Heart of Steel: Interviews


Interview with guitarist Jack Frost

Interviewed by EvilG
Transcribed by Waspman

 

The new album, PASSAGE TO THE OTHER SIDE, is not really a concept album, but there seems to be a constant darker theme in the songs, a theme of loss. It's not a happy album by any means. It's all around darker album than XILED TO INFINITY AND ONE.

I wouldn't say it's a dark album. It's got a dark side to it, but it has a very positive note at the end. It does have to do with death and stuff, but how we did it was…sometimes death is a positive thing. We don't think that sometimes, but it is. It really can be. The title track, it definitely shows the positive side of death. As you know from the bio, my brother passed away from cancer, and this is my reflection on everything I went through with him. I just kind of saw how death can be a really positive thing at the end of it all. Y'know, you say dark, people think "oh my God! It's about murdering yourself" (laughs). It's more of a real in-depth record. There's no tongue in cheek on this record, that's for sure.

 

 

Jack FrostThe past year or so must have been challenging for you due to the loss in your family, as well some band members who came and went. In the end though, you've come back with a stronger band and a better album. Do you think that the trials that you went through helped you come out with a better album?

I have to be honest with you about one thing. I don't really feel like I've ever had a real band before. Guys came and went from this band and it was the kind of thing where I want to have a steady problem and the big problem was that nobody really wrote. My bass player was in the band and he never wrote a single note the whole four years he was here. Most of the singers put their 50% in vocal melody wise and that, but this is the first record where everybody really contributed. Lyrics, music, the artwork was done as a band. There were no decisions made without everybody being in on it. That was the thing that we've always missed before. I'm really glad that we're able now to do that. To me, it really shows that it's a family oriented record. I mean, the guys in the band I love to death. They're great guys. People like Joey and James, they don't need to be in this band, it's not like we're making a million dollars. These guys are in this band because they want to be here and we want to work together. It shows in the music. We plan on just going for it.

 

 

When I first found out that Wade Black wasn't the singer anymore I was a little bit concerned because he had such a great voice and contributed greatly to the last album. However, when the new album came out my fears were laid to rest. I was wondering if you were at all concerned what fans were going to think, or if you knew from hearing stuff in the studio that you knew it would surpass what you've done before?

Not to sound obnoxious, but I've always been lucky with singers. I think me and Joey really work well with singers and are able to get the best out of them. There were a few other guys up for this gig but James is such a gentleman for sure. He just fits well. After we played Cleveland with him and he learned the songs like it was nothing and kicked major ass, I never had a doubt. When Wade got sick on tour, James was the first person we called. I hate to say it, but if somebody can't do the job, I'm not going to give up. People are always saying, "Wow, all these different drummers, different bass players, why do you keep this going?". I love music more than anything. This band has been my baby since day one. I'm never going to back down. Will James stay in the band forever? Oh yeah. He's found a home and we both feel that way.

James is the best of both worlds. He's the best of our original singer, he's the best of Wade, but the one thing that he's got over all of them is he's a great frontman. He's the David Lee Roth of heavy metal, that's what I think. He's got that persona on stage, he's so charismatic. I really love watching him live because he brings a fun element to the band that we've never had before. Wade was a lot more serious and subdued on stage. James knows how to work the audience. I knew the fans were going to be really psyched when the heard him. You turn this record on and you're like, "Wow!". Honestly, I got tons of letters, and even our label was like, "He's not that type of singer, how are you going to get this out of him?". Trust me James had a voice inside of him that he's never known. Working with him in the studio, I think he really hated us at first because we kept pushing him and pushing him. But look what came out! He's a new James. Really happy.

 

 

So in a nutshell, do you want to tell me why Wade decided to leave the band?

Actually it was a mutual agreement. Wade really didn't leave the band. He was pretty much let go halfway through the tour. The bottom line is this: we like to play, we want to make records, and we want to be on tour a lot. He was very gung-ho when he first joined the band, "yeah I want to do this, and this!". Then he saw that we want to be on the road a lot. Wade has a business at home. He's a great guy man. Vocally he's the right guy, but personality wise there was a conflict, and where your heart was there was a conflict. It was probably the best thing that Wade left the band, 'cause if he was here I don't know if this record would have been done. James came in, and it was awesome.

 

 

With the last album, XILED TO INFINITY AND ONE, I was wondering what that title meant, and why you spelled it the way you did?

