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Voodoo Moonshine

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

Experience is key and Guitarist Jeff Losawyer has unlocked years of knowledge with his songwriting and band Voodoo Moonshine which originally formed in 2003 releasing a debut album The Decade of Decay, that did phenomenally well overseas. Now, he is utilizing his extraordinary talents with his extremely talented new band Vocalist Pedro Espada, Bassist Hector Acevedo and Drummer Eddie Cruise to bring new light that reinvented Voodoo Moonshine. Their latest album Bottom of the Barrel has spawned several singles and videos and their most recent single “Give it to me” is out and going strong.

Catching up with Losawyer while traveling to rehearsals in Florida, he revealed some details about their music, how the band came together and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: Are you guys getting ready to do a tour?
Jeff Losawyer: Well, right now we’ve got two confirmed shows that we had scheduled before we got with our booking agency. We’re doing a suicide benefit show the 21st here in Maitland, FL and then on the 26th we have OCC in Clearwater, FL. August 6th actually the guys have to come up to Georgia. We’re up for four awards at the International Singer and Songwriter Awards. So, we’re gonna go there the sixth. I think we’re up for Band of the Year, Album of the Year, Video of the Year and Single of the Year. August is gonna be busy, but they’re working on a bunch more shows, so it looks like things will start gearing up hopefully in the next month or so.

SFL Music: That’s great for people to keep their eyes open for. Congratulations on your award nominations. What inspired BOTTOM OF THE BARREL?
Losawyer: What a lot of people don’t know is, I started writing that album in 2010 and I was working with a different singer who used to sing for Voodoo Six over in England. So, I finished the album in 2011 and kind of just shelfed it. I just wanted to complete it, and then I was just an average working Joe after that up until, I don’t know, about four years ago. I got contacted by a pretty well-known manager for a couple of big bands and he just you know, left a message on one of our social media sites that he loved the band. He wasn’t offering or asking for anything. He just wanted to let us know, and it was weird. I’d say about three weeks later, a producer contacted me and was wanting to work with us, and I thought well hell, this is just kind of odd that I’m getting contacted now all of the sudden out of the blue. Maybe I should put a band back together again. So, then I started searching for new singers ‘cause obviously I knew I wasn’t going to be working with the original guys. They had all moved on obviously with that much time in between. I got online and I found Pedro, my singer now on You Tube and he was doing some amazing stuff. So, I started harassing him you know, trying to get him to join the band. He liked the songs and I told him, I said, well, obviously I don’t want you to sound like this guy. I want you to just redo the whole album. So, he joined and then we spent another year re-recording the vocals and, in that time, I found Eddie our drummer and then Hector our bass player. It’s weird. It’s a ten-year-old album to me, but it’s you know, only been released since February so (he laughed), it’s just really odd how things have played out. Everything was kind of a fluke.

SFL Music: I heard the song and saw the video for “Give it to me”. What inspired it?
Losawyer: The songs about one-night stands, but it’s really weird because I had got back to Memphis, I was in the writing mode to do this album and you know, I isolate myself from everything when I’m writing and recording. I don’t listen to the radio. I don’t go out. So, I’m locked up in a room with my Pitbull Daisy, my dog that’s gone all over the country with me, and we’re sitting there eating Taco Bell together. I needed a couple more songs and it just popped in my, the easiest songs to write about are sex. So, I just come up with it. Me and my singer at that time, he had had the original ideas for it and I just finished it up. Sitting in a room with my dog. Yeah, I wish there was another Mötley Crüe type story to it, but that was about it.

SFL Music: The dog has an input, right?
Losawyer: Yeah, the only faithful one I’ve had for like ten, fifteen years now.

