The Black Moods stay busy with tour, libations, music

click to enlarge The Black Moods stay busy with tour, libations, music
(Jim Louvau/Contributor)
The Black Moods are, from left, drummer Chico Diaz, singer/guitarist Josh Kennedy and bassist Jordan Hoffman.

The Black Moods never stay still.

The three musicians who make up the Tempe-based act — singer/guitarist Josh Kennedy, drummer Chico Diaz and bassist Jordan Hoffman — are on the go, whether they are touring, playing local gigs or recording music. 

The group performs its hard-hitting electric blues inspired by ’70s and ’90s at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, Oct. 14, before traveling to California to record new music. The Black Moods have toured with and/or opened for the Gin Blossoms, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Robby Krieger from the Doors, Whitesnake, the Dead Daisies, Collective Soul and Jane’s Addiction. 

In June, the band released its third studio album, “Into the Night,” which features songs such as “Hollywood,” “Saturday Night,” “Big Time,” “The Cure,” “Leadin’ Me On” and “Fire & Gasoline.” 

Kennedy said he feels a strong connection to the song “Junkie Excuses.” 

“That hits close to home for me. It’s really to anybody who has to deal with somebody that has a substance-abuse problem, and you can’t help them,” Kennedy said. 

The album was produced by Grammy-nominated producer “Johnny K” Karkazis, and recorded in the Ozarks, where the band set up shop during the pandemic. 

Kennedy grew up in Wheaton, Missouri, and continues to have a special connection to the Ozarks. While writing music for the newest album, he and his bandmates were often inspired by nature. 

“You couldn’t go out and do anything. All the restaurants were closed here. We went back to Missouri, where we could go on a boat, hit the creeks and still enjoy nature. We build our studio in this house, and then if we got stumped on something, we would just go out on the creek and work on songs,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy said while the new album is in line with the band’s signature sound, some of the tracks have a country sound. 

“There’s definitely some country flair to some of the songs. At the same time, there’s really edgy stuff. So, this is a really broad record for us,” Kennedy said. 

The group recently released the video for the album’s opening track, “Youth is Wasted on the Young,” at Combs High School in San Tan Valley. The school’s principal and students appear in the video. 

“The kids were great. There were some who were really into it at first and then some that weren’t. Once the kids that thought they were too cool to be a part of it saw how much fun the other kids were having, everyone get involved,” Kennedy said. 

The rebellious song speaks to not wanting to conform. Kennedy said The Black Moods’ experiences during the pandemic inspired it. 

“Everyone was telling us what to do. You’ve got to stay home. You’ve got to get the vaccine. We felt like we were little kids. So, we wrote it from that perspective,” Kennedy said. 

In other recent The Black Moods news, Kennedy has been endorsed by Gibson. As such, Kennedy was able to choose a new Gibson guitar — a white Les Paul Custom guitar. Kennedy also plays a black Gibson Epiphone guitar, which he has had since age 12. 

Working with Gibson means opportunities to collaborate with other artists, and the company will provide instruments for studio use. They also help with social media promotion. 

“It’s good to be a part of that family,” Kennedy said. 

The Black Moods recently wrapped up a three-month tour that took them to Michigan, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Nevada, California, Colorado, Wisconsin and Missouri. 

In Wisconsin, the group played Taste of Madison, a large fundraising event held at the capitol in Wisconsin.  

On the road, the band will often do impromptu gigs. In Missouri, they played to a packed house during a last-minute performance. 

“We like to play all the time. If there’s an opening somewhere, if we are on the road, we might as well be playing music,” Kennedy said. 

The group toured with a Nashville band called the Naked Gypsy Queens. 

Along with touring, The Black Moods recently headlined Four Peaks Oktoberfest in Tempe at the beginning of October and were part of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers’ annual Circus Mexicus event in June. 

The band has also been dabbling in libations. They are partnering with Walter Station Brewery for a new beer called Hollywood and Lime. They already have a red wine called Bella Donna and a white wine called Sunshine, both of which were named after singles. 

Kennedy has been playing music for most of his life, having grown up in musical household. His dad, a drummer, and his uncle, a bass player, were in the same band. 

“They were always playing in the living room at my house growing up. My mom’s water broke with me at one of my dad’s gigs,” Kennedy said. 

“I just got into it and was playing ‘Scooby Doo’ guitars, plastic nylon-string guys, when I was a little kid. And then eventually, they got me an actual guitar when I was probably 11, and I started really taking it seriously around 12. That’s all I started doing. I quit playing sports and sat at my house and played guitar until I could start playing out.” 

Kennedy and Diaz have been playing together, on and off, since around 2005. The two went from being weekend warriors to taking their music more seriously around 2012, when they put out a self-titled record. 

“We have been friends for a long time. We know what gets each other and how to piss each other off,” Kennedy joked. 

The group released its major-album debut, “Medicine,” in October 2016, followed by “Sunshine” in May 2020. Their songs “Sunshine,” “Bella Donna” “Bad News” and “Whatcha Got” reached the top 30 on Billboard rock charts. 

Kennedy said playing with The Black Moods is a major commitment because of touring. 

“There are not a lot of bands like ours where you just play in one band. If you’re in The Black Moods, you’re in The Black Moods,” Kennedy said. 

“We will sit in with other guys once in a while, but The Black Moods is priority No. 1.” 

Kennedy and his bandmates have to be away from their families and kids for long stretches of time. They do it because of their love and dedication to the music. 

“You’ve got to be all in. We’ve sacrificed, and we took the risk of not making any money and being broke on the road for a while. Now, we are starting to headline tours. The risk has paid off.”

Being on the road so much, having any sense of normalcy can be difficult. Kennedy said that everyday tasks such as doing laundry, showering, sleeping and getting a bite to eat can be complicated while traveling. 

“You have to have what it takes to go out, be out on a bus, not sleep in the same bed for months at a time. And sometimes, you don’t get to shower every day. You sleep when you can and shower when you can,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy said it helps to have friends around the country, who are hospitable and will invite them over for homecooked meals. 

He said that although the lifestyle is tough, it fits him and his bandmates. 

“We like it because we can’t sit still very long. We would go nuts or get in trouble. So, we prefer to be on the move,” Kennedy said. 

Even when he has spare time, he finds himself writing and playing music. 

“Music is my profession, my hobby and my passion,” Kennedy said.  

The Black Moods

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14 

WHERE: Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street, Tucson

COST: $18 

INFO: theblackmoods.com, rialtotheatre.com

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