I just thought that the "X" was kinda cool; there was no special meaning behind it. I just like the big "X". Say you're like Bin Laden, and you're exiled to infinity, and it's one louder! (laughs) It goes to 11! (laughs) You're exiled to infinity, that's forever, it's forever and a day.

Kinda like Raid kills bugs dead? (laughs)

That's it! (laughs)

 

 

James Rivera - VocalsYour new vocalist James got the spot after what seemed to be an impromptu fill-in at last year's classic metalfest. I know a lot has been said about how he fit in so quickly, was he familiar with your material already?

I'm not going to lie about this, but James was one of the guys that was up for the gig on XILED. I thought that he'd been around for awhile, and I thought that he might be jaded with the business. This is a tough business to be in bro. So many people stick knives in your back. It's one of those things where your friends are few and far between. I thought James would come in and expect the world. Whoever joins this band makes exactly what I make; it's not The Jack Frost show. Its four guys. I thought that maybe he wouldn't be into it as much. At the time he was playing with Flotsam and Jetsam, and that's a big band for him to be in. He had the CDs already, and when Wade got sick on tour, James was already working on the stuff, 'cause I needed a fill-in. That's how it worked out. Honestly though, he did learn the songs in a day and it blew me away. He had the gig in rehearsal but we weren't going to tell him that. We made him sweat a little (laughs).

 

 

Brian Craig - DrumsIs his former band Destiny's End completely dead, and for that matter is Helstar planning to do anything in the future?

I think Destiny's End is pretty much dead. James and Brian were the hearts of that band, and they're the hearts of this band now. As for Helstar, I hope they make another record, I love that band. I told James that I'd love to be involved and help write it. He'd love to do it too. But he said to me a couple of weeks ago that he really wants to put his time into this, this is new. Helstar has been around; it's had its heyday. Why beat a dead horse? We've got a chance to try and take this to a new level.

 

 

Back to the new Seven Witches album. Not only is this your best album, in my opinion, but it's also your best sounding album. What changes were made in that department to improve the sound?

Joey Vera - BassSound-wise, Joey was a lot more involved with it. He knew what we wanted. He's a great producer, engineer, and mixer. It was both of us working together. That's the big difference, both of us contributing ideas, talking about the sound. The guitar sound on this record I'm ecstatic over. I finally have my signature sound. We finally have a record where there's a bass player on the record. Joey is one of my best friends in the world and to me he's one of the best musicians. The guy is not just a bass player. That really changed a lot of the sound. Also, Brian has been playing with us for awhile now, Joey has toured with us. It's starting to become a family and you can hear that on the record.

 

 

I also thought that your lead guitar playing improved a lot on the new album. I was wondering if you put more time into thinking about your solos and patterns?

Yeah, I was tired of hearing from people that, "How come you don't shred dude?". I don't think you need to! I can if I have to, but I don't think that you need to rip and jerkoff all the time. I play with the song. Remember man, Neal Schon, three notes, and you'll remember those notes for the rest of your life. Yngwie Malmsteen, 140 notes. I can't figure out a note. (laughs) It was kind of the thing where I just wanted to rip a little bit more this time.

I like Yngwie anyways! (laughs)

Oh, I love Yngwie, but I grew up on Tony Iommi. I've never been that kind of a player. John Sykes, Zakk Wylde, people that play with feeling. That's kind of where I got it from.

 

 

Staying on the guitar topic, can you tell me a bit about the guitar you play? I know you're endorsed by Jackson guitars.

Sure. I play Jackson Firebirds now. I have a couple of old Les Pauls that I always play on record. I also have a new company that I've been working with from Switzerland called Blaze Guitars. Mainly though I use Jackson guitars, Thrifter bodies, EMG pickups, all Ebony fingerboards, and my Angle M. That's kinda how I get my tone.

 

 

For your guitar, I saw some of the pictures, one with a spider-web pattern on it. Is that a custom made one for you?

Yeah, Jackson is so good to me. They made me like fifteen Kellys. When Marty Friedman left Megadeth, I got all of his guitars that they were making. He wasn't playing them anymore, so I got 'em. Then they wanted to move me to a new environment, so I'm playing the Firebirds now. Really cool man. Dave Mustaine in the "Rust" video, and I actually got it. It is a Firebird.

 

 

You did a cover on the new album for a Def Leppard song. I was wondering why you picked that one and if there were other contenders that didn't make it to the album?

