The very popular band, Cowboy Mouth, is headed to The Windjammer for two dates on June 9-10. South Carolina Music Guide had a chance to sit down and chat with lead singer and drummer, Fred LeBlanc. He was immediately accommodating and allowed us to also ask some fan questions at the end of the interview. Read below and Get To Know – Fred LeBlanc from Cowboy Mouth.
SCMG: Hello, Fred! Thank you for taking your time to speak with us. Our first question is, you have a long history at The Windjammer, and you consistently sell out 2 shows every year. How do you feel about your loyal Charleston fans?
FLB: They’re great, you know? There is such a vibe in Charleston that is unique to anywhere else we’ve played. They love the experience, things to do, all of the activity of a rock show. Have a couple of drinks, cut loose, and enjoy a rock and roll show. Our show is very audience oriented. That’s something I developed over the years, because I didn’t want my band to be an ordinary experience. I didn’t want to do the typical cliche rock star stuff. The worst thing, in my opinion, is to not be original. There are lots of people out there doing well at imitating others, but I prefer originality. I think we’re easy to enjoy. My favorite compliment is “I don’t normally like your kind of music, but I like you guys.” Our Charleston fans really get what we are about.
SCMG: Did you play with Hootie and the Blowfish at the Jammer? How did you develop your professional and personal relationships with them?
FLB: Back in the old days, the first time we ever played in Columbia, there were only 3 people in the audience. Mark and Dean from Hootie and the town drunk. Mark and Soni were fans of my first band, Dash Rip Rock, so we started playing shows with each other. They let us open for them a lot, and we’d let them open for us. All of a sudden, they were the biggest band in the world! The good thing about the Hootie guys, they are the only band who turned around and reached back into their old life and took us, Edwin McCain, and a few others with them. We couldn’t get signed for a record deal for shit, because the drummer was the lead singer. Hootie and the Blowfish took us on the road right when they were on the cover of the Rolling Stone. We went from playing at an old cajun dance hall in Louisiana, to a sold out Greek Theater in Los Angeles. They seemed to handle it really well at the time, and suddenly record labels were fighting for us. If they hadn’t have done that, we probably would have broken up a long time ago.
SCMG: Do you have a new album coming out soon? I saw your last studio album was released in 2016, “The Name of the Band is”…
FLB: I don’t know. I’ve been writing some songs, but I don’t know how viable it is to release an album anymore. It’s expensive, and with the streaming services, you don’t make any money from it. Cowboy Mouth is a business, and I have to keep it going. If we release new music, we’ll probably just put out singles or EPs. Honestly, we have 14-15 albums. We have to decide what works and what doesn’t work. People have certain songs they want to hear during a live concert, and adding more to that isn’t necessary.
SCMG: We have a list of fan questions for you. Would you mind?
FLB: Of course not!
SCMG: Ok, here goes. Winston B Sitton asks, “A Cowboy Mouth show is about more than the music. It is also about the message that Fred (you) is (are) trying to put out there and that energy. So what is the message?”
FLB: Well, the joy of the moment, of living, and of living in the moment. The joy of knowing who you are in the moment, and enjoying yourself.
SCMG: Robert T Reid asks, “Is “Cowboy Mouth” a Dylan reference, or what? It’s in the lyrics of ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’, but I don’t know if there is a direct connection. Always wondered.”
FLB: Now, it was the only name we could agree on at the moment. We didn’t know of any references until later. Literally, it was the only name all of us could agree on!
SCMG: From Tim Brennan, “What’s the strangest thing that ever happened at Dill’s Motor Court (Tuscaloosa).”
FLB: (Wild laughter) Here’s one good story from when Cowboy Mouth played with Dash Rip Rock. This was back when the drinking age was 18. After the show was over, there was a pile of beer bottles on the floor. Hoakey Hickel and I ended up wrestling in the beer bottles, but he accidentally broke one over my head. While a friend and I were on the way to the hospital, I said “I’m not dying. Just take me to Waffle House and call it even.” I still have scars from that day.
SCMG: Tim Brennan also asks, “In 2011 you were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. The next year, your former band Dash Rip Rock was also inducted. I know there were some rough times between you two, but both bands continue to tour and release solid music. Do you ever looks back on those days and wonder what the bands could have done if you’d stayed together?”
FLB: Definitely, but there were definitely reasons why I left. I even produced an album for Dash Rip Rock after I left, but I knew the guys at the time in DRR weren’t serious about making a band. All of a sudden, the whole perspective changes with Cowboy Mouth. We were considered credible. As good as we were, Cowboy Mouth was a force to be reckoned with. We knew we had kicked fucking ass. I was young, angry and full of piss and vinegar. The punk rock thing was fun musically with DRR, but psychologically there had to be a different way.
SCMG: One of our writers, Devin Grant, asks, “Back in the days that you climbed shit at clubs and fests, was there ever a moment that you almost bought the farm via a bad climbing judgment?”
FLB: Many moments! MANY many many. My body is covered in scars. I’ve got lots of scars. My right big toe is broken. My right ankle was snapped several times. My back looks like an interstate intersection. I’m beat to shit. I still have a scar on my forehead where I got hit with a guitar, slices all over my fingers from cymbals. As far as climbing stuff, I climbed the NOLA Heritage Festival in, I guess, 1987. “I can do that,” I said. So, I checked it out and climbed up to the top. I just assumed that because it was a high profile festival that the roofing would be solid. Well, they didn’t expect some idiot to climb it. LOL In front of 70,000 people! I’m literally terrified. At the worst, I would have fallen easily 30 feet, but thankfully the Lord has a funny sense of humor with me. I was fucking terrified.
SCMG: Well, we’re glad you’re still with us and have quit death defying acts like that! We can imagine you were terrified. Haha!
FLB: Yeah, me too!
SCMG: That concludes our interview. Thank you for a great talk! We look forward to seeing you guys play in a couple of weeks!