By Rosine Alleva, Journalist/Photographer- Rock At Night France, Switzerland.
I was announcing Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal European Tour about 6 weeks ago. I was in Belgium at the famous SPIRIT OF 66 on August 30th to assist to one of their concerts and had the opportunity to interview Josh Hoyer again (see March 2017 interview on their first venue in France).
You love to dance, wanna learn, have a smile on your face all through the concert? Then don’t miss a Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal concert!! Watch these heartfelt musicians having fun on stage: Enjoy Benjamin Kushner’s big smile while playing guitar, follow the trumpet player Black DeForest sexy moves, check the killing drummer Larell Ware and bass player Mike Keeling and let yourself be transported by the sound of Josh Hoyer’s fantastic voice and keyboard. What a great night, everyone in the audience continued dancing till the last note. These guys are soooo grooovy !!!
RAN– Hi Josh, nice to meet you again, how did this second European tour begin so far?
JOSH HOYER– The second tour so far is good, we have days off though and that’s when I miss my kids and my wife like crazy…so I prefer to stay really busy when we’re over here. But yeah we had some good events. Blues au Château in La Chèze was really fun, kind of small town, lots of families with young people. I was a lot of fun. Most of the gigs were really great, just one or two slow nights but on Monday or Tuesday. This year with the group, not to downplay what we did last year, there’s a better spirit about us, we’re in a better mood most of the time…maybe because we’ve been through this once before and get better rest, I don’t know . We’re just getting started though, we have another four and a half weeks to go.
RAN– Charles Bradley died last year in September in Brooklyn, New York City.
I know you’re one of his bigger fans…
JH– You know, the music business is tough for everyone. His story to me is very special. He was doing tribute shows, a James Brown impersonation He finally found success when he turned into his late sixties. I’m really glad he was able to find this success, I wanna follow that path. With his message of love, tolerance and understanding, it’s all very genuine. He had a rough life! Him, to have the opportunity to share his message of love, brotherhood and unity is very special I think. I got to see him one time live and it kind of reminded me how honesty and being authentic on stage is really important. It was a special show. Too bad he couldn’t be there longer to share his music. His way of taking the all crowd, make you feel that you’re there together…it’s pretty seldom. Any bit that we can incorporte in our show, we do. But I’m me obviously, I’m not him. We try to incorporate that mentality, that magic…if you can.
RAN– Let’s see the important points since we met last year. What about your Solo side Project released last January (EP The End of the Night), how did it happen?
JH– It was just a one time thing. The people from the label, Silver Street records, Jay Knowles and Jon Coleman are Nashville songwriters. They came and said they liked that kind of music and wanted to come up for a writing session. They have to write a certain amount of songs per month, it’s kind of their job, then see what sticks on the wall. So they came up over a weekend, hanged out for a couple of days. It was cool.
And I thought we had some good songs out of it too. I’d never done anything like that , I’ve always kind of written on my own. So it was interesting to go through that process. The End of The Night, I had written most of it myself and it was a song about depression. Jon really liked this song but said we had to change the lyrics and write about girls …Laugh!!! In the end the song is still depressing so I still win…Big laugh!!! Certain subjects, certain avenues where people are comfortable with when people are listening and if you wanna keep people in that area you don’t wanna go too far out. That’s the Nashville production mentality. It turned out to be really good songs. Personally if I have an idea, I just go for it. I don’t decide of a subject and then write it. It turned out great and it was cool to learn things work.
RAN– Will you do it again?
JH– I doubt it. Meanwhile who knows really. It turned out great, it was cool to learn and I had a lot of fun. So what the hell, maybe so!
RAN– What about the Funk&Soul alliance charity event?
JH– Yeah, we had the second annual one last December. I need to make up my mind, I’m pretty sure we’ll do it maybe a little bit smaller. I had a number of bands that didn’t show up. The venue was mad at me and I was really mad!! I was trying to be all inclusive, anybody to play funk or soul, R’N’B, in the Omaha region, I wanted them to be a part of it. So that we could have vibed up each other, it would help them personally in the region. You know, it’s a growing experience for everyone. Next year I might then keep it with the people I know, it would be smaller but I think we can do something. It was a real rewarding experience to do that. I don’t mind to putting in the work cause I know it’s gonna help people out.
