I’ll admit, I’d never heard Moonshine Bandits music although I had started to hear a lot of rumble about them . I read their bio which begins, “When you add the ingredients of women, whiskey, 4 wheel drives, a twist of Johnny Cash meets the Beastie Boys, shake well & pour over ice – you get the Moonshine Bandits”. Okay, that sounds like a fun concoction, I’m interested. California may just have the makings of a new reputation if the Bandits continue to burn, an image that’s more blue-collar, sweat on the back of your beer bottle and middle finger in the air than the mojito, high fashion and nose in the air image so many have of the Golden State. After checking out their music and youtube channel it was clear these guys were onto something and their fan base was exploding rapidly so I threw a few questions at them and we had some fun. Read on…
LRI: I really didn’t know much about Moonshine Bandits until recently but it seems you have put together quite the following. Can you explain the early years of the group and how you got started making music?
Yes we started messing around with music in 99′ at house parties and dirt road country parties near farm shops and canal banks. We produced a demo 4 song homemade CD that we put for sale in our local mom and pop CD shop. The 4 song CD ended up selling a shitload more than we expected and we received local support from our little small town. We took the money, reinvested, and never looked back. We started doing live shows and worked hard to build a loyal fan base with a grass roots type campaign. We branded our fans as the Shiner Nation which is now a worldwide family of loyal followers that believe in what we believe in and that’s living life to the fullest and living “full throttle”.
LRI: I understand you have a new 2 disc set coming out soon. Can you explain a little bit what your fans and people who aren’t yet fans can expect from this set?
This is a Shiner Deluxe Edition of our Whiskey & Women Album. It’s a collector’s item for our loyal Shiner Nation Family. Our Whiskey and Women album did so well but we felt we could even make it better, so we added 5 new songs and a DVD with 6 Music Videos including our new video “Dive Bar Beauty Queen” starring our friend Tera Patrick. Now Shiners across the world can pop in the DVD in at parties and show friends what the Moonshine Bandits and Shiner Nation are all about. The Deluxe also comes with all new packaged artwork.
LRI: Your music itself is a pretty unique hybrid which isn’t easy to accomplish in this day and age where everyone’s heard everything. Others like Cowboy Troy and Kid Rock have mixed country and hip hop but MB really don’t sound like anything but Moonshine Bandits. How do your songs typically fall together?
The music we make comes natural to us. We listen to all types of music from old school hip-hop, to Creedence, some Uncle Kracker, Johnny Cash, some Waylon, some Kid Rock, REHAB, Hank 3, and more. We are influenced by all genres and our taste is pretty eclectic. Our songwriting topics come from stuff we’ve lived or experiences and people we meet on the road. Record Labels and Industry folks don’t know how to categorize our music or fit us into genre. We don’t worry about where they slot us in the stores, we just make music. We make music for people to raise hell to, party to, and we are fortunate that it’s catching fire.
LRI: You have two key ingredients to a nice career which are a. A.) loyal fan base that identifies with you and B.) A reputation for having a fun live show. In your mind do the fans help contribute to the success of the live show?
Shiner Nation is becoming the world’s fastest growing family. Shiners are loyal and they are loud and proud. Shiner Nation is becoming a World Wide Force, we’ve been mailing CDs and merchandise sales to Hungary, Australia, Japan, Sweden, and all over the United States. Shiners bust their ass daily for hard earned cash to support their families, and then they want to escape their daily work grind when they attend a show of ours. Our shows are reunions for shiners meeting shiners and sharing common interests or even common problems. They help each other. They are a huge part of the success of our live shows, they are not only wild and crazy just like us, but they participate in the show just as much as us. It’s one big wild party that is hard to describe, it’s an experience that you have to feel. Once you feel the vibe at a show, then you will want to share it.
LRI: You’ve made a number of music videos that have also contributed to expanding your reach. They are all pretty colorful and fun but making those clips is often a lot of work. Do you enjoy making videos, is it creatively fulfilling?
Music Videos are a hell of a good time for us. We don’t take making videos too seriously, in other words if we aren’t having fun doing it, then we’d rather not do it. We like to turn our videos into parties and make sure everyone working on the video is having a good time. It has proven to be a good work method since we’ve landed a #2 Music Video on CMT, #1 on CMT.com and over 6,000,000 Views on Youtube. We try to make every video a different experience. We want to keep viewers guessing what we will do next. We aren’t afraid to go against the grain when we make our music or our videos.
LRI: You are a California group with a blue collar Midwestern vibe. Do you think a lot of the public has the wrong idea about California being glamorous and stuck up and ‘different’ from a lot of the rest of the country?
This is probably our favorite question in this interview. A lot of people have this misconception that California isn’t Country. We grew up in the Central Valley California. Central Cali is known as the Agricultural Capital of the World. We are known for our Farming. People tend to think of California as just Nor-Cal and So-Cal. We work hard to put the spotlight on Central Cali because we sometimes get overlooked. Blue Collar Culture runs deep here. California means a lot to us and we are proud of where we are from.
LRI: You mention Hank 3 and Motorhead in your newest song ‘Dive Bar Beauty Queen’ and have collaborated with a lot of successful rappers. I would expect to see David Allen Coe and George Jones in your collection alongside Eazy E and E-40. Do you guys also enjoy a lot of rock and metal and is that a part of what inspires you?
We are fans of Hank 3. He’s a hell raiser. We are fans of all types of music. We have done a few shows with the legendary David Allan Coe. Not many Artists can say they’ve done shows with the eclectic mix of artists that we’ve shared the stage with. Slaughter, Jackyl, Tech N9ne, Kottonmouth kings, Uncle Kracker, Everlast, E-40, Eddie Money, RBL Posse, Twiztid, Sebastian Bach, Pat Travers, Y & T and the list goes on. We are proud that our brand of music has allowed us to be accepted in such a diverse mix of genres. It’s tough to be accepted in that many different types of audiences.
LRI: You write about things you and your fans can both relate to. Do you forsee a day years down the line where Moonshine Bandits are growing and making music completely removed from what you’re creating in recent years?
We don’t rule anything out. We love so many different types of music and we aren’t afraid to try anything when we are songwriting. Our topics are real life topics from experiences and how we relay those songwriting experiences will always evolve.