Mojotone plans to consolidate operations under one roof

ON THE DAY of our visit, the headquarters of leading music equipment manufacturer and supplier Mojotone was abuzz with the normal activity of a Wednesday morning. The crew of 50-plus staff at the Burgaw, North Carolina facility was fulfilling orders, milling cabinets, wiring pickups — all the things they would be doing any other work day. But there was something different happening as well. Boxes lined a few of the main building corridors and inventory was being palleted, wrapped and readied. Readied for the big move. The company was relocating to a new facility about a mile and a half away. It was a shell building that the county built to attract business. Mojotone bought it from the county.

“This building is 25,000 square feet and we have two 5,000 square feet building across the street,” explains Mike McWhorter, chief executive officer of Mojotone. “We’re moving to a 40,000 square foot building that is just right down the road. They just put the floor in last week. It’s two stories. We’ll be able to fit all three building inside. It has 30-foot ceilings, where these are 14. So we’ll be able to go high with everything. It’ll give us a lot more room. You can see, we’re pretty packed in here.”

Mojotone has over one thousand suppliers and over 5,000 SKUs. Just looking at a single speaker cabinet, there is a company that makes the handle hardware, another that makes the leather handle, the coverings, the copperhead screws, the feet, corners — all of the additional hardware. There are over 10 vendors on one cab.

The current Mojotone main building houses much of manufacturing and shipping, while the smaller units across the street house a second wood shop and laser CNC machines.

Read the rest of our visit with Mojotone here
Visit the Mojotone website here

Galactic Cowboys guitarist Dane Sonnier walks us through Long Way Back To The Moon

IT WAS Super Bowl weekend in 1990 when the Galactic Cowboys — frontman Ben Huggins, bassist Monty Colvin, guitarist Dane Sonnier and drummer Alan Doss — got their first record deal: a multi-album commitment from Geffen Records. The band was on the doorstep of greatness, but then a funny thing happened on the trip up the sidewalk. At the listening party for their self-titled debut, Geffen was playing music from other artists on the label, including some new material from upcoming releases. The band, nervous but confindent, had been mingling in the crowd, all the while listening to the tunes being piped into the party.

Legend as it, at one point, one member leaned into another and remarked “This is good.” referring to the album playing in the background. Turns out, that album was the as yet to be released Geffen debut of a band called Nirvana. The album? Nevermind. In an instant, the Galactic Cowboys destiny had been transformed from potential next big thing, to footnote in the aftermath of the grunge music movement that would grip the first half of the decade. The Cowboys’ stellar debut would be released in 1991, but would never gain much traction. A follow-up, 1993’s raucous Space In Your Face, would suffer a similar fate and Geffen would drop the band. Two years later, Sonnier would leave the Cowboys.

The band, with guitarist Wally Farkas, would go on to release four more albums on Metal Blade Records before calling it a day in 2000 shortly after the release of Let It Go. Now, 17 years later, the Cowboys are back, as is Sonnier, with a new label, Mascot Records, and a new album, Long Way Back To The Moon. The new album is everything the band’s fans would expect in a Cowboys record — heavy riffs, soaring harmonies and hook-filled choruses.

Gearphoria was able to corral Sonnier a few weeks before the album’s slated mid-November release and get his track-by-track analysis of the new one.

IN THE CLOUDS
THIS WAS actually the very first Galactic Cowboys song… ever. This was probably early 1989. Monty and Alan had just left The Awful Truth and they were trying to put a band together. They started writing and this was the first song they came up with. So, this was the song that Ben and I kind of auditioned to. It was a Tascam four-track mix. We recorded it, I think, for the first album — the self-titled, but for whatever reason it didn’t make the cut. As we were sitting around thinking about doing this again, we thought about old songs that were never released that could still be in the mix somewhere and this one was definitely on the top of everyone’s list.
We kept the arrangement the same and just re-recorded all the parts. Mascot (the label) wanted to hear four songs at the beginning of this. This was one of them. When we went back to do tracking on the record I think we only re-recorded a few things on that basic track because Alan did such a great job with the demo. Ben did add a second verse this time. I played my American Strat HSS into a 100-watt Soldano Avenger through a 4×12 Marshall cabinet.