SFL Music: You guys recorded the video at The Barn (in Sanford, FL) right? It’s a huge place. What was that experience like?
Losawyer: It wasn’t planned. I mean, we were gonna do this suicide benefit. It was scheduled in a different location, and so we were just gonna film it there. Well, I guess they couldn’t get permitting or something from the city and this is like a week out from us doing the video. So, Eddie, he’s like “well, I know this guy that own’s The Barn.” He said, “why don’t you give him a call?” And it happened that fast. I just called him, he’s like “yeah, just come on out.” I got back in town you know, the night before we were scheduled to film and he’s like “yeah, you can use the place. I just want the name in the video.” We couldn’t find a production company in Florida, so I had to bring the production companies that I used for the other three videos in Georgia. I brought them down. It was not planned. The cars in the video, when we were looking for production companies, our manager was online and a guy offered, he’s like “well, I’m not a production company, but if you want to use my hot rods, you can.” I’m like, hell yeah! That would be great! Same with the bus, everything. It just all fell into place within like two days.

SFL Music: What inspired you to become a musician?
Losawyer: I was fourteen. That’s 84’. That’s when all the heavy metal was starting to come out really hard. That European heavy metal. (Judas) Priest and (Iron) Maiden and all those. It was that new wave of heavy metal. I was starting to listen to a lot of rock music, but I was in sports and in wrestling and football you know, in Junior high and stuff like that, high school. So, I thought I was gonna get a weight bench for Christmas and I opened it up, and it was a guitar that my mom had bought me. A guitar and an amp and a book, and by the next day, I had already learned most of the book. So, I guess I kind of just fell into it. Randy Rhoads probably inspired me the most to want to do something you know, once I seen that guy and what he was doing. That really made me want to do it more, but it’s weird you know, I was such a sponge at that time for all music that was coming out. If the album cover looked cool or if they had a cool name and I bought it, and I either liked it or I didn’t, but I tried to learn everything I got.

SFL Music: So, you taught yourself?
Losawyer: Well, I had one lesson. After I got that book, it was Hal Leonard method 1 book and the first day I taught myself a couple of (The) Beatles songs and things like that. I had a friend I went to school with, his big brother who was in high school you know, a few years older than us, he played. So, I took a lesson from him and, so I was gonna go back to that second lesson and by the time of the second lesson, I already knew the only guitar solo he knew. So, I did never go back again after that.

SFL Music: What inspires you when you write?
Losawyer: Life. I’ll go without touching a guitar for months at a time. I’ll go without writing. I don’t listen to the radio. If I catch something, it’s just you know, if I’m scrolling through social media, I might check into something, but normally it’s just getting pissed off at the world or daily life or happy about you know, just whatever a situation is it might inspire me. I think if I sit down and try to write it, I force it and it makes it a lot harder, but it’s weird. I’ve got lyrical ideas from fifteen years ago that I can still remember like I wrote ‘em yesterday, but I still haven’t completed ‘em. So, there’s really no pattern or rhythm to anything I do. When I’m under the pressure you know, like with this album. I had a few songs that I had to do to finish it up. Then I sat down and made myself write, but you know really just life in general inspires me. Things that are going on around me or things that I see on the news or things like that.

SFL Music: What would you recommend to an up-and-coming musician?
Losawyer: Read law books. Read music law. Learn everything because it’s not the music business anymore. It’s the business of music. It’s a lot harder now than it ever was and you don’t want to end up being one of these VH1 behind the scenes stories you know, where it’s a sad story at the end of the day, especially like all the ‘80’s bands that you see where the guys were riding around in limos. Next thing you know, it was all taken away from them with nothing to fall back on. I guess the reason that our business is set up so well and I own the publishing and own the band name and own things because at the end of the day, when I do finally retire, I’ll still own em. A record label’s not gonna own it. So, I treat that and my songs with you know, it’s like our baby. So, they just need to educate themselves with the business. Publishing, contracts, distribution. Just all the things that are necessary to become successful.

