No Metal for Unemployed Cowboys: Bobby Thompson of Job For A Cowboy

These cowboys only have one occupation - and that's to get you to lift your beers in the air and get your head banging! Bobby Thompson, guitarist for Job For A Cowboy talks metal, their new album Ruination, and even politics with Metal as Fuck.

Here’s a question that I’m sure has been burning on the lips of every metalhead. Why would one of the most successful death metal and metalcore crossover acts in the industry today name themselves Job for a Cowboy? Luckily I had guitarist Bobby Thompson on the line from Scottsdale, AZ to enlighten us all on the subject. So, what did Bobby have to say about the origins of the moniker?

“Well, I joined the band in May of 2006,” he says wearily. (Talking at one in the morning has that effect on people.) “So the band had already done a couple of tours [with the name] and it was somewhat established by then.”

Yes, yes? But why the name, Bobby!

“Well, it’s funny actually; there isn’t really a story to go with that. Johnny [Davy] our singer came up with it as a joke. It just kind of stuck. That’s kind of…it.

So what kind of job would he give a cowboy if one happened to ask him for one?

“I dunno,” he muses. “It’s kinda hot to do anything around here really.”

Crestfallen, Bobby and I moved on to more pressing subjects – the new and eagerly anticipated follow up to their acclaimed Genesis, the brutal and devastating Ruination.

Recorded in Florida with producer Jason Suecof (Trivium, The Black Dahlia Murder, All That Remains), Ruination marked the first record with the recent batch of recruits for the Job; drummer Jon “The Charn” Rice and former Despised Icon shredder Al Grassman. While there were some initial teething problems, Bobby was happy to report that all went well once the band found themselves getting into the same groove.

“There’s always a period of adjustment when you write with new people; you have to get into a buffer zone of adjustment to get used to their personal style,” Bobby explains. “Jon’s drumming is amazing; he has a great style. He can do so many different things and it allows us to write kind of anything we really want to and he can do anything to it. It was cool; we didn’t really have a lot of limitations.

"Even Jonny [Davy, vocalist] always seems to come up with the right stuff. We don’t have to have input – we kind of take a back seat and let him do his own thing and it usually turns out cool.

After we got used to playing with each other, it was awesome, it worked out pretty well."

Limitations they shed in earnest; Ruination marks an album that gains distance from their hardcore past, taking up the reins of the beastly horse of full-blown death metal almost exclusively. As it turns out, the band had been eager to saddle up that way.

“It was kind of a conscious decision. Over the last few years we’ve kind of distanced ourselves from the more hardcore-type sound; nobody from the band is really into doing that any more. 

“When the band first started we were associated with the more hardcore type sound. The big breakdowns and stuff like that. Then over the years and certainly after when I joined the band we decided to take a different route. We’ve always been trying to figure out and experiment with what sound is our sound and I think we’re finally getting a little closer,' he laughed.

Though their music may be slowly evolving, their successes have been skyrocketing. The band has shared the bill with such metal luminaries as Megadeth, Arch Enemy and In Flames, playing at metal’s most revered festivals: Wacken Open Air, Download Festival and the legendary Gigantour. However, Bobby remains humble – he still believes JFAC have a “ways to go” before they’ve truly “made it.”

“I think the band has come a long way since a few years ago,” he believes, “but there’s definitely always room to improve and take it to a new level. It’s weird to think about the band like that because I still feel we’re a local band, you know? It’s kind of strange; I don’t know how to explain it. But there’s definitely a lot of room to grow.”

Through their evolution, they haven’t been shying away from tackling important and controversial themes; their previous album Genesis skewered religion, with Ruination taking a critical look at politics via the incisive lyrics of vocalist Jonny.

“Yeah, well Jonny comes up with the lyrics and came up with the album concept, that’s totally his thing,” Bobby reveals, his tiredness creeping through as he stifled a yawn. “Recently he’s been getting into the more political side of things. The album branches off the kind of ideas that Genesis had, except its down more of a political route. The new album’s talking about modern day issues, controversial things; problems that are happening right now instead of the religious conspiracy that Genesis was about. It’s the same kind of vibe except it’s focused more on political ideas. He does a lot of reading and research online when we’re on tour.”

Even Bobby is partial to kicking back and reading a good book when the bus rolls towards the next tour destination.

“Yeah, I used to read a lot on tour,” he recalled. “I go through phases. The last book I read was called ‘World War Z’ written by Max Brooks. It was a fiction book about a zombie apocalypse. It was pretty sweet. Reading is a great way to pass the time on tour. It gives you a chance for your brain to come down; not be in party mode all the time.”

And what kind of parties do Job for a Cowboy throw in the afterglow of a rockin’ show?

“Well, we don’t do heroin in bathrooms or anything like that' he laughed, 'but there is a lot of drinking involved.”

But will Job for a Cowboy take their piss-up parties down to Australia?

“Well, there are a lot of things still to be worked out but we’re definitely going to try and get back there. We haven’t been there since September of ’07? It’s been a while. But it was one of the best tours I’ve ever done. It’s a beautiful country and the people were so nice. I didn’t want to leave.”

Ruination is out through Metal Blade/Riot on 7 July.