Weighing In With Ten Ton Mojo

Weighing In With Ten Ton Mojo


Written by: Shawna K. La’jame for Best Unsigned Rock And Roll Bands In America


It is said that in a “New York minute,” a whole lot can happen. Case in point, New York’s own rockers TEN TON MOJO, has emerged onto the rock scene with all the swiftness, of the second hand on a watch. After independently releasing their self-titled album, the accolades began to pour over what the Big Apple is serving up, with TEN TON MOJO. In fact, not only does their single “Pinball Girl” plays like an anthem in the Indie movie entitled, “Pinball Donut Girl,” but now, TEN TON MOJO has also recently been selected as one of the “Best Unsigned Rock Bands in America!” Fortunately, we were able to catch up with the guys and chat for a bit, before they set out to feed another group of rock hungry fans.

TEN TON MOJO (TTM) members:

Ernie Papp – Vocals
Scott Lano – Guitar
Gabe Mera – Guitar
Paul Kane – Drums, Percussion, & Backing Vocals
Chris Laubis – Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals

SHAWNA LA’JAME (SL) of METAL BABE MAYHEM (MBM): You have a unique band name, there just has to be a great story behind it! So, how did you guys come up with the name of your band?

SCOTT LANO: We were trying hard to come up with a name, when Alabama-born, vocalist Ern Papp brought one of the last-surviving, dusty, old bottles of his grand pappy’s moonshine to rehearsal one night— you know, to help stir our “creative juices.” We were halfway through the bottle, when someone finally looked at the label and read aloud “Ten Ton Mojo.” So our name is credited to ‘Granddad Papp.’ Why he branded his white lightning, “Ten Ton Mojo,” no one knows for sure, but the name stuck with us.

SL: That’s such a great story! Now, please introduce your bandmates, and tell us a little history about each band member, (prior bands, when you first started playing, etc…) include the story of how met as well, if you would…

SCOTT: Unfortunately, there’s no exciting story about how the five of us wound up together, since we were all already friends and CD_Coveracquaintances. We knew each other from the club scene, and it was just a matter of time before fate made us all available to work together on this project. Guitarist Scott Lano (Blitzspeer/Suicide King) had been in several earlier projects with singer Ern Papp (Helfrom Jam/Mother’s Brew). After going their separate ways, they recently reunited in New York City and enlisted NYC’s go-to drummer Paul “Sugar” Kane. After hearing some of the material, Paul readily committed to the project. Then guitarist Gabe Mera was asked to join, and most recently, bassist Chris Laubis (Lovemaker/The Scared Stiffs) rounded out the lineup.

SL: You have a distinctive southern rock sound, infused with a sultry, bluesy vibe. Ya’ll must really have an eclectic list of musical influences. So with that in mind, what artists do you consider your greatest influences, and why?

CHRIS: Yes, our sound definitely contains some subtle, southern seasoning. We’re fans of Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Black Oak Arkansas, etc… But we are more than that. We’re also fans of classic British bands like Zeppelin, Faces and Humble Pie. Ten Ton Mojo is the new classic rock! Ten Ton Mojo is a blend of southern home-style and blues based hard rock that is glaringly absent from today’s Billboard charts. We all bring something different to the table. Ern is kinda the southern rock guy, Scott brings on the Humble Pie, Chris is the Ziggy Stardust 70’s glam guy, Gabe loves Metallica, Paul likes Kix and a lot of 80’s stuff. When we write, it all goes into the pot. We love the Eagles and we love the Sex Pistols, and it’s absolutely okay to do that.

SL: It’s definitely “okay!” Could you please describe the steps in the TTM creative process… How do you guys come up with your music?

GABE MERA: Usually, one guy comes in with an idea, and everyone then adds their two cents. Our songs evolve over time, as we work them out live. After we’ve played a new song half a dozen times in front of an audience, we figure out what’s working, and what kinks still need tweaking.

SL: What’s your favorite song of yours, and why?

ERN PAPP: Right now, we’re all digging on our newest single, “American Honey,” mostly because it’s new and we’re excited about it! “American Honey” will be available on July 4th as a free download from the Ten Ton Mojo website, www.TenTonMojo.com. On June 18th, we’re also shooting a video for the song, live at Bowery Ballroom, NYC. Everyone who comes down to that show has a good chance of being in the video!


SL: Hear that, East Coast rock fans? So be sure to mark your calendars! Speaking of specific songs, what was the first rock song you ever learned to play?

