Moccasin Creek (@Moccasin_Creek): The Creek Is On The Rise [Interview]
“The Creek Is On The Rise”
By Ed Lieber
Moccasin Creek, the Tennessee-based band made up of vocalist Jeff “Brahma Bull” McCool and guitarist Charlie Bonnet III, formed in the summer of 2010—and millions of YouTube views and tens of thousands of song downloads later, country rock will never be the same for the group’s legions of fans.
Moccasin Creek has been on a mission: to revive country rock—a genre the band believes had grown a bit weary and monotonous, and in desperate need of something new. The jammin’ duo had just the right fix, injecting a heavy dose of hip-hop infused with a dollop of heavy metal.
Moccasin Creek’s pulsating, beat-driven, lyrical take on country rock has been awakening listeners ever since.
Fiercely independent, though in occasional talks with the big labels to potentially work on co-ventures, the boys from the heartland of the American South have a lot on their plate. Moccasin Creek is due to drop another album before the end of year, and a slate of EPs is no doubt on the board a swell. Jeff and Charlie love what they do and with passions running so high,they never stop playing, filming and recording. Moccasin Creek has unquestionably solidified a place in the history of Southern rock.
Rebel Row: How do you respond to the critics and purists, from either the hip hop or country rock side, on what Moccasin Creek does with music?
Brahma Bull; If you have a six-disc changer and I have a six-disc changer, I won’t get mad at you over what you’re listening to… I don’t understand that. I mean if they don’t like it, don’t listen to it, why spend time complainging about it. Listen to what you want to. Ya know, it’s funny. Some people will say they hate country rock and then some people will say that they hate hip hop. I am not a huge hip hop fan myself. But I don’t consider myself a singer and I don’t even consider myself a rapper. But you have to write in that style to some extent [in order to inject new vitality into southern rock].
I don’t consider myself a rapper, at all. But without the hip hop part of it, Moccasin Creek would just be another bad country rock band. What I want is for people to not care about names or labels and to just enjoy the music for what it is. We don’t need to label everything. When Kid Rock came along, he was doing his own thing and it was new. It had hip hop but other types of music too. People didn’t try to define what type of music he was creating. They just said “Oh, he’s Kid Rock,” and that was that.
And other new bands that followed, they’d say – oh, they sound like Kid Rock! And that would be that. What I’d love would be for people to just say – hey, that’s Moccasin Creek. Or I’d love to hear them say of other bands – “They sound like Moccasin Creek.” Or they play Moccasin Creek-type music.”
With Moccasin Creek, the southern rock part is definitely there. And the lyrics are very country based. But without the hip hop it wouldn’t be Moccasin Creek
RR: So, basically, you were trying to re-create the Southern rock genre and you used hip hop to do it?
BB: When I was growing up Lynyrd Skynyrd was big and I was a big fan. I also loved other hard rock and heavy metal bands. Skynyrd was just one of my favorite groups. But then we had the Beasty Boys and Run DMC releasing stuff around the same time. A lot of great stuff from them was coming out.[Back in the 1980s] there were three to four really good music genres you could flip through. When you turned on the radio, you’d always be able to find something good, something that you liked. Then in the ’90s, hip hop kind of lost its way, because of where the genre went with the lyrics, with all that hardcore gangster stuff.
Now it’s just a matter of people like what we’re doing with the genres because they like the beat – it’s all about the beat. Hip hop is upbeat. What we are bringing people find interesting, instead of the monotony of another country song or southern rock song where I am singing about how I’m sitting in my truck and I lost my girlfriend and I’m gonna get drunk.
Like I said, I can’t sing… I’m not a singer. In fact I have a hook on one of the tracks that goes: “I’m not a singer or a rapper — I just talk fast..” It’s just a big mash of everything
RR: How would you describe your fan base?
BB: Ya know, I’d say we have something for everyone. We were playing one night recently and there were three generations from one family there. The grandfather loved the country part and the lyrics about our military. The two parents, they loved the southern rock part of our music. And the kids loved the hip-hop. It appeals to a broad audience.
RR: You operate a small label and you do all the work; have you ever been approached by one of the big labels in some way?
