Monday afternoon, Houston music fans discovered that Roky Moon & BOLT! were breaking up this coming summer after five more shows, ending a three-year reign as one of the most party-ready and beloved bands in town. Surely one of the most popular ones here at Rocks Off, and the most fun to cover.
Mike Hardin, the Roky Moon of Roky Moon & BOLT!, posted the band's intentions of disbanding this lineup on Facebook, on both his personal and band page. All of the feedback wished the members well, and the excitement for their next chapter was evident, from both sides of the post.
According to drummer Jeaof Johnson, the change of ownership at The Mink on Main last September was one of the catalysts for the band's demise.
"When that place died, half the band was left without jobs, not to mention our practice room and effectively our HQ, and we were as absolutely unprepared for it as anyone else," says Johnson in an email. Note: The Mink is still open, the ownership just changed hands. -- ed.
"It's not like any of us are gonna turn into strangers or quit playing music in some respect with each other. Above all else, even though we soon won't be a band together, we're still gonna be friends and that's what's most important," he adds.
Rocks Off also reached out to Hardin to get his thoughts on the coming breakup, his own artistic future, and the Houston scene in general.
Rocks Off: What was the most pleasurable part of this band?
Mike Hardin: Obviously getting spend so much time with really awesome people that I play with but there is more. I am glad I never listened to anyone and just played what I felt like. Standing onstage in front of people an performing can have this really intense effect on you. Playing in front of people who actually care about your music and are there for you. I got to experience a good deal of that in this band.
The record release show we did at Fitzgerald's will stay with me for the rest of my life and I get tears every time I think about it. I have never felt so special in my whole life.
RO: Houston really took to you guys quickly. What was the goal when the band started?
MH: I wanted to make the coolest glam band I could. I have said it before that I really love '70s-era rock and roll, and all of the bands just stopped making music like that. I always hoped I'd be able to get it to a point where I was touring all of the time and making records but we didn't quite get there.
RO: So there are things you wanted to accomplish, but didn't?
MH I never got to convince the Summer Fest people to let us play on the big stage. I had this dream since the beginning of the band that for one of the festivals we would get a chance to play in the big stage.
I wanted to this big Houston all-stars thing and get a shitload of Houston musicians onstage playing, singing a great super-jam like "Born To Run" or "All The Young Dudes." I never got to play with this band in Europe, which I think would have gone over really well.
RO: What happens to the ZenHill recording contract now?
MH: I suppose they'll do what they have been doing. They have been pretty busy with Sideshow Tramps stuff. I'm guessing ZenHill isn't too worried about Roky Moon breaking up.
We originally just signed a one-year contract and that expired about six months ago, so we have just kind of been in this strange limbo place. It's a good limbo place because we still worked with ZenHill, just didn't have any real contract anymore. I haven't spoken to them in some time, though.
RO: Was it contentious with the label? They always seemed to be very high on you guys...
MH: They are really easy to work with. I think at first they were high on us, but I think that kind of wore off after a bit. We kind of started of fizzling a bit after the record release and the Tramps were selling a lot of records, so they really focused on them.
Our contract ran out and they said they would welcome us back, but we never had a meeting or anything. Of course we still played the ZenHill night at Fitz and have worked with them.
RO: Is there any RM&B music left in the can no one has heard?
MH: There is a set of recordings we did at Sunrise Studios and I was thinking of posting those online or something. It at least has one song we don't have available anywhere and three songs we have recorded but these sound different.
We have never really done anything with them because I wasn't completely happy with it. We also have two tracks we recorded with Chris Ryan back in the day at his studio. These are cool and have some sweet sax parts.
We have a friend there that is an instructor and he would have us come in and record a couple of songs for the class and they would use them for teaching purposes. Anyway, most of the new stuff I have been writing will go toward my new project.
RO: Would you call this split acrimonious, or is it just another step towards something else? Are there hard feelings?
MH: No hard feelings at all. Definitely feel like we all have a lot of love for each other. You know, we really worked at it but we just kind of ran out of time. That sucks.
RO: Will the new lineup be all from Austin, I assume? Cassie too?
MH: Yes sir, although it is looking like [guitarist] Aaron Echegaray wants to give it a go and try to stay working from Houston and make trips to Austin. So it's possible the new lineup could be close to the original. We won't play RM&B songs, though.
Everything will just be new stuff. So it's more like a new band and all. Plus we had been playing these same songs for years, so it will be good to get some new stuff kicking.
RO: Why do you think RM&B didn't quite make it over the hump?
MH: I don't want people to get the wrong idea about what I am saying here, so let me first say that this in no way is a knock on Robert Ellis, Wild Moccasins, Buxton or Grandfather Child. Those bands are all phenomenal and Robert will be a star, no doubt. I just never got the impression that we were ever taken seriously as a band that could make it. Like we were always a novelty. Maybe we were. Maybe that's why it was so fun.
I don't really feel bitter about anything, but I know when I have done what I can, and if I was going to move forward I had to make a move. So this is where things really fell apart. Cassie and I were broke and trying to make shit work in a new city and we were having a really rough time.
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The wheels sort of just fell off. I wasn't there enough to help keep things together. This is where I need to be, though, because this is where my future is and that future is already happening. I can sit around and blame other people, but I guess that isn't the right thing to do either, so I decided to move here and work really hard in a city where nobody really knows me.