STUCK MOJO - Revival Of The Fittest

March 7, 2009, 11 years ago

By Carl Begai

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Stuck Mojo’s 2007 comeback album Southern Born Killers may not have been a shot heard around the world, but for guitarist/vocalist/evil genius Rich Ward it was loud enough to warrant a follow-up, and right quick. So it went that scarcely a year went by and Mojo has returned with The Great Revival, all in the interest of flooring the forward momentum built up since the band’s 2006 resurrection. It’s a record that affirms gentle giant Lord Nelson was the best man for the frontman job when founding venom-spitting rapper Bonz took a necessary walk, and it upholds the band’s long standing tradition of doing everything except play by the rules. In fact, The Great Revival redefines the “crossover” label used to describe Stuck Mojo’s rap metal sound as it dives into the realms of gospel and country for an added twist. Initial reactions from the diehards suggest Ward’s latest mosh of creativity is a welcome addition to the band’s catalogue, but there’s the expected amount of kicking and screaming going on in the background by folks that don’t want people screwing with their drink of choice. Not even the bartender.

“The same thing happened after Snappin’ Necks when we put Pigwalk out,” Ward says of the inevitable nose-holding by some fans. “People were like ‘What the hell happened? You guys were this really cool funky rap metal band and all of a sudden you’ve got Devin Townsend working with you doing all this aggressive stuff.’ And the people that liked Pigwalk, they were all confused and weirded out when we put out Rising because there were these bluesy rock jams. Next album, Declaration Of A Headhunter, continued to confuse people because it was a lot more melodic and aggressive. I think that’s been the history of this band. It’s kind of like trick-or-treating on Halloween; you walk to the house but you don’t know what kind of candy you’re going to get. I’ve said this in interviews a lot recently, but they call them ‘records’ because they’re a record of who that band is at that point in time. When I get into the writing process I can only do what feels right at that time.”
“I’m currently writing the next Fozzy record and I’m enjoying it the same way I did when I wrote The Great Revival. I was really liking those jams. When you take a song like ‘The Flood’ and you put it against ‘Country Road’ it seems like those two songs shouldn’t go on the same album, but I didn’t worry about that. I loved both songs. The Great Revival is a journey of sorts, taking you through a range of different emotions. This is a record that Stuck Mojo needed to make right now. Maybe the next album will filled with satanically-fuelled death metal songs (laughs). I have no idea because I just try to live in the moment and not overthink things.”

Ward freely admits he had no designs on making an album like The Great Revival. In fact, the way he tells it, he had very little control over the end result until it was time to put the songs on tape.

“What happened was, I wrote this version of ‘Country Road’ which I was really into because it was kind of a tribute to my mom. I thought it would be cool to get a real Nashville bad-ass pedal steel player in on it to do the slide stuff, so we hired a guy. I had some other songs with a Bad Company-esque Lynyrd Skynyrd-y vibe, so I asked him to take a pass at those ones as well. It just kept building and taking on a life of its own, with me adding acoustic guitars and a little bit of Hammond organ. By the end of it I was like, ‘Wow, how’d that happen?’ because the album really wasn’t supposed to sound like that (laughs).”
“That’s the beauty of the creative process,” Ward adds. “Sometimes you can push songs in a certain direction, and sometimes you accidentally stumble across something you just keep expanding on because you want to see what’s going to happen. As a songwriter I’m always open to all of those things. I think the main thing I’ve learned over the years as a songwriter is not to become attached to anything. Be willing to say at any moment ‘My ideas are bad and somebody in the group may have a better one.’”

Balancing the postive reactions to The Great Revival against the negative, Ward figures Stuck Mojo is currently courting two different groups of fans.

“It’s hard for me to gauge what people think because there have been people that have given The Great Revival a 9.5 out of 10 and others have given it 4 out of 10, and that’s all based on perspective. Most of the high ratings are coming from people who don’t have the other Mojo records. They’re listening to it with no preconceived notions.”

Digging deeper, Ward puts The Great Revival up against what is considered by many rock and metal fans to be the most overrated ego stroke of all time, Guns N’ Roses (better said, Axl Rose’s) “comeback” record, Chinese Democracy, to illustrate his point.

“Growing up I was never really into Guns N’ Roses. They were a little too L.A. for me because I was still into Maiden, Ozzy, Slayer and Priest, and getting into Pantera and White Zombie. Guns N’ Roses didn’t do anything for me, but I listened to Chinese Democracy a few days ago and I think it’s brilliant. The reason I like it is for the reason everybody told me ‘Don’t listen to it, they suck, Axl’s lost his mind…’ hates it; those people were big fans of Appetite For Destruction. The album is so different for them, and they were waiting for Appetite #2. Axl just happened to write a record that’s, well, not that. So, I think there are going to be Mojo fans that hear the new record and go ‘This ain’t Pigwalk, what the fuck was Rich thinking?’ And then there are going to be people that listened to The Duke record when I put it out and thought ‘This ain’t Mojo’ that are going to like The Great Revival.”
“Let’s be honest,” he continues. “I’ve tried a lot of different things with Sick Speed, The Duke, Fozzy, and if you’re a Mojo fan and you’ve followed my career you pretty much know that I can’t be trusted or relied on (laughs). But, if you’re a Mojo fan you also know I put out records that sound great. The funny thing about being a musician is that everybody acts like they do whatever they want to do no matter what, and that may be true, but we still question it. There was never a point where I didn’t question The Great Revival. I did question it, but I didn’t question it enough to not put it out there.”

Next up is the highly aniticipated fourth Fozzy album and Stuck Mojo’s return to the road for at least another year of pounding their point home.

“We have to win over the old Stuck Mojo fans with Lord Nelson,” states Ward. “He does a great job; he’s a great frontman and a great vocalist, everyone in the band has confidence in him, but he has to go out and earn the respect of the fans and he does. I know we’re a good band, and that’s not me being a snotty and arrogant musician. I’ve just been around long enough. I know when we have bad shows, I know when we have good shows, and my goal is to go on stage knowing we’ve prepped and rehearsed and that we’re in shape to be the best band on the planet. And that’s all we can do. I don’t walk out on stage expecting anything. My only goal is to go out there and be the best band on that stage that the people have ever seen.”

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