The Mojo Wire – History
The Mojo Wire bashed its way through the Isla Vista/UCSB college-town scene before suddenly imploding, leaving a stretch of four self-recorded, self-released albums, twenty-three slapdash, scattershot gigs, and a whole lot of loud, messy fun.
Guitarists Adam Hill and Bryn DuBois formed a blues band in Dana Point, CA during 1996, shortly adding Keir DuBois and Kevin Nerison as a rhythm section. Soon renamed in honor of Hunter S. Thompson’s annoying fax device, they moved to Santa Barbara in 1997 and switched drummers, adding Brandon Klopp for about a year before shifting the lineup again in 1999 to add Joe Zulli on guitar, moving Bryn to drums.
The band’s sound morphed along with its membership, from blues to surf to psychedelic to roots to garage rock, but always present was a bent, bizarro sensibility infecting anything they did.
Supposedly, it all went a little like this…
The early years:
Back in 1996 Bryn and Keir first acquired a 4-track tape recorder and committed the band’s messy 12-bar arrangements to posterity. Adam had been recording their rehearsal jams at Kevin’s house in mono since May of that year, and the musical carnage reached a fever pitch once multitracking (though strangely, not stereo) got involved. Songs that would make up the debut Mojo Wire album emerged from these practices, and that powered the band through two back-to-back gigs on the deck of a boat in Newport Harbor in December ’96.
The band settled on a name, The Mojo Wire, in early 1997 before playing as a wedding band and then decamping for Isla Vista, leaving Kevin behind to deny any of it ever happened.
The Mojo Wire, Version 1.0:
When Adam and Bryn followed Keir to Santa Barbara in 1997, they kept their band (newly-renamed the Mojo Wire) active with the assistance of drummer and next-door neighbor Brandon Klopp.
A technically gifted drummer (and fan of skinsmen like Jeff Porcaro and Vinnie Colaiuta), Brandon provided the kind of disciplined expertise that the other three guys almost totally lacked, and he did the band a major favor by helping them actually sound good live for about six months.
During that time this Mojo Wire lineup played six shows and recorded a strong debut CD in Battery Acid Blues as well as an unfinished, messy immediate follow-up disc dubbed Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor.
Activity slowed quickly once the school year ended, and Brandon soon had to move away, but the Mojo Wire counted it all time well spent, and paused to write more material and ready a new lineup.
The Mojo Wire, Version 1.5:
In the middle of 1998 The Mojo Wire was in rebuild/regroup mode after the frenetic activity of the previous year. Their unfinished second disc stuck out like a sore thumb and most of those songs hadn’t aged well, so Adam, Bryn, and Keir slowly collected a new set of tunes.
Pouring in some Baja road trips and Isla Vista post-decadence, they stripped away most of the wild effects of Rocket Fuel to make a reverb-soaked folk-rock disc calledSeaside Hamlet Skids. Tinny, compressed, and unassuming, the album nonetheless contained some of the band’s best songs- “Key West Tapwater”, “I Fly Free”, “How Far Away”, and “Shivering Sand.”
Recording began back in Orange County with original drummer Kevin Nerison, and progressed all the way through the recruitment of Joe Zulli on guitar for live shows.
Finally released in spring ’99, Seaside capped off a string of seven shows (where the songs got louder and rockier) and previewed the next lineup with Bryn on drums.
The Mojo Wire, Version 2.0:
The release of Seaside Hamlet Skids in April 1999 saw a major drop in Mojo activity for the rest of 1999 and half of 2000 as band members concentrated on jobs and school.
Bryn and Keir filled this gap with a fall ’99 E.P. release called Dive from their instrumental side duo Low Tide, as well as Bryn’s own all-instrumental surf albumMy Second Shipwreck in April ’00.
That fall in Isla Vista, Bryn, Keir, and Joe began work on new material in addition to remakes of older Mojo Wire songs, but the outside world often interfered and progress was slow, though Adam was eventually able to contribute as well. The whole band managed to collect themselves for six slapdash shows in 2000 and 2001, finally releasing the most-completed recordings in June ’01 as You’re On Your Own, a collection of new songs, remakes, and live recordings.
The Mojo Wire rehearsed sporadically for the rest of 2001, but went on indefinite hiatus when Adam moved away and the brothers DuBois formed a new band,Honey White, in early 2002.
The Mojo Wire – History Mix 1996-2001: