When Josh Brock heard his first twang from his Dad’s banjo, he was hooked. Twanging away on the banjo as a young boy lead to pursing a career in music and developing an original sound. With the help of other music professionals, 90 Proof Twang band was born.
Now, three years, three CDs, and hundreds of shows later, 90 Proof Twang is on a roll and sweeping people off their feet city by city. CincyMusic interviewed Brock on creating music and how the support of his Cincinnati fans has brought the band national success.
Q. Take me back to the beginning of your career, tell me how you found your love and talent for music and decided to make it a career aspiration?
“I grew up playing music my whole life. I started with playing banjo in my Dad’s bluegrass band. Then I had a buddy ask me if I wanted to play some shows and I played acoustic. When I was 20, a guy named Dave Cornett got a hold of me and asked if I wanted to start a band. So the band has become what it is now and I am lucky enough to be able to do it as a full time profession.”
Q. What or who played an important role in developing your career goals and making the decision to start 90 Proof Twang?
“My dad playing bluegrass music for 17 years. With him doing that it was always instilled in the household. There was always a banjo, bass or guitar lying around and of course I was going to pick it up and play it. Once 90 Proof Twang started and we were booking more shows and making more money, I realized if you work hard enough at it and it’s something you love then my dream to play music as a career is definitely reachable. Dave started 90 Proof Twang with me. He was a big inspiration on how to go about running a full band, booking shows. My manager, Jeff Bowling, is a good mentor and has taught me more of the business aspect on how to make your passion a business you can be successful at. With those guys it has been a no brainer to keep working hard and play music.”
Q. Who's your biggest musical influence? (past & present)
“Bluegrass was my first influence. Then there were CD’s and tapes of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Keith Whitley, Shenandoah and Alan Jackson. All the country I still love passionately today and play a lot of. I just love good pure telecaster country sound.”
Q. How would you describe the style of 90 Proof Twang?
“I grew up listening to bluegrass and country music, but I also listen so many other kinds of music. I can’t say there’s a specific type of music I don’t like. Whether it is alternative music like John Mayer or rock music like Pearl Jam and Ted Nugent. I always listen to a different array of music and when I was able to bring the band together and start song writing it was like you threw it all in a mixer and what came out is my idea of the music I really enjoy playing. I think that shows in the diversity of music we play. We play country and southern rock mainly, but many people have come to a show and said they don’t listen to country music but they really like our band because it’s different. So we put our own twist to music and play in hard, fun and fast.”
Q. What was the inspiration for your latest project? What does it mean to you?
“Right now I have 25 to 30 songs I’m writing. I’m just staying on top of writing and really appreciating coming into your own what I write. For a while when you write you’re going to think this sucks, I don’t like it at all. Then you own your skills, understand what you want to do and get your emotions onto paper or to a guitar. The inspiration of it is starting from nothing and seeing and end product. Then when people receive it, that’s the most fulfilling thing ever as a musician.”
Q. What do you enjoy or look forward to most about writing, recording or performing music? Tell me more about the process.
“I look forward to writing new music. Sitting down and writing is a stress relief and a passion. It’s totally different than going out and playing a show or playing somebody else’s song. What inspires me is to tell a good story or write something somebody can connect to. That’s the idea of country music and why people want to listen to it, because of the lyrics and what they mean. What’s exciting is you’ll have the smallest idea ever like a song title or phrase you think is cool. Then you write and maybe with a friend to get their input. It’s a growing process coming from an idea to paper to the song being put together with an acoustic guitar then bringing the band in. Then once you get on stage and play it even if you’re not comfortable, you see a crowd response to it. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not. When it is good and people like it and enjoy it, it’s probably the coolest thing ever. Then when the crowd likes it you can go to the recording process. It’s three different aspects from writing to the live performance to recording the final product.”
Q. What is a memorable experience for you in your music career and how has it impacted you?
“We’ve got to travel a lot in the past two years. One or the main things for us was we did a full nation wide scale of country battle of the bands in Myrtle Beach with Outlaw Nation and Sam Ash. We ended up winning the whole thing and that was an amazing feeling, being from Cincinnati and going all the way to Myrtle Beach where people don’t know who you are and they received the music so well we ended up winning. We took a lot took a lot of pride in knowing not only was our music good around here, but also other people across the U.S. liked it too. We were also chosen as Cincinnati’s best country band of the year by City Beat magazine. That was a fan-based contest; our fans are the coolest because they are behind us. Another big thing is a concert series in Hamilton has been behind us to give us our own country festival in June.”
Q. What advice would you give to someone who may have a dream in music, but is struggling with taking the steps to make it a reality?
“Don’t be afraid to get yourself out there. It’s not always easy to get in front of people, especially to sing songs that you write whether you think they are good enough or not. You still have to sit down and think you can do this and just go do it. Put yourself in any situation where people can figure out who you are and see you play. Don’t stop practicing and writing. Take advantage of any chance you have to grab a guitar and do something with it. Music is a beautiful thing and is rewarding when you get to do it. Music is whatever you want it to be, so don’t be afraid about what everyone else thinks all the time. As long as you’re enjoying what you do, that’s what music is all about to me.”
Q. Can you tell me some of your exciting plans for 2017? What long-term goals do you have for your career?
“We are in the process right now of writing and starting to record a full album of 12 or more songs. We are working with other artists out of Nashville. We are going to put together a whole new show that people haven’t seen from us and take everything to another level. We would like to broaden our horizons as a band and our fan base to more people. We want to make our band something that lasts.”
Q. Where can people see you perform?
“Cincinnati will always be our home base, but I would like the band to go to as many cities as possible and make 90 Proof Twang a name those cities know just as well as Cincinnati does. Twang Nation are our fans who support us and come to shows. You connect with people and know their name. They know us on a personal level, not just as a band that’s playing. That’s why we love our fans. In Cincinnati, there are a lot of good people who appreciate country music and original music. We want to be an original band.”
90 Proof Twang will be in the line up at the Rock n’ Revival for a Cure at The Southgate House Revival. The amount of support that The Grove has received for the benefit concert has almost doubled compared to the 2016 lineup. Saturday, March 4th marks the second annual of the show and with the passing of their father in late January due to Glioblastoma (brain cancer); it will be one to remember. “When you can play a show, get a bunch of people together with great bands and actually give back it doesn’t get better that that. We are blessed and happy to be apart of it,” says Brock.
To read more about 90 Proof Twang, listen to their music and find out about upcoming shows, visit https://cincymusic.com/bands/90-proof-twang.