PAUL KANE: Gabe’s first was Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy.” Paul says it was the Beatles’ “Day Tripper.” Scott’s was “25 or 6 to 4,” and Ern says his was “Southern California Purples,” both by Chicago. Finally, Chris says for him, it was “Tangerine” from Zeppelin III.

SL: Wow, that’s quite a variety there! If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing instead, and do any of you also work a day job?

ERN: As with almost everyone involved in the arts, we have all done whatever it takes to get by through the years. “And all the stars that never were, are parking cars and pumping gas…” {Burt Bacharach: “Do you know the Way to San Jose?”} We’ve all tended bar, worked for sound companies, worked for moving companies, whatever. Right now, Gabe is the one with a cool side business. Some years ago, he started GM Guitar Repair and currently~ does setups, fret work, and repairs for most of the best players in New York. “Does your baby need some TLC?  “Like” GM Guitar Repair on FaceBook here: https://www.facebook.com/GMGuitarRepair/ !”  🙂

SL: What do you think sets your band apart from other bands on the scene?

CHRIS: Everything! Though there are a handful of good bands playing in New York right now. In fact, there’s a thriving music scene Alan_Shop2happening in New York again, which has been absent for the past decade. A lot of the bands are friends and work well together, but we’ve each created our own niche, which is cool, because we can work together without stepping on each other’s toes. Ten Ton Mojo has definitely captured the spirit of 70’s rock, and driven it home with an updated production value. We know we’re not breaking much new ground here, but we are filling a void. Everyone who misses opening new records like: Toys In The Attic, Houses of The Holy, Highway To Hell, or Machine Head, can still come out to a Ten Ton Mojo show and have a new classic rock experience! This is what has lifted us out of the Lower East Side, and is taking us cross-country this summer! In fact, by this summer in August, we’ll be debuting at the Viper Room in L.A. on August 6th, and introducing ourselves to the other half of America.

SL: So West Coast fans, be sure not to miss their show at the Viper Room this coming August! Now, what is/was the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your career, and on that note, what do you think is the most detrimental factor affecting the music industry today?

Alan_Highline1PAUL: There’s no doubt, the hardest thing about keeping a band together is personal chemistry. No matter how good of a player you are, or how good your songs might be, if you can’t find three or four other guys willing to go through thick and thin with you to make it happen, then you ain’t got a band. You gotta find guys that will stick together for better or worse, drunk or sober. It’s really not easy. No matter how much you like the way someone plays or sings, you gotta be willing to spend 60 hours a week sleeping next to him in the back of a bus, with his feet in your face! If you’re in a band for a month, you’ll quickly find a hundred reasons to quit, but it’s not about finding excuses to lose, it’s about finding reasons to win.

GABE: Clearly, today’s music industry (and we use the term loosely) has issues, but the reality is, it’s always has had issues. Today’s obstacles may be different from yesterday’s obstacles, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any harder to earn your “15 minutes of fame” than it ever was. Again, it’s easy to sit around and point fingers and argue about what’s wrong today, but all that does is distract us from our mission. Ten Ton Mojo is making great music, we’re putting on high-energy shows, and we’re using every tool at our disposal to expand our fan base. We’re staying positive, and people are responding to it. We’ve been recognized by the industry for our accomplishments so far, and this is only the beginning…

SL: It is indeed, “only the beginning…” of what MBM believes has all the makings of a long and successful music career…

~lastly, what advice would you give to a kid trying to follow in your footsteps?

SCOTT: Stay focused, but remain flexible. It’s hard to keep life from distracting you, but you gotta set attainable, short terms goals for yourself.  If you do, you can keep moving forward, and you’ll keep feeling good about yourself for meeting those goals. Recognize up front that things are gonna happen; gigs will get cancelled, band members will quit. You just can’t let those hurdles dampen your enthusiasm. It’s a hard balance to reach, but just stick to your guns, and roll with the punches! Good luck!

SL: Thank you all for taking the time to chat with us here at MBM, and best of luck to TEN TON MOJO today, tomorrow and always…


Ten Ton Mojo: http://www.tentonmojo.com/index
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tentonmojo/
Reverb Nationhttps://www.reverbnation.com/tentonmojo
InstaGram: https://www.instagram.com/tentonmojo/
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ten-ton-mojo
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/tentonmojo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TenTonMojo

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