Interview with John Berry of Jacobs Dream
Welcome back! Do you ever official disband or was it more of a planned hiatus? What prompted your return to action?
Hi Joshua.Thanks for the opportunity to talk to you and your readers. No we didn’t disband at all. We just didn’t think it would take so long to find Kevin Wright after Chaz Bond left the band.
You see we had started writing songs for what would be Sea of Destiny with Chaz but at some point Chaz and I, stopped working so well together, Not there was any bad feelings but we just stopped connecting on the ideas for lyrics and music and started seeing things differently. Chaz is super cool and laid back and probably would have just said ok whatever, but we wanted him to get the intensity back that he had early on but I just dont think he was feeling it and he’s not one to fake it. So when we decided that it was probably time for him to follow his passion, namely his other bands, we had no idea who would take his place.
It was pretty reckless in hindsight. But the wheels of JD never turned fast before so we just set about the searching and auditions till we found Kevin and dragged him out of the comfort of his home studio and convinced him to give it a shot.
Tell us about the return of David Taylor. How did that come about?
Well, Kevin was with us for two years and worked with us for the majority of the Sea of Destiny material. It was a real fun time for the band and I was very excited for the future of the band till one summer day Kevin rolled up in the driveway gets out of his car and says ” Guys, I just don’t want to do this anymore”. No hard feelings, nothing else to add, but wish you all the best. So there we were again looking for a singer. At this time we had been talking to David pretty often. He and I had been doing some shooting on his property in the country, and we always talked about music and the band and old memories and stuff.
We asked if he was interested in singing with us again and he said he was but he was at a place in his life where it would take a lot of time and adjustment to fit a commitment to the band into his life. We are very happy to have him back but he was right, This has been a time of adjustments to accommodate his availability.
Where are you currently based and how often do you guys jam or rehearse?
We are still in Columbus Ohio. I live east of town, the other guys on the west end, but David lives quite ways outside of town. Its about and hour commute one way.So we have been doing well to get everyone together once a week.
How long did it take to write and record the news album SEA OF DESTINY?
It wasn’t long after the release of Beneath The Shadows that we started some new songs but soon after Chaz had to go to Puerto Rico with his wife while she finished college for six months. I continued to make demos in his absence and we would jam once a week.I think that was 2011. So I guess maybe we wrote for three years and recorded for two? I know that sounds lazy as heck but we dont have any deadlines without a Label so we just took our time and had as much fun with the process as ever before. There was a lot of communication and experimentation all the way. One interesting thing is that Kevin didnt sing the way he sang on the album initially. At first he sounded like Layne Staley or Phil Lewis and we were like hmmmmm…. But then he played us a cover of an Yngvie song he sang on where he was singing just like Goran Edmun. I was like DUDE! what was that? Can you do that all the time? He was like no I wont mimic anyone, but I can do something in that style, if you like. I was like YES I would like that very much!
Did you ever have any intention of shopping the album to European labels, or maybe even working with Metal Blade again?
If the offer was good, I think we would sign with a label again. In fact, I flirted with the idea for a while but as we compared our sales and profits of our completely indie, demo and Dominion of Darkness CD to the results of Beneath the Shadows on Retroactive records, it was obvious that we could do much much better handling things ourselves considering the current state of the industry. Any offer from a label would have to beat what we can do for ourselves at this point. Our deal with Metal Blade didn’t profit us any where near our indie efforts. At least as for as actual money. It did however open the doors of the metal world to us.
On a related note, how did your deal with Retroactive Records come about?
It was the suggestion of Chaz’. He was in contact with the owner through some of his work with other bands. The owner seemed real excited to have us and seemed to like our suggestions of promoting more in Europe than here in the states. So thats what we thought we were signing up for. Later we found out that the copies we took with us to sell when we went to play at a German festival were the only copies on the continent.
These are a couple of tougher but fair questions. Do you consider yourselves a Christian or ‘White Metal’ band? With so many Metal bands preoccupied with ‘evil’ (Death, the occult, etc) as broad concepts, do you feel being a band with a positive message has ever hindered your career?
Having had the chance to look back in time at what people consider to have been Christian or White Metal since the 80’s and considering what we do and don’t have in common with those bands as well as what fans of that genre expect from the bands that are a part of that genre, I wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone by labeling us as such. Some people expect a Christian not to have any struggles in life like money or marital issues or addictions. Its so unrealistic its ridiculous and we never wanted any part in that.
When we first got signed the label asked us the same question and we talked and thought and prayed extensively about the answer to that question. We examined our lyrics on our demo and it was obvious that most Christian metal fans wouldnt approve of what we had already done and likely wouldnt approve of the new material either. It seemed that a road of controversy was set before us and to try and avoid it would be a waste of time and not be honest with our views. We have often been at odds with religious people who have professed to know what Gods will is for us better than we do. We’ve always been on the ragged edge of things and I think that is where metal fans generally are in this world in some way or another. I’ve found there is a unity and shared experience among most metal fans. Its a beautiful thing. Its more pronounced in Europe but its catching on here at home too.
In regard to having a positive message I just cant imagine doing it any other way. If that has hindered or helped our success, who knows, but its so cool when some one comes up to us or writes to us and says that our music has a had a profoundly positive effect on them somehow . Life can be so cruel and hard and everyone needs some help sometime. So why not give a message of hope? Its an honest alternative. If there is nothing after this life and I lived my life deluded and when I lay down one day and if the lights just go out and then “nothing”. What did I lose?
Are there any plans to tour in the immediate future? I think you would do well on the European traditional Metal festival circuit, have you considered that option?
No preparations are currently being made. But if we made the right contacts, we would very much like to tour the European festival season, Or play on off events or whatever. Send airline tickets, will metal !
I understand you may be working on some reissues or your rarer albums like DOMINION OF DARKNESS?
Yes that is true. We want to do that. But we want to re release the new version of DoD, with re cut guitars and vocals. It really sounds cool. We would also like to repackage Beneath the Shadows and re issue it as well.
Do you follow the current Metal scene at all? If yes, what cool newer bands have caught your ear?
I wish I had more time to enjoy new metal bands. I just seem to find myself looking back so often to classic albums for inspiration. Its a shame cause I every now and then I hear something new and cool and Im like Wow! Where did they come from?
Lastly, a predictable question, what are the next plans for the immediate future for Jacobs Dream?
Predictable, but at least you didn’t ask me for a synopsis of the bands history from inception to current day.
Well, as previously stated we want to re issue some of our catalog. Were also looking at putting some cameras in our studio and recording some rehearsals or tracking of new material to put online for fans. Also we were talking about doing a few songs, just one at a time for download. I think it would be cool to watch the band rehearse the song, take some input from the fans, then see highlights of tracking it and then make it available for download. I think it might let fans feel like they were a little bit a part of the process.
On behalf of the guys in the band I want to thank you for this opportunity once again.