Bobaflex may have a strange name (inspired by Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett, of course) but they have a sound that stands head and shoulders above lots of bands earning more publicity for much less excitement. The band has their own style without straying too far from a lot of what made you geeked out about rock to begin with and features five distinct personalities, remembering a time when bands actually operated that way. Ask around about the Bobaflex live show, it’s sick. Their last record, “Hell In My Heart” is start to finish amazing and they are preparing a new album, “Charlatan’s Web” for release this coming August. I talked to singer/guitarist Marty McCoy recently about a bit of all of this, read on…..
LRI: Thanks for talking with me today Marty. Are you on the road as we speak?
Marty: No problem, we are always on the road! Today is no exception (laughs).
LRI: It’s the only real way to get your music out to real people but it helps that you are one of the best sounding bands out there in terms of a live show. How are you finding time to work on the new album ?
Marty: We love playing live but we also really love being creative in the studio. We’ve been working in between playing dates but the new album is done! It is in the can and it’s called “Charlatan’s Web”. It is a little more high tempo, a little more fun and experimental but still straight-ahead rock. It’s going to be nice to have it out there for people, lots of people are asking about it at shows. We talked about just putting it out digitally but we have heard from our fans and they want it on the merch table, they want all twelve songs and they want the artwork and I think that just goes back to that old school rock and roll fan way of thinking. I think that you’re all really gonna like it, it’s different but it’s the next logical step. We sat down and wrote a shitload of songs in a relatively short amount of time and I seriously love every one of them.
LRI: I don’t know what to say about how blown away I am by your live show and your last record, “Hell In My Heart”. I think most of the fans I’ve talked to are not casual fans of your band, they’re diehards.
Marty: Absolutely, both old and new fans, totally loyal, totally diehard. They are just like us, they work hard and they play hard. They know that we’re doing it all on our own too, while we had a nice push from some of the labels and albums we worked with in the past, it’s all us and the fans now which is great to be honest. We’ve been through so much stuff, not just the bankruptcy with TVT but all kinds of things that would have killed any other band. When the shows were supposed to be getting smaller and people were like “Oh, they’re dead, they’re over with” the shows were actually getting BIGGER. Radio stations started to spin the songs and it’s all because of the fans, totally. They are just amazing and they allow us to keep changing and keep doing different things. Also, the fact that there are five different personalities and five different writers and everybody is open to change and recording music where it’s not just one song over and over that sounds the same. We have five different guys who have different interests and tastes which have grown and changed over the years. We’re all really big fans of music, all kinds of music so we’re never going to have an album where it sounds like a variation on one particular idea. The new album we have just finished doesn’t sound anything like our last album but that’s awesome (laughs). It’s really, really cool that we have different styles and that everybody writes and we all trust what everybody writes. There are so many songs and we have so many to choose from that it makes it real easy for us to hone in and really pick out the ones we think are amazing. I don’t wanna make it sound like it’s easy to do but it does make it easier that we have so many songwriters in the band.
LRI: That “us against the world” vibe is perfectly captured on your last album in the song “Last Song”, was that song as personal as it sounds?
Marty: Without a doubt, when we were making “Hell In My Heart” it was a scary time for the band, our label was in court and we didn’t know if we were going to be held up or ever be able to make another record, we didn’t know what the hell was gonna happen. We hired two attorneys and still nobody had a clue what was going on in terms of the fate of our band or our music, it was like “Oh we own you” and then it was “Oh no, we don’t own you, you’re free” and then it was “Oh you owe the studio a million dollars” and then it was “Oh you don’t owe shit”. It was an up and down rollercoaster every day and we started hearing through the grapevine from other record labels things like “Oh those guys are dead, they’re over with, there is literally nothing there and no bones to pick dry and they’re never going to amount to anything”. That’s pretty much what that song is about and it was written in the beginning from that scary place where were in and then about halfway through the album, once we realized what we had it became a big “FUCK YOU!” (laughs). I mean, if you were in that situation it is completely natural, you do get scared at first, especially since this is all we’ve done for so long is just play music and do BOBAFLEX. When you start hearing people say “you’re screwed and your label went bankrupt and they were crazy for signing you in the first place and no body will ever sign you again” it just sort of made us start thinking about how we didn’t necessarily want to be signed to a record label. We could be on one of the biggest labels out there and they could go bankrupt tomorrow and then where would we be?
LRI: That or you are just not a priority at all to the label….
Marty: Absolutely, you’re never a priority and we were already used to that from booking agents and all of the other movers and shakers which is how we just ended up embracing the whole “DIY” thing and stepping up on our own. To tell you the truth there were times where we were like “Okay….seriously…are we crazy?….are we just the shittiest band in the world and we just think we aren’t cause some of our people think we’re cool? Are we the worst sound on the planet?” but at the same time you would hear that voice in your head goin “No….we are the baddest motherfuckers on the stage” and that’s where all of the emotions that went into “Last Song” came from. That whole album is just a rollercoaster of emotions. We were basically beating our head against a brick wall and watching little pieces of it fall off and writing the album as we were putting our heads back together again. That whole album is one extended middle finger.
