A few moments with Matt James... 
Nathan Gillis, Matt Curtis, Matt James, Ryan Kiefer, Kenneth Irwin
METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Matt. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.

How are you? How are things going?
MATT JAMES: Good man! Excited to be out on the road on our first national tour right now.  
MPAP: So, word around the campfire is Blacktop Mojo is having a phenomenal year? Wouldn’t you agree?  

MATT: I definitely would. We’ve been blessed with a lot of cool opportunities this year.  

MPAP: The single "Where The Wind Blows" is currently getting a lot of radio airplay and has already cracked the Top 40 on the Active Rock single chart. With all the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve all sacrificed in Blacktop Mojo are you saying under your breath, "Hell yes! About damn time"? Or are you fine just doing what you’re doing? That is, doing what you love, playing music to your fans without any recognition?  

MATT: It's kind of a little bit of both I’d say. We love playing music to anyone who will listen, and that will always be enough for us. If we were in it for the recognition, we would have probably burnt out a long time ago. At the same time, the response we’ve been getting from the radio has been incredible. It's awesome to meet people at a show who come up and say, "I heard you guys on the radio and I had to come see you!" 

MPAP: So, let’s back up just for a bit. For those that haven’t heard of Blacktop Mojo quite yet, can you give them a brief history and what Blacktop Mojo is all about?
MATT: The band was formed by our drummer Nathan, our guitar player KI, and myself at the end of 2012. We started out playing covers in country bars around where we live, since there aren't too many rock bars close by. As we started to write original material, though, the music got heavier and eventually when we had an album worth of stuff, we looked at it and thought, "We should probably be a rock band." We’ve continued on with those heavier tunes since then, but a little of the twang has stuck around.  

MPAP: We’ll get more into your new release here shortly, but really quick, for that first-time listener, what can they expect to hear when they purchase your new release Burn The Ships?
MATT: A lot of people have described the sound as hard rock with a twang. I'd say if you put a little southern rock and a little heavy grunge sound in a tumbler and shook it up, it would sound something like Burn The Ships

MPAP: Since the band’s inception in 2012, Blacktop Mojo has been busting their balls, playing good hard rock and roll music, but it wasn’t until April of 2016 that you caught the public eye when you released a music video for your cover of Aerosmith’s 1973 classic hit "Dream On" which has since gone viral with over 1.5 million views on YouTube. Is this the breakthrough moment you were expecting or were you hoping it would be in a different way?
MATT: We never expected the response we got from that video. It's been cool to see people from all over the world listening and commenting on it, and be able to interact with them has been awesome.
MPAP: It might get asked 100 times repeatedly, so here’s # 101, why did you choose to cover the song "Dream On" by Aerosmith?  

MATT: We had been putting out a few cover videos, here and there, while we were writing the second record, and one of our friends suggested we do "Dream On". We brought it to our producer, Philip Mosley, and decided to give it a shot. Once we had it recorded, we showed it to some of our friends and family to see what they thought and they all reacted really positively to it, so we decided to put it up on YouTube and see what would happen.
MPAP: Was Aerosmith a musical influence of yours, or was it just a great song for you to sing?
MATT: It's definitely one of my top favorite songs personally. I remember hearing it come on the radio when I was probably 8 or 9 years old and thinking, "I need more of whatever that was in my life." 

MPAP: Do you know if Stephen Tyler or Joe Perry has gotten the chance to hear your version of their song yet? What would you hope they both would say if you bumped into them somewhere?
MATT: I'm not really sure if they've seen it or not. If we bumped into them somewhere, I definitely hope they don't hate it. (laughing) 

MPAP: Now that Blacktop Mojo has gained some success and notoriety, is the game plan changed at all for you and the band?  

MATT: The game plan since the beginning has been to have fun playing music for as many people as we possibly can play to, and I don't think that will ever change.  

MPAP: What’s now in the cross hairs for Blacktop Mojo, that might have been too far out of reach before? 

MATT: We would definitely like to get over into Europe and do some touring over there. We haven't been able to do that yet, but hopefully soon! 

MPAP: Now, are you guys going to go balls out and live this moment and ride the wave until the wheels fall off, or are you going to take a break after this tour and regroup to see what move or moves to do next? Meaning will you take it slow so you don’t get ahead of yourself making sure to stop and look around to make sure the Blacktop Mojo pieces are on the chess board and in the right position?  

MATT: I'm not really sure what's on the horizon for after the tour, but we’ll definitely be trying to play as much as we can.
MPAP: So now let’s talk about Burn The Ships? It was released on March 10th of this year, on Cuhmon Records? Was there any pressure to make sure your sophomore release was going to hit the mark? Or did you just go into the studio not worried about anything and just wrote music? 

