The American South isn’t just a point on the compass. It’s a state of mind and way of life. It’s the way you think, drink and tip your hat. It’s the land where music is king, and the bands who make it are gods. When you strum a guitar south of the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re running with a rock ‘n’ roll baton that’s been carried by everyone from the Allman Brothers to Lynyrd Skynyrd. It takes a special kind of modern band to walk in those footsteps, but in 2012, Skinny Molly are back to storm the podium and ram-raid a rock scene crying out for heroes. Batten down the hatches: there’s a Haywire Riot goin’ on…
The four members of Skinny Molly might have heavyweight history, but Haywire Riot is all about the here-and-now. Released in early-Fall through Ruf Records, this is a follow-up record that hijacks the modern rock scene, via the old-school values of stellar songwriting, white-hot chops, lyrics wrenched from the depths and performances that leave it all the studio floor.
Step into Skinny Molly’s world and you’ll come face-to-face with the deceptive lover from Lie To Me, the girl hiding a gun in her glovebox on Too Bad To Be True, and the poisonous call of liquor on Devil In The Bottle. With music that swings from the wrecking-ball riffs of If You Don’t Care to the reflective acoustic vibe of None Of Me, this is maximum rock ‘n’ roll, zero pretension, and when Mike Estes roars: “Hey rock star, just shut up and rock!” on the track of the same name, there’s no doubt the Skinny Molly singer is leading by example.
But killer songs were only half the equation. Great rock ‘n’ roll is also about chemistry, and if the walls of Alabama’s Swamper Sound Studios could talk, they’d tell of a recording session where four world-class musicians collided and caught the sparks. On soaring vocals, slide guitar, mandolin and baritone, Mike is a force of nature. Jay Johnson delivers sizzling fretwork and supporting vocals, while the rhythm section of Kurt Pietro (drums) and Luke Bradshaw (bass) crank out the swing and sting with grit and grace. Haywire Riot is the album that Skinny Molly have promised us since 2004, when Mike hooked up with Kurt and original guitarist Dave Hlubek for a ‘one-off’ tour of Europe that never stopped. Soon enough, a debut album – No Good Deed – was pricking ears with its early signs of greatness on cuts like Straight Shooter and Better Than I Should. Now, with the lineup cemented and dedicated to the cause, it’s time for the knockout blow of this new release.
Haywire Riot is sure to recruit new fans on the strength of the music, but it doesn’t hurt that all four Skinny Molly members are legends in their own right. After striking up an unlikely friendship with Allen Collins while still a teenager, Mike’s first band, Helen Highwater, was both christened and given guidance by the late Lynyrd Skynyrd icon (who once gave him an eight-hour guitar lesson), and the bond deepened when the young band opened up Skynyrd’s ’87 Tribute Tour.
Post-Skynyrd, Mike has smashed the Billboard chart with his co-written White Knuckle Ride single, and released two solo albums under his own steam – Driving Sideways and Brave New South – while remaining a fixture of the planet’s magazine covers and music channels on the strength of his prolific talent. Back in 1995, he was inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk Of Fame, but with Skinny Molly, you sense he’s only just getting started.
Kurt has been Skinny Molly’s big-hitter on the drumstool since the start. Fusing the influence of players like Jakson Spires of Blackfoot and Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee into his own stellar technique, Kurt soon graduated from a bedroom wizard to a revered Michigan studio ace and a live powerhouse with early outfit Crystal.
Kurt’s skills demanded a ground-shaking bass talent, and in 2012, Skinny Molly’s rhythm section is thrillingly completed by Luke Bradshaw. Equally adept on electric or standup bass, and able to bend his talent to any project, Luke is arguably never better than when giving a fat low-end to Skinny Molly.
With Mike Estes in the lineup, some guitarists might feel the pressure. Not Jay Johnson: the band’s six-string stinger missile and perhaps the only player capable of standing toe-to-toe with his frontman.
Apart, they’re awesome. When these musicians come together as Skinny Molly, it’s a molotov cocktail of talent that’s sure to blow the roof off when they take this second album out on the road. Sure, things may go a little haywire when these boys roll into town. But trust us – you’ll definitely have a riot…
01 If You Don’t Care
02 Devil In The Bottle
03 Two Good Wheels
04 Too Bad To Be True
05 Judge Parker
06 Bitin’ The Dog
07 Lie To Me
08 Shut Up And Rock
09 After You
10 None Of Me No More
11 Dodgin’ Bullets