Ancient Visionz interview with Matt James, lead vocalist of Blacktop Mojo (Hard Rock)
1. What inspired the name for Burn The Ships?
Blacktop Mojo (Matt James): Our drummer Nathan, had read a story about Cortez coming to the new world and having to face a massive army. Some of his men wanted to retreat, so Cortez ordered his men to scuttle the ships they sailed in on. The only choice after that was to take over the new land or die trying. We felt that story sort of embodied where we were at in our lives at the time we were recording, as we all quit our jobs and moved into a house together with the intent of doing music full time with the intent of never going back.
2. What are your favorite track or tracks from Burn The Ships?
Matt: There's something that I like about all of them. My favorite to play live right now though is “Pyromaniac".
3. What does Burn The Ships discuss with the songs, and when do you plan to start on the follow up album?
Matt: The album deals with a lot of the emotions we were going through as we made the transition from having day jobs to being full time musicians. Everything from fear and relationship problems to the longing to venture out and make something of yourself.
We’ve already started writing for a third album, but we don't have plans to start recording any time soon.
4. What would you like listeners to take away when they listen to Burn The Ships?
Matt: Hopefully they can relate to some of the stuff in there and know that they aren't alone in what they're going through.
5. The artwork depicts what appears to be 18th or 19th century ships on fire. How long was it before you all agreed on the album cover?
Matt: We had a very talented artist by the name of Chase Gregory from Nashville who did the artwork. We wanted the visual to be from the point of view of one of those soldiers in Cortez’s army as they were staring out at the water watching their way home being burned up. Chase hit the nail on the head right off, so we all agreed on it pretty quickly.
6. How did the partnership with Jimmy Johnson come together?
Matt: Our bass player Matt Curtis grew up in Muscle Shoals, AL where Jimmy is from. We reached out to Jimmy and sent over some stuff from our first album to see if he would be interested in working with us, and we were elated when he said yes. We recorded our radio single, “Where The Wind Blows” with him at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, where he brought in his long time engineer, Steve Melton (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, the Rolling Stones) to turn the knobs for us. We hot it off with Steve and he ended up coming to Nashville with us to help us record the rest of the album.
7. When I was listening to Burn The Ships, I noticed you guys blend strong axe grinding riffs with melodic strings. The process sounds very intricately woven together. How long does it take to decide on a riff for each song and to mix the components into a sound that you are all happy with?
Matt: It really just depends on where we want the song to go. We get in a room together and hammer it out until we're finished.
8. Do you write the songs first then play the music or the other way around?
Matt: Some songs are written music first, others, melody and lyrics first.
9. Where do you guys draw inspiration from for ideas and music?
Matt: Most of it is real life stories of either emotions we or someone close to us were going through at the time or our perspective on the way the world works.
10. Is there a technique you use keep to his vocals healthy?
Matt: I have a bunch of warm ups and exercises I do when we're out running around playing.
11. How is the current tour shaping up and what has the reaction been like to the new album?
Matt: The tour has been great so far. We’ve met a lot of cool people and had an overwhelmingly positive reaction everywhere we gone.
12. Where would you like to play outside the US?
Matt: The Moon. Also, Europe would be pretty cool.
13. On average how many times a year do you guys like to tour?
Matt: This is our first real tour, so at the current juncture I’d say on average it’s one, but we aim to up that number very soon.
14. Do you think it is becoming more important to go on the road and play the songs live to expand and maintain a fan base?
Matt: I think it's the most important thing there is. People can listen to your record all day everyday, but you can't make them a believer unless you do it in front of them.
15. If you could collaborate with someone from metal or any other kind of music who would that be?
Matt: I always thought it would be cool to be a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Also, Sturgill Simpson would be awesome. The man knows how to craft a song.
Thank you Matt for taking the time to do the interview, especially as you are on tour atm. Burn The Ships is a good album with the work ethic and effort clearly present for the listener to hear. I wish you all the best for the tour and future albums. Thanks again for answering the interview. Respect guys, Gaz, Ancient Visionz.
Web site and purchase links:
Blacktop Mojo site
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