MATT: We just went in there and made music that we’d want to listen to. We didn't really think into it any further than that. 

MPAP: You only get three words to best describe Burn The Ships, which ones are they that you hope will stick to the wall and grab that new listener by the ears?
MATT: Fire. Sex. America.  
MPAP: Is there a message behind Burn The Ships? Is there something you want everyone to capture, or be able to absorb a certain feeling when they listen to it?  

MATT: When we went in to record, we were all in the process of quitting our jobs, moving into a house together, and jumping into music full time. Nathan had read a story about Cortez coming over to the new world where Cortez and his army were up against insurmountable odds. Some of the men wanted to retreat, and Cortez ordered his men to scuttle the ships they sailed there on, so it was either win or die. The theme of that story really resonated with us as we were transitioning into being a band full time and I think that theme sort of plays throughout the album.  
MPAP: With most bands, the guitarist comes up with all the music, and then the singer writes all the lyrics. Blacktop Mojo is different, as in you are involved in the creative and writing process correct? Is there a reason behind this? 

MATT: That is correct. A lot of the time, we all get in a room and together and jam around until we find something that sticks. We’ll then go back and build on that and work on arrangements and keep building until we have all the pieces in place. Other times a guy will come in with a whole song written and we’ll build on that. There's no real reason behind it, it's just kind of how we’ve figured out how to do it. There's no right or wrong way to come up with a song. 
MPAP: When writing a new song is it difficult when the five of you could be all over the board with different ideas or different directions each one of you wants it to go?
MATT: Not at all. If all five of us are going in different directions, we’ll bring in our producer, Phil, in as kind of a tie breaker. He knows how we all work and we all respect the hell out of his opinion. 
MPAP: Going back to your phenomenal year, other highlights included winning a contest to open for Bon Jovi at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX. You were also invited to SXSW by Gibson Guitars to appear on Sammy Hagar’s "Rock and Roll Road Trip" TV show on AXS. How is all this making you feel? Is it tough to not get caught up in it all and let it go to your head?  

MATT: Both of those things were incredible experiences. As far as letting it go to our heads, all we have to do is look at how Sammy and Jon acted when we met them. They treated us with respect and we're super down to earth. If two of the biggest rock stars on the planet carry themselves like that, then who the hell are we to let our small bit of success go to our heads? 

MPAP: Some have proclaimed, if Soundgarden and Lynyrd Skynyrd were to take a roll in the hay, nine months later, out would pop Blacktop Mojo. That’s not what most would expect to be rolling around in the hay together, some would like to see a girl in the picture somewhere, but do you agree with the whole message if Soundgarden meets Lynyrd Skynyrd comment? 

MATT: I think it's a pretty cool sonic comparison. Both of those bands are big influences on us, so that's a pretty big compliment.
MPAP: Both are great bands in their own unique way, so does that put any pressure on you to live up to that stardom or a new stardom?  

MATT: We're not worried about stardom. We’re out here to make music.  

MPAP: What about the pressures of gaining success, that can open new doors and lead to excess? Is there a time and place to be a musician and then a time and a place to party like a Rockstar? 

MATT: There's always a time and place for everything. When we’re up on stage, we’re there to entertain the people that spent their hard earned money to come out and see a show. We look at it as our job, a job which we are blessed to have. Not many people get to do what we do, so we keep each other accountable when there are shows to be played. Off stage, though, we definitely like tearing up some whiskey.  
MPAP: How do you feel you’ve grown as a singer and as a musician since your first release I Am (2014)?  

MATT: I’ve been able to study proper technique and grow my range a little bit. Also had a lot more experience working in studios and knowing how to get things done when tracking.  

MPAP: You are currently on the Where The Wind Blows tour? This tour is free as a thank you to friends, fans, and supporters. Free is a good thing to most, but usually not for bands to be involved with. A lot of bands only make money going out on tour selling tickets and their merch? What made you decide to do this?  

MATT: This is our first national tour, so we wanted to get in front of as many people as we possibly can, and what better way than to put on a free show? Anyone will give someone a chance if it’s free. We’ve also had a lot of people from all over the place who have reached out to us through social media and we wanted them to be able to finally come see us in person without having to worry about paying for tickets.  

MPAP: What’s next for Blacktop Mojo? What can your fans expect? 

MATT: Now that we’ve gotten our legs under us a little bit, we’ll be doing a lot more touring. We’ve also already started writing for another record, so more shows and new music! 

MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Matt, for being a part of this interview. Look forward to what Blacktop Mojo does to finish out the year 2017 and beyond. Before we bring this interview to a close, are there any last words you’d like to say to all the readers and your fans out there?

MATT: We'd like to extend a huge thank you to everyone that's listens to and shares our music. They've helped us come a long way in a very short time.

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