Blacktop Mojo

I have had the honor of getting to know the guys from Blacktop Mojo for a few years now. And honestly, they are one of those bands that have so many personalities, all that are great. I had several conversations with Chuck Wepfer guitarist of BTM, and every time there’s always a great story. Recently, I had a chance to catch up to two of them (Matt James – vocals and Chuck – guitars) to chat about what’s going on in the Blacktop Mojo camp.
Blacktop Mojo band pic
We talked offline about the music industry. Can we touch on this again?
Chuck: About the industry, it’s definitely going through some changes. With streaming, via Spotify, Youtube and so on, is taking over. I feel like it’s even starting to take over the radio which is changing the game. People are gravitating towards these media outlets. Granted, satellite radio is very relevant, and it’s not the fact that radio isn’t relevant, but people are still looking towards other ways of listening. It’s pretty interesting. Things evolve, and there’s no stopping it. The future of music, and being in a band, you can pretty much do it all yourself. All the resources are available, and I think it’s great.
What changed over the years with touring?
Chuck: Now, since there is a lack of record sales, we all know this, the business is changing. It’s almost all streaming now. You walk into a store, and see one rack of CD’s. Whereas you walked into that same store 15 years ago, and there was a whole area full. I feel that bands sell their albums at the shows now. The fans want a signed copy.
Now there’s more VIP experiences than ever. They have to make up for the lack of record sales, and the VIP experience is a great way for a band to make a profit in order to survive. Tour buses, no one funds those. Some of our gear, gas, food, and so on, is all out of our pockets. There is also the buy on for bands. I won’t get into too much of my opinion on this subject. But in all honesty, touring is the way bands make money. Bands used to sell records to make a profit, and now that’s changed, touring is pretty much how we make a living.
What are the differences and the similarities among the new album, “Under the Sun” and the previous ones?
Matt: With “Under the Sun”, we were able to lock ourselves in our house and record pretty much 24 hours a day, whereas on the previous two, we all lived separately, could only meet every now and then to jam, so there was much less preparation going into tracking.
What does the album title “Under the Sun” declare?
Matt: “Under the Sun” declares we all, for the most go through similar struggles. We all lust for the same things as the people that have lived on this earth for 10s of thousands of years, whether that be wine, sex, or success. There is nothing new under the sun.
What are your expectations from the new album?
Chuck: Well, we’ve done a ton of touring on it so far, and we’re going to keep touring with it for the next year and a half. We just want to get it out there, we want more people to hear it, and it seems to be working. All the touring, getting in front of people, it’s definitely making a mark. My whole thing is, we gotta keep pushing. That’s all you can do, you know?
Do you think that now is BTM’s time to go bigger and become more both in the US and in the EU... and why’s that?
Chuck: We do plan on going overseas, but I don’t know the exact time, but we have to go when it makes sense financially. We can’t just go for one or two shows, so we need to set a tour around it, so we can afford to do it. But as far as that goes, we’re looking forward to it.
Do you prefer to be on the road or in the studio writing and recording?
Chuck: We’re always writing, writing guitar riffs, Matts always writing lyrics. On or off the road. We’ll get in the jam room, collaborate, in a pretty natural, organic way. It’s pretty old school. We love to jam. Every band has their thing, this is ours.
How did you come up with the name Blacktop Mojo initially?
Chuck: OK, so, the band was formed six years ago. And basically, Matt was backroading. Backroading is a popular thing in Texas. You hop in the truck or car with your buddies, and go backroading. Matt and Nathan are the original members. So one day, Matt was waiting for Nathan to get home from work, and Matt’s buddy asked him to go backroading, and around the same time, they were trying to come up with a band name. So, Matt needed something to stir his whiskey with, so there was this mojo duck caller, so it started there. Then they came up with Blacktop Mojo.
Which do you consider to be the best male & female musicians in rock history?
Chuck: I’d have to say, hands down, Zakk Wylde. He’s got everything. He writes, plays a mean acoustic, plays the piano and sings. And he was in Ozzy. As far as female, I’d say Lzzy Hale. She’s a bad@ss. We were fortunate enough to play alongside her at the Harleyfest. I got to sit side stage and watch her. She’s an awesome singer, plays guitar and is so full of energy. Her songs are great. That’s a real musician.