A Serving Of JB And The Moonshine Band

Pollstar chats with JB and the Moonshine Band’s JB Patterson about the band’s third studio album, how the act got its start and his thoughts on Texas country.

Lead vocalist/guitarist Patterson is joined by guitarist Hayden McMullen, bassist Chris Flores and drummer Gabe Guevara. The country group formed in Tyler, Texas, in 2009 and released its debut, Ain’t Goin’ Back to Jail, the following year. During our conversation, Patterson quipped, “And we really meant it, by the way.”  

The band put out its latest album, Mixtape, last week. The title fits perfectly with the act’s plan to highlight its influences on the release, which Patterson names as “Hank Williams Jr., Metallica, Eagles, Ozzy Osbourne and ‘90s country in general.”

JB and the Moonshine Band has been busy supporting the new album by putting in miles on their Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine co-branded tour bus called “Ole Smoky.” The next stop is Friday in Garden City, Kan., at Jax Sports Grille.

Photo: Matthew Hogan
Hayden McMullen, Chris Flores, JB Patterson, and Gabe Guevara

Rolling Stone named your sophomore LP, Beer For Breakfast, one of the top five country albums of the year. Did you feel a lot of pressure going into your third album after getting a review like that?

Well, sure. Yeah. I constantly feel pressure. (laughs) But it’s not anything overwhelming, you know. You just always want to get better, improve and please everybody. But man, that was a pretty big compliment. You know, Rolling Stone’s kind of a big deal. Basically, after I read that write-up I was like, well, I can just retire right now.

Did you have a vision for Mixtape going into it?

Well, really we just went into it thinking, “How can we draw from all of your influences and all of our experiences and mash them all up into one album that can appeal to a broad swath of people, a big demographic?” And that’s kind of how we went about it. We cut 35 songs for this album and then we picked the 12 that we thought fit it the most.

What was the songwriting process like? Do you and the band write together or do you write most of the songs?

I write most of it and what ends up happening is inevitably I’ll end up having to co-write with somebody. I think I wrote like eight or nine on this album and co-write two or three. This is our first album ever that we did songs that I didn’t write or co-write. We [covered] two songs. One is called “Where is Woody Guthrie” and it was written by a No.1, award-winning songwriter named Allen Shamblin, who’s written everything from “The House That Built Me,” “He Walked On Water,” [to] “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” In stark contrast, the other one was written by a kid from Oklahoma who [had] never written a song before in his life that sent me an email that say, “Hey, you’ve inspired me to write songs and I wanted you to hear my song.” I liked it so much and I heard the heart in it, I decided to put it on the album as well. I thought it was kind of cool that there’s two that we didn’t write – one by an absolute smash hit songwriter and one’s by a nobody.

So, did you get back to that fan and let him know you were going to include his song on the record?

Of course, yeah. He was really excited and since then I invited him when we played at Billy Bob’s in Forth Worth recently. I had him come up on stage and fulfill his dream of singing at Billy Bob’s and he sang that song with us.

Did you work with a producer on the album?

We produced it ourselves. We wrote it. We performed it. We engineered [it], recorded it. … I did the artwork myself. We did everything.

Photo: Courtesy Aristo P.R.

What are a few of your favorite tracks from the album?

I like this song called “Wagon;” it’s heavier. …. I like them all for different reasons. It’s like saying to someone, “Which one of your kids is your favorite kid?” You know? (laughs) For me I like the sound of “Shotgun, Rifle, And A .45.” And I like that it has a message that’s important. There’s also a song called “Mixtape” … I’m not tooting my own horn but some songs I write and they just suck – but this one didn’t. It came out really well. I was pleased with how it turned out. I think it could be a really cool radio song. 

Speaking of the radio, “Shotgun, Rifle and a .45” is currently playing on Texas radio.

It’s actually playing on about 80 stations across the nation right now.

You mentioned you really like that one because of the message. What can you tell us about that song?

Well, it’s kind of an admonishment. It’s warning against complacency. It’s warning people that we need to stand up for our rights. We need to make sure we are guardians of our liberty. We are [need to be] eternally vigilant and stay tuned into what’s going on so that we can protect against any sort of erosion of liberty.

It feels really good [that the song is getting airplay] because we live in a day and age where it seems to be that questioning your government, especially if you’re an artist, it can lead to being labeled as unpatriotic, things like that, when in actuality, our founding fathers said that questioning your government is the patriotic thing to do. So I think it’s our duty to do things like that, to make sure that everybody’s on the up and up.

Like wouldn’t it be crazy if we found out that our government was warrant-lessly wiretapping and spying on us and collecting it in a huge database? Wouldn’t that be crazy?

I was looking at your Wikipedia page and the site categorizes JB and the Moonshine Band as a Texas country band. Not just as far as the band being from Texas, but the genre of Texas country music. Do you agree with that label?

