Junkyard - Autumn 2018

Latest album High Water

Hollywood rockers Junkyard were one of the most important bands to take over Sunset Strip in the late 80s. They brought a wonderfully unique sound where tracks individually reminiscent of punk, country and classic rock cohabited to create incredible albums. The band’s 1989 self-titled debut and its 1991 successor Sixes, Sevens and Nines provided for the most powerfully eclectic records. An important point to note here is that Junkyard have been consistently eclectic. It wouldn’t be until a generation later that they would release their 3rd full studio album High Water but they simply continued from where they left off: giving fans a truly fantastic album that delivers what the band do best: great songs, infectious riffs and outstanding vocals. On the eve of a UK tour that sees Junkyard playing both headline shows and sharing stages with their friends Blackberry Smoke, we caught up with guitarist Tim Mosher and drummer Patrick Muzingo to get the full story on the past, present and most importantly the future.

UK Tour - November 2018

Before we talk about the band’s latest album and forthcoming UK tour I would like to take a moment to reflect on Junkyard’s early albums and the years that followed. 1989’s self-tilted debut and 1991’s Sixes, Sevens and Nines we’re huge records, both commercially and artistically. Take me back to the years following the release of those albums – what happened that prevented Junkyard from releasing more new music at that time.


Muzingo: It was a very very strange time. After we came back from the UK (1991) we immediately jumped on the road with Skynrd. At the end of that tour our management gave us a lot of reasons why we need to go right back into the studio and start on the follow up to "Sixes, Sevens and Nines." which was totally confusing to the 5 of us! The label had this grand scheme of us being out on the road for at least 18 months using this release and we had only done maybe 6 months all in.

 

We followed what management said (since we thought they were on our side) and started writing, and writing and writing... probably too much writing! (Laughs). For all of 1992 and into 1993 we recorded tons of demos (which was later released as "XXX" & "Joker") and our A&R guy finally felt comfortable to throw around 10 songs to the rest of the staff at Geffen. A few days later we got a call from our lawyer that the label (not really the whole label, just John Kalodner) didn’t hear "a hit" and that they had sent a one paragraph document out in the mail explaining that we had been released from our contract (dropped like a hot potato) and are welcome to shop to other labels with these demos. 

 

So we did a few more local shows to try and grab some extra money and had some interest from a few major labels but they eventually used the same excuse that all the other labels did: "If this was 6 months earlier we would have signed ya, but this Nirvana thing is blowing up" which we were totally happy about since all the "grunge" bands were all old friends of ours. So we packed up our stuff at our rehearsal space and went our separate ways. It wasn’t a huge drama type of situation - it was a life situation. What the hell were we gonna do now? 

 

We continued to keep playing in bands (Brian and Todd in "Careless" and then eventually Brian with Bad Religion , David in "Borracho" with Jo from Dogs D'Amour, Chris had a few bands and went back to Texas and I went on to play with "Suckerpunch" with Tim Mosher and in "Speedbuggy" (with Timbo from "Sugartooth") and eventually got jobs, that became careers for a few of us. I’ll tell ya, it was reality slapping us in the face more than us feeling like a bunch of "poncey rockstars" when we disbanded (note that I didn’t say that we broke up). Looking back it was the best thing that happened to us.


In April last year, Junkyard fans were ecstatic to see the release of a brand new studio album, the absolutely incredible High Water. How did your approach to creating this record compare to your earlier records a generation earlier?


Mosher: Glad you like the record and thank you. It was done completely differently from how records were done in the late 80’s when we came up. Back then you would hire a fancy studio and spend weeks tracking, overdubbing and singing etc… and suffice it to say plenty of money was spent as well and sometimes to mixed results I might add. For High Water most of the work was done at my studio (vocals, guitars ) and we only went into a bigger room to track the drums for maybe 2 days. Also, we spent a good deal of time writing the record but the writing and recording process happened at the same time- which I think it kept the performances fresh. The new recording technology allows you lots of different ways to approach recording and it’s makes it a lot less expensive as well. But in the end it always comes down to songs I think. So as always that was the main focus - the songs.


What were your expectations for this record, and now, 18 months since its release, how far are those expectations being met?


Mosher: Commercially we had no real expectations. We had been out of the game so long we had no idea what to expect so when we charted on Billboard we were stunned. Artistically, we hoped it would stand up along side well with the first album and 6,7, and 9s but to also show that we still had something new to say musically. I think we did that but that’s also something for listeners to decide for themselves as well. Overall, High Water has exceeded all of our expectations. We are thrilled with how much people have taken to the record as well.

1989’s self-titled debut album

With all your records, you’ve consistently shown how you’ve mastered the skill of knowing when not to play. New track Faded is a perfect example of that but the same can be said for early tracks such as Hollywood. How did you find this sound and are your influences today the same as back in the day?


Mosher: I think we all came up loving music that tended to be direct and straightforward. Whether it be AC/DC, the Ramones, The Stones, Skynyrd and punk in general, they all tend to have very concise approaches to what they do. Everything is built around serving the song and nothing else, and to us that’s really what it’s all about. How well we can play or sing doesn’t really matter to us, what matters to us putting the energy and feeling of the song across the best way we can.


With tracks such as Back In The Streets, Clean The Dirt and All The Time In The World, your early records continue to have relevance nearly 30 years on and still connect with old and especially new fans. You must be incredibly proud to create such timeless music?


Muzingo: Those songs, as well as the songs from the debut, at least to us, were just Junkyard songs. We never thought about how they would age years later. They all just came out the way they did. Lyrically I have to say David is a genius! No silly thought out and researched chest pumping lyrics about some silly subject. All of us coming from the early punk rock scene had never shed the ideology, which is probably why it’s still as relevant today as it was then. When people come up to us and compliment us on how both albums have aged it’s really cool, definitely something to be proud of for sure.


You have a hugely supportive fan-base. How does it feel to be coming back to the UK to play sell-out shows?


Mosher: We are of course thrilled to be able to come back at all. We take none of it for granted and feel very lucky. Our fans are really the best and we are so grateful for all of the support we’ve had over the years. It’s what makes it all worthwhile in the end - seeing the fans having a great night out at a Junkyard show.


2019 marks the 30th anniversary of Junkyard’s self-titled debut. What plans do you have to properly and fully celebrate the occasion?


Mosher: The truth of the matter is we haven’t really thought about that too much because we are in the early stages of a follow up to High Water but I’m sure something will be done….not sure what just yet.


Finally, as 2018 begins to draw to a close, how is Junkyard’s diary looking for 2019?


Mosher: Things are just now being put in place for ’19. Record and release a new record is near the top of the to do list and after that we will be playing dates in the US doing weekend flying to various cities but i’m guessing a longer run is also in the works for the States timed for the release of the new record (whenever that is). We also plan on being back in the UK and also on the continent as well in ’19. So my guess it will be a busy year!

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on the excitement and anticipation that has been rapidly building for the UK shows. Junkyard are an incredible band with great songs and killer live performances. It’s a great time for the band and the future continues to shine brightly!


For more information about the UK tour, check out www.junkyardblooze.com. New album High Water is also available now at Amazon and iTunes. Check out the official video to lead track Faded below.