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Panik Device: Keep Calm & Rock Your Face Off


By Johnny Griffith

Rock music thrives in East Texas. Seriously. I know there is probably a tendency to think that country music, and I mean real country music, not that pop/country hybrid thing, dominates the landscape in this area, but any given night you can hear some of the best rock bands in the state turning their amps up to eleven on stages all over the region. One of those bands is Tyler’s own Panik Device, and they’re planning on making sure you don’t forget it.

A winning combination of talented musicians from several different projects over the years, Panik Device is comprised of Richard Lackey on drums, Tommy Deloach on bass, Tim Taylor on lead guitar, Dustin Smith on rhythm guitars and vocals, and Jack Fowler on lead vocals. Each of the members brings a unique perspective and experience to the band that adds up to a sum greater than the parts, and those parts have played in venues as famous as Whiskey-A-Go-Go and shared the stage with powerhouse acts such as Drowning Pool, Avatar, Black Stone Cherry, and Trapt to name a few. In the studio now working on their debut album, the guys from Panik Device took time out to tell us a bit more about themselves.

Johnny: Tell us a little bit about how you guys ended up in a band together.

PD: Richard and Dusty started a different band together that went through several incarnations and name changes over several years that eventually became Panik Device. Richard and Tommy have been friends for around 25 years, and they have played in various bands together. PD was looking for a bass player so it fell into place. Most of us are from East Texas except for Tim who came to Texas from Arkansas. Before he joined PD, he had been playing in another band but had left it and was looking for a new one. He found our ad on Craigslist, and we were familiar with him from the previous band, so he came by and tried out. Last to line up was new addition Jack Fowler. PD went from being a three-piece band with Dustin singing and Richard harmonizing to the five-man band it is today. Jack was a drummer when we heard him do an amazing song from the drum kit one night. Months later we spoke with him. He was looking to try something new in the music community after he left his previous band. We told him we were looking for a singer because Dustin wanted to add a vocalist and not have to sing everything. He came by for practice and has been there ever since.

Johnny: Where did the name come from?

PD: The name came from a door exit device. Several of us work as glaziers (a skilled tradesman responsible for cutting, installing, and removing glass), and it just came out one day.

Johnny: How would you describe your music?

PD: Melodic hard rock written about things like love, partying, and bad relationships.

Johnny: What are your biggest influences musically?

PD: Kiss, Metallica, Deftones, Seether, Old Country.

ben wheeler

Johnny: Currently about how many shows a month on average are you guys playing?

PD: We average about three shows a month, with some of those being benefit shows.

Johnny: What was the first show you guys played as a band, and what has been the most memorable one so far?

PD: Well we’ve been through a progression as we added members over several years. We added Jack recently. Our first show with the full lineup that we have now was earlier this year. The most memorable was Jack’s first show at our home venue, Click’s, in March.

Johnny: How would you describe a Panik Device show to a new fan?

PD: A hard-driving, loud, in-your-face, energetic, and enjoyable show.

Johnny: You guys, collectively and individually, have been able to share the stage with some great acts. What would you say your most “starstruck” moment has been to this point with someone you’ve played alongside?

PD: We don’t really think “starstruck” is the right word. We do see that in some people, but we can’t say we exactly understand it. We’ve met some great, well-known artists, but we feel that some local artists are just as talented. We are all musicians trying to spread our passion. We’d have to say the best show we have ever played the same stage with was Avatar, hands down. They are the coolest guys and very friendly offstage, and when the lights come on and the instruments start, they throw down, and the show is bar none the best we have seen.

Johnny: What has been the biggest challenge so far as a band?

PD: We’d have to say the biggest challenge is just spreading the word about our music, keeping up with the needs of the band as it grows, and keeping the lineup solid with committed musicians.

Johnny: What has been the thing you’re the most proud of as a band?

PD: The fact that we are doing it as a DIY band. We rely on support from friends and family, and that makes them part of the Device. We absolutely could not do it without them.

Johnny: What are your goals for 2017?

PD: We plan on growing the Panik Device brand and bring our sound to as many fans as possible.

Check out one of their upcoming shows:

  • April 14th – Gusher Days in Gladewater, 8pm
  • April 29th – Clicks Live in Tyler, 8pm

For more info about Panik Device go to:




October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

MercyMe will be in concert at The Oil Palace is October and is guaranteed to sell-out!

Since their debut in 2001, Grammy®-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winners, MercyMe has sold more than 8.5 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered 27 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ (No. 4 AC/Top 25 on Top 40/Hot AC), ‘Here With Me’ (No. 4 AC), ‘Homesick’ (Top 10 AC), and ‘So Long Self.’

Their radio success has continued with recent singles ‘Flawless’ (No. 1 for 15 weeks) and ‘Greater’ (No. 1 for 16 weeks)​, landing them the Top Christian Airplay Artist spot on Billboard’s 2015 Year End charts.

MercyMe made history in 2014 as ‘I Can Only Imagine’ surpassed 2 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum and double-platinum in the digital domain. In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s ‘Word Of God Speak’ the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories, recognizing them as one of the industry’s most notable talents.

They have sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox New Channel’s Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today and more.

Their most recent project “MercyMe, It’s Christmas!” debuted atop the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and became an instant classic. Their eighth studio release, “Welcome To The New,” garnered Billboard Music Award nominations in all three Christian categories and two Grammy® nods; the album is available in stores now.

