Since Roky Moon & BOLT's debut at Benjamin Wesley's EP-release show at Walter's on Washington in early 2009, the quintet mixture of glam, punk and Broadway-style balladry has earned them a rep as one of Houston's most energetic live bands.
Along the way, BOLT added piano, horns, and both male and female backup singers to their mix. Those elements are showcased on their self-titled debut, which makes its live debut this Saturday night at the band's preferred haunt, the Backroom at the Mink.
The Houston Press spoke with BOLT's stalwart timekeeper, Jeoaf Johnson, about the group's history, creative process and what the future holds. Obviously, all roads lead to Kanye.
Houston Press: You guys are now basically one of Houston's "it" bands in our eyes. What's the ride been like?
Jeoaf Johnson: For me, the last two years have definitely been the most rewarding in terms of what we've been able to accomplish as a band. This is honestly the best band I've ever been a part of. I don't know that any of us really expected to find ourselves in the position of being an "it" band or whatever, much less performing for somebody like Daniel Johnston or winning a Houston Press Music Award right out of the gate like we did.
HP: What is the creative process like for the band? What comes first?
JJ: Roky goes off on a lost weekend and comes back to practice with half a dozen new skeletons of songs for us to play with. He usually has the basic song structures worked out and vague ideas for what the guitar leads or bass lines or drum parts should more or less sound like, but once we really start digging into the ideas a little more, that's when the songs really come to life and start becoming a little bit more fleshed out and three-dimensional.
One of the most unique things about this band is that the songs are ever-evolving. No tune is safe from a complete retooling at any time.
HP: Everyone knows the band has obvious glam-rock influences, but is there something else we might not know about?
JJ: Yeah, there are some pretty undeniable glam-rock influences, definitely along the Bowie/Meatloaf/T. Rex/Queen variety. I think where we're able to avoid the trap of sounding derivative and rehashed is that we don't deny or ignore the fact that we love and are inspired by so much of the music that came after the glam thing ended.
Cassie's [Hargrove, keyboards] favorite band is the Dresden Dolls, Chad [Pinter, bass] is really into garage rock and blues, and I come from more of a punk-rock background. When you allow all of those influences to run rampant all over a glam foundation, you get a sound that is obviously still rooted in the genre.
HP: How did this album come about?
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JJ: Homeskool Rekordz contacted us and offered us a deal, then Stephen Finley of Digital Warehaus Studios let us record over there, on their dime and without any sort of time limit. We had a lot of freedom to experiment and play around with adding different percussion stuff, some sax, expanded vocal harmonies and nearly anything else we wanted to try. It took us about six months to get it all right, but it allowed us to make the record virtually free of any stress, and for that we are extremely grateful to those guys.
Going into the studio, we knew we wanted to push the envelope a little bit, add more elements than we use onstage, and really try to shoot for more of a bigger, theatrical sound rather than try to just capture what the band sounded like live. Brandon West was doing his record at Digital Warehaus at the same time we were, so we got him to come in and do some backing vocals, along with Jessica Janes and Chase Hamblin.
HP: What's the next step for Roky Moon & BOLT, aside from huge tours and partying with Kanye?
JJ: We just signed to Zenhill Records, so we don't really have much time to sit idle. We're gonna start recording the next album sometime around the first of the year, and there's gonna be a lot of touring all throughout 2011. But yeah, ultimately we're just doing everything we can to party with Kanye.