Hailing from the depths of Glendale, Arizona, Job For A Cowboy have been stirring up a storm within the metal community ever since the release of their first EP, Doom, in 2005. The band’s name is a witty allusion to their country surroundings, though the music is, in fact, quite serious. Their aggressive sound could be described as an onslaught of violently brutal metal.
The band’s second release, Genesis, is their more extreme offering to date and reinforces JFAC’s standing within the metal community. Unlike Doom, this album is more deeply rooted in death metal, rather than deathcore. Make sure to catch them on Gigantour 2008. I recently had the chance to catch up with the band’s two guitarists – Bobby Thompson and Ravi Bhadriraju on the Radio Rebellion Tour in Boston, MA.
Check out these other JFAC features at GuitarMessenger.com:
Riffing with Job For A Cowboy Masterclass
Lick of the Month with Bobby Thompson.
IC: How’s the tour going?
RB: Oh, the tour’s been great so far, man. We’re almost on the last leg of it – we have a few more shows left and then we’re going back home. It’s been amazing. Some of the shows have been great.
IC: What have been some of the highlights of your touring career altogether?
BT: Australia was pretty sweet, Europe’s always a good time – there’s some really good shows on this tour. The show in…
BT: Yeah, Pittsburgh was fucking amazing – Montreal was really good, Toronto was really good. It’s been, overall, a totally awesome tour, being with guys who are fucking badass – cool dudes to hang out with and great live bands.
IC: You guys are pretty young – how old are you?
BT: I’m 21.
IC: Right on. So what’s it like touring with some of the older bands?
BT: It’s really cool. They’ve all been really awesome to us. We used to think that they’d give us shit ‘cause we’re so young, but they’ve been really accepting of it. We’re not very immature, I guess, for our age, so we get along with a lot of older people. Well, not old, but you know what I mean. (laughs)
IC: I understand you had a bit of an unorthodox way of getting yourselves noticed. Can you describe what you went through to get your name out there?
RB: Well, it just kind of happened, man. There’s no real thing we can actually say. It’s just right place, right time. The MySpace thing helped us out a lot, but from there we wanted to take our music to a different level, because we’ve been so used to writing the deathcore type styles that we wanted to change it up and this was our only way to do it. Getting ourselves out there, we just used MySpace, I guess, and we really had no control. It just kind of did well for itself.
IC: And the infamous SpongeBob death metal video on YouTube – what’s the story behind that?
BT: Some kid in California – I think he’s 18 or 19 now – he just made it. He was a fan and he synched up the song to the video clips that he found. We actually met him in San Diego one time and signed his autograph. He comes out to all the San Diego shows. He’s a really cool dude. He just told us that he put a couple hours into it, made a video, and that’s what happened. He put it on YouTube, so we had nothing to do with it.
IC: You went from more of a deathcore style on your first EP towards more of a technical death metal style on Genesis. Do you see your sound changing with upcoming albums?
RB: Definitely, because we’re always a growing band. It’s always good to try new things out, so we’re definitely going to do that.
BT: The next CD is probably going to be a lot different than Genesis. I guess I kind of foresee the heavier parts being heavier, the faster parts being faster – just trying to take it to the next level.
IC: Who are some of your influences? What do you listen to these days?
RB: Nile, Decapitated, Mastodon, The End – it just ranges like crazy, man.
BT: I listen to a lot of different shit too, but as far as it all goes, Decapitated is probably the main influence for me – Decapitated, Hate Eternal, and also I love Muse. Muse is one of my favorite bands of all time.
BT: He’s an amazing guitar player – he’s fucking insane.
IC: Any guilty pleasures?
BT: Yeah, there’s probably so many. Hold on – I’ve gotta think about this.
RB: I’ve got one – Coheed and Cambria. They’re a big guilty pleasure of mine.
BT: I’d probably have to say, I don’t know…I mean, I listen to Every Time I Die all the time, but I don’t consider that a guilty pleasure, because they’re a really good band. But, I love Björk – I guess that’s kind of weird.
IC: That’s a little different.
BT: Yeah, it’s totally different. I just like it because it’s completely different than what we do, so it just kinda allows you to think differently about things.
IC: You definitely have some of the better production out there in the death metal scene. What kind of stuff did you guys use to record the last album?
RB: We used a VHT, and…
BT: We used a Krankenstein, but those guitar tracks aren’t actually on the CD. We used them to track it, but we had Andy Sneap mix it and he re-amped it with Peavey 5150s. The guitar tracks that you hear, I think it’s just Peavey 5150s with like a Maxon in front of it.
IC: What’s your concept for EQ? When you set your amp, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
RB: 6-6-6, man.
IC: That’s true metal nature. (laughs)
BT: You could go look at my amp right now – it’s just 6-6-6.
RB: It’s always the same it’s been. With the Peavey’s, if you do that, it’ll sound great no matter what.
