‘Embrace the new Mojo Corner’: The Mojo Corner usher in new era with big band sounds and heartfelt electricity

‘Embrace the new Mojo Corner’: The Mojo Corner usher in new era with big band sounds and heartfelt electricity

This is a band who love what they’re doing and perform exceptionally well together.

Ultra-raw, raucous and wildly uninhibited, The Mojo Corner have sliced and diced stages around the country for the better part of a decade now.

Pushing passion and emotion right to the limit, the local band – featuring a core lineup of Johnny Haken, Rory Millar, Kane Sherriff and Shaun Hilton – have become renowned for their blistering instrumentals, powerhouse singing and infectious energy, often hailed as one of the tightest and most energetic live bands out.

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Following a quiet couple of years on the live music circuit, the band have returned to what they do best, performing a run of long-awaited shows delivered with the unbridled intensity that only months of no live shows can create.

“We obviously had a bit of a break over COVID and we had a couple of gigs booked over the summer break, but a few of us got COVID and had to cancel so that was a bit unlucky, but then the phone started ringing pretty hot,” Johnny Hawken, The Mojo Corner vocalist and guitarist says.

“It was so lovely to just book in a whole bunch of gigs over the last couple of months, which has been really, really good just to kind of bunch it up, but just out playing and, and enjoying it again.”

With three outstanding albums under their belt, including Whole Lotta Woman, Trouble, and Bullet On A Train and most recently a live EP – ‘Live at Manorism Studio’ – they have toured or played with nearly every reputable Australian Blues artist along their journey.

Surging rock, roots, blues and even soul, The Mojo Corner beautifully meld elements of these genres into a distinctive sound that is theirs alone. The aforementioned ‘Live at Manorism Studio’ EP captures the true essence of the band in the most perfectly imperfect way.

“That was just an idea that I had to do a live recording with a couple of guys from Melbourne,” Johnny explains.

“I really loved Manorism Studio: it’s like an old 1920s, dilapidated cinema in Preston that, funnily enough, is just this weird building where someone actually lives there and then they rent out basically the cinema on the top floor for a lot of live recordings, theatre, performances and other projects.

“We just loved the space, so we just set everything up and recorded our three songs and we were super stoked on how it turned out. We ended up just releasing the three tracks on digital as well because of how stoked we were with it.”

‘Live at Manorism Studios’ features three tracks: crowd favourite ‘Blues Train Rider, ‘Uncle Jack’ lifted from their 2012 album Trouble, and ‘Help Me Out’, The Mojo Corner’s first new single in five years.

Recorded at the unique space in Preston, the live EP as a whole – both as audio and as visual experiences – also serves as a testament to the band’s growth over the last few years, boasting electrifying soundscapes, infectious melodies, this time including three extra members. The new layers of keys and backing vocals have lifted the music to a new level.

Bright and lively from the first notes, the release puts the band’s knack for experimental flare and infectious energy front and centre subtly, without straying too far from their signature sound.

With new life breathed into the collective, the band have refused to let a global pandemic get in the way of their music career, having spent the past couple of years writing and working on music for a forthcoming album, with plans to record in the not-too-distant future.

“In the meantime, with not many gigs, we wrote a whole bunch of songs and we are just looking to do some recording pretty much after this run of gigs where we’re actually trialling all the newies out – for us and the audience – which has been really cool.”

As for what to expect, Johnny hints that we can expect a bigger sound from the band, building on the tight, tough tunes and muscular earnest performances delivered with the live EP.

“We just going to be doing a lot of big band stuff. We’ve never really had a full-time keys player on our previous albums. We’ve had a keys player for roughly the last two years which has been awesome, so he’ll be on all tracks and then we’ve had a couple of backup singers playing with us so we’ll definitely get them in too.

“So, there’s been seven of us and we really just want to add a few more layers to our sound and branch out a little bit of the blues confines and extend ourselves to be a little bit more non-specific genre defined. We’re going to explore a bit more soul, roots, and rock and have the blues entwined in there as well.

“It still sounds like the Mojo Corner, and there’s no doubt about it. They’re still our songs which are still quite simple and, and hopefully catchy.”

With a bigger sound, a few extra members and their same rousing spirit, the band are emerging from the toughest two years in history for touring musicians. As part of their recent run of gigs, the infectious band will finally get the chance to perform their acclaimed live show to Geelong fans this month, after having to reschedule their tour dates on numerous occasions.

This time though the band will feature the extended lineup, with all seven musicians taking to the intimate stage at the iconic Pistol Pete’s Food N Blues where their musicianship and sheer joy of playing will be instantly apparent.

“We’re going to squish everyone in, it’s not the biggest venue,” Johnny laughs. “But we’re going to fit all seven of us in there somehow and have a crack.

“It’s a great little venue and advocates blues music in Geelong which is amazing to see. Obviously, they still do other genres in there but Pete is just such a great guy and we love just playing for a crew that are just good people running live venues and we want to support them because they’re supporting us.”

Regardless of the words we write here, nothing can ever accurately describe or do any semblance of justice to the show put on by The Mojo Corner. They’ve got an energy, a stage presence, that demands to be felt.

Witness The Mojo Corner magic at Pistol Petes Food N Blues on Friday, May 13. Tickets here