To say that Moonshine Bandits qualify as your average West Coast band would be nothing short of an understatement. Tex and Bird are having the time of their lives, making their music their way. Their unique sound, a blend of West Coast beat and country twang, is a strong representation of the California of which they grew up.
“We’re from Central California so it’s very blue collar and agricultural-oriented here in the Valley,” Tex says. “A lot of people have misconceptions about California being all Hollywood or the beach, but where we’re from the main industry is farming. There are a lot dairies, cotton fields, orchards and tomato processing plants.”
Moonshine Bandits’ sound is a hybrid of the music they listened growing up. “We grew up on West Coast hip/hop and West Coast rap, but we also got into country,” says Tex. “The first country song I heard was ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ by Johnny Cash. Now, we do a lot of things in our live show like our own version of Garth Brooks’ ‘Friends in Low Places’ with the Crowd singing along with us and a hiphop driven beat behind it. Our content has always been about where we’re from and what we do. There were a lot of outdoor parties in high school and just a lot of good-time type music.”
Moonshine Bandits have delivered another round of “good-time music” on their latest offering, “Calicountry,” their debut disc on Average Joes Entertainment/Suburban Noize Records set for an early 2014 release.
From the thumping first single “California Country,” and the party anthem “Throwdown,” f/The LACS, to the contagious “We All Country” f/Colt Ford, Charlie Farley and American Idol finalist Sarah Ross, the new album is already turning heads all across the country.
How do they describe their sound? “A lot of our music is hell-raising music,” Tex says. “Our guitars are very loud and our bass is pretty heavy. It’s very much in-your-face kind of music that you can party down to. We’ve got a few songs on there that are a little more personal and a little bit slower. But, for the most part it’s very aggressive.”
If it seems that Moonshine Bandits pay no attention to where lines are drawn, there’s a reason. It runs in the family.
“My great-grandfather was actually a bootlegger in the Bay Area of California,” recalls Tex. He used a barber shop as a front. And my great-aunt was actually pedaling it in baby carriages to politicians during the prohibition years. He was definitely doing what he had to do to support his own family during those tough times.”
Even today, that tradition continues – albeit legally! “We actually did a licensing deal where we endorsed our own moonshine,” says Tex. “It’s distilled here in Modesto which is about an hour from where we live by the Valley Spirits Distillery. It’s 99 proof, un-aged whiskey and is distributed so far in California, Georgia, and New York. Aside from Original, both Apple Pie and Peach are available as well. You can also get it online. There are just a few states that it can’t be shipped to legally. But, it’s doing pretty well.”
Tex says the collaborative process is something that both he and Bird enjoy very much.
“Bird or I will come up with a concept or a melody and we’ll work together developing that. Then we’ll go back in the studio and work on getting the guitars laid down. We’ll bring in different guitarists to work on the concept. We just go back and forth as far as the songwriting and the lyrics go. We both write all of our own music though we have had concepts pitched to us that we’ve used and developed. We’ve also flown out to Nashville and worked with Phivestarr. They do all The LACS’ albums and they work a lot with Colt Ford. On this new record, Ty Weathers and Phivestarr did the majority of the production with us and Shannon Houchins, the CEO of Average Joes, did one song. So, we’ve got a really good team working on the album.”
Tex says their music is tailor-made for the most important people in the world to them – their fans, referred to as “The Shiner Nation.” The band has over 15 million YouTube views, and has already had a fan favorite video on CMT.com that hit #1 and on CMT’s High Five countdown that hit #2.
“We’ve built a pretty loyal following,” he says. “We’ve taken a grass-roots approach, and haven’t built off of radio or TV, but rather our live performances. So, when we do our songwriting, we always think about whether the music would go over well at our live shows and how the crowds will respond. That’s how we kind of write our music, with that thought in mind. So far, we’ve had pretty good success as far as crowd reaction. It’s been a slow and steady climb up the ladder but our fans are pretty damn loyal.”
And, they have followed them everywhere – even through multiple genres. “We’ve gone on tours with groups like Insane Clown Posse, who have a hardcore horrorcore rap fan base,” says Tex. “Then, the following week we will go do shows with Toby Keith or Luke Bryan. Our music has crossed over to a few different genres. You don’t really need a genre for our music. Save that for the record labels. They’re the ones who need that. We’ve been fortunate to reach many different markets.” One of the highlights in their touring schedule is their annual “Shiner Fest,” where droves of their fans come to get lost in the music – and to have fun, which they do rather well! “It’s like The Beastie Boys meets Credence Clearwater Revival, and it’s entertaining to people. It’s something that they haven’t seen. Our live shows are the biggest part of our career,” says Tex.
So, for Moonshine Bandits, the future is now. With a label behind them that knows how to market their music and get it to the fans, 2014 is looking very bright. “We’re very excited to be there,” Bird said of their affiliation with Average Joes. “We’re excited that they understand our music, as well as the marketing side of it, too, which is such a huge part of pushing the album. Colt and Shannon are executive producers on the album and The LACS are featured. The album turned out great. We’re just super excited for the world to understand where we’re coming from, having our own sound, and to bring that to Nashville…and on to the world!”