LRI: All those people who told you that you shouldn’t continue are becoming less and less relevant and you’re continuing to turn heads. Mainstream press has gotten less and less important. Most of us who write now are really just massive fans whether we want to admit it or not and we’re not getting rich off of writing.
Marty: It’s all about the music and that’s awesome. Really it’s the exact same way at radio, those guys and girls aren’t getting rich off of radio but they love the bands and they love what they do every day, they might get a perk here and there like you do as a writer but the bottom line is it is all about the music. Look, it would be great to be rich but it is great to be making a living playing music too. Whatever we do, this is what I love to do, this is in my blood and in all of our bones whether we are playing in front of five people or 30,000 people. This is what we do and what we have to do to keep our hearts beatin. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it, we are like moths to a flame, we’re gonna do this no matter what. We have a great belief in ourselves and a great respect for the people who help us. We have done so much ourselves, we made the video for “Sounds Of Silence” ourselves, we wrote the script, did the location shoots, all of that on our own and we had a great friend of mine who is a director and had a camera who was able to shoot it for us. We’ve just figured out that we don’t need to pay people squillions of dollars to do stuff, technology has really leveled the playing field as far as recording goes. As far as instruments being made, videos being made, all of it, including the internet and getting your music out there on youtube and you don’t need a record label to get your music on iTunes.
LRI: And finding a gorgeous girl who likes your band and wants to be in your video wasn’t that tough now either…tell the truth?
Marty: (laughs) She did great and she is just so cool. I have to say that she is a really cool chick! We have some great ideas for the video for the new album too.
LRI: I am struck by the fact that the video would have been in ultra heavy rotation if MTV still existed as we knew it but it is still a really great promo video that is turnin a lot of people onto your band.
Marty: Right. I mean, yeah it sucks that there isn’t any more MTV any more but it also proves that it can be done nowadays and still impact the bands that are doing them. We are doing better now than we EVER did on a record label. We started our own record label and met (manager) Doug Weber and a couple other people who we really trusted and bam! We have “Bury Me With My Guns On” in the top 30 on the Active Rock charts and more and more stations picking up “Sounds of Silence” and attendance at the shows is up. The beautiful thing about the United States is that it’s so big and you can keep playing and going to the same markets multiple times in a year and see new faces as more people find out about you. It just keeps going and goin. We just released the last album “Hell in My Heart” in the U.K. Cause we never had a European push so we decided “Fuck it, we’ll do it ourselves” and that has just come out overseas and we have a radio team and distribution over there through Megaforce. Things are going really, really well. We’ve been doing this so long that we’ve figured out what record labels do and we’re doin it ourselves, the only difference is we’re not gonna drop ourselves (laughs).
LRI: You mentioned that you all write and you also have a LOT of voices and harmonies. Your new guitarist Dave Tipple kicks ass and I would say that your bass player Jerod Mankin is kind of the secret weapon of the band in terms of the vocals.
Marty: Oh my god he is amazing. I love that guy to death and he is so talented as a bassist and songwriter but he sings SO well. He is really such a huge part of our sound and our vocals. I couldn’t do it without him. You should see him in the studio, he is just a monster on the bass and on the vocals. When I write a song I cannot wait to take it to Jerod and be like “Ok, here’s the chorus and the main melody, what have you got?” and he sings this beautiful harmony and I just fall apart every time. It’s just amazing how the song becomes something else. We write together and we write apart but we always make sure that everyone is happy with their input and everyone puts their own touches on it. There’s never a moment where someone suggests something and it’s just shot down. We share our songs and we trust each other and that’s what makes it so much fun in the studio with these guys. We had a blast recording the last album and we had a blast recording the new album too.
LRI: Last question before we talk again after the record is in my hands…..Your drummer, Tommy Johnson seems to play an important role in the cover of “Sounds Of Silence” which is amazing considering the original didn’t have drums!
Marty: He does…he is so awesome. He just knows when to play and when to hold back and how to play to the song’s strengths rather than overplaying. He’s just a really great rock drummer and works great with Jerod. Our rhythm section makes what my brother and I do so much easier because not only are they such great guys and so down for the cause but they are amazing, amazing musicians. We are just blessed to be in a band with those guys and I cannot believe that they are from the same hometown that we’re from and it all worked out this way. I am so thankful. I can’t wait for you to hear what he have coming next.
lead photo by Adam Gendler, http://www.adamgendler.com
Jun 21 Trendz Music Club Creve Coeur, IL
Jun 22 The Grove Lincoln, NE
Jul 12 The Back Bar Janesville, WI
Jul 13 The Blue Pig Cudahy, WI
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Aug 15 Meigs County Fair Pomeroy, OH
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