SFL Music: That’s great advice. Do you guys have any new videos coming out?
Losawyer: When we did the last video “Bring it down”, we filmed the video for “What a way to go” also. We released “Bring it down” and it ran its course you know, the six-week, seven-week time frame that we put our singles out, and we were gonna put out “What a way to go”. So, we got it to our radio publicist and they’re like, well it’s a five-minute song and we don’t want a five-minute song, so can you cut it down? I’m like absolutely not. I’m not gonna cut it down. We’re not the Eagles, we’re not (Led) Zeppelin. We can’t be demanding and go well “Stairway to Heaven” is six minutes long and so is this and that. We can’t do that. So, what I can do is say, well guess what? I won’t put it out then. I’ll put it out on my terms. You want a three minute, thirty second song here’s “Give it to me”. So, we had “What a way to go”, that videos done. Every time we try to plan and schedule something with the album it’s just falling in different directions. And now that we’re older you know, when we were eighteen, I was just chasing the dream. You have a lot of guys that are following in what’s the happening trend and things like that. You know, you got to be in L.A. because all the bands are coming out of L.A. Everyone’s writing like Nirvana, so now you’re supposed to write like Nirvana. I’m not gonna do that anymore. So, everything we do is self-serving. We write what we like. We want people to like it as well, but at the end of the day like I said, all we have is our songs left. So, I don’t want to start chopping up our songs just for the sake of well, it may do good on the radio or it may flop and then I’ve chopped my song up. So, we’ll release the video for “What a way to go” next in I don’t know, two or three months. As far as a radio campaign, I want to see how this video and single goes, and “What a way to go” will either gain strength from this one or it won’t, but I’m happy with the video. I’m happy with the song, so there’s no need for me to change it. Actually, “What a way to go” is a storyline video, so I didn’t want to change it. We’re trying to stock pile (he laughed) because we’ve already started writing for the new album. We’ve got four songs pretty well structured. We’ve got tons more to start picking through and we’re gonna start going into the studio in September. So, we’re trying to stay ahead of the game because if they start booking a bunch of shows and this and that, it’s a lot easier to record and go into the studio when you’re at home as opposed to in a hotel room, but we do have the next video ready and it will probably come out in October maybe. It just depends on how well this song goes.

SFL Music: You mean a new one on top of “What a way to go” or you’re talking about “What a way to go”?
Losawyer: I’m talking about “What a Way to Go”. I don’t see that we’ll do any other videos for this album. Beyond “What a Way to Go”, we’ve done “Locked and Loaded”, we did “Bring it down”, now “Give it to me”, then “What a way to go”. Four is enough for the album.

SFL Music: Was there a theme to this album?
Losawyer: No. After I took the break from the first album, I went back home to Oklahoma ‘cause my grandmother had got it ill and four or five people passed away within a couple months period, so I did a solo album which is basically songs for their funerals. My manager at the time, he got a record deal for it and I’m like well, you can put it out as long as proceeds go to the Cancer Society. I don’t want a dime for it. So, I did that album. I hadn’t been home in twelve years to see my family or anybody, and so when I went home and they got ill, I just ended up staying for two years and I think that’s what pretty much stopped everything with the band. I took a break. Once I recorded and started writing again for this solo album, I started writing for this album and basically, I called my drummer and told him I’m heading back to Memphis, so have a bass player so we can start working, and that was the extent of planning for it. I had my songs that I wanted to work on and record and I brought them all and we picked the best ones and went from there. Like I said, there wasn’t really any planning. I try to plan our business now. I try to keep everything in order, but it never falls that way. Everything’s kind of been a fluke how it’s happened. So, it’s cool that I’m not forcing that square peg into the round whole anymore. Things are falling in our lap and it seems to be working better that way. I’ll have a direction for us or we’ll have a direction we want to go. We’ll make that plan and somehow it kind of goes in a different direction, but it works out for the better. It’s just totally different mindset than when you’re eighteen. We’re older now. There’s not a desperation in it, you know what I mean? I know the industry is, you’re supposed to be in your twenties to be rock stars and all that, but the industry’s totally changed and we’re not going by what the industry dictates. Things are happening on their own the way that we want it to happen and we’ll just keep doing it this way.

SFL Music: And the new album should be out?
Losawyer: We have no idea when it’ll be out. We’re gonna start tracking three songs in September. We’re gonna do probably three or four songs a session. Sometime next year. If I gave you a month, it would be five months later. I’m not even gonna attempt it, but that’s the plan as of now. We’ve got four solid songs right now, so we’re gonna start tracking those in September with our engineer Sean Shannon. He mixed this last album. He’s the former drummer of Pat Travers and Molly Hatchet and he’s amazing, so we’re gonna use him again for this one.

