Joey B. Wilson can run the streets with rappers, rednecks, punks and metal heads. Not to be cool, but because he loves music and the people who make it. An activist and musician who ignores color and genre, Wilson is digging through the heart of humanity in the same way he digs through the guts of a song.
A few months before announcing the decision to leave his home in Pensacola, Wilson shared his thoughts on life, rock n’ roll and people. During our discussion, Wilson shared a thought so compelling that I included it in that week’s Music Matters column of the Pensacola News Journal.
Here is a link to that column and what follows bellow, is our entire discussion.
*** Joey B. Wilson interview***
JW: We have a night of snakes, Joey B. Wilson, and Swank Sinatra.The throwing snakes thing, it’s this expression that Jim Clark from the (Flying) Guillotines says a lot and my bass player contends that he was the originator of that. It’s just an expression. I had a running joke for a long time; I’d intro my set with “I’m Joey B. Wilson and I’ll fight any women in here.” It was just basically something to get people’s attention on the little event page.
MS: Who is in your band?
JW: I got AT Spears playing bass. Spears like Britney Spears. They look a little alike too. And I got Edward Odom playing drums. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best in town. I’ve always loved playing with him. I’ve played in a couple of different cover bands with him too. We played in a band called Catalytic together. More recently we played in a band called Centerfold. Played in Helen Back a couple of nights. They were a married couple that had a band in Las Vegas then they came down here needing a bassist and drummer and ended up having to go back to Vegas for whatever reason so that gravy train ended. It was good money for two nights. Ed and I had a really good chemistry playing together and we’ve been working together for a long time now. Well, relatively long time. About two years or so.
MS: Speaking of long times, we go way back. I remember way back, back in the Van Gogh (Van Gogh’s Coffeehaus) days. What can someone who has never seen you perform, what can they expect from your show?
JW: I cuss a lot. I try not to, but I can’t help it sometimes. It happens. It’s definitely for grown folks. We got a good hour or so of music we’re going to break out for the people whether they like it or not.
MS: Speaking of music, what fuels your songwriting?
Joey: Anything, everything really. There’s a lot of drugs and sex recurring themes going on there. Just about anything, everything; relationships, the good or the bad that comes with that. Bad breakups. Weird breakups. Just about anything a person can go through. A normal, everyday person that likes to rage on drugs and alcohol and rock n’ roll…like me.
MS: A favorite song of yours by a lot of my friends is “Rebel Flag Thong Song” What inspired it?
JW: Ok, “Rebel Flag Thong”. I lived in Daytona for about a year. I went down there, my best friend was there and she was all about me coming down there and trying to do something with my music. It all went over kind of like a fart in church. There’s a lot of biker things to do in Daytona. There’s Bike Week, which is just ridiculous and when you’re driving around Daytona and you see the swimsuit and souvenir shops like Wings and Alvin’s Island. Well up here, you don’t see it as much, but down there, just about every one of those stores has their rebel flag bikini showcase on the mannequins right in the shop front window. It’s just a big thing down there and during Bike Week, just about everywhere you look, there’s some really hot chick riding on the back of somebody’s Harley with a very scant confederate flag pattern bikini. That’s exactly where that song came from. No more, no less. It’s not an ode to the rebel flag itself, it’s just there’s something sexy about seeing that kind of mixed taboo going on, I guess.
MS: What is the best concert you’ve ever seen?
JW: My favorite kinds of shows to go to are midsized club gigs like the House of Blues, New Orleans or Vinyl (Music Hall. Pensacola, Florida). I want to say that probably Clutch. I saw them two times at the Soul Kitchen in Mobile (Alabama) and both times they just rocked my world. So maybe a tossup between them and when I saw Queens of the Stone Age back years ago at the House of Blues. I don’t know, I’ve been to a lot of shit, man.
MS: What’s the best show you’ve seen in Pensacola?
JW: I’d have to say Primus at the Bayfront Auditorium with The Melvins. I was maybe 15. I remember it, you know, when I was 15 I was staying sober at the shows, for the most part. You actually get a good little memory of it. It was a great show. I put it up there with Clutch and Queens of the Stone Age.
MS: Why was it so special for you?
JW: For one thing, bass is my first instrument and it’s definitely my strongest instrument and it’s the instrument I hire myself out to play and can make some money doing. I was just a huge Primus fan for one thing. I wasn’t really all that familiar with The Melvins. They rocked my ass. I wasn’t ready, but definitely a pleasant surprise.
MS: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
JW: Oh Jesus. I don’t ever really listen to it, so…(chuckles) I think I was having some relationship problems one time with some girl and I got on the phone with my mom when I was around 19 or so and was crying to her about it and she said, “You can’t make anyone do something they don’t want to do.” I kind of took that and ran with it. It’s pretty simple and pretty vague actually, I think it helps me a lot. More than almost anything else she told me anyway.
MS: Crunchy or Creamy Peanut Butter?
JW: That’s just not a fair question. I love them both. Creamy, I think usually.
MS: Why so?
JW: I’ll live on the edge every now and then and go for the crunchy, but I think the creamy is what I’m going to go with.
MS: Anything you want to add or people to know?
JW: I love the scene in this town. I appreciate any support we can get. I love seeing all of the other bands that we play with. I hope it keeps growing and getting better and we hope to be a part of that.
MS: It’s kind of cool to see things grow up, things get bigger, scene gets bigger, more people coming out.
JW: It’s weird because it’s really been an up and down thing. We had, back when the Nite Owl was around, we had big shows that came through there that were just as big if not bigger than what we’re getting through Vinyl. Once that went away, it was…and then the Bayfront got tore down. It really crippled our scene and it’s definitely bounced back in a big way and I do appreciate seeing a lot of that. Sluggo’s was the biggest, most happening thing in town for a little while. I started playing music when I was 13 years old. I was in a band that played at the Nite Owl all the time, all through my teen years. We were called Colfax. We were a punk rock band named after the street in Denver that has the most prostitution in North America. Colfax is a street North America that has the highest concentration of streetwalking prostitutes, so we named our band after that. That was my first band. I was in a band called Dank that played The Handlebar and the Nite Owl. I was in a band called The Asurbics with my parents, we did a bunch of classic rock covers. It was my dad and my stepmom. A lot of history around here. Lot of undocumented history actually. I was in a band called Doc Moreau with Franklin Hayes and I was one of the primary songwriters. I think you may have seen us at Van Gogh’s.
MS: That was where I met you. I was in a blues band. Van Gogh’s and I saw you again at The Daily Grind.
JW: The way I got the Daybreak Boys going and the idea of building myself as a solo act, it wasn’t really intentional. I was in a band called Pocket Sized Halo and we were doing ok for a little while and we kind of fell apart because of people’s various drinking problems and Satan worship and whatever else was going on and I decided…that’s right before I moved to Daytona. So I decided to move to Daytona and I only had about six months to go, so it was pointless to start a new band, so I started doing acoustic shows at bars in the neighborhood to keep myself busy and from that emerged a whole bunch of songwriting. Mainly what everyone is going to hear next Saturday comes from a period of my life from age 24 to about two to three years ago. There’s only a couple of songs we’re doing that I’ve actually written since I got this band together and we’re looking to do more writing, but right now it’s about getting all of this material that really hasn’t been heard out there. That’s where I’m at right now, man.
- Michael L. Smith