JB and the Moonshine Band's two previous albums have produced six Top Ten singles and three consecutive No. 1's on the Texas charts. Averaging over 150 live dates per year, the band has garnered attention for their high energy live shows and will mark their 1000th show this summer. In addition to that milestone, they are set to release their third studio album, Mixtape, on June 30th and are taking a stand on their Second Amendment rights with the project's lead-off single, "Shotgun, Rifle, and a .45." Front man JB Patterson kindly took the time to talk about the album, his personal convictions with regards to the Second Amendment and more.
The new single, “Shotgun, Rifle and a .45,” is a song that makes a pretty clear, bold and brave statement.
This specific song deals with my convictions and refers to the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, which is our right to bear arms and our right to own guns. We’re trying to raise awareness about the need for people to join in and become vigilant to protect our liberties. It’s something that’s not only important to us, but was to our forefathers as well, who felt it important enough to make it the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It’s important to honor our forefathers, what they fought and died for, and what they believed.
One of the many other things that inspired this song is a video on YouTube of a city council meeting in New York. Aaron Weiss, who is a combat veteran from Iraq, was speaking out against the Safe Act. It was one of the most powerful speeches that I have ever seen. Our military, by far, is the best in the world. Many of them are overseas on a mission, fighting in the name of freedom. They are fighting so hard for the freedom of others and we don’t want them to return home to see our freedoms being taken away here in America. As a society, we need to honor them by playing our small part in staying vigilant as stewards of liberty.
With all that has been happening in the nation and what has been on the news, it is a very timely song.
The powers that be have an agenda against gun ownership and they often use these cases [in the media] as their foundation for their argument for gun restrictions, gun bans and gun laws. Yet time after time research shows these things [restrictions] in the end only prohibit law abiding citizens from owning a gun. If a criminal wants a gun, they’re going to find a way to get one anyway. I think the real issue here, and the point I’m raising in this song, is if we don’t stand up for our rights and liberties, one day we’re going to turn around and they’ll be gone--and that will be our own fault. I want to encourage people to help spread awareness and help honor our military and our forefathers by defending, at every turn, the Second Amendment. This is one topic that people should be vigilant on, but the idea of protecting our liberties extends to other categories as well. When you have things like the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act--these types of legislation cloak themselves in their name, but when you dig in, they are anything but patriotic.
These are my beliefs and where I stand. I’m sure there are people out there who will say, “you’re just a musician, what are you doing speaking to these things?” but I’m also a citizen and I feel like I have a responsibility to help raise awareness. I want to be able to rest easy at night knowing that I didn’t become complacent, which is all too easy to do. We have the rat race, the 8-5, and it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are the people and we need to remember that always.
It may not be the most commercial single to release, but at the end of the day I am not releasing the song to get it on some chart somewhere. I’m releasing this song to raise awareness about our liberties. Even if the song never gets on any chart, as long as some people hear it and it helps raise awareness, I’ll be able to sleep better knowing I did some small part. That’s the bottom line.
Being that is has such a strong message, it must elicit an incredible response when played live.
You wouldn’t believe the overwhelming responses we’ve been getting. After every show a gun owner or a military member, especially the military members, tells us how they appreciate the fact that somebody is championing liberty here at home. You know, I don’t have any delusions, we’re not out to change the world with this song, but I believe if we have the attitude we’re trying to have, which is to start a conversation and maintain an awareness, I think we’re doing our part and I hope other people will do theirs as well.
This song is one that will be on the new album, Mixtape, which is due June 30th. What is the significance of the album title?
“Mixtape” is a song on the album that is a semi love story about making a mixtape for the person you have a crush on. I felt like it was also an appropriate title for the album because the album has a lot of different styles on it. Even though it is country, it is an eclectic mix with different sub-genres. Some songs are more Americana, some are more rock, some more traditional country. It has something for everybody.
Our approach is one where we let the song dictate the production. We write a song bare bones and then see if it lends itself to a particular style. Like “Shotgun, Rifle and a .45.” After I wrote that song I felt like it had an edge to it. I didn’t hold back, I put myself out there pretty good, so I felt like it needed to be hard rockin’. So we turned up the electric guitars and went to town. Then there’s a song on there, “How Can I Miss You If You Don’t Go Away,” which is more of a traditional country song, so we have steel and fiddle on that one.
Definitely seems like a good mix. So how would you describe the rest of the album?
I don’t want people to think this is some big message album. This first single has a heavy message, but there are a lot of different types of styles, as well as content, on the record. I always have written my own songs, this is the first album where I have two that I didn’t. One of them is by my friend Allen Shamblin, who is a major heavy hitter when it comes to songwriting. He wrote songs like “I Can’t Make You Love Me” [Bonnie Raitt] and Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.” I was discussing with him all of my objections to society, what’s going on with the government and things of that nature. I was discouraged that we don’t really have anyone in the music industry creating music that has a message anymore. You know, there was a time and place in America when the majority of artists were taking stands on topics and now they are few and far between. I think that was very important and slowly but surely we’ve gotten away from all of that. Allen said that it reminded him of a song he wrote [with Rob Crosby] about Woody Guthrie called "Where's Woody Guthrie?" Guthrie was a folk singer who took a stand in his songs. He also had a sticker on his guitar that said “This Machine Kills Fascism.” The song Allen wrote is basically saying “where’s Woody Guthrie when we need him?” That turned out to be another song on the record, that in it's way, also raises awareness.
You know, we feel so blessed and fortunate that this is what we get to do without the financial backing of a major label. It’s sometimes hard to get a foothold in this industry, but we are somehow managing to do it. We’re so proud of the fact that we’re in house and we do everything ourselves and in our own style. We are our own label, studio and producer. I even did the artwork for album. If I had to do something because someone told me to do it a specific way, I would hang it up right now, that’s not what I want to do. I can’t have someone else telling me how to create anything. If it’s my creation I’m going create it how I’m going to create it and no one can tell me otherwise. Not that I’m on some big ego trip, but I feel the material and the content deserves special attention given to it; it services the heart rather than a bean counter wanting me to pander to a specific demographic. I’m ready for people to start coming from their heart more. There are a lot of people doing it that way now, but there’s a majority that aren’t. I hope to see a turnaround as far as that goes.
Doing it all independently is certainly something to be very proud of, as well as admired.
Switching gears from the record, you are going to hit a milestone this year with your 1000th live performance. Do you have any big plans for it?
Not yet. We are still getting bookings, so we don’t know exactly when it will be. When we firm up the exact date we’ll do something big that will be really special. I feel like this is a big milestone for us and we’re looking forward to that show for sure.
Do you get to play outside of Texas a lot?
Texas is our home base and we hit it heavily, but we get around. We play about 160 dates a year. We have played in over forty states, and headlined the largest country music festival in France. Playing live is really something we love to do.
In the past you have set goals for yourself in the industry, many of which you have attained. With the release of the record, do you have anything specific you want to accomplish this year?
Hmmm, you know I don’t know about this year, but before I die in some capacity I wouldn’t mind going to the Grammys whether it was for producing, writing or something we put out ourselves. At that point I could retire and be fulfilled.
On a lighter note, JB and the Moonshine Band are partnered with Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine. So I have to ask, just how much moonshine do you guys drink?
We met the guys at Ole Smoky and hit it off. Since we have moonshine in both of our names, it made sense we partner together (laughing). Seriously, they’re such a great company. They’re the largest legal moonshine manufacturer and we are so proud that they sponsor us. We do taste test for them so we’re excited every time we get to sample a new flavor or an old familiar one (laughing).
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