SFL Music: What would you say you picked up from working with him? How did he contribute to the last album?
Losawyer: Just his ear. I produced the first album and it sucked as far the production goes. I mean, I was young and didn’t have the budget. The money that I’m putting in things that we’re putting into it now. I mean, he makes it easier and we’re working with distance again. I’m in Georgia. Everyone else is in Florida. I’m not gonna move to Florida. I just bought more land in Georgia. I’m a country boy. I’m going further into the mountains. So, thank God for technology to where I can send a song idea. You know, Pedro sent me, I’d send him some music. He sent me some vocals over it last night. So, I do that with Sean too. We’ll get everything structured out, rounded up and you know, send it to him and he’ll work on it, mix it, get it back to me and we go back and forth until its complete. Now, when the completion of the album, I came down and we completely worked it out and finished it up you know, producing it together. This time, the whole process was different. As I said, this CD had already been done. Pedro redid his vocals. I changed a couple of guitar solos, but pretty much the basis of the album was done. So, a lot of that was in Pedro’s studio, and then I come down here and worked in Sean’s studio with him. This time we’re actually gonna go into the studio all of us together. It’s not gonna be just a Jeff album like this last one was because I wrote it long before the guys were in the band. So, I think it will come out different that way you know, when we’re all in there hammering it out together and actually, I look forward to it. All the guys are excited about these songs and so is everybody else. I’m like, these are old hats to me (he laughed) ‘cause I started writing these songs so long ago, but it does bring new life to ‘em when you start getting recognized for the songs. “Bring it down” won Crank It Up Song of The Year at the Banger Awards and Pedro won Vocalist of the Year. Little things like that, that don’t put any money in your bank account, but it’s cool that people vote, and actual fans and people vote on that. It makes me feel good. Makes me feel like an actual professional. It’s not a Grammy, but it means something to me.

SFL Music: Well, you’re very talented.
Losawyer: Thank you.

SFL Music: You’re welcome. Was there anything else you want fans to know about the show?
Losawyer: We’re doing some songs from the first album. We’re gonna try to stay focused on the new album. Pedro is amazing live. We’re a tight band and we throw a couple of covers in there and I hate the word covers. I don’t like playing other people’s stuff, so we’ve got a couple of obscure covers that we do, and did ‘em our way. We just try to be loud and good and that’s all I can say. So, they can expect that there’s not gonna be backing tracks. If there’s gonna be mistakes to be made, they’re gonna be made and heard, so that makes us work harder to not do that. We did a few festivals last year. We did some festivals and I’m not a big fan of outdoor shows, and we did our first show at the CD release believe it or not back in February and it was so much better. You control the audio and the people seem to dig it a lot more. You kind of coral everybody. When it’s a big festival, everybody’s scattered out everywhere.

SFL Music: Anything you want to add?
Losawyer: Just go to our website. We’re constantly adding and changing merchandise. We got everything that anyone would probably want. T-shirts, hats, mouse pads, koozies. We got new pick packs, posters all that stuff and my thing is, buy direct (he laughed). Buy directly from us. You can pick up the CD on Dark Star Records and of course you can find us everywhere online. We have a song that’s coming out in a movie soundtrack called Hell Week. I think it will be out in October. One of the songs off the CD, so look out for that, and we’re also on a Ukrainian compilation that was released by Dark Star, so they can go and pick that up as well.

SFL Music: To raise money for them?
Losawyer: Yeah. I think that’s been out for about a month, so all the proceeds go to them. So, we put a song on there and hopefully it’ll help out. Yeah, another thing is the shows. So, August 21st we’ll be playing down here in Maitland Florida at Fredster’s. It’s a suicide benefit, and then August 26th we’ll be at OCC in Clearwater Florida. Just go to our website voodoomoonshinerocks.com to check out where we’re gonna be playing next. Dates will be added shortly.

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