Tickets start at $19 and are available at The Oil Palace is located at 10408 State Highway 64 East, Tyler, (903)566-2122.

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Blacktop Mojo: Burning Up The Roads To Success

stanleys bbq tyler tx eguide magazine

By Johnny Griffith

About a year and a half ago I sat down to interview Blacktop Mojo, a Jacksonville based hard rock band riding a wave of momentum after several successful years together and an upcoming album release. The end of that interview finished with this:

“Blacktop Mojo can still be heard around East Texas on a regular basis, but I would definitely suggest checking out their website for more information and a sample of their music if you haven’t heard them. If it’s in your wheelhouse, get out and support a great local band that won’t be local for much longer at the rate their Mojo is working.”

As it turns out, I was a little more prescient that I anticipated as Blacktop Mojo’s stock has only risen in the ensuing months. With a successful album release, ever increasingly distant tour stops, and mounting accolades from industry critics and magazines, local BTM shows are becoming harder to come by.

In case you might not have heard of Blacktop Mojo, their sound can be described as “modern rock that got dragged through a puddle of southern rock and then dipped in a little bit of grunge”. The band was originally formed in 2012 and the current lineup includes Matt James on vocals, Nathan Gillis on drums, Chuck Wepfer on rhythm guitar, Ryan Keifer on lead guitar, and Matt Curtis on bass.  

With a huge sound and chest shaking vocals, Blacktop Mojo brings a high energy rock show that leaves fans wanting more everywhere they go. While in the midst of rehearsals last month for their most recent tour that kicked off in San Antonio on April 20th, we caught up with them to see what had been going on for the past year and a half and what was on the radar for the rest of the year.

Johnny: So it’s been about a year and a half since our last interview with you guys and the last time we talked there was an album in the works. When did “Burn The Ships” release and how was the process different from the first time around when you recorded “I am”?

BTM: “Burn The Ships” released in March of 2017. The biggest difference between this record and our first record, “I Am”, was the amount of time we took for pre-production. On “I Am”, we spent about two weeks getting ready and arranging the songs before we went in to record it, where on “Burn The Ships”, we spent about eight months demoing and playing around with different ideas.

Johnny: How has the reception been to the album so far and do you guys have your own personal favorite song from it?

BTM: The reception to the album has been incredible this far. We’ve had countless positive reviews and feedback from publications all over the world. Also, our first single off of the album entitled “Where The Wind Blows” reached number 27 on the Billboard Active Rock chart last summer.

Johnny: You guys got to open for Bon Jovi last year in a sold-out stadium. Tell us about that about how you guys got that honor and a little about the experience?

BTM: We actually won that honor in a contest the band was putting on. We submitted some of our original music and were picked by Live Nation and the band’s management to open up the show. The experience was beyond amazing and the crowd was very receptive to us. We cannot thank the Bon Jovi camp enough for the opportunity and for treating us so incredibly.

Johnny: Obviously that put you in front of a lot of potential new fans but what would you say the biggest takeaway from that event was?

BTM: Our biggest takeaway from that night was that whether you’re playing in front of 20 or 20,000 people, you should treat it the same way. Make everyone feel like you’re playing in a stadium even if it’s an empty room.

Johnny: Blacktop Mojo has been trending steadily upward the past couple of years with several accolades from industry publications, over 40 thousand likes on Facebook, a new album, and you guys seem to play everywhere and anywhere. What kind of effect has the increased exposure and success had on the daily routine and what kind of new challenges have came along?

BTM: Our daily routine hasn’t changed much when we’re home. We still write and rehearse on a regular basis and go about business as usual. The increased exposure has made touring opportunities more readily available for us and has increased the number of people we can reach with our music, which is super exciting for us.

Johnny: You have a pretty extensive tour coming up that you’ll already be on the road for when this goes to print. Is this the biggest tour BTM has embarked on and what goes into planning a 2-month long road trip that covers, as best I could count, 32 states, both sides of the country, Canada, and 43 shows?

BTM: This is our most extensive tour to date. A lot of planning, routing, and generally putting the puzzle pieces together has gone on over the past few months by us and our team to make this happen. We couldn’t be more excited to get back out on the road and see our friends across the country.

Johnny: I’d say it would be time for a break after that sort of trip, but you guys are right back at it, playing Rock Fest 2018 up in Wisconsin with some huge names, do you guys ever have to step back, take a breath, and say to yourself “this is our reality”?

BTM: We are very blessed to be able to wake up and do what we love every single day. They say “you never work a day in your life if you do what you love”, so I don’t think we’ve ever really thought about taking a break.

Johnny: Were you able to see yourself at this point back when you played your first show at the Neches Fall Festival or the first “official” show as BTM at the Shelton Gin back in 2012?

BTM: It would have been hard to imagine getting to do what we do now back then. We’ve always just been happy to be able to play music for people.

Johnny: With what’s on your plate for the first half of this year, I almost hate to ask, but what’s on the radar for the second half of 2018 that you can share with us?

BTM: We have plans to keep touring throughout the rest of the year and are currently writing music for our third record.

Johnny: What has been the best memory from the ride so far?

BTM: It’s hard to pick just one from all of it. One of my favorites so far was riding back into town off of our first tour last Summer/Fall. We’d been out on the road for over 60 days straight with 7 of us basically living out of our van. We were tired, beat up, and hungry, but everyone was smiling and joking with each other. It really felt like we had accomplished something.

For more information on Blacktop Mojo and when they’ll be back at a location near you, check them out on the web:


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