"If the 70s and the 90s had a baby, that'd be us": Introducing the Black Moods

The Black Moods band

It’s always a good sign when your request for a crack-of-dawn interview is turned down. “We enjoy ourselves,” drawls Josh Kennedy when he finally picks up, shortly before noon Arizona time. “I feel like I’ve been drinking since ninety-six. And therefore we feel like shit in the morning. But even if we feel sick as dogs, music makes it all go away. You don’t think about feeling like shit. You don’t think about bills. We always say music is the medicine. So we thought, how appropriate is that for an album title?”

Medicine, the trio’s second and latest album, was written in buses across the States and tracked in snatches when their tour diary let them up for air. Kennedy jokes that their doomy moniker means “everybody thinks we’re a metal band”, but in reality, standouts such as Someone To Save Us walk a line between the classic and alt.rock eras. “If the seventies and the nineties had a baby, that’d be us,” he says. “I grew up on Skynyrd, Clapton, The Who and old country – Merle Haggard was always playing in the house. Then all of a sudden the Gin Blossoms and Stone Temple Pilots hit me really hard.”

So began a fantastical chain of events. Having grown up in Bible-belt Missouri – “in a town of six hundred people, eight churches, no stop lights” – Kennedy became fixated on the Gin Blossoms, vowing that he would one day escape to become the Arizona band’s guitarist. That didn’t happen, but something almost as unlikely did when Kennedy met Blossoms singer Robin Wilson at a local show and scored an engineering job at his studio. There, in 2005, he joined up with drummer Chico Diaz (the line-up is completed by bassist Johannes Lar). “They’re a bunch of dickheads,” he deadpans. “Nah, I’m kidding. They’re like brothers. This band is about the chemistry between us.”

That camaraderie is evident on Medicine, on stage and after the show, when things have been known to get a little rough.

“There was one time we were playing up in northern Arizona, the sound guy seemed to be sabotaging us,” Kennedy recalls. “And at the end of the night he decided he wasn’t going to pay us. We got into an altercation before we left the bar. And when we got back to our hotel, that guy was there waiting for us. We very unpolitely threw his ass out. And he still wouldn’t leave. So we had to beat his ass. Because you don’t just attack one of us, it’s all three.”

Those lean times have all been worth it, Kennedy says. “With the record coming out and sounding the way it does, we’re super-proud. I think there’s never a bad time to listen to Medicine: when you’re driving or if you’re drinking or when you’re deep in thought, or when it’s later in the evening and it’s time to be alone with whoever you’re gonna be alone with. Y’know, that’s a good time to listen to it as well – it’s baby-making music.”

Alt.Rock Round-up: July 2016

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.