Profile: Tom Jordan of Death Blues Duo 20 Watt Tombstone

20 Watt Tombstone
20 Watt Tombstone – photo courtesy of CW Snaps

You might be thinking “Death Blues” and wondering what that means exactly. But, I’m betting you’ve already got a decent idea. Taken from the band’s own bio page: “If the White Stripes, The Black Keys, and Left Lane Cruiser had an illegitimate love child with Lemmy while Hunter S. Thompson documented the whole torrid thing…you might get 20 Watt Tombstone.” The only thing missing in this statement is an evil delta blues vibe to really make it complete. Wisconsin based 20 Watt Tombstone released a split with Left Lane Cruiser in 2016 titled Death Blues vs The Dirty Spliff but now have decided to release it as a deluxe EP with only their songs contained and a couple extras. Good choice indeed, their brand of “Death Blues” is unique and magnetic. One listen isn’t enough to take in all the blues, punk attitude, and those nasty rock chops. Just ahead of this release we sat down with Tom Jordan armed with our set of Profile questions so head inside to see what he had to say and be sure to catch them out on the road now, links contained at the bottom.

20 Watt Tombstone - Death Blues vs The Dirty Spliff

How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?

My dad originally got me into guitar playing oldies on his acoustic. Eventually it was The video for “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen that made me want to play electric guitar. The way Eddie looked and played in that video was the coolest thing I had seen and I knew that I wanted to do that in some way.

What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)

Never really debased myself for anything. Never really had to, lol.

What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?

I guess there seems to be a lot of unoriginality happening. Too much “this sounds like everything else.” That would be my biggest complaint. However it’s cool that stoner rock is coming back around again!

It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?

We don’t put social issues into our music. What we write isn’t deep. Just normal person to person shit that I’ve felt that I think others may relate to.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

Van Halen “Hot for Teacher” video. I believe I was 8.

What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?

The same way everyone else can. Go see the touring band on a Wednesday (even if you have to work) go buy that cd from the band you like. Stream their music, share their music..tell your friends to do the same. Round up people to go see shows, pay covers, spend money and support the artists you like. But most importantly take the time to let them know what their art means to you. Go talk to them at the merch table. Message their page. Tell them how their song got you through a hard time. THAT is the fuel that keeps us going. That’s what makes us feel like what we do has importance.

What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.

We don’t need world domination ha! We just want to live somewhat comfortably and keep doing what we love which is playing music for people. No day job here…music is my life and my job. Some days it isn’t fun and can feel too much like a “job,” but a bad day doing this is still better than a good day at any real job I have had. I am grateful to be able to do this and pay my bills.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

Lately I am loving Shaw James’ latest record. We had the pleasure of playing with him and meeting him. Amazing talent and great human being. Another one lately is Kyuss “Blues for the Red Sun,” Cattle Decapitation’s latest album is in there and I would say Whitey Morgan “Sonic Ranch,” Mothership’s “High Strangeness,” Turbowolf’s latest “The Free Life” gets a lot of play lately.

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

More touring. Thats always the goal. Hitting more states, playing to more people. Bigger shows, more bands…forward momentum and a new record.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)


Many thanks to Tom and 20 Watt Tombstone for their time!

Death Blues vs The Dirty Spliff deluxe EP version will be available May 18 via Bandcamp. For more information on 20 Watt Tombstone and to check their current tour dates, visit their official website.

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