Rap/metal pioneers STUCK MOJO have confirmed that they have parted ways with vocalist Bonz and bassist Corey Lowery, a year after playing a well-received reunion show in the band's hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Two new members have already been recruited and a new studio album has been completed, with tentative plans to release the CD sometime in mid-2016.
During an appearance on a recent edition of the "Talk Toomey" podcast, STUCK MOJO drummer Frank Fontsere stated about the group's current status (hear audio below): "We did the reunion show [in December 2014], and it was great, and we did a couple of other shows that were great. But it was one of those things — not to go into too much detail — we're gonna continue on, but it's gonna be me and Rich [Ward, guitar] and two other guys. It hasn't been announced yet officially, but I was told that I can say that."
Regarding the upcoming STUCK MOJO record, Frank said: "I think it's the best album we've ever done. I know everyone says that, but I've let a few people preview it, and I know Rich has let a few people preview it, and the responses are from people whose opinions we respect, who have no reason to be dishonest, and were, like, 'Oh my God! This is amazing!' So I really think it will silence any doubters. If anybody hears ,'Oh, STUCK MOJO put out a new record, but it's not with the guys that I want to be in the band, so it can't be any good.' Well, they'll get a surprise when they hear it. This album is not fooling around."
He continued: "We've done some experimental things in the past. Any artist wants to push the boundaries of what they do and what they're known for, so they try different things, and sometimes those things don't work out. But this record, you can depend on… The kind of thing that you want to hear from our band, if you're a fan, you will hear on this record. Let's just say, if you're a STUCK MOJO fan, you've got nothing to fear."
Asked if the new STUCK MOJO album will be released independently or if it will be made available through one of the established rock/metal labels, Frank said: "We're gonna do it on a label. I don't know who it is yet. We have some offers. That's all between Rich and our management and the labels and everything. I don't really participate in that process, because, you know, I think it's important for every ship to have a captain, and Rich, when it comes to STUCK MOJO, is definitely the captain of the ship. It's not a dictatorship; he wants input. He'll ask me all the time, 'What do you think about this? What do you think about that?' And I will definitely be glad to give him my opinion. I think I've steered him away from some wrong decisions in the past, creatively and business-wise, and he's definitely open to other people's suggestions. But when it comes down to it, you have to have somebody who has the veto power, you have to have somebody who says, 'Okay. I've heard everything. I appreciate everybody's opinion, but I've weighed it all in my head, and this is the way we're going.' So when it comes to all the label decisions and business decisions, that's between Mark Willis, our manager, and Rich; they make that decision. So I basically wait to hear what's gonna happen. But I know we'll be doing it on a label and we'll be putting the record out, hopefully, sometime in the summer."
As has been well documented, Ward and Bonz have had strained and often turbulent relationship, resulting in Bonz being dismissed from the band on two occasions, most recently in July 2006. Ward at the time blamed the split on the frontman's alleged substance-abuse issues, saying that the vocalist's illicit drug use "affect[ed] [Bonz's live] performance," in the process "transform[ing] a guy we loved into someone that no one in the band wanted to be around." Ward added: "To gamble the band's future on someone who is the source of such instability is not an option anymore." Bonz was eventually replaced by Lord Nelson.
In 2014, the "classic" STUCK MOJO lineup reunited for reunion shows, and work on a new album has commenced. Bonz was also active with his own band, BONZ, having released the critically acclaimed "Broken Silence" album this past February on Eternal Sound Records and Pavement Entertainment. A lyric video for the title track sheds light on his relationship with Ward through a clever use of STUCK MOJO songtitles.
Ward recently gave an interview to the "Talking Metal" podcast, in which he said about STUCK MOJO's cross-cultural musical mish-mash: "I never tried to be a funk guitar player; I was a metal guy. It was just how my influences cross-sectioned with our funk/reggae bass player and our rapper, who couldn't sing anything, 'cause he had no idea about melody. He was just a pissed off black guy who had a rough life, who had been in prison, who just had… he had a story and had an outlook on life that I just had no idea even existed."
In response to Ward's comments, Bonz released a statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET in which he said that he "was simultaneously shocked, hurt and angered when I read the most recent comments that Rich Ward has stated about me publicly. I am not totally surprised, as this has been a point of contention for several years.
"Both my private life and my public persona are very important to me, and I do not appreciate either being questioned or attacked.
"I am not sure where [Rich's above-mentioned quote] comes from, or quite how I am supposed to interpret it, but it is not something that I would expect to come from him in 2015. This was a stark reminder of how things ended up in 2006, the last time that we worked together.
"I have worked too hard to establish myself in this business to have anyone besmirch my name over and over again.
"The last three years have been some of my most productive. Forming a new band, recording an album that I am damn proud of, getting the opportunity to be supported by great labels, and traveling the country playing and performing music for fans, I believe proves any of the past derogatory statements to be 'questionable.'
"I chose to respond to these comments, as in the past I chose to remain silent and take the 'high' road.
"After traveling around the country and reconnecting with many old friends and fans along the way, I was alarmed at the stories and rumors that were out there. I want to make sure that my thoughts and feelings are conveyed and that the public is exposed to both sides of the story."
STUCK MOJO played its first reunion show on December 26, 2014 at the Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia. The concert took place more than four years after the band completed its "Here Comes The Monster" tour of Europe with a lineup that featured Lord Nelson on the mic, Ward on guitar, Sean Delson on bass and Frank Fontsere on drums.
Lowery has spent the past few months touring with SAINT ASONIA, the new act featuring ex-THREE DAYS GRACE frontman Adam Gontier and STAIND guitarist Mike Mushok.
Pictured above (from left to right): Corey Lowery (bass), Bonz (vocals), Frank Fontsere (drums) and Rich Ward (guitar)