"His voice was just so powerful, so different from an ing that I was used to hearing,” says drummer Joey Shannon. “The music we write is ridiculous and insane, but he takes his voice very seriously and what it brings is so signature.”
While the hard rock soundscape might deceive less astute listeners, Cleveland music fans should recognize Ciofani from the Moxies, the jangly, ’50s rockabilly-inspired band he fronted from 2012-2017. A self-titled debut album in 2013 quickly propelled the band to national popularity and acclaim. The endeavor brought Ciofani to Nashville, where he found himself in a deal with Round Hill Music and in rooms writing with some of the city’s hit-makers such as Lincoln Parish of Cage the Elephant.
“The songwriting circle [in Nashville] was like everybody trying to strike gold,” he says. “But that wasn’t really my intention at all.”
Returning home, Ciofani found liberation in high school friends Shannon, keyboardist Simeon Ruple and bassist Austin Adams and a pad in Chardon, complete with a practice room, party porch and pond. Dubbed the Rilla Villa, the home can be seen in the music video for Mollo Rilla’s sleazy single “Sangria.” The band released a debut record last year that’s ambitious and psychedelic. Sold-out shows at Coda and Mahall’s 20 Lanes followed.
“The first [Mollo Rilla] album was just a purge with 10-minute songs and three-minute guitar solos,” says Ciofani.
In February, the band rode its 2019 high into the Hobby Shop Recording Studios in Los Angeles to record their sophomore effort. This time around, engineer Bil Lane, who’s worked with Neil Young, helped the band sculpt a more coherent collection of 10 songs.
Viva El Camino’s energy is heavy and raw, while its mix is pristine and present thanks to mastering by studio head Andrew Murdock, who produced Godsmack and Avenged Sevenfold.
“This one was all of that no-rules energy, just finely tuned and distilled more,” says Ciofani.
While the record’s summer release was postponed to fall or winter, and Ruple and Adams have since departed the band, singles such as “Night Fang,” a creepy, quick-spitting banger, roll out this month. The forthcoming album is now set to drop in December.
Ciofani doesn’t seem to mind waiting — as long as his band keeps on rolling.
“Mollo Rilla has given me complete musical freedom,” he says.
8:00 AM EST
August 28, 2020