Whether opening for Bon Jovi in front of 20,000 people or rockin’ with a stacked lineup of local greats, Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son are as comfortable onstage as most people are in their lounge chairs. But oh, how so much more productive, having released a record a year since 2010 — the latest of which, a self-titled 10-song outing, was released in the spring just weeks before the band opened for Bon Jovi at Prudential Center in Newark. Then, a couple of weeks after that, Mahoney opened for the Jersey Rock and Roll Hall of Famers again as a guitarist in Williams Honor, a Jersey Shore/Nashville country duo with whom he occasionally performs.
Next up for Mahoney are hot Asbury dates on Aug. 29 with Levy & the Oaks at Asbury Park LIVE on the Boardwalk’s First Avenue Green; opening for The Vaughns at their Summer Splash on Aug. 30 at House of Independents (also with Levy & the Oaks, as well as Avery Mandeville & the Man Devils); and “A Celebration of the Jersey Sound,” a tribute to the influence of The Clash and Bruce Springsteen on such fellow well-rooted punk-inspired acts as The Vansaders, The Cryptkeeper Five and Chris Brown, Sept. 7 at Asbury Park Yacht Club. Those shows follow some exciting recordings with Jesse Malin producer Derek Cruz and Joe “Pom” Pomarico, an engineer at Atlantic Records Studios and co-owner of Holmdel-based Telegraph Hill Records.
On behalf of Seventh Son drummer James McIntosh, guitarist Andrew Saul and bassist Jon Chang-Soon, Mahoney shared the thrill of what has been his best year, along with plans for the rest of it. Enjoy!
Q: You are one of the hardest-working musicians in New Jersey. What fuels your passion for the music?
A: I love writing songs and playing live, and I’d like to do so for a long time. The fuel is just knowing how hard we need to work in order to do so. Garland Jeffreys once told me to do at least one thing a day to further my career — whether it’s write a song or book a show or learn something new. I took that to heart and try to stick to that. The adrenaline of live shows is definitely something I’m chasing as well.
Q: What was your favorite part of opening for Bon Jovi with the Seventh Son at Prudential Center in Newark and with Williams Honor at Madison Square Garden in New York City this spring?
A: I loved playing to 20,000 people, and having it feel both like an insane dream, while also strangely normal and Zen. As a musician, you imagine walking up those steps out onto that stage a million times as a kid, but when the moment comes to actually do it, it felt like every other show, which was great because we were comfortable and were able to do our job. Talking to Jon about Asbury Park music was surreal and awesome, too. I also liked the chocolate fountain in catering.
Q: After that, you seemed to bump to headlining not only the Stone Pony but House of Independents and other venues as well. How else did those Bon Jovi gigs impact your career?
A: We had already headlined both of those clubs prior to opening for Bon Jovi. That gig got us a lot of press and exposure, and we got to showcase our songs to more people at once than we ever have, but it wasn’t going to define us as a band. It was a dream come true and an honor, but we gave it the same passion that we give at HOI or the Pony or a basement show. I think it might have given us some more legitimacy, and we have enjoyed a good social media spike. It was a great gig, and I hope we can play in a room like that again soon.
Q: You are returning to HOI as an opener for The Vaughns’ Summer Splash and then playing about a week later at Asbury Park Yacht Club for Makin Waves’ “Celebration of the Jersey Sound,” which I consider to be inspired by The Clash and Bruce Springsteen. How and why did Bruce and The Clash influence you?
A: Those will both be great gigs with awesome lineups. I’m excited to play with so many of our talented friends!
Seeing Bruce live for the first time when I was 12 changed my life. His stage presence and songwriting inspire me to this day. But most strikingly, his and Strummer’s songs are all songs with messages and something they felt was important to say — and that impacted me as well. Bruce was living proof that a kid from New Jersey with a guitar could make an impact, so that definitely was important for me as a young musician.
Q: How did growing up in East Brunswick influence you musically?
A: I was in the East Brunswick band program from fifth grade until graduation — trombone and double bass — and I played guitar in the Churchill (Junior High School) and High School Jazz bands. I participated in Drama Club (pit musician, crew, “Officer Krupke”) and won “EB Teen Idol.” East Brunswick has an amazing arts department and without all the performance, music theory and tech classes, I probably wouldn’t be the musician I am today. There were also a lot of great bands that would play Churchill Live and that atmosphere pushed me and also introduced me to the people who would later start Seventh Son.
Q: Do you still live in EB or did you move closer to AP?
A: Still here! Exit 9, baby!
Q: Who are in the Seventh Son, for how long, and what instrument do they play?
A: James McIntosh, drums since 2014; Andrew Saul, guitar since 2015, and Jon Chang-Soon, bass since 2018. We also occasionally have Zack Sandler on saxophone with us on a few tunes! He’s currently killing it as Remember Jones’ tour manager! He’s an honorary member for sure.
Q: From where does the name Seventh Son come and how does it apply to the band?
A: Jon Alba, Seventh Son guitarist and co-songwriter from 2011 to 2015, suggested it, after a line in AC/DC’s “Bad Boy Boogie.” I’ve equated it to the rock ‘n’ roll spirit, and it keeps us with our hard rock ‘n’ roll roots.
Q: You are quite prolific, averaging a release a year for the past six years. Do you write all of your songs in their entirety? If not, have you ever run into copyright problems with former members of the Seventh Son?
A: I write some by myself entirely, but I also have co-written with Jon Alba, Dan Cohen, and most recently Derek Cruz (Jesse Malin) co-wrote and is producing a new song we are recording with Pom (Joe Pomarico). Proper credit is given when due and there haven’t been any issues.
Q: How did the recordings go with Pom, when and how will they be released, and will you be doing additional recordings with him?
A: So far, so great! Joe is awesome, and we are recording a new song or two with him, and Derek is producing. All TBA. Not rushing. We have a lot of material out there. Going to take our time and keep playing out live.
Q: What else are you up to through the end of the year in terms of local shows, touring, videos and anything else you want to let folks know is coming up and going on?
A: We are booking a tour for October, hitting some of our favorite out-of-state spots and some new ones as well. Probably less local shows than we had this summer, but we will have some big local announcements coming soon, too.
Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask on which you would like to comment?
A: Thanks for including me and for all the support over the years!
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.