Bobby Mahoney finds own voice on new album, ‘Another Deadbeat Summer’

by JIM TESTA

HANNAH GREVE

The band Bobby Mahoney (from left, James McIntosh, Jon Chang-Soon, Andrew Saul and Bobby Mahoney).

In the tradition of Alice Cooper and Danzig, Bobby Mahoney is now the name of both a band and its frontman. The still-cherubic 29-year-old Mahoney has been knocking around the Jersey music scene for more than a decade, and now his hard-rocking quartet, formerly known as Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son, are releasing their latest album, Another Deadbeat Summer, on Stevie Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records label, today.

For Mahoney, an East Brunswick native who grew up idolizing Jersey icons such as Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, it’s a dream come true, but a dream born of years of hard work and patient perseverance. Another Deadbeat Summer has a tale to tell.

“This new record is really two EPs that we recorded and released with our friends at Telegraph Hill Records,” Mahoney said. “Then Wicked Cool became interested in them and basically remixed them from the ground up and rebuilt the whole record.”

HANNAH GREVE

Bobby Mahoney (from left, Bobby Mahoney, James McIntosh, Jon Chang-Soon and Andrew Saul).

In essence, it’s Bobby Mahoney’s Greatest Hits (without an actual hit record), a compilation that captures the essence of the band’s songwriting and performances over the last 10 years.

The album’s burly sound and anthemic presence owes a good deal to Mahoney’s boyhood idols, as well as post-emo singer-songwriters like Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan. While Mahoney might have been guilty of wearing his influences on the sleeve of his black leather jacket on his earlier recordings, though, the final product here sounds like a fully formed band much more than a collection of influences.

“Some of these songs actually go back to 2017, and a few of them are from during the pandemic, when we were socially distanced in the basement, tracking demos,” Mahoney said. “Wicked Cool’s interest started a year and a half, two years ago, so it’s been a long, interesting, winding road. I’m very thankful for where we’re at.”

If Wicked Cool manages to break Bobby Mahoney nationally, it will be one more story of an “overnight success” decades in the making.

“I started teaching myself guitar when I was 10, and from there started playing talent shows and stuff,” Mahoney said. “When I was 15, in 2010, I played the Sunday Showcase at the Stone Pony, and from there, it just kept going.”

After becoming a regular at the Pony, Mahoney started playing other area venues, as well as shows around New Brunswick, closer to his hometown.

“We used to play places like The Court Tavern, but these days, I think we’re more of an Asbury Park band just because there are so many more opportunities for us to play here,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney first started performing as a solo acoustic act, then gradually picked up a band. “We were Seventh Son starting way back in high school, and then Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son,” he said. “Then with this record, we took the opportunity to rebrand as just Bobby Mahoney because, frankly, my drummer would get sick of saying the whole name Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son. I was kind of the holdout on keeping the long name because it had gained a fair amount of traction, and because I love the band having an identity, much like my heroes before me. But everybody else said it looks better on a poster, so now it’s just Bobby Mahoney.

“I joke around and say I’d like to be like Lynyrd Skynyrd — you know, this mythical entity. But on the one hand, it’s practical, it’s easier for marketing, and the band was really behind it and pushed me in that direction. And if they’re cool with it, then I’m in.”

The cover of Bobby Mahoney’s album, “Another Deadbeat Summer.”

Another Deadbeat Summer makes a powerful statement about the arrival of Bobby Mahoney, the man and the band, with five take-no-prisoners rockers opening the album before slowing for a breather with the acoustic ballad “Lay It on Me,” a downbeat bit of regret-tinged folk-rock with lovely backing vocals.

The title track, originally released in 2014 (when the band was barely out of high school), fuses two of Mahoney’s influences, Springsteen and The Bouncing Souls, in a tale of teenage angst about being trapped in a dead-end town. “Good night to the señoritas, good night to the nonbelievers, here’s to another deadbeat summer,” rages the chorus.

The album’s highlights include tracks that put a new twist on the perfunctory, like a punk-rock tour song, “No Amens in This Van (Miami 2019),” that finds new things to say on a familiar topic (“Five more days to get us through/Until we’re on our way back to you/All it took was everything/But now we’re strong as steel at the seams”). Or the one about the girl who broke your heart (“Lorraine”), whose third verse offers a master class in lyric writing, using beloved albums as metaphors.

“I think we’ve taken a lot of influences and are now really doing what’s unique to us,” Mahoney said. “I feel that with this record and the stuff I’m writing currently, we’re really stepping into our own voice, taking a lot of our Jersey Shore influences, our hard rock influences, our punk influences, and my own singer-songwriter influences, and putting it in a pot and serving it as a special dish.

“It’s definitely been a transition, but I think it’s true that what we’ve set out to do is write catchy songs. We put on energetic live shows, but we also like the hard rock parts and throw in some funky elements. I really feel it’s come together, like there’s something to hearing a Bobby Mahoney song now, whereas in the past you might have just heard more of our influences.”

Bobby Mahoney, in 2017.

So what lies ahead for Bobby Mahoney? What does it mean to have released “the Coolest Song in the World,” an accolade Van Zandt bestows on certain cuts played on his Underground Garage SiriusXM satellite radio channel, including Bobby Mahoney’s most recent single?

“As much as I love Asbury Park, I never want to get stuck there,” Mahoney said. “This is an amazing place, you can throw a rock and you’ll probably hit someone with the talent to become The Next Big Thing. But I feel like I see a lot of very, very talented people in this town who get a little too content having some success here and keep doing the same stuff.

“There have been a few bands who have broken out and that’s awesome, but it matters to me that we’re not just doing the same music that other people have done. I look at people like Brian Fallon, for instance, as mentors, not only musically but in terms of how they were able to make a life for themselves doing music. Brian’s songwriting is incredible, but what really impresses me is how he was able to take care of his band and get out of here but still stay true to himself and never lose sight of where he came from.”

Yes, Bobby Mahoney loves Bruce and Bon Jovi and the Souls and The Gaslight Anthem. He just doesn’t want to be them.

“I’m not a traditionalist,” he said. “I don’t go around saying that we have to keep the Jersey Shore sound alive. I want to make the noises that I want to make, and I never want to get boxed into anything.”

Bobby Mahoney will perform at a record release party for “Another Deadbeat Summer” — also featuring Soraia, Idle Wave, Feeny — at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, July 12 at 8 p.m. Visit ticketmaster.com.

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