs proves that. We are thankful that they have the same vision as us. Before we even signed our deal with Average Joes, they had plane tickets emailed to us and studios and producers in Nashville set up to record us. This validated that they believed in us because they did that before our deal was even done.
With a market full of more artists than ever before, Moonshine Bandits have managed to create a sound all your own. I think music fans are more open to genre-bending artists now more than ever. In the beginning was blending hip-hop and country hard for some fans to swallow? How have you seen the reception to your music change over the years?
When we first started, we mailed demos to every record label and publication you can think of. This dates back to ’99 and everyone thought we were nuts. We never gave a shit about genres, we just made music that is natural to us. We were raised on West Coast hip-hop and listened to country as well. We related to the lyrics of country music. Fast forward to now, we had a #1 Music Video on CMT.com and #2 on CMT and we are on an indie label. Guys like Colt Ford and Bubba Sparxxx helped kick down doors for guys like us so it’s starting to be more accepting. Ten years from now, everyone will look back and say, damn those Bandits knew what the hell they were doing.
Tell me about your upcoming tour with The Lacs and what fans can expect from the Moonshine Bandits live.
Our booking agency Buddy Lee Nashville did a hell of a job putting this together. The name of the tour is “Country Gone Wild” and it fits the package perfectly. The Shiner Nation and Lacs loyal following fit together as one rowdy family that is gonna make every single show one big ass party. Fans can expect a party monster throwdown that contains a lot of cold beer drinkin’, whiskey sippin’, jager bombin’, fireball shootin’, jars of shine sippin’, American Flag waving, table top dancing, hot girls, and a few exposed body parts. If you ain’t looking to have a hell of a time, then don’t come. Get a DD.
Your videos capture the Shiner lifestyle – a bunch of friends hangin’ out, having a great time. To those “in the know” and all future Shiners, what do you hope people take away from your music and videos?
Life is too short. Don’t take yourself so seriously, have a good time, and don’t be afraid to be different.
You guys sent over a bag of your Whiskey River beef jerky and it’s honestly some of the best jerky I’ve ever had. You’re into lots of stuff besides making music. Are you as involved in the moonshine, jerky and other merch as you are the music? Any plans on expanding into other areas?
Yea, we are really proud of our products and offer a friendly taste test challenge to all comers in the jerky or moonshine department. Both our products are FDA Approved and if anyone wants to match our $1000 blindfold challenge, we are ready and willing to accept and put the results on YouTube! Next up, we are considering Bird’s BBQ Sauce, just looking into shelf life and other specs on it.
What would you like to say to the Rock Confidential readers, Shiners and fans to wrap things up?
Thank you Rock Confidential for giving us the interview and a platform to share our brand of music!