"It's the same band with a new name and a new sound," Kevin Steele told an interviewer in describing Mojo Gurus, and what the singer, songwriter, and bandleader meant was that Mojo Gurus was really his old group, the glam rock outfit Roxx Gang, but without the hair metal trappings that had made that unit difficult to market by the late '90s. Steele, a Florida native, had formed Roxx Gang in the 1980s and by 1988 had gotten it signed to the major-label imprint Virgin Records, which that year released the debut album Things You've Never Done Before. Voodoo You Love followed on the independent Perris label in 1996, then Love 'Em and Leave 'Em in 1997. At the end of the 1990s, the band, by now including guitarist Jeff Vitolo and bassist Vinnie Granese, played a birthday party for one of the bandmembers' girlfriends in a club called the Voodoo Lounge, and instead of doing their usual glam rock show, they came on as a rockabilly group dubbed Mojo Gurus. They enjoyed it so much that they began to book themselves occasionally in this new persona and, as the trend for hair metal bands had long since passed into nostalgia, they found themselves gaining greater acceptance with their new name and sound.
In January 1999, Perris released an album of Roxx Gang rarities, Old, New, Borrowed & Blue, simultaneously with the first, self-titled Mojo Gurus album, though press copies went out listing Roxx Gang as the recording artist. Just as confusingly, Drinkin' T.N.T. and Smokin' Dynamite, released in June 2000, was issued originally as a Roxx Gang album and then as by Mojo Gurus. Following the 2001 release of a Roxx Gang best-of compilation, Bodacious Ta Tas, Hot Damn (June 2003), which marked the debut of drummer Tommy Weder, also went out to reviewers as a Roxx Gang album, though it was commercially marketed as by Mojo Gurus. Meanwhile, the band played showcase performances for major labels in New York as Mojo Gurus, attracting the interest of veteran producer Jack Douglas (whose past clients include Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, and Alice Cooper), which helped them to secure a contract with Empire Musicwerks, distributed by the major label Universal. This led to wide distribution for the next Mojo Gurus album, Shakin' in the Barn, released in September 2005. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
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