Basically, I played that song in high school and I love it. I've always liked that Def Leppard record. It's my favorite Def Leppard album of all time. ON THROUGH THE NIGHT was great. The guys were like, "Def Leppard? Are you kidding?". Once we started jamming it they really liked it. We didn't do any other covers on this record. That's another thing that I always get slammed about, "What's the matter Frost? You can't write songs, you have to always play cover songs?". No, I just kind of like doing cover songs and reinventing them a little bit.

 

 

One of my favorite tracks on the album is "Fever in the City". It's probably thanks to the chorus that's been stuck in my head for the past week. (laughs) What is that song about?

It's about the Black Plague.

The Black Plague? Could be SARS these days! (laughs)

(laughs) I mean, it could actually be about anthrax too, or AIDS. All of these diseases that could wipe out entire countries. Like I said, there's no tongue in cheek on this record at all.

 

 

I also want to mention the obvious Judas Priest connection…

What connection with Judas Priest?

The song…

I have no idea what you're talking about! (laughs)

(laughs) How about Mental Messiah?

How about it? (laughs)

That one there is one that I really think raises its head as a Judas Priest PAINKILLER type of song.

Well, thank you very much. But y'know, we've been getting a lot of, we've been reading a lot of reviews lately and people are saying, one review in Metal Hammer said that K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton should listen to this record, 'cause it's the record that they should be making. I really respect and appreciate the comments that we've been getting but Judas Priest are the metal gods. We will never compete with them or never want to, number one. Number two, they're the fathers of heavy metal. I really appreciate people putting us in the same words with them, but c'mon man, we're never gonna shake a stick to that band. They made the sound! We're just trying to live up to that. That's the best that we can do.

 

 

I think a lot of people, like myself, are upset that Judas Priest are not doing this type of album, they're doing the DEMOLITION style, which longtime fans aren't too happy with.

Y'know what man? I think Ripper is amazing. He's a sweetheart of a guy, he does a great job. People should stop saying that Priest is going to get back together. Be quiet! You get Priest with Ripper, and you get Halford on his own! You get two bands for the price of one. I know people want to see Priest get back together; I don't think it's going to happen.

My problem is not with Ripper, I do think he's great. It's the songwriting that I think has gone down.

What, Ripper?

No, I don't mean Ripper, I also think he's great. The actual songs themselves are the problem, not him. Their style musically has just changed too much.

I just think Priest wanted to try and turn up their thing a little bit. They've been there from the beginning, so why aren't they allowed to change? I mean, I understand, but they didn't cut their hair and start playing pop metal. They just kind of got more aggressive I think.

 

 

OK, well back to Seven Witches! (laughs) You'll be doing a mini tour coming up with Cage. I was wondering how that came about. Also, it's a fairly short tour, is there any chance of extending it?

Y'know it's kind of a think where their manager called us. We just finished a tour with Symphony X which was really great. We got to play Canada and everything. That was awesome. We wanted to go out and just headline some shows. They called us up and we decided to like three shows together. Would we do a tour in the States with them? Sure, that would be great! I like those guys a lot. We're actually going to Texas in May, and we have Omen doing three shows with us there. We're just doing this on our own. We got some clubs that want us to play. That U.S. tour with Symphony X really was great for us; we sold a lot of merchandise. A lot of kids are psyched that we're doing this. We're going back to the old days bro. Me and Joey, and James are used to nice buses and everything. We're going out in a van! We're going to prove to people that heavy metal is not dead, and if it takes us doing that, then we will.

 

 

What other parts of the world are being scheduled?

We're going to do a whole U.S. run by ourselves. We're going to go back to all of the places we can because it seems like Toronto and Montreal were amazing. We were surprised. We did eight shows in Canada, one to the other. We're going to do the whole East Coast now. We did so well they asked us to come back and headline. Maybe we'll be able to take Cage out with us. We're looking at maybe getting a tour in the States.

 

 

Will you do anything by Destiny's End or Helstar?

No, we won't do any Destiny's End, we won't do any Armored Saint, no Savatage, because this is Seven Witches. We don't want a sticker on the record saying "Featuring members of…". We want to be Seven Witches, we're a new band, and that's what we really want to do.

 

 

You're also involved in a side project with D.D. Verni and Tim from Overkill called Bronx Casket Co. I'm just wondering what's been happening with that?

It's funny that you ask that because I just got off the phone with D.D. yesterday, and we plan on doing a record in the coming year. The Overkill record just got released though, and our record just got released, so we're all kind of busy right now. D.D. lives a half hour away from me though, so we'll definitely do another record. And yes, we still want to do some live shows. We've got a few offers to play some shows, so maybe it'll happen.

