Moonshine frontman: 'I can't imagine anything better'
Jennifer Lee Preyss
April 16, 2014 at 1:01 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2014 at 11:16 p.m.
Five years ago, when JB Patterson's wife was seven months pregnant with their son, he decided to step down from the advertising company he helmed to attempt a career in country music.
"They all thought I was irresponsible and having some sort of life crisis. They thought it was ridiculous, to be honest," said Patterson, 36, of Tyler. "Fortunately, my wife, Regina, was cool enough to say, 'Look, give it a year to see if anything takes root, and then you can at least get it out of your system.'"
Thus, Patterson birthed JB and the Moonshine Band.
And Regina birthed the pair's first son, Parker.
Both are turning 5 this year, and neither is slowing down.
"I guess I'm still getting it out of my system," he said.
Patterson's JB and the Moonshine Band is headlining Jam Fest on Saturday, following Break of Reality, Carolyn Wonderland and Raven Cliff.
Get Out caught up with Patterson on Monday to talk about a career in music and never letting go of dreams, even when people laugh in your face.
Was your son, Parker, really the reason you wanted to start the band? Usually, it's the opposite; fathers give up their dreams of music stardom and get 'real jobs' when a child is on the way.
He was part of the initial push and one of the main reasons for me to go ahead and stop the life I was living and start this band. I knew it was a long shot, but I didn't want to be 70 years old and look back and think 'What would have happened if I'd tried?'
Did you always want to be a musician?
For a long time, I wanted to be a songwriter, but I never really thought I'd be a performer. But my songs weren't getting heard, and I was getting angry that no one was paying attention to them. So eventually, I said, "Fine, if no one is going to sing my songs, I'll sing them myself."
How did you get started in songwriting?
I sent my songs to several different publishing companies in Nashville, and I used a service on the Internet that I'm not even sure is still around. I'm not sure any of my songs were ever listened to, but these people are inundated with music, and about 90 percent of it is really not that great. But who knows, maybe they listened to every one of my songs and didn't like them.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
The first song I wrote, I was in ninth grade, and my teacher had an assignment for us to write a poem. I'm a procrastinator to no end, and I didn't want to write this poem. So it was down to the last minute, and I wrote out the lyrics to "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns N' Roses. My teacher loved it so much, she read it to other classes, and of course, someone realized it was a Guns N' Roses song, and I was totally busted. She made me write "I will not plagiarize" on the blackboard. Shortly after that, I thought, "I could write a song like that if I wanted to."
Do you ever hold back emotion when you're writing songs?
Never. I never censor myself when I'm writing. I feel like everything is going to happen the way it's going to happen, so I talk myself into letting things remain as they are. If it's coming from the gut, that's where it's at, and it doesn't matter if it's too dark because it needs to get out, whatever it is.
What song are you most proud of writing?
On our current album, "Beer for Breakfast," "The Only Drug" is a song I'm really proud of. It's a well-written song about addiction and love. I feel proud I wrote it, and we were fortunate enough to go No. 1 on the Texas charts with that song and be mentioned in Rolling Stone magazine.
Did you go to college for advertising?
I went to the University of Texas at Tyler, and I went into advertising after college. I started my own agency and had several people working for me. We had several major clients like Cellular One and First Bank. We did everything from branding a company to placing ads to buying air time to copy-writing. We covered every facet with my agency, which as it turned out, has really been useful with many different areas of branding and promoting this band. UT at Tyler has had me back several times in recent years to speak to the students about following your dreams.
What's your message to the students?
I want your average person to know and understand they can find whatever they're passionate about and make a decent living. That doesn't mean they're going to be rich, but it means they can sustain themselves and their families with something they love to do. I can't imagine anything better than doing what you love for a living.
What's the most salacious thing you've ever done on Ole Smoky Moonshine (tour bus)?
Well, the standard answer is I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. You know, nothing really rowdy happens on the bus. Mostly, we read the Bible and sell Mary Kay out of the back trailer. No, really, occasionally we have a round of libations on the bus, but other than that, we're pretty straight-laced guys.
I know you've said once you hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, you can retire a happy man. But since I know you won't retire then, what is your real long-term goal for the band?
I would say the best-case scenario is to be able to get up in the morning and wear some kind of ridiculous robe to the mailbox and there be some big check in the mailbox waiting for me. And then, I come inside and eat some cereal and play with my kids.
It sounds like you have a case of PPS, Peter Pan syndrome.
We all have a great time, and it is a party, but we work very hard, and we're constantly trying to improve our songs. There's a method to our madness. And I guess I'll retire when I'm too tired of working hard.
Why should people come out to Jam Fest and hear you play?
I think it's going to be a fun time, and it's not just about us; there's a lot of other great bands playing. It's a good time to socialize and listen to good music. And it's free.