Suddenly Unexpected Man : The Newly Signed Red Mojo by DAVE ADAIR
Not long after this sincere and strident Warrington
quintet released the latest in a string of demos ‘70/80’, their blues rock
with a hint of funk and disco groove wet the appetite of Scottish indie
label Crunch Records who recently snapped them up. Amiable and sincere off
stage, as well as focussed, vibrant and rhythmic on it - Red Mojo have a
colourful history that seen them more than willing to travel around the
country spreading their sound and spirit.
The sum of Red Mojo’s parts; Mike York (guitar/song writer), Pete Kenny (bassist/song writer), Lee Leonard (singer/lyricist), Matt Dooley (keyboardist) and Andy York (drummer) disclose what literally is next..
MM. Congratulations on signing to Scottish indie label; Crunch Records. How does it feel after all these years of hard work on the underground and unsigned scene to suddenly be able to call yourselves a signed band? Have you changed much as an outfit since signing the deal?
Pete: Well we haven’t started driving £200,000 cars if that’s what you mean! Nah….. I guess what’s changed is that everyone’s now kinda thinkin ‘actually yeah, maybe we CAN do this’ it isn’t just a dream anymore but that tiny bit closer to a reality. The important thing for me is that we got signed on the strength of our live performance, which will always come across better than a CD. However without selling the label short, they have admitted themselves that this is a ‘foot in the door’ deal so we won’t be quitting our jobs or thinking we’re fucking ‘rock’ stars just yet. I tend not to tell people I’m in a ‘signed’ band because most of them think that’s bullshit anyway.
Lenn: It’s great to finally say that we’re signed, we’ve only just signed though so we’ve not really had chance for anything to happen to change us, ask again in a years time!!
Matt: We havent really got out there and made it count yet, in a live way at least. Once we have recorded the first stuff with the label, the machine will hopefully kick into gear again.
Andy: It’s nice that someone wants to give us a chance. It gets a bit disheartening at times when you work your balls off for so long and nobody wants to sit up and take notice of you.
MM. Your last demo/EP; 70/80 sees Lenn’s vocals taking on a funkier edge to match the guitars and basslines. This is most prevalent in ‘Sitting On The Fence’ and the slow building ‘When You’re Not Around’ that has a trickle of blues coming through it. What motivated you to write these numbers?
Pete: Musically, these tracks were written in classic Mojo stylee, Mike came to a jam with the basic chords of ‘Sitting On The Fence’ and everyone built up their parts around it. Although actually what Mike plays now and what he played initially are completely different, which is cool because it originally kinda sounded like ‘Stan’ by Eminem. I’d rather not have Dr. Dre’s lawyers on the phone if we ever wanna release it! “When You’re Not Around’ I thought was just a beautiful, soulful song which I could totally relate to, so I wanted to write a part that reflected that. It’s up to the listener to decide whether I achieved that or not.
Lenn: Lyrically ‘Sitting On The Fence’ was about worthlessness. ‘When You’re Not Around’ was an emotional release that saved me from saying ‘F**k it, lets finish this!’. I don’t want to get too much into the lyrics, a picture is better if you take what you want from it and give it new meaning.
Andy: We seem to have this knack of writing songs which build up slowly until you reach this thunderous end like in ‘when you’re not around’. I think we do this really well. ‘Sitting on the fence’ however shows that we don’t just write that type of song and can do the more normal verse chorus verse chorus thing but still make it as interesting as possible.
MM. The howling Kaleidoscope on 70/80 shows that you can still rock retro style and display variety. Do you think that not enough bands experiment and try to put diversity in their armour these days?
Pete: In terms of the unsigned world, I think it’s difficult to be diverse because you kind of get the feeling that labels and people won’t take interest unless you’re almost a carbon copy of someone else. The major labels just don’t want to take the risk anymore do they? The pattern seems to be that an indie label will release something different then the majors scramble to find acts that are playing almost exactly the same type of music, so they can make their money before moving on.
That song, however, has been accused of just being ‘bland rock’ though so god knows how ‘different’ it actually is.
Lenn: Mmmmm. Everybody is diverse and experimental because they say they are, I’ll have that I guess. I suppose you can only be as diverse and experimental as your talent allows you to be. If you’re well into, I dunno lets say Oasis, your ability might only allow you to move within that template or maybe JUST outside that boundary. This would make you feel like you were being experimental and diverse, when actually all you’re really doing is working on ‘variations of’ an existing concept. I think perhaps that’s the main obstacle, moving out of the box.
