Bobaflex’s Jerod Mankin Talks New Album, Being From a Town With One Stoplight, Connection to Fans and More
Jarod Mankin is the animated and talented bassist for West Virginia hard rockers Bobaflex and he’s got a lot to jump around about these days. His band is readying the release of their sixth album, “Charlatan’s Web”, due out Sept. 10 and preceded by their lead video/single “Bad Man” which is currently receiving lots of radio and You Tube action. This is all centered around the band bringing their show to the people which is precisely what Bobaflex does best. Since their inception they’ve made a career out of playing as much as humanly possible, their live show is deadly sharp and supremely fun as a result. I recently phoned Jerod to ask him a little about the album and the latest happenings when he was at home on a rare break, read on….
LRI: It’s been a while since I talked with you here when you played up here, How are you doing Jarod?
Jarod Mankin: I am doing well man, just doing some recording here at my studio, I have a band from New York City here working on some things.
LRI: I’ve heard the debut single/video “Bad Man” and it’s been on the radio a lot here but I have yet to actually hear the new Bobaflex album, “Charlatan’s Web”, what can you tell me about the album while everyone either pre-orders http://bobaflex.ras.bustores.com/ or waits to pick it up?
Jarod: Well, we definitely went about it our own way. We put this record and all of our stuff out on our own label, BFX Records with different distribution in different areas. With this record, it’s a bit more aggressive but it still retains a lot of the same melodic stuff that you would expect from Bobaflex. There are a lot of soaring harmonies and vocals but paired with very, very aggressive drum and guitar work overall. Ten songs overall, including “Bad Man”, “I’m Glad You’re Dead” and “Pretty Little Things” and no cover songs this time around.
LRI: “Hell in My Heart” was made under kind of difficult circumstances but ended up breathing a ton of new energy into the band and doing very well for you. How much different was the environment or atmosphere this time around recording “Charlatan’s Web”?
Jarod: This one we were kinda under the gun. We wanted to get it done really quick. Also, we’ve known each other for so long and played with each other for so long that songwriting has moved along nicely. A guy can write a riff or even part of a riff and the rest of us can come in and move it along fairly quickly. It was definitely an interesting process, I can say that. The guy who runs the studio we use is a very, very dear friend of ours and has worked on almost every record we have ever put out so it’s kind of a relaxed, comfortable environment for us, it’s pretty laid back.
LRI: Your new guitarist David Tipple is great live and a great guy. Did he get a chance to contribute to this new album?
Jarod: Dave came in about midway through the recording process so he is on a lot of it but our former guitarist, John Hopkins played on a lot of tracks too.
LRI: Have you guys started incorporating more songs from “Charlatan’s Web” into the live sets??
Jarod: We are doing about four new songs in these recent shows and to be honest with you they’ve been going over great. So far so good man. People are really, really digging the new stuff even though they haven’t really heard any of it other than “Bad Man” so I think this is going to be a pretty successful record for us. This might be our time, if that makes any sense (laughs)…
LRI: The new video shoot you did for “Bad Man” looks like it was a hot one and the views are climbing on YouTube, was that a pretty tedious shoot or did you manage to have some fun??
Jarod: It was a lot of fun actually. A good buddy of ours helps with all the videos and we are real comfortable working with him so once again, it was a real laid back situation. That makes it really, really easy to work on any video. If you’re comfortable with the people around you it tends to allow you to be yourself a bit more. It was a hot shoot with the pyro alone, we were also using some really bright lights which put out a lot of additional heat but we are real happy with it, it came out real well.
LRI: I don’t want to give off the impression that you have all grown up and become old fuddy-duddies but kids, fiancees, marriages and family have become a part of many of your lives and what you do job wise is far from normal in terms of the amount of travel and time away from home. It can also be a lot of hard work and stress on the individual band friendships but have you found little ways of making it easier?
Jarod: We’ve known each other our whole lives to the point where the band itself is family. We came from three towns where there’s one stoplight (laughs). We know each other well enough by this point that we know when to back off a bit or give each other space and stuff like that. As far as the personal stuff goes, I’m a married guy and you know, it does take a toll on your life here and there but it tends to work out as long as your spouse is willing to accept what you do and understand everything that comes with it. You definitely spend a lot of time away from your family but it works out, it’s all for the best.
LRI: As I have become a huge fan of you guys I would almost compare what you’re doing with building your fanbase to the way bands did things back in the 70s, pre MTV era. You are out there building a fanbase by playing live and reputation spreads, largely by word of mouth, sometimes on social medias or sometimes the old fashioned way; a friend tells a friend, a brother tells a cousin “You gotta check out Bobaflex live”. To me that is really refreshing, do you think that’s really helped the band biz wise in the last five years??