Read the rest of our Galactic Cowboys Track-By-Track here
Visit the Galactic Cowboys website here

Greg Germino expanded his love affair with early British amps

IN A BLUE, twelve foot by twenty foot shed in the backyard of a two-story house near the Haw River in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, Greg Germino tinkers with a standard repair job on a vintage Marshall head. It’s nothing new for him. He has been a part of the amplifier scene in the region for a decade and a half. His own brand, Germino Amps, started in 2002, morphed from his work at Mojo Musical Supply (now Mojotone), where he started in 2001.

“I worked for them for a year and I had previous experience, bench tech work on and off for about 15 years working in various music stores, working for my good friend Russ Rose at Bull City Sound where the motto is “In by noon, out by June”,” says Germino. “You meet the most colorful people when you’re involved in musical instruments and musical instrument repair.”

Germino was among those in the earliest waves of boutique amplifier building. Friend and neighbor Steve Carr jumped in during the late 1990s, then there was THD, Kendrick, Trainwreck and others.

“I saw the Allman Brothers in 1972 and that’s one of those life changing moments where you… I’d been playing guitar, I had just turned fourteen years old,” recalls Germino. “The grandparents were letting me out of the house, we’re gonna go see the Allman Brothers and it was life changing. I recorded that show, actually taught myself how to play guitar from that. So my love for amplifiers and guitars and wanting to go in that direction stems from that show and from my uncle, who’s about ten years my senior turning me on to a lot of great, great music. We all got into The Beatles if you grew up in that time period, but he was turning me on to people like Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, Big Brother and the Holding Company. We listened to a lot of stuff, early Led Zeppelin, Cream… you know all that stuff. I had a foundation of that and then I went to see the Allman Brothers and then it was all over!”

Read the rest of our shop tour with Germino Amps here
Visit the Germino Amps website here

Happy 5th Anniversary to us! Issue #27 includes a pair of shop tour features with Carr Amps and Alexander Pedals, an exclusive artist Q&A with Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, reviews of the new gear from Jennings Guitars, EarthQuaker Devices, Creation Music Company, Wampler Pedals and more…

Our exclusive interview with Vernon Reid is… here.
Our exclusive shop tour with Carr starts… here.
Check out the Summer NAMM wrap-up… here.
Our gear reviews, including a look at the Jennings Catalina, start… here.

Happy reading!

The Gearphoria Crew

Living Colour guitarist talks new album, gear…

IT’S 1989, and the members of Living Colour are being interviewed backstage before another sold-out show. ‘Cult of Personality,’ the second single from their 1988 debut album, Vivid, has volleyed them into the spotlight, and months later the band is still adjusting to success and all it brings. Somewhere in the conversation, guitarist Vernon Reid takes a long look at rock and roll’s trajectory, from its blues roots into its second generation, while vocalist Corey Glover challenges the music industry and society at large, noting that Living Colour is “here to cut away the bullshit!”

It’s 2017, and Vernon Reid is being interview by telephone a few weeks before the release of Living Colour’s new album, Shade. Seeing it to fruition was a long, complicated process that began with a performance of Robert Johnson’s ‘Preachin’ Blues’ during a 2012 tribute concert at the Apollo Theatre, then ebbed and flowed through tour cycles, management changes, and the dynamic of four opinionated musicians. A preview was introduced last year with the band’s cover/interpretation of The Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Who Shot Ya,’ accompanied by a powerful video that takes on gun violence and racial profiling.

Almost 30 years have passed since the release of Vivid, and clearly there is weight in the old adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Reid, Glover, drummer Will Calhoun, and bassist Doug Wimbish are still cutting away the bullshit and tackling the hard topics. This time, they’re doing it with a rock-based album entrenched, albeit not always overtly, in its blues roots, while visiting a spectrum of genres.

GEARPHORIA: This album was a long time coming. Was there a sense of relief when it was finally done and you were looking at a definite release date?

VERNON: Yes. The process took longer than we thought it would, and getting everyone to agree on everything — on the takes, on the mastering — it took a while. Music has a life of its own. The process has a life of its own. You can be as disciplined as you want to be, and unexpected things just show themselves.

Read the rest of our visit with Vernon Reid here
Visit the Living Colour website here

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