Matt: I think that its time to go back to the "classic" way of writing songs. Ones that people can actually sing along to. There are too many bands that are bothered about being in the Cool list or how many times they can make obvious drug/sex references in their lyrics. Style over substance. There is no doubting the correlation between good melody writing and long-term success.
MM. Do you have a message or comment for your fans in Serbia & Montenegro?
Pete: Thank you very much for your support. We were shocked and delighted to find our music was reaching that far a field. Oh and please get an English speaker to translate that message on our website! haha!
Lenn: Yes, Yes I do. Try to eat a good fresh salad once a week, preferably with some spinach.
Matt: Da, goverim malo srpski jezik. Zdravo a hvala lepo!
MM. What are you all listening to at the moment, musically speaking?
Pete: Allsorts! On my ‘playlist’ at the moment are; Portishead, Aesop Rock, Red Snapper, MF Doom, Lauryn Hill, Cut Chemist, Gomez …… I’ll stop there cause it just goes on and on! (and Ariston) Anything with soul basically, I like jazz and funk, trip-hop, hip-hop, and good old fashioned rock music. I’m influenced by a variety of different music. Even listening to a hip-hop track with a dead simple looped bass-line reminds me that you don’t have to play really flashy for it to be a good song.
Lenn: Mmmm. Both the ‘Audioslave’ albums are rackin up some air time on my MP3 player at the moment. Also, Kate Bush- Aerial, Bloc Party- Silent Alarm, Stereophonics- Language, Sex, Violence, Other., Jack Johnson – In between Dreams, anything Marvin and Stevie, The Doors, Elbow, Doves, E.L.O- the list is endless to be fair. I’m eagerly awaiting the next Cooper Temple Clause and Outkast’s albums.
Matt: Current stuff im listening to: Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger, Engineers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Kooks, Richard Ashcroft, Sigur Ros and Arcade Fire.. And classics from The Kinks, The Stones, Beach Boys and John Lennon. Cant get enough of The Kinks" Dead End Street" and Beach Boys "In My Room" in particular.
Andy: At the moment I’m listening to a whole variety of stuff like the Roots, Led Zeppelin, Elbow, Outkast, Doves, Jamiroquai, DJ Shadow, DJ Format, Moloko and the list goes on.
MM. A Question for each of you; what song, book, TV show or poem sums you up and why?
Pete;. I guess the one song that would sum me up is ‘No Regrets’ by Aesop Rock off his Labor Day’s album. It follows the life of a girl called Lucy who is an artist and people think she’s weird because she barely speaks and spends all her time doing what she loves. The basic point of the song is to live your dreams, be it wanting to be an artist, musician, racing driver, whatever. You have to live your dream because if you chase it you’ll never catch it. Lucy’s last words before she dies are ‘Look, I’ve never had a dream in my life because a dream is what you wanna do but still haven’t pursued. I knew what I wanted and did it till it was done. So I’ve been the dream that I wanted to be since day one’. I am a dreamer so this song really reflects how I feel about life. As soon as I stop living my dream it’s only a matter of time before that dream is a distant memory. Sorry that’s a bit deep but you know how the saying goes; ask a deep question, get a deep answer…… or something like that, right?
Lenn: Ok, erm, yeeess. Right, one song can’t sum me up (that’s probably why I write my own songs, eventually I’ll define myself on paper, then I’ll know who I am!) but a few might give you a rough idea: ‘Git-Up, Git-Out’ by Outkast, ‘How’ by John Lennon, ‘Moving’ by Supergrass, ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ by Lenny Kravitz and ‘Harlem’ by Bill Withers. I wont discuss these songs, listen to them and you’ll get a good idea about ‘what Lenn’s all about!’.
Matt: Book - High Fidelity by Nick Hornby because i used to do all that making mix tapes for your girlfriend stuff and always thought it would be great to run a record shop. Song - Too difficult to choose one, anything that involves love, heartbreak, drinking, having a good night out, self doubt etc... Ok i've thought of one. (Whats So Funny 'Bout)Peace, Love and Understanding by Elvis Costello. Just listen to it, smile and think of me. Ha ha.
Andy: I’d have to say Git-up Git-out by Outkast as well. It just says stop being a bum and do something with your life. That was me about eight months ago. I was a total bum hated my job, got myself really down about things and then I all of a sudden turned things around for myself. Got a new job which I love doing and generally got things back on track. I listen to that track now and can really relate to the point they were trying to get across.
words : edited from text by Dave Adair / pics (c) redmojo website
(c) (p) musicdash / manchestermusic.co.uk 2006