BB: Yes, the larger labels have approached us – we met with every major label out there. I won’t say that we’ll never sign a deal. We have a full staff and do everything in house. At some point we might turn to one of them. It might be a matter of needing help getting into a market. We have another meeting this week with a major label we’ve met with several times already.
Now, we’ve really built up our entertainment side of the business. We can book all the same venues that the large booking agencies can get you. We have a little leverage in that they do want to work with us. We think there could be a situation where one of the big labels signs on someone new and maybe they don’t have the time to really manage them how they need to be managed. So we would be interested in a co-management type of deal.
Then there’s also this sense of pride. We bust our ass and work our tails off. We know if we make X amount of dollars it’s all coming back to us. If we keep our overhead low and all, we can really count on seeing a lot more of that money doing things this way. But at the same time, in some ways we’ve outgrown ourselves.
I’m looking at buses now – a 45-foot 12-bump sleeper. We’ve been through 15 vans….I don’t know how many church buses. We’re gonna drive in the big leagues! That may be the extent of it – it may just be that we’re driving a new 45-foot tour bus, but we really need it now. We spend so much time on the road and the back aches and the neck aches – we’re spending a lot of money on this bus, but it’ll pay dividends when we can play a show and we’re feeling fresh and energized instead of exhausted and suffering from all kinds of body pains. Ya know there are quite a few good groups that hang it up simply because of the touring. It takes its toll on you. It really does.
RR: Some critics think this whole hybrid country rock-hip hop type of music maybe just be a passing fad. What do you say to that?
BB: Everything is a fad. Take classic rock – why is it called “classic rock.” Because they’re not making it anymore. Hey, it’s not for everybody what we are doing…. But then we’ll play a festival and there will be lots of people there who have never heard of us, but when we finish they’ll be clapping and screaming their head off.
And what gets them, what they’ll say is that they’ve never heard anything like use before. A lot of it is luck, just falling into a genre that accepts you and knows you are being real. That is the key, that they know you’re heart is in what you’re doing and that you’re not just there to make a fast buck and then disappear or change into the next big thing. Some bands come and go. We didn’t target the biker community, but for some reason, the bikers, they love us, for example.
There is the huge luck factor involved with who picks us up. But it’s not all luck, either. We’re always working – we have been making a lot of videos. And we’re very humble in that we do spend a lot of times with the fans, we’ll gab with them afterward and stay until the last one leaves. So there’s the “realness” factor. And we live everything we sing.
Some of it is through the trial and error process. We run our business the way we want to. And we are just gonna keep running until something messes up! A lot of the radio station orogrammers see it as a fad. But look at Radiohead — they sold more downloads than anyone and they have never been played on the radio, at least to my knowledge.
We just love to work and we love to get out there in front of people. Word of mouth is the best advertising. So we wanna get in front of as many mouths as possible…
RR: What is the funniest advice you ever got from someone?
BB: The funniest to me—and this happens once or twice a day, and it could be in person or on social media, but people are always saying we should sing about this or that… And it’s almost always something we already did. So we say “Well, we did that, it’s on our second album.”
We have had a few suggestions here and there. What’s also funny is when we play live, we’re a three-piece. They don’t understand there’s me, the guitar and the deejay. When we play live, some of the purist don’t understand the hip hop element.
So some people will ask: Where’s you bass player? You’re not a real band! And they don’t understand we have the deejay who is handling the bass and the other stuff that the deejay’s handle. And some folks are like, “Wow ya all did that without a bass player? Man!!”
RR: Do you think the Big Smo reality show could have an impact on this new genre?
BB: It depends on whether it’s a success or not. It certainly could bring attention to the entire genre and other artists working chipping away at it. I really, really hope it is a success.
Charley and I worked with Big Smo and became a group called Kinsfolk, for about 10 months. Then we decided to go our own ways. I just talked to him two-three days ago. We were talking about the reality show. If that is a success everyone will reap the benefits. But it’s not up to him, he told me. It’s not his choice — it’s up to the production company.
RR: If I checked your six-CD changer right now, what would I find?
BB: If you checked my six-disc changer, I have Merle Haggard. Aerosmith Get a Grip. Tupac. Moccasin Creeek – there’s always Moccasin Creek in there so I have a chance to practice my lyrics while I’m driving. Also Metallica. AC/DC. Skynyrd. All the bands that influenced us, I guess you could say.