BT: The studio’s different, but in a live setting it’s perfect. Then usually around 5 on gain – we don’t use that much gain. Then resonance (angles hand to 3) and presence (angles hand between 5 and 7)
RB: Between 6 and 7. It depends.
BT: It’s a pretty easy amp to dial in.
IC: There was also some keyboard stuff happening on Genesis. Did either of you guys play that?
BT: Cory [Spotts, recording engineer], the guy who tracked our CD, did.
IC: He’s the producer as well?
RB: Yeah. He had a few ideas, we had a few ideas, and he was just like “Let’s try…” and it worked well.
BT: Yeah, he put nü-metal noises in it and shit.
IC: What’s the writing process like?
BT: Stressful. (laughs)
RB: Pretty much.
IC: I understand you had to come up with Genesis pretty quickly.
RB: Yeah, man. We honestly only had like a solid month to get at least seven or eight songs done. Him and I would have our own riffs… and we’d just piece some shit together. Then we’d go see our drummer and just play together.
IC: So you two are the core.
RB: Yeah, we write all the stuff.
BT: Pretty much, yeah. We write, all the riffage, and then Johnny [Davy, vocals] – it’s all him writing the vocals and lyrics.
IC: JFAC has had quite a few lineup changes over the past few years. Bobby, I understand you joined just in 2006.
BT: I joined in May.
IC: How has the group’s sound changed since then? What do you think you bring to the band as opposed to the previous guitar player?
BT: We write way better together.
RB: Than the older guy, yeah.
BT: The new stuff is way more metal than the old CD. It’s more organized and thought out. There’s way more structure to it.
IC: What happened to the old guy? What prompted the change?
RB: He just wasn’t working well with us – his personality, the whole deal. It just wasn’t clicking well – live and behind that, too. We just needed that change. He (points to Bobby) was a close friend of mine, too, so I was just like ‘this guy can hang with us,’ so I brought him in. We just work well together. Next thing you know he’s in the band.
BT: It’s been crazy.
IC: I understand you guys got a new drummer through YouTube, actually.
RB: Yeah, man, he’s doing great right now. His name is John Rice, and he’s working out great for us.
IC: Your fan following is growing, and you are getting more tour dates. Is Job For A Cowboy the one and only thing you do nowadays? Obviously, you’re on tour now, but when you are off tour, is this what you do to make a living?
BT: Yeah, this is it.
RB: Yeah. This band consumes 24/7 of my life. It’s all I do.
IC: That’s dedication.
RB: We have to.
BT: Even if we wanted to do something else…
RB: There’s no time. We’re always busy.
IC: Where do you see the band in the next five years?
BT: Hopefully just…
RB: Doing well.
BT: Hopefully doing the same thing.
IC: I saw you guys warming up earlier – doing some shred, some sweeping. What are your backgrounds as far as learning music? Did you guys ever receive any formal training?
RB: Not really, man. It was all just self-taught for me, personally. I just picked up the guitar and got more involved with styles of music like metal… the whole deal. Then I just picked up more so on the death metal side. It’s kinda sad sometimes, because that’s the only thing I can play. When I pick up the guitar, I’ll just play death metal riffs.
BT: I never had lessons or anything like that – or any sort of education in music, really. When I started playing I was 14, and my dad had been playing forever. He was in bands in the 60’s and 70’s, and then he stopped playing for a really long time. Then I started getting into it, and at the time I was learning a lot of classic rock – Hendrix. That’s the first stuff that I really learned how to play.
Then I started getting into heavier music. I was really into punk rock for a while. I kind of skipped over the whole hardcore thing; I never really was totally into hardcore. I started really getting into metal – I remember when I was really into the old Soilwork CD’s, like the first couple of Soilwork albums. Then I started to groove on Darkest Hour. I was also really into that thrashy shit like At The Gates and that whole scene. That’s kinda how I got into metal. Then I started to get into death metal and stuff like that.
IC: If there was one band you could play with right now, who would it be?
RB: Me, personally, it would probably be Soilwork.
BT: Yeah, I’d love to play with Hate Eternal.
RB: That’d be great, too.
BT: Yeah, that would be – I love that band so much. That’s one of my big influences. That would be really awesome.
IC: How are your relationships with your families – your parents? You guys are relatively young, going out on tour full-time, playing death metal…
RB: Super supportive.
BT: Yeah, they’ve never really pushed me to do anything as much as they’ve pushed me to be a musician and still do what I want to do, so it’s really cool. I’m still living with the moms and she doesn’t care, so that’s all good.
IC: Any advice for upcoming players and bands?
RB: Just keep doing it – just keep practicing. That’s it.
BT: Pretty much, music is one of those things that you get out what you put into it, so as long as you’re willing to sacrifice and just keep going and keep doing and pursuing what you want to do, then you might not fucking be the biggest musician in the world, but at least you’re gonna get places. So you’ve just gotta keep at it.
Special thanks to Chris Dingman for the transcription of this interview.