Celebrating their 15th year as a band, Mason, West Virginia-based hard rock five-piece Bobaflex show no sign of slowing down. With seven albums under their belt and a 40 city tour on the way, the group has continued to release their music independently after forming their own label, BFX Records, in 2010.
The earliest carnation of the band formed in the late nineties when brothers Shaun and Marty McCoy (who share vocal/guitar responsibilities) were in college. While there were some line-up changes over the years, Bobaflex displayed a fierce grit and drive in building their fan base across the country, playing gigs wherever they were welcome.
Marty McCoy was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the band, how they’ve stuck together and engaged fans, and even the legacy of his and Shaun’s relation to the one of the oldest ‘family feuds’ in American history:
How did Bobaflex get together originally?
Marty McCoy: It started off as a hobby in college to meet girls and get free drinks. After the first few gigs people started showing up. We charged $5 at the door and sold burnt CDs out of the trunks of our cars. I think only two of us had cars at that point.
15 years is a great milestone! What is it about this band that you think helped you all avoid the common pitfalls of rock bands’ when it comes to staying together?
If you’re gonna sacrifice food, comfort, and money to do what you love, you have to been driven and not petty. We were always able to laugh through the rough patches and we’ve had plenty of those. Alcohol also helps.
Let’s take it back to your first 5 years as a band. Looking back, what kind of promotional and marketing efforts would you have changed? What worked?
Playing live always works. We played anywhere we could. In a sense we still use that model. Touring is the best way to get your music out there.
Flyers, radio, and videos are great, but if you can’t back it up live you will fall flat.
How has the advent of social media platforms allowed Bobaflex to connect with your fanbase as both the use of these platforms and the band’s career progressed?
Social media has been huge for us. We get to speak with fans directly from all over the world. If you want someone to believe in your music then you owe it to them to answer their questions and be friendly. It goes a long way.
We spend a lot of time making sure our fans hear from us. In time you can develop very close, long-lasting relationships.
Gotta ask about the Hatfield/McCoy Rivalry. Have you and Shaun used this historic rivalry as a way to stand out, or have you shied away from it?
We’ve received a ton of great press from the famous feud. We don’t really push it, but we definitely don’t shy away from publications wanting to talk about it.
We give them a few quick facts then change the subject back to the music. It’s a magic trick.
Do you think the legacy of that rivalry has a place in the band’s sound or image?
Not unless they played electric guitars in leather jackets in 1887. [laughs]
You guys are real road warriors. Tell us about your early days of touring and how you used your time on tour to build a bigger fan base?
We have always been a nonstop-touring-machine. If you play your heart out every night in a different city, people will start to notice. At the end of the night we are right there with the crowd. We hang out until every last fan has gone home. That’s how you build a fan base.
The band has to be loyal to the fans. You have to meet each one and let them know you appreciate them. With out the fans the band in nothing.
What is it about the band’s different personalities that has made Bobaflex such a successful “hard working” band?
All the guys are a little crazy, but in a good way. Everybody writes and we share a vision. That vision is playing music for a living and never working a real job again.
We’ve all had normal jobs and it’s pure misery for folks like us. 20 sleepless nights on the road beats a 9 to 5 any day. We love what we do. It’s music 24/7. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s the best job on the planet.
What advice would you offer to new artists – rock or others – who are beginning to tour?
Play as often as possible in different markets. Don’t burnout places you do well in by playing there every weekend.
It’s gonna be tough at first, but if you’re good you can build markets all over the country. That’s when touring becomes a lot of fun and financially rewarding. If you sell out clubs all over the map you’re a successful national act.
Tell us about the Ill Nino Tour and what the rest of your 2016 plans are!
We are especially excited to be hitting the road with Ill Nino. We’ve known those guys for years and we fit well together. I think it’s 45 shows in 50 days. We are covering a lot of ground on this one. Its gonna be a whirlwind kinda experience for everyone involved.
After that it’s headlining until we decide it’s time for a new record. We’ll probably tour through Christmas, take the holidays off, then get to writing.