Matt Curtis of Blacktop Mojo: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview

Matt Curtis of Blacktop Mojo Interview

Feature Photo: Jeff Arnhart Photography

Formed in Palestine, Texas, Blacktop Mojo—which currently consists of Matt James (vox), Nathan Gillis (drums), Malcolm Booher (guitars), Ryan Kiefer (guitars), and Matt Curtis (bass)—are about as good as it gets as far as down-home hard rock. Sure, bits of “post-rock” are in there, which checks out considering the band members’ ages. But there are also oodles of Texas boogie inherent throughout the Blacktop Mojos mix. And their latest record, Pollen, dropped on April 5, 2024, is a prime example. Brimming with invigorated performances, Pollen features eleven bristling tracks set to captivate in ways usually reserved for live music—which Blacktop Mojo does damn well, too.

Blacktop Mojo’s bassist, Matt Curtis, is here to talk about it all—along with his origins in music and gear. Below is ClassicRockHistory.com’s Q&A with Curtis, where we dig into the latest and greatest with Blacktop Mojo as they prepare to support Pollen.

What inspired you to become a musician, and what keeps you inspired?

I grew up in a very musical family, so my love for music was there from a young age. However, I didn’t get serious about playing and creating music myself until I was a teenager. Once I got hooked on playing guitar, it was all over, and nothing else mattered except making music and making a difference.

Tell me about where you grew up. What was the scene like?

The Muscle Shoals, Alabama, area is rich in music history. Between the legendary FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound studios, so many hit songs were recorded and released from this area. Many artists, like The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Segar, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many more, recorded some of their most well-known songs in these studios. This all happened way before I was born, in the ’60s-90s, of course.

By the time I came of age to start playing gigs myself, however, there wasn’t much of a music scene other than bar bands playing covers. And if there were any kind of underground shows, it was all metalcore and stuff like that in hole-in-the-wall places.

I ended up jamming a lot with friends in garages, basements, and the home studio I helped my dad build in my late teens. These days, every time I visit home, the quad-city area of the Shoals seems to be growing more and more. So, who knows what the music scene will look like in the next decade?

What were some of your favorite spots to take in shows as a kid?

As a kid, I remember going to a lot of different shows with my dad since he was also a musician; I think I just enjoyed going to any show and being in that atmosphere. I didn’t grow to appreciate it as much, though, until I got older and played music myself.

Did any local musicians inspire you as you were coming up? 

I was blessed to be around some of the best studio musicians of the time and some of the original Muscle Shoals sound rhythm section called The Swampers. I picked up many things here and there from Jimmy Johnson, Will McFarlane, Jeff King, Michael Spriggs, Scott Todd, who I took guitar lessons from, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook of the group Alabama, Marty Raybon of Shenandoah, and finally, my dad Michael Curtis who is a hell of a singer/songwriter and guitar picker himself. And my older brother James Curtis and some of his old bandmates.

How did you pick up bass, and what was your first bass? 

When I first joined Blacktop Mojo, I was recruited as a guitar player. A few months after I joined, our original bass player quit, and we had a few fill-ins until about a year into my being in the band. Our original guitar player, Kenneth Irwin, whom I replaced, moved back to Texas, and we decided to bring him back into the band. With the void of a bass player still being an issue, I decided to try it out after some convincing from Matt James, our singer.

My first bass was given to me by a buddy of mine, and I borrowed it until I could get my own bass. It was a 2015 Gibson SB, and since it was just sitting in my friend’s room and he was not a player, he decided to give it to me. You can actually see that bass in our video for the “Dream On” cover we did. That was my first recording as the bass player for Blacktop Mojo.

Of your older work, what albums mean the most, and why? 

Burn The Ships was my first album I was a part of with the band, so it will always hold a special place for me. Under The Sun is one of my favorite albums of our older stuff from front to back. It’s just, in my opinion, a killer hard rock record with everything you could want on it. Our latest two albums [Blacktop Mojo and Pollen] have been some of my favorites as far as production and everything.

For the new record, Pollen, where are you pulling from in terms of songwriting?

We really went back to the old-school way of doing things, which is why I think it ended up sounding like a classic rock record. We went into the studio with just the basic ideas of songs and built them up in the studio to be what they are without much, if any, pre-production. We pulled from a lot of our roots in classic and southern rock, stuff our parents listened to, and what they played for us growing up.

