In 2006, James Moody cashed in his 401(k) and bought a building at the corner of 10th and Red River streets. At the time, Moody had no idea that this project — The Mohawk — would become a cornerstone of Austin's live music scene, or that he would go on to be the co-founder of staples like Transmission Events, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Guerilla Suit.
To celebrate 10 years of rowdy shows and even rowdier stories, the iconic venue is hosting a string of anniversary shows beginning Friday, September 9, and wrapping up Saturday, September 17. Artists and comedians confirmed so far include GZA, Roky Erikson, the Get Up Kids, Dan Deacon, Kyle Kinane, and Neil Hamburger, just to name a few.
In honor of The Mohawk's 10th anniversary, we caught up with Moody to chat about the lineup, what the past decade has been like — and what's in store for the next 10 years.
CultureMap: Did you expect for The Mohawk to become a flagship of our music scene when it first opened?
James Moody: No. We knew that we wanted to join the scene, but we also knew that the competition was seasoned, smart, and already doing a great job — so we had to be different, but not necessarily better. We just didn't think of the other venues as competition, because they were all places that we hung out and saw shows. We had an idea and a hope that we could contribute something new, but we had no clue how that might play out or how long we would last. I'm honestly pretty surprised that we are still here.
CM: How do you think The Mohawk and the surrounding Red River Cultural District have changed since 2006?
JM: Just look at it. No Emo's, no Reddy Ice, no 710, no Club de Ville, no Red 7, no Headhunters, no Jaime's, no Red Eyed Fly. Remember when Death Metal Pizza was squatting for a while in Red 7? Shit, not even Spiros made it.
But those changes opened things up for great places like Sidewinder, Barracuda, Cheer Up Charlies, Hoboken Pies, Valhalla, Empire, Swan Dive, Barbarella, and more. Plus, Twin Liquors, Beerland, Elysium, Stubb's, Side Bar, Bull McCabe's, and Mohawk have thankfully weathered the storm and are still truckin' like Mickey Rourke and Gary Busey.
CM: Is there a show or a moment that stands out to you and screams, "Yes! This is what The Mohawk is all about!"
JM: Monotonix. KRS One. Iggy Pop. Youth of Today. Spoon. Murder City Devils. The Ponys. Dino Jr. Ty Segall. Bon Iver. Bad Brains. Public Enemy. Daniel Johnston. Thurston Moore. Bonnie Prince Billy. Ice Cube. Trump Sucks. The Breeders. Sleep. Tycho. The Melvins. Jeff the Brotherhood. The Specials. Les Savy Fav. Death Grips. Kool Keith. Bill Callahan. Johnny Hottub. All for different reasons.
CM: Where do you see The Mohawk in the next 10 years? What about Red River?
JM: We could be a 20-year-old Mohawk, or we could be Chipotle's new Southwest flagship store. I have no clue. In terms of Red River, it really depends on how Mayor Adler's new Omnibus plan and policies impact the district. It needs a new kind of state, city, and community support if we want to continue to provide this level of live music experiences to locals and tourists from around the world.
I'm hopeful that we will be here, the Waller Creek Project will be implemented, the homeless community will have more help, the hotels will be doing well, and Red River will be thriving with regular traffic through venues, restaurants, pubs, and galleries. I also hope that Beerland and Cap'n Jim are still here.
CM: What do you think is special about the 10th anniversary lineup?
JM: It's wide — and represents The Mohawk and its original intent: "All Are Welcome." From Roky Erickson to GZA to Cherubs to Neil Hamburger and the Get Up Kids, we wanted to make sure that we covered a wide variety of genres so all types of music fans can come by and see us that week.
I would like to thank Graham Williams for working with me on that over the years — it's something that we both always understood and had fun making happen for folks of all ages, backgrounds, interests, and walks of life. Plus some of our old friends (ex-Mohawk employees) are returning to bartend, so I'm excited to see that.