I’m not that good when it comes to genres. If anybody wants [to] include me in their genre, I’d love to be in it, whatever it is.  If the rap community wants to call me rap, so be it. I just think that it’s like whenever I say “rock music,” what does that mean? I don’t know. What does it mean anymore? Even with country – what does that mean? [With] this album … there’s a lot of different styles. There’s a song called “How Can I Miss You,” it’s straight-up, traditional country. Really traditional. And then there’s a song called “Wagon,” which sounds like more of a Metallica song. … I feel like Texas country is more of where you’re coming from, from your heart. As opposed to your style or your sound, per se. So in that regard, absolutely we’re Texas country.

Let’s talk about the band’s history. The story goes that you put out this advertisement looking to put together a band and just three musicians showed up, who became your drummer, guitarist and bassist.  Did it just happen that two drummers didn’t show up? Or do your bandmates play multiple instruments and you just figured out who would play what after the guys agreed to be in your band?  

It just so happened that they all played different instruments. But they can all play multiple instruments. Each one of them preferred what they’re on, so it worked out really well.

Before you started JB and the Moonshine Band, were you playing in other bands or performing solo?

I wasn’t playing in any bands. I was just playing in my room at home, writing songs, wondering if I was any good or not.

I was just basically writing songs at home, thinking to myself, “Hey, I think this is pretty good.” Then I’d say, “Naw, this isn’t any good.” Then I‘d say, “This is really good! Naw, nobody will like it.” Finally I was like, “You idiot. Just get out there and try and see.” What’s the worst that could happen, you know? Somebody doesn’t like it? Oh well. So that’s what I did.

Were you able to quit your job in advertising right off the bat?

My wife had this really awesome job at that point and so she agreed [that I would] give it one year, see if it worked. She subsequently lost that job so she’s a stay-at-home mom now. … It all worked out.

The bio on your website mentions that your son inspired you to pursue music.

When my son was on his way it was like, “OK, so one day I’m going to encourage my kid to do whatever it is he wants to do – as long as he tries his best, works hard, he can be whatever he wants to be – yet here I am … not being willing to put myself out there. So I said just for that one fact alone, I better do it, so I won’t be a hypocrite when it comes time for me to tell him that. So in that way, that’s how he had a part in it.

Your band puts in a lot of time on the road, playing nearly 200 shows each year, and you’re going to be playing the 1000th live performance of the band’s career this year. Have you hit that milestone? Or do you know when it’s coming up?

I’m not sure exactly where it’s going to fall yet. We’re still having shows come in, being booked, but I’m watching it like a hawk. I’m excited about it and I want to make as big of a deal as possible about it when it comes around.

The band has played more than 40 states but the majority of your upcoming summer shows are in Texas, where you obviously have a huge fanbase. Are there plans to focus on other locations in the future?

Well, we go wherever anybody likes us. So it seems like we’re in Kansas a lot, Nebraska, we played Colorado recently. You know, any market where there’s a strong support for us and a venue is willing to bring us into that market, we’d love to go play there. We’re not opposed to playing anywhere. Pretty much, a little beer and some food – we’re there.

Photo: Matthew Hogan

Upcoming dates for JB and the Moonshine Band:

July 24 – Garden City, Kan., Jax Sports Grille        
July 25 – Pratt, Kan., Pratt County Fair (Pratt County Fair)
July 31 – Terrell, Texas, Silver Saloon           
Aug. 1 – McKinney, Texas, Hank’s  
Aug. 5 – Austin, Texas, Hill’s Cafe   
Aug. 6 – Belton, Texas, Schoepf’s Old Time BBQ Pit        
Aug. 7 – Abilene, Texas, The Silo     
Aug. 8 – Brownwood, Texas, Waylon’s And Ray’s
Aug. 12 – Commerce, Texas, Drunken Mule Saloon
Aug. 13 – Conroe, Texas, Dosey Doe Coffee House            
Aug. 14 – Pleasanton, Texas, Atascosa Show Barn (Pleasanton Young Farmers Rodeo) Aug. 21 – Grapevine, Texas, Love & War In Texas – Grapevine      
Aug. 22 – Roscoe, Texas, The Lumberyard  
Aug. 27 – Texarkana, Ark., Electric Cowboy           
Aug. 28 – Bossier City, La., Margaritaville Resort Casino   
Aug. 29 – Monroe, La., Live Oaks Bar & Ballroom
Sept. 4 – Helotes, Texas, Floore’s Country Store      
Sept. 5 – Midland, Texas, KD’s (appearing with Cory Morrow)
Sept. 18 – Pittsburg, Kan., Lightning Creek
Sept. 19 – Claremore, Okla., Claremore Expo Center (Rogers County Fair)           
Oct. 15 – Wichita Falls, Texas, Denim & Diamonds
Oct. 16 – Lubbock, Texas, Blue Light Live Lubbock           
Oct. 17 – Corsicana, Texas, The Remington
Oct. 30 – Justin, Texas, Mule Barn   
Nov. 7 – Keller, Texas, (Johnson Road Park “I Heart BBQ Cookoff & Music Festival)     
Nov. 21 – Nacogdoches, Texas, Banita Creek Hall

Visit JBAndTheMoonshineBand.com for more information and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.