 

 

Why are you involved in Bronx Casket Co.? Is it because you are friends with D.D. or is it that it's a different type of music that you can't fit into Seven Witches?

Well, it's very Sabbathy, and I love Tony Iommi. And yeah, being friends with D.D. and Tim is a major part of it too.

 

 

Do you help with the songwriting in that band?

I help with the guitar parts but that's D.D.'s baby y'know? That's his thing, he writes all of the words and everything. That's his vibe.

 

 

I was reading on your website and it said that we can expect your first solo CD to come out later this year. I was wondering what has been written so far, and what has it been sounding like compared to Seven Witches?

It sounds nothing like Seven Witches for sure. You'll probably kill me for saying this but it's got kind of a Disturbed kind of vibe.

I don't listen to them!

It's a little bit more modern, but then there's stuff in there that you could hear on Whitesnake's SLIP IT IN, stuff you could hear on Dokken's TOOTH AND NAIL. It's got a little bit of everything. Gonzo from Armored Saint is playing drums, Dave Ellefson from Megadeth is playing bass, Mike Duda from W.A.S.P. is playing some bass. Harry Hess from Harem Scarem is doing a bunch of vocals on it.

 

 

Are you doing any vocals too?

Yeah, I'll be doing some too.

 

 

Do you have any ideas on album titles or release dates?

It'll be released in the summer but I'm not sure what the title will be yet.

 

 

I also read on your website that you're supposed to be playing on a solo album by David DeFeis from Virgin Steele.

Yeah, David is going to be singing on my solo record, and I'm going to be playing on his. I'm also going to be playing on Rob Rock's record.

 

 

I didn't realize that David was doing a solo record.

Well it's more of an opera record than a David solo record.

 

 

Have you done any work with that yet?

I work with Dave all the time, I send him my stuff and he sends me his. Once everything mellows out a little bit more I'll be getting more involved with it.

 

 

What other bands are you involved with?

Right now that's a lot to be involved with bro! (laughs) There are other things on the table, offers to get involved but right now I'm really kinda; Witches is really going to take my time. We plan on being back in the studio in August.

For a new record already?

Yeah.

Have you started writing it already?

That's all I do! I have no life. (laughs) My guitar is in my butt pretty much all the time. (laughs) Now after you and other people telling me how much they like my solos on this record, I'm going to have to go even more extreme on the next record! (laughs)

(laughs) You'll be an Yngwie!

Not that brother! That'll never happen! (laughs) I worship that guy. People always say to me, "You're a different kind of guy; you don't rip". I'm a songwriter, that's what I am.

 

 

I don't know if you want to talk about this, but I just have one question about it, and that is, now that you've had time to reflect on this, what are your thoughts on the whole Savatage fiasco?

Y'know what bro? There's nothing negative to say. My attitude is that it was a great two years, I had a lot of fun, I worked my butt off, I made a lot of friends, the fans really respected me. I think what it comes down to, not to be a bad guy, they made a big mistake. Somebody put on the Internet, Jack Frost 2-0, Savatage 0-2. That kind of shows you what people think of me. I met a lot of fans and I have to tell you, I was in Chicago, and a guy came up to me with a Criss Oliva tattoo and he said to me, "Jack, Criss Oliva was my favorite guitar player, but I was never able to get him to sign my tattoo. Would sign it for me?". I was like, "I can't do that man, that's Criss Oliva". He said, "You were part of that band, you brought a new found glory to that band. If it's possible, I'd really like you to sign this". When he said that to me, it brought a tear to my eye. I was like, "You can't make me sign this tattoo". He said, "If anybody deserves it, it's you". That just blew my mind. Y'know what? I still love those guys. We're friends man, and it was a managers decision. Good luck to them! Would I ever go back? I'd go back to the fans and the music. It would probably take the five guys to talk to me and say sorry for what happened. But hey, life goes on.

Jack Frost with Savatage

Do you still have contact with any of those guys?

No, I've never spoken to any of them since. Isn't that kind of weird?

Yeah, that's too bad.

It is too bad. We were really good friends. I think, honestly, the reason is that deep down inside they feel really bad. What are you going to say to me? "We're sorry"? As soon as they said that to me, that's all it would take. I'm that type of person.

 

 

I want to mention another band that you were in called Speeed with two ex-Annihilator dudes, Aaron Randall and Oliver Hartmann. Can you tell a bit about how that came to be, and what happened?

