FOZZY and STUCK MOJO guitarist Rich Ward was interviewed on a recent edition of the "Talking Metal" podcast. You can now listen to the chat using the Spreaker widget below.
STUCK MOJO is working on material for a new album — its first to feature the lineup of Rich "The Duke" Ward on guitar, Bonz on vocals, Corey Lowery on bass and Frank Fontsere on drums since 1998's "Rising". The CD is expected to be recorded this summer with the band's longtime producer Andy Sneap, who has previously worked on albums from MEGADETH, EXODUS, TESTAMENT, SAXON and ACCEPT, among many others.
"We kind of talked about the possibility of doing a new STUCK MOJO record near the end of last year, but we wanted to play this reunion show the day after Christmas to see how it went first, 'cause the four of us had not played live with that lineup since 1998," Ward told "Talking Metal". "It was just important for us to all get one gig under our belts, see how the chemistry was and see if it was something that we all wanted to do. The show went killer, we had a great time, and it seemed like maybe even the band was a little better than we were sixteen years ago. And part of that could be just down to all of us have continued to work hard on other bands and projects and made a lot of records. And maybe we've gotten better individually in honing who we are as players and as musicians and artists… [So] we played the show, it went great, and so we're moving forward with it. And any chance that I have that we're not on the road doing shows, I'm in the studio every day [putting down ideas]."
Ward also talked about STUCK MOJO's formation and the band's status as one of the pioneers of the rap/metal genre.
"In 1989, I [was] a rock/metal kid living in Atlanta, and glam metal was the big thing, and there was an all-black rock band from Atlanta called FOLLOW FOR NOW, and I was fascinated with the idea of this kind of crossing of cultures in music," he said. "And the [RED HOT] CHILI PEPPERS were doing it, even though there wasn't a racial component. [There was] this cultural diversity that felt so different from what DOKKEN and SLAUGHTER and WINGER and some of the other bands that were really big at the time — especially in the Atlanta, in the South, you had southern rock and then you had hair metal, and that was what was big. And I still like those bands. It's just that I was really attracted to…"
He continued: "Then I was very fortunate to see an advertisement that had Lars Ulrich [METALLICA] being quoted as saying, 'Go see this band. They're one of the greatest bands of this generation.' And it was FAITH NO MORE. And I saw them in a club play in front of nobody. And I was just blown away by that. Like, here's guys who didn't look like anything I had ever seen before, playing music that was nothing like I had ever seen before. And that was the catalyst for me creating STUCK MOJO — just trying to find a little plot of land that I could stick a flag in and say, 'This is ours. We don't sound like this and we don't sound like that.' And then I started getting into MORBID ANGEL and heard SEPULTURA and Devin Townsend's STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and then FEAR FACTORY and MACHINE HEAD. All those bands were coming out in the mid-'90s and we started in the late '80s."
Ward went on to say: "STUCK MOJO formed in 1989, but we were still a young band with young players, and we were still trying to figure out who we were, and what the formula was, and how was our chemistry, 'cause we went through a few lineup changes. But I think we just were doing something honest. And we had a black rapper and a black bass player and a white metal guitar player and a white metal drummer. And it was just so different, because it was a clash of cultures and it was a clash of styles, and sometimes you end up mixing some things together that works. We were doing something pretty diferent and it was unique. And we were still playing in these little dirty dive bars all over the Southeast, and seeing people's faces going… it was like I guess the first time that you ever saw a black trumpeteer walk into a jazz club in the '20s or something. It was the craziest thing; it was great. And it was empowering, to me, to be part of something so different.
"I never tried to be a funk guitar player; I was a metal guy. It was just how my influences cross-sectioned with our funk/reggae bass player and our rapper, who couldn't sing anything, 'cause he had no idea about melody. He was just a pissed off black guy who had a rough life, who had been in prison, who just had… he had a story and had an outlook on life that I just had no idea even existed. That culture only existed on TV and in movies to me. So it was that clash of cultures and clash of style and approach to music that made us, I thought, a really good band, which is why I still love doing that band. I've had great success with FOZZY and we do great things, and I make money, but it's a different animal. When you walk on stage with something that's slightly dangerous, and I don't mean to the audience — I mean to me, too. Like, there's an energy and there's something that happens in STUCK MOJO that is very unique, and it's almost like a drug for me, and I really like it."
Rich concluded: "The beautiful thing about having a multicultural band is you can say things you can't say when you're a bunch of white guys in a metal band. You can say counter-culture things that you're gonna get a pass on, because there is a diversity of race and there's a diversity of ethnicity, and that's the one thing I really love — being able to do things that other bands can't, which is pretty freakin' cool."
STUCK MOJO played its first reunion show on December 26, 2014 at the Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bonz was dismissed from STUCK MOJO in July 2006 over the frontman's alleged substance-abuse issues which, according to a statement from Ward at the time, "affect[ed] [Bonz's live] performance," in the process "transform[ing] a guy we loved into someone that no one in the band wanted to be around." Ward added: "To gamble the band's future on someone who is the source of such instability is not an option anymore." Bonz was eventually replaced by Lord Nelson.
STUCK MOJO in 2010 parted ways with Austria's Napalm Records, the label that released the band's last two albums, 2007's "Southern Born Killers" (originally made available in 2005 as a free download) and 2008's "The Great Revival".
STUCK MOJO's 2010 "Here Comes The Monster" tour of Europe featured Lord Nelson on the mic, Ward on guitar, Sean Delson on bass and Frank Fontsere on drums.