JOSH KENNEDY guitar/vocals
CHICO DIAZ drums
JOHANNES LAR bass
Two hundred miles south of Phoenix, AZ sits a sleepy little Mexican town called Puerto Peñasco – the roads aren’t paved, the streets are identified by only the occasional sign, and the rocky coastlines are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see. The English translation is, appropriately, Rocky Point – because on this summer weekend, a short hop over the Mexican border, Tempe, AZ, rockers THE BLACK MOODS are demonstrating just how expansive their homegrown blend of rock and roll is, performing five shows in four days – including a sunset show on the town’s only expanse of sandy beach, headlining a festival for more than 3,000 fans, and an acoustic set for a private party, performed on a patio overlooking the Sea Of Cortez.
“Growing up, nothing affected me or had an impact on me as much as music – my dad played music and I knew, for as long as I could remember, that’s what I wanted to do,” says frontman and guitarist Josh Kennedy. “Now I’m able to see the impact our music has on other people, and there’s no better feeling in the world. We play shows in Mexico where a lot of the fans can’t even speak English, but they love us and feed us as much energy as our crowds at home. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, we just want people to feel good, have a good time, and get turned on by what we do.”
There is nothing dated about their sound or style, but THE BLACK MOODS are very much a throw-back, transporting us to a time when bands earned their stripes not by being by-products of the studio, but rather, by honing their chops on the live circuit and mastering the nuances of turning every stage into a celebration of music, and transforming every audience into a bristling extension of the band. It’s not uncommon for the band to play three times a week throughout the Valley Of The Sun. And because sometimes that’s not even enough rock and roll, Kennedy impeccably delivers Keith Richards’ licks on occasion in a local all-star Rolling Stones tribute. They say rock stars are born, not made – and while there is definitely something special in the swagger and charm that marks THE BLACK MOODS, don’t discount the countless hours the trio have dedicated to perfecting their craft, continuing to perform everywhere from your more standard festivals and club shows, to high-end house parties and even prison performances (as invited guests, of course).
“You can shove us in a corner without a PA and we will play just as hard as we do in front of thousands at a festival. Our goal is always the same – to blow people away,” says Kennedy. “Why wouldn’t you want to play three or four nights a week if you could? If we weren’t playing out we’d be playing in the studio by ourselves – of course we’d rather do it out in a club, make new friends and fans, and feel that connection that drove us to want to be musicians in the first place.”
Kennedy moved to the southwest from Wheaton, MO, as a teen, pursuing an opportunity to tech for one of his favorite bands. A few years, bands, and a bevy of experiences later, he met drummer Chico Diaz, another fixture in local bands who, ironically, has early roots in Rocky Point, Mexico. As diametrically opposed as the two may appear – Diaz embracing a more modern vibe than Kennedy’s pegged jeans and Robert Plant visage – the two are closer than most brothers.
“We’re brothers that think totally differently, but we have the same goal, the same drive, and our eyes are on the same prize,” says the drummer. “That’s why it works – it started as a band, and it’s become so much more. We can’t imagine doing anything else, let alone doing it with anyone else.” In a nod to their vintage roots, Diaz explains how THE BLACK MOODS itself pays homage to one of their favorite bands. “We are always watching music documentaries in the studio, and there was a Doors documentary where Ray Manzarek said, ‘watch out, Jim [Morrison] is in one of his black moods.’ That inspired us to write a song called ‘Here’s To Black Moods’ – the name evolved from there.”
The final piece of THE BLACK MOODS equation is bassist Johannes Lar, an Army combat vet who is no stranger to the heat, bringing his seamless precision from the sands of Afghanistan to the Arizona desert. After spending several years polishing their instinctive sound, fine-tuning their chemistry and crafting a set of original songs that blurs the lines between the ’70s icons that inspired them, the turn of the century acts that transformed them, and the modern sounds that they call home, THE BLACK MOODS unveiled their full-length debut to a worldwide audience via Another Century/Sony in fall 2016. Get ready to turn up the heat.