Photo: Larry Hess
Having overcome a few hurdles, Bobaflex are back with their newest full-length, ‘Hell in My Heart.’ The album is built from the frustration the West Virginia-based rockers felt after TVT Records, a label they were signed to and had released two albums with, filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Unable to officially record new material without it being owned by a bank that inherited their contract and the rights to their songs, the band secretly worked on demos until they were free. The result is an effort vocalist/guitarist Shaun McCoy describes as deep, rich, and full of hooks.
While taking a break from rehearsals for their summer tour, Shaun had a quick phone conversation with Rock Edition. He spoke about the quintet’s past deterrents, new album, radio success, and touring plans. Head below to check it all out.
I didn’t realize that Bobaflex started way back in 1998.
For the first few years it was more of a bar band. We didn’t really get serious and quit our jobs until about 2003. After we did a little lineup change, it became our profession at that point. Next thing you know, I dropped out of college, we got a record deal, and got serious.
Did you always want to make playing music your full-time gig?
Oh yeah. In high school, I thought about moving to California to do all this stuff. Then, I went to college and thought maybe not. My brother came to college with me and we started playing the bars. Soon after that, it all came full circle on us, back to being 14 years old and wanting to live the dream. Currently, I think we are. We’ve had some bumps in the road, but our single [“Bury Me with My Guns on”] is now at #42 on the Active Rock [radio] charts. That’s all self-promotion right there. We don’t have any backers and we’re not on a record label right now. Actually, labels who thought we were finished are suddenly coming out of the woodwork. After I’ve done all this work myself, they want to come out and tag along for the ride. [laughs]
Since we’re on the subject, let’s talk about labels for a second. A label that you guys were signed to called TVT Records went bankrupt a few years ago. What happened to your contract with them and all the rights to your songs?
The music was all bought up. We thought we were going to be free. TVT was falling apart, we had just played Rock on the Range, and one of our songs was at #1 on the charts. We were stoked, but then we learned that we were owned by a bank. They owned our contract and they didn’t do anything with it. We thought they might sell it to another label, but they never did. They wouldn’t even contact us back. Ultimately, we had to hire a lawyer and fight with them. At the same time, we had people suing us from former situations. With everything coming down on us, we just came up with a legal strategy, part of which was filing bankruptcy. We eventually got out of the contracts and were free. We couldn’t record and sell music for about a year and a half during that time. We had to just sell T-shirts. If we recorded something, the bank would have claimed that they owned that too. We secretly recorded demos, and as soon as we were free we went into some nice studios and recorded them legitimately.
That must have been really annoying.
Yeah. We’ve been playing our latest single live for about three years. It’s just now hitting radio and able to legitimately be out there. We called the new album ‘Hell in My Heart’ because we felt that in order to make in through everything we went through, you’d have to withstand the storm and go forward with hell in your heart. Things are going good now. I know that the music industry has taken some hits, but I think everything is going to be a lot more artist-friendly. Downloads and stuff aren’t going to support these evil multimillion dollar record labels. I think it’s going to be more up to the artists to make their money. With all these new subscription channels, you can pay a certain amount of money a month and get any song you want. Sitting around and hoping to make things off of your music is probably a thing of the past. You’re also going to need to be the real deal and play great live shows and great songs.
Absolutely, things are changing fast. Speaking of which, I was just looking for the band’s new album on iTunes, but it’s no longer there. Did you guys take it down?
Yeah, it was up for a minute. We’re shopping it around. We may look at distribution, we may not. We’re touring, our bills are paid, I’m not desperate, and right now I’m not signing shit. [laughs] I’m sure the deals will get sweeter as we get higher on the charts. We’ll see what happens. A lot of artists that are signing deals are giving up their rights and everything just to be on a label that will die in the next year. We might end up releasing it digitally and have some vinyls pressed for the true fan who wants to pay $25 for an album that folds out. That’s where we’re at. I bet that we will ultimately end up doing that. We’ve got a great management team, Union Entertainment Group, which manages Hinder, Nickelback, and many others. They’re all right there with us. They’re a big management company, so they don’t get stars in their eyes every time someone flashes a contract.
Of course, there are some really cool independent labels out there too. It depends on how well they can navigate today’s industry and whether they are willing to back up your vision.
If they’re cool and hip to what’s going on, that could definitely work. There are a few options. Some of our friends in other groups have private investors. If it’s one guy who wants to put some money into what we’re doing, we can negotiate the terms a little better. It’s nice that way because they help you, they get some money back in return, and you’re not signing your soul away.
That could totally work. In the meantime, Bobaflex will be hitting the road soon. Are you bringing out a few songs from ‘Hell in My Heart’?
Absolutely, we’ll be playing several songs from it. Actually, there’s a few copies of ‘Hell in My Heart’ available at the shows, so you can pick one up at a show before it comes out.
And you’re set to make a few stops at events like the Redneck Fest, as well as Woodshock 2011, which I know you’ve played before.
Yeah, we haven’t played it in a couple of years, so it’s going to be a party coming back. Woodshock is always the wildest party. It goes on through the night and people camp there. It’s definitely worth the money, you’ll have a good time at Woodshock.
How’s the energy been at shows recently? Are the fans excited to see you guys completely back in the swing of things?
Our last show was packed, and we sold a ton of merch. Everything is definitely starting to pick up. We want to keep getting on more stages. We’re really seeing results. And the age range is crazy; we have everyone from old bikers in their 50s to 13-year-old kids coming out to see us.
Before we wrap things up, tell us a little about ‘Hell in My Heart.’
Well, we tried to write the album not necessarily old school but you can hear a hearkening from the ’70s and ’80s. We wanted it to be a listenable album. There’s a lot of albums I love by Pink Floyd and stuff, but they’re not albums you can just listen to in your car every day. With this record, we wanted it to be something that you could just play constantly. With the 15 songs, we have three different singers — Jerod [Mankin] is singing lead on a few songs for the first time and my brother Marty [McCoy] sings about half of the record. You get a lot of different vibes, and the band’s never boring, which keeps you involved.
It’s cool that you guys switch off doing lead vocals so much. Does that decision come down to who wrote the song?
Yeah, usually my brother, Jerod or I will come up with a skeleton and then everybody puts their two cents into the Bobaflex gauntlet. Ultimately, it always ends up sounding like us.
Should we expect anything else from Bobaflex? Any new music videos?
Well, we had a bad deal with a guy who did a video for us. He’s actually on the run from the police. He couldn’t get the video to us, and it’s not edited properly, but it still looks cool. It’s for “Chemical Valley.” He ended up putting the video up on YouTube. It’s not really finished, but it looks great. It is what it is. [laughs]
Pick up Bobaflex’s latest EP Chemical Valley.
For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their official website.