Plenty of bands find their audience through indie rock sites like Pitchfork and the Hype Machine, but not so many can claim the allegiance of ammoland.com, gunblogs.org or the wistfully named softgreenglow.com.
And that's where Hogjaw comes in. Steeped in the Southern rock tradition of Lynyrd Skynyrd and fortified with just the right amount of crunchy metal goodness, the Arizona-based desert dwellers have found their own target audience, if you will, among the Internet gun rights set. The band's calling card, a video for its song "Gitsum," is riddled with ammo and camo, a Confederate-flag-emblazoned bass guitar thrown in for good measure.
"I'll burn in hell before I sell my rights away from me / It's high time we embrace the tool that keeps all men free," sings Hogjaw's JonBoat Jones before joining lead axeman Craig Self in dueling guitar harmonies straight out of the Allman/Skynyrd playbook.
Whatever you think of their views, the Hogjaw boys are no poseurs: "We're all Air Force brats or were in the Air Force ourselves," says Jones, the burly and bearded frontman, who was raised in southern Georgia and has spent 14 years working as a gunsmith.
So what does Jones think of militia guys and folks who carry loaded weapons outside Barack Obama appearances?
"Do I think it's right for these people to do these things? No, I think they're being stupid, they're being selfish, and they're ruining it for everybody else because they have their own agenda," says Jones. "Having been professionally involved with the gun industry, I've seen firsthand the wide variety of people out there, and — this might sound funny — but not all of them really probably need to have guns."
That said, Jones doesn't believe there's any way to fairly or effectively legislate who those people are. Nor is he enamored with people who question the sale and use of assault rifles.
"What they're used for is shooting bullets," he says.
Well, yeah, but at what?
"That's up to you," says Jones. "That's up to whoever's shooting. It's pretty much as simple as that. So now, what would I shoot at? Well, you know, we'll go out there and we shoot at targets, we have fun with them. I've hunted with AR-15's before, they're pretty good with varmints and things.
"I know guys that have used SKS rifles to hunt deer for many years, even some AKs, although the accuracy's not so good. You know, they're not really hunting rifles — I know that — but they're good for protection, and they're good just to have if you like guns."
When Hogjaw members aren't shooting guns, haunting their local Walmart fishing department, or pissing off people with that Confederate bass — "To me," says Jones, "it just means home, you know?" — they're playing music that may one day be on a par with the influences they so proudly wear on their sleeves.
"When we write songs, we'll say, 'Here's the Skynyrd part and there's the Iron Maiden part.' Or, 'Here's the Hatchet part, here's the AC/DC part, here's the Santana part.' We're not doing anything new, I can tell you that. We're just doing it our own way."