RAN– Last year we talked about Trump proposing a budget which will eliminate funding to museums, libraries, and artists!!!…. Does this affect you artists already? You directly?
JH– In the States, people like me, we don’t get any help at all. There is no money for touring bands like us. Maybe for fine arts like symphonies, theaters, troupes….Maybe for state or city related venues but nothing for private clubs either.
RAN– So it doesn’t affect you directly.
JH– We’re definitely affected by Trump’s personality! Everything is kind of at the crossroads coming November with the US Congress action. We’ll see what happens.
Maybe slow this guy down or to have some people to put the breaks on at least for a couple of years…
RAN– Your fourth album DO IT NOW, is available in Europe since you started your tour, on vinyl and CD and will be released in the USA early 2019. What’s the audience reaction?
JH– They love it. Number of the songs on the record I would play were just in the beginning stage of being written. If people liked it, I kept it. I wanted to make it for them. Maybe it’s not a professional thing to do it but it just felt right to me. Last night in Krefeld we had a really special show. It doesn’t matter to me if there are 40 people there or 10000, as long as the people are present and wanna have an experience. More often than that, we found out in Europe that people really wanna have an experience and kind of be part of the night. Whenever we have those nights we’re so thankful, you remember why you played music in the first place, when you have the exchange of energy, joy and everybody lifts each other up…That’s a wonderful thing!
RAN– Is it different in the States ?
JH– Yeah sometimes…Spain is a special place, every show is pure magic! Sometimes in the States you have people watching TV, not really engaged but they’re there …but it’s not everywhere.
RAN– Mike and James are not with the band anymore, why did they decide to stop?
JH– Mike Dee, the saxo player, he got his dream job, which is playing saxophone for the Airforce band. He’s in a military band, he loves it. He’s based in Saint Louis, where he’s from, so he’s super happy. And James, he’s also an audio engineer and a producer. So he’s working in a studio, he’s very busy and super happy. It takes a special sort of person to be on the road like this, and it’s not for everyone.
This current crew, Mike Keeling, he’s the new bass player, had toured with other bands and Benji as well, he was playing bass in high school and wanted to be a professional bass player since he was very young. He went out to L.A then came back home with his lady. He toured with some other groups and then this opportunity came up and he happened to be in between jobs. Him and Benji are great friends so it’s been a wonderful fit. Really thankful to have him, he’s a hard working guy, great bass player, a total pleasure to be around. And Blake the trumpet player, is a young man, he’s 25, just full of life, great player. Just wonderful to have in the band musically and personally. We’re really vibing together very well. I’m really proud of my guys, the music is a lot more cohesive, it’s just wonderful.
RAN– Particularly that you didn’t really know last year, if all this would happen…
JH– Yeah, when Benji was sick last year, we didn’t know what was gonna happen with him, I didn’t know what would happen with the band. Without him I didn’t really want to keep going, maybe switch off you know. His wellness has really helped and this is the reason why the band is still firing up. He stuffs us like the spiritual leader of the band, that’s for sure. it’s a wonderful thing.
Once we decided Benji was gonna be healthy then we figured out that Mike and Blake would be available to play next year,
Then I said “I’m gonna write a record cause we need something to tour and support of”. The last album, I’m really proud of it but I wanted this record to be for my kids, my daughters. So most of the songs are very positive, very up lifting. Something that, if I don’t happen to write a record ever again, I would be happy to leaving them with my last piece of work, musically and that they could use it in their life. There is a number of songs you can use as a mantra, to stay positive, work hard, have pride of yourself and believe that you can what you wanna do. I think it’s important to do something like that. I’m pretty proud of this record, I think it feels good.
RAN– After this European Tour, what are your projects?
JH– We’re gonna stay busy the rest of the year back in the States. The new record will be officially released early 2019 in the States and we’ll do some touring next year as well to support it.
RAN– Thank you Josh for this interview. Looking forward to seeing you all on stage tonight!
Many thanks to SPIRIT OF 66, to OZZY from Teenage Head Music for his warm welcome and thanks again to him and the band for the ride back to my hotel!
I talked with Benjamin Kushner in a separate interview about the health issues he went through last year.