Kevin Steele - Mojo Gurus

June 23, 2003

Give us a little background on yourself.

I used to sing for Roxx Gang. I'm totally proud of everything that we've done in the past unlike some of these guys. I wanted to do this my whole life. I want to be an old man in a cool suit singing blues songs. There's just so much baggage attached to Roxx Gang, the '80s, hair bands. We've got to hear all that crap all the time. We're shopping this Gurus stuff and who knows? If I have to be a Guru to get a record deal, I'll be a Guru.

Roxx Gang was formed in '88 and your last CD was Drinking TNT And Smoking Dynamite. You guys are on hiatus right now and there's a live CD coming out in 2004.

Right.

Tell us about the Mojo Gurus.

Actually when all the big rock clubs started closing down, Roxx Gang had a big old production and a big rock show. It was getting honestly where we were having to play smaller clubs because the big rock clubs were closing down and we were starting to feel silly bringing in our big production in these little clubs. Plus my glam roots were the New York Dolls and T. Rex and I always had a blues background anyway. I was into early Stones and early Aerosmith. It all started when Roxx Gang put out an album called Mojo Gurus. Then we said hey let's play some of these smaller clubs. We'll call ourselves the Mojo Gurus. The whole blues thing started coming out. We all have it in our backgrounds. All of the rock and roll we grew up on is blues based and we just started having a blast and people really started responding to it and then we just went with it. I feel like it's a natural progression though. I don't feel like I look at the guys who are my idols like David Johansson. That was my past. I was a kid when I was doing that stuff. I'm proud of it. I had a great time. I think when you're young you do up and dress up and wreak havoc. I don't want to be a 40 year old man wearing skin tight pants and saying scratch my back. I wanted to do this for a long time. I'm a lifer hopefully. Just like any band who has any kind of longevity, you've gotta grow. It's not like we all grew goatees and started wearing baggy shorts and combat boots and tried to be something we weren't. We just traced our music back to it's roots and went from there. We all feel good about it and feel real natural. It's not like I feel it's some kind of scam. I've seen other bands that were say in the same genre as Roxx Gang and then all of a sudden tried to be grunge or tried to be industrial or whatever. My earliest Roxx Gang songs, "Ball And Chain" and "Fastest Gun", were really blues based. I just had a real wizard guitar player at that time that was pulling my songs into a direction that was, I had this kid whipping off all the panatonic skills. That's what was going on at the time and I got a record deal and I was all right and went with it. I'm older. I'm more mature. I've matured as a song writer and I have a lot more control of where my songs go musically now.

You don't have to deal with all the big labels and the suits who say "oh no, you have to do this."

Right. That's one of the luxuries of being where we're at and we only have to answer to ourselves from everything from song content to artwork. We're shopping the Gurus and it can start all over for us. Like start trying to tell us what to do. We never really listened to them when we were Roxx Gang. Maybe that's why we didn't have a platinum album.

You guys have a new CD out called Hot Damn. It's nice to hear some ass kicking blues in the 21st century. When did you guys start recording and how long did it take to do it?

It was all done on a computer. It was all done in my friend's living room. The actual recording and mixing of the record probably only took I'd say a month.

Technology is a wonderful thing.

It's unreal what you can do these days.

Did you like doing that better than everyone coming into the studio and doing everything?

I personally do. I can only speak for myself. My whole career people have always said "man you guys are so much better live." I don't know about the other guys in the band but I personally have always felt that the studio was this cold, still place that was hard to produce the same kind of vibe that you have live. Other people are more comfortable with it. I'm not one of those people. I'm a bit of a freak. I always feel like when you're recording a song, the less people around the better. An analogy I would make is like when you're drawing a picture and somebody's looking over your shoulder. If you don't have people that are going to try to be on the same page with you in the studio talking about producer wise or engineer, then that to me is a hindrance. When it's just your band and this friend of mine whose house we recorded at and he's totally into the band and our direction, I felt so much more free.

Your first single is "Race With The Devil" which has been getting a lot of Internet radio airplay.

Yeah, a ton of it. My brother Brett, our manager, just showed me something today. I forget what the name of it is. It's one of these companies that tabulate all the Internet stations like how many times you're played. We went from 147 last week to number 20 this week. We're ahead of people like Lisa Marie Presley. I may not be a fan of certain kinds of music but I don't knock people for liking it. It's art. It's all objective. It's all whatever your tastes are. If you like it, more power to you. More power to the band that can find an audience. It's just everything is so much the same. I'm must hoping that it worked for us. That we are something different. Because that's one of the comments we've been getting from some of these program directors. They're saying it doesn't really fit their format. They really play heavier songs but they're getting tons of requests and they love the song. That's good. I think kids are like how much agro rock can you take.

That and the fact that the FCC wants to do this strange stuff where one person can own many stations.

MTV to me is not even a factor anymore. We're not rap and we're not teenybop. That pretty much rules out MTV.

I think it served it's purpose back in the day but it's kind of nothing now.

Right. I hate saying it. I've got a big mouth and I'm very opinionated and I always get in trouble saying things. What happened was, all the record companies all of a sudden realized that with MTV, there's millions of dollars to be made here. They exploited that genre that we grew up in. Whatever you want to call it. Glam metal. The music that was popular then and they exploited the shit out of it. The true glam bands like Roxx Gang or Faster Pussycat I feel suffered because it was the commercial thing to do. All of a sudden every motherfucker was wearing hair weaves and spandex. When that starts happening, it's not going to be long before kids who are a lot younger than us are coming up going "look at these guys. They're fucking as old as my dad and they're wearing spandex and they've got hair weaves." I think it really hurt. It was a backlash against all that. Then we suffered from the backlash and to me there's a huge difference between Roxx Gang and Poison. We're singing live fast and die young and they're singing unskinny bop bop. When I was a kid glam was trashy. It was street music. It wasn't pop music. The music I dug, the New York Dolls were singing about drugs and street life.