Sure. SET THE WORLD ON FIRE (by Annihilator) was one of my top favorite metal records, first of all. I knew Ray for awhile, but Aaron was one of my favorite metal singers. I talked to Jeff and he hooked me up with him. He had some songs that he was working on, I moved up to Canada for a couple of weeks, and we hit if off. We got a deal with Massacre and put this record out. It's really weird because I thought we were going to do more records, but Aaron got busy with his job and his family and I never really heard from him again. I heard that he doesn't want to do music anymore, which really sucks because that was a lot of fun. I really like that record. I think a lot of people were disappointed with that record because it wasn't a traditional metal record; it was a little more modernized.

 

 

What is your opinion on PASSAGE TO THE OTHER SIDE? Do you consider most of the songs more traditional or do you think that some of them are modernized?

I would say that PASSAGE TO THE OTHER SIDE is an old school metal record with more of a today vein. Take an old Priest record, and give them a modern studio, the sound enhancement right there shows you…can you hang on a second man?

(Jack goes to tend to his children and dog)

I'm sorry man! Can you hang on another minute? (laughs)

(Back to the kids and dog…)

Ah man, I'm really sorry! We just got a new puppy and everything…I'm really sorry man!

That's OK, we can take the dog part out! (laughs)

Nah, y'know what? I shows that I'm human, y'know? Everybody thinks I live in this mansion with all of this stuff, but no, I don't. My daughter had like eight kids here…hang on bro.

(Once again, fatherly duty interrupts…)

I'm sorry!

Are you still living in New Jersey?

Yeah, I just moved to Jackson. Isn't that kind of funny? (laughs) We just got a townhouse here. Let me tell you, life has become domesticated! The dogs, the kids, the house, I'm not used to any of this stuff! I lived in a one bedroom apartment for the last five years of my life.

Do you have a studio in your own house?

Actually on the third floor I'm building a whole Pro Tools studio, that's the great thing about it.

Your neighbors don't mind the noise?

No, they've been really nice to me, they're cool. It'll be all soundproofed and everything, so it'll be fine.

So no rumors about Satan moving in or anything? (laughs)

No, no. (laughs) My one neighbor's got long hair and stuff, so it really works out well.

 

 

Back to the album, just one more question and that is, is there anything that you wanted to point out? Do you have a favorite track? Obviously the final track would be the most memorable.

Oh yeah, that's definitely the heart of this record. What can I say about this record? I really want people to see that this is not just another metal record. It's got heart. When my brother passed away I could have sat back and said, "I can't make a record right now". I didn't because I wanted to make this mainly for my brother and show how much he meant to me. I pushed myself, and the guys in the band pushed with me. They were there with me through everything. It's a real family oriented record. When you listen to this record, really listen to it. Don't just bang your head and go "This is an awesome metal record!". Sit down for a couple of minutes and read those words. It hits you personally. I guess I wanted to give a piece of my heart, and that's what I did.

 

Was your brother into metal?

He wasn't really into metal but he was really proud of me. He'd come to the shows with his friends. When I first got the Savatage gig he was so happy, so proud of me. He came to the show. To him, to see me at that level, he was really proud. Kids coming up and asking for my autograph, that was everything to him.

 

 

Is there any other band news that you want to let people know about?

We're going to try and get this United States tour going, and we're going to get back to Canada 'cause that was great. Stay tuned to the website because we always update it a lot more now. We're going to have some better merchandise coming. We're just going to keep going, not give up. We're not going to be one of those bands say "Yeah, we're making another record". We'll be back within the year with another record, and I promise you, it will be stronger.

 

 

Excellent. Lots of good things to come for sure!

Thanks man! Again, I'm really sorry! Please don't hold it against me. I feel bad. I had no idea my daughter was going to have 19,000 kids in here while I'm on the phone.

What's your dog's name by the way?

That's a funny question too! My wife just bought him for me on Sunday, and I don't even know what we're calling him yet. We're going through a million different names. Micky, Yeager…

Well my cat's name is Lemmy. (laughs)

Lemmy? (laughs) Does he drink Jack Daniels?

(laughs) No and he doesn't have a mole either, but he's the Ace of fucking spades dude!

(laughs) He doesn't have a mole! (laughs....)

Well thanks for talking to me today man!

OK, thanks man!


Official website:
www.sevenwitches.net

CD Reviews:
 Passage To The Other Side
Xiled To Infinity And One
Second War in Heaven

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