Jarod: Oh for sure. Our thing is personal. A lot of the bands on the radio these days, people don’t even know what they look like. If you’ve ever heard the name Bobaflex, you’ve probably seen the band live in your town because we tour like crazy. As far as the live show goes, me personally, it says on my tax return “Entertainer” so basically that’s the way I look at what I do. I wouldn’t want to go to a show and not be entertained so I’ll put my all out there every single night just to entertain the crowd and put a smile on their faces.
LRI: The band has small town West Virginia roots as you spoke about earlier and you do go over really well here in the midwest. Is there something about that which just comes effortlessly or has become second nature to you as a band?
Jarod: There’s no doubt about it. The midwest, specifically Rockford, Janesville, Madison, Detroit, Flint, that whole entire area, rock and roll is still alive there, in fact it never really died. For a long time in the rest of the country, rock and roll didn’t really exist. The fans that we have in those areas have always been really, really true to us and we feel that we should be loyal and true back. People really appreciate the band in those areas and we really appreciate them right back, it’s been that way and will continue to be that way on our part.
LRI: Again, I haven’t had the chance to pour through the lyrics yet on “Charlatan’s Web” but I will. Bobaflex is usually a band that tends to speak its mind lyrically on the albums, “Last Song” comes to mind for sure. What kind of things were inspiring lyrically this time around?
Jarod: This time around there’s a few different things, maybe a couple more controversial subject matters this time out but all in all it’s basically still a Bobaflex record. It is us saying how we feel and you’re right, we’ve never really held back on that. The cover art and overall concept of the title is something Shaun (McCoy, co-lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist) came up with and brought to us it’s just themed around the charlatan, the rouser who’s just going around fooling people basically and weaving a web of lies. The moment we saw the cover art we all just fell in love with it and it won hands down (laughs).
LRI: Hopefully you guys have the actual physical product at the shows. I know most of your fans are super hellbent on actually holding the real CD in their hands or blasting it in their cars. I’m super vocal in my support of buying vinyl and actual hard copies rather than just digital, I just think it sounds better. Do you have an opinion on this personally?
Jerod: I’m a big collector of vinyl myself and I personally love everything about it. I mean I really do but I also can relate to the Itunes store and Amazon and all the digital stuff, there’s actually a lot of money to be made from downloads because so many people find it way more convenient and that’s the only way they buy so there is an upside to each. It’s so easy to go on your phone and go to the iTunes or Android store and download it right to your phone so sometimes I do that. I’m a very avid iTunes and Amazon user so I have a lot of my collection like that as well so we definitely embrace that as a band as well.
LRI: I just went to the Rival Sons show and all kinds of people were right there with me buying the album on vinyl so that’s good to hear that you’re a wax fan. Would you personally like to see Bobaflex on vinyl?
Jerod: Me, personally, of course, I would love to have it. I don’t know about the turnaround and feasibility of actually putting it out on wax but that would be fantastic. I don’t know how many people are buying it to actually play it like we do, I mean, I just went and got the new Royal Bliss on vinyl so that I could play it and enjoy it. I’ve got the “Meet The Beatles” record and I still play it, all the time but I think for a lot of people it might still be a novelty or something to put up on their wall or get autographed. As a fan of the format myself it is something I would love to explore for Bobaflex.
Aug 20 Smiths Olde Bar Atlanta, GA
Aug 21 Chaos – On The Rocks! Columbus, GA
Aug 22 Club Detroit St Petersburg, FL
Aug 23 The Haven Lounge Winter Park, FL
Aug 24 Bourbon Street New Port Richey, FL
Aug 28 The Riot Room Kansas City, MO
Aug 30 Bar3 Rockford, IL
Aug 31 Taste of Madison w/ Trapt, Madison, WI
Sep 01 Easy Rider Rodeo Chillicothe, OH
Sep 06 Off Sides Woodstock, IL
Sep 07 Oktoberfest w/ Nonpoint La Crosse, WI
Sep 10 CD Release Show presented by 92.7 The Planet Huntington, WV
Sep 13 Diesel Concert Lounge w/ Sponge Chesterfield, MI
Sep 14 The Fishbonew/ Wayland, Social 66 Vienna, WV
Sep 20 Spicoli’s Waterloo, IA
Sep 21 L-Treyns Keokuk, IA
Sep 28 The Back Bar Janesville, WI