All the cool stuff you aren't supposed to sing about anymore. I read a review of a CD where someone was complaining about the band still singing about partying. When did the fun leave the music? What's wrong with singing about partying?

I can remember when we went to England. Roxx Gang toured England and "Scratch My Back" did really well over there as a single. The English press were I felt very snobby towards us. I felt like they were kind of jealous as a whole. You know how we're seeing this thing today about how unpopular Americans are overseas? I felt it back then. I felt like there was a real jealousy. They looked at us as little brat kids who had everything. Like we were spoiled. I remember someone saying that we sang a lot about sex. I was like yeah, I'm a rock and roll singer. Like The Rolling Stones or Jim Morrison or however far back you want to go, I think sex is probably a major subject in rock and roll. Why do they say guys get into rock and roll bands? For the girls. That's where everybody starts. Eventually the guys get weeded out who don't have the talent or the fire but that's why we all start. The chicks.

There's nothing wrong with that. Are you guys getting any commercial radio airplay or just basically Internet radio?

At this point in time it's basically Internet. Locally we get a little play. The CD just came out. We're just with Perris Records and limited distribution. It's not like anyone even really knows it's out there or who the Mojo Gurus are yet. We're taking care of that, right? Thank you for helping.

Absolutely. I think the Internet is the best thing to come along.

It is in some respects.

It allows you to do more stuff than you could do before. If you can't get any airplay on Clear Channel stations, there's the Internet. Are there any particular tracks on the CD you want to discuss?

I can talk about every one of them. They're like all my kids. I don't like to play favorites. We're pushing "Race With The Devil" and "You Have To Tie Me Up To Tie Me Down" is if there was such a thing as a flip side anymore. I love all the songs. We just did a video as a matter of fact too for "Race With The Devil". This is something that's open to us too now. In the past we've put some videos right on our CDs. This time we didn't have the video done in time. Maybe if there's another pressing of Hot Damn, it'll get on there. I don't know. When you know right from the start going into it, it's not going to get played on MTV, then you don't have to worry about what you can or can't do. What's in favor with MTV or what MTV won't allow. So we can make it as raunchy as we want. "You Have To Tie Me Up To Tie Me Down" is pretty self-explanatory. "Too Too Much" is like Jerry Lee Lewis piano boogie. The one cover song on there, "Bumble Bee", there's this chick named Laverne Baker and there was a band called Black Oak Arkansas back in the early '70s. They had the hit song "Jim Dandy To The Rescue" and that was her hit song. "Bumble Bee" was another one. My guitar player is blues with a lot of surf guitar in there. KInd of a Texas twang in there and that song fit right in. It's just a great party album I think. There's not a song on there that I consider filler. I'm pretty proud of the whole thing. I don't want to single anything out. I want to just buy Hot Damn and listen to the whole thing.

You guys did a festival called The Bikers Paradise Festival in January.

Over in New Smyrna. That was pretty cool. It was a three day thing. We played I think it was a Friday night and the next day we played during the day. It was pretty wild. They had all these adult oriented contests like Jell-O wrestling and stuff. The bikers have all these contests and they're adult oriented. All of a sudden I bumped into Gen from the Genitorturers. I'm asking her what the fuck's she doing here because it was a great time but it just seemed like a kind of odd place to see her all decked out. All these redneck bikers which love us. I guess they love her. I don't know if they love her band. She was there with HBO or something filming all these contests because they were sexually oriented. I don't know what the name of the show is. It was cool. They had these booths set up for biker gear, T-shirts, food, and whatnot. They had an Easy Rider booth and they had a Joker booth, rolling papers and stuff. I guess it must be dry in New Smyrna because this guy comes up to us and says that he heard our band bought all the papers and he'll feed us if we get him high. We were in on that. We're definitely the hemp band.

Hemp for the masses. I understand the Discovery Channel filmed your stage show.

Yeah, I haven't seen it yet. I really don't know how to comment. I hope I see myself in a favorable light.

On the Discovery Channel. Any gigs or major touring coming up?

Right now we're totally playing down here. There's definite plans to tour but like I said, the CD just came out and we're shopping. Things are really starting to look up for us right now and this is a band that's ready to go. We're all in a place where we're ready to tour and that's not a problem. In fact that's what we're all hoping for. You know how things are these days. We'd love to get hooked up with somebody on a decent tour but how many rock tours are even going?

There's the Poison tour.

They're going to put together three or four acts that sold platinum back in the day. They may think we're cool but we're the Mojo Gurus. We don't have name recognition yet. I'm really not interested right now in doing something like that with Roxx Gang.

Any other comments or ideas?

Anybody that's our age I think will definitely dig our record. To this next generation of rockers coming up, I think it's going to be a breath of fresh air. Give it a chance. I think they'll really like the Gurus. I just can only take so many guys screaming and telling me about how bad a day they're having.

Yeah, what happened to rock and roll being about fun?

Rock and roll is supposed to be upbeat tribal rhythms. A good time. They used to call it devil's music because it made everybody jump around and lose their inhibitions. I freak out when I see a mosh pit. If that's your scene, but that's not why I got into music. To slam the guy next to me.

I watch these people beat the shit out of each other. No pain, no gain I guess.

Me either. "Oh, it was great man." Bleeding.

Mojo Gurus