Which song means the most to you, and why?

To be honest, every song has a special meaning and place for me. We put so much of ourselves into what we do, and Matt always seems to have words that match the feel of the melodies I make. Every song is special in its own way.

How do you view the way you sing today versus the past? What has changed most? 

Technique and range. But it’s hard not to become a better singer when you’re backing up a guy with a golden once-in-a-lifetime voice. [laughs]

Tell me about your gear: guitars, amps, pedals. 

I keep things pretty simple, but my favorite things lately have been my Ernie Ball Music Man basses. I fought for many years with other basses, and I had to get the tone and feel that the Music Man basses seemed to have right away when I first plugged them in. I have G&K 1001RB bass heads, but lately, I’ve been using a Kemper with an Ampeg-style amp model, and it’s been perfect.

What’s one thing about you as a musician that you’d like people to know and understand?

Most artists are never fully understood, so I kind of gave up on that a long time ago. I really just want to continue to make music that makes a positive impact on people’s lives and makes their lives a little better.

What are your short- and long-term goals?

I don’t like to tell people what I’m doing or how I’m doing it. I prefer to let them see what I’ve done when it’s time for it to be revealed.

Matt Curtis of Blacktop Mojo: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either supplied by the artists, public domain Creative Commons photos, or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. 

DMCA.com Protection Status

DON’T MISS A BEAT

Be the first to know when a new article is published

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Michael Jackson's Best Song
Michael Jackson’s Best Song On Each Of His Studio Albums
Thin Lizzy's Best Songs
Thin Lizzy’s Best Song On Each Of Their Studio Albums
Best Rock Lyrics
50 Of The Best Lyrical Moments In Rock And Pop Music
Linda Ronstadt's Best Song On Each Of Her 1970s Studio Albums
Linda Ronstadt’s Best Song On Each Of Her 1970s Studio Albums
Top 10 Southern Rock Live Albums Of All Time
Top 10 Southern Rock Live Albums Of All Time
Grateful Dead Albums
Top 10 Grateful Dead Albums
Seven Killer Metal Albums
Seven Killer Metal Albums You May Have Never Heard
Peter Gabriel Albums
Top 10 Peter Gabriel Albums
Trying To Make Sense Of David Lee Roth's Cover Of 867-5309/Jenny
Trying To Make Sense Of David Lee Roth’s Cover Of 867-5309/Jenny
The Rolling Stones At Metlife Stadium 2024
The Rolling Stones 24 Tour Rocks MetLife Stadium Review 5-23-24
Aaron Leigh of Y&T
2024 M3 Rock Festival Day 2 Concert Review
2024 M3 Rock Festival Day 1 Concert Review
2024 M3 Rock Festival Day 1 Concert Review
Dave Davies of The Kinks Interview
Dave Davies of The Kinks: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Tommy Bolan of Warlock & Doro: 15 Albums That Changed My Life
Tommy Bolan of Warlock & Doro: 15 Albums That Changed My Life
Matt Curtis of Blacktop Mojo Interview
Matt Curtis of Blacktop Mojo: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Gerry McAvoy
Gerry McAvoy of The Rory Gallagher Band: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Gang Of Four Albums
Complete List Of Gang Of Four Albums And Songs
The Rides Albums And Songs
Complete List Of The Rides Albums And Songs
Cate Le Bon Albums
Complete List Of Cate Le Bon Albums And Songs
Nancy Wilson Albums
Complete List Of Nancy Wilson Albums And Songs
9 Bands That Never Replaced Departed Members
Music CDs Comeback
Why Music CDs Have No Chance Of Making A Comeback
Classic Rock Bands Still Together But Overdue For A New Album
Classic Rock Bands Still Together But Overdue For A New Album
When Glam Bands Went Grunge In The 1990s
When Glam Bands Went Grunge In The 1990s
Billy Idol Rebel Yell 40th Anniversary Vinyl Review
Taylor Swift Albums And Discography
Complete List Of Taylor Swift Albums And Discography
Carly Simon Hotcakes Album Review
Carly Simon’s HOTCAKES Album Still Sizzles After 50 Years
11 Tracks Of Whack Album Review
Walter Becker – 11 Tracks of Whack Album Review