From hometown street dances to the Sturgis rally is the band of self-proclaimed “road warriors,” Judd Hoos. The band have toured all over the midwest, from Montana to Minnesota, and recently dropped a new album earlier this summer.
Judd Hoos is comprised of Tyler Bills (lead singer, guitar), brother Devin Bills (guitar, mandolin, trombone and keys), Andy Young (guitar), Chris Hornick (bass), and Shane Funk (drums). The band is named after Funk’s friend.
“At the very beginning of the band, we were trying to find a name,” said Funk. “There was a guy that I went to college with, [Judd Hoos], and we thought he had a cool name, so I called him and asked if we could use it. Pretty soon it became a unique-sounding, recognizable name.”
The band has been together since 2004 with original members Funk and Hornick. Besides playing covers, Judd Hoos has maintained focus on writing and recording their own music.
“[We’ve] always had original music in the show, but in the last two years with Andy’s songwriting and the Bills brothers and everything that has come together, we realize there’s a core audience of Judd Hoos [fans who] want to hear the music we’re writing,” said Funk.
After touring and recording along the way, Judd Hoos released their first album, Music in the Dark, June 2. This album pulls from each band member’s varied influences and represents their identity as what Young simply referred to as an “American band.”
“We’re kind of like an American band and a melting pot of everybody’s individual influence coming together to make this record what it is,” said Young. “It’s something we’re all really proud of.”
Hornick said that he sees how the band’s background as a cover band has influenced what sort of sound they like to have in their original work.
“One strength of ours is being more of a cover band,” said Hornick. “You kind of learn what you like, what works for a crowd, and what works for you. A lot of us are influenced by live music. Rock has definitely taken a different face in the past 10 years.”
The album was written and recorded mostly on the road, whether in a hotel room or in a grain elevator. Young set up a mobile studio wherever the band played each night to sample bass or guitar tracks live.
“[A street dance] is a cool show because it rolls into town, and the next morning it’s gone.”
“We’re blessed that we have [Young], who’s got some definite engineering skills, as far as recording,” said Hornick.
Anna Taylor, lead singer of the Sioux City blues-rock band 35th and Taylor, contributed to the title track on the new album.
“Anna’s career is really taking off,” said Young. “The opportunity came up to do a duet with her, and we were happy that she agreed to it. It was great working with her.”
Judd Hoos will be returning to this year’s Sturgis Rally for 10 consecutive nights at the Loud American Roadhouse – a highly anticipated event for the band. Each night will be a showcase of both their covers and originals from the album.
“Every night [in Sturgis] is so high-energy, and people are there to party,” said Tyler. “You kind of feed off of their energy. I haven’t had a show in Sturgis that wasn’t great, and I’m sure it’s going to be just as much fun this year.”
Music in the Dark is now available on iTunes. For more information, visit juddhoos.com.
UPCOMING JUDD HOOS SHOWS
Loud American Roadhouse
Sturgis // 8 p.m.
Downtown Friday Nights
Spearfish // 6 p.m.
Shooters Outdoor Concert
Watertown // 9 p.m.
Corn Palace Street Dance
Mitchell // 8 p.m.