Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Jackyl's Jesse James Dupree

Interview By Keith McDonald

Jackyl, even though clumped in with the 'hair band' era, was somewhat an island by itself. Combining southern rock elements with the energy of the hard rock bands of the 80's, Jackyl enjoyed some early success with their first two albums released via Geffen Records. The band then moved with their A&R guru John Kalodner to Sony Music to record Cut The Crap that saw little success. Now on a new label run by Sony, Jackyl return with Relentless that captures their trademark sound. Currently on the road in support of their album, I had the opportunity to catch up with singer Jesse James Dupree who filled me in on what's been going on with his band.



After listening to the new album I hear the same Jackyl 'no holds bar' sound. Do you agree?

Well you know, we are what we are. We're two guitar, bass, drums, and chainsaw if you will, whatever it takes. We try to stay very true to loud, proud and honest rock 'n' roll. We feel this record has a cool energy to it that we've been needing for awhile. We worked really hard to keep the rock 'n' roll vibe in the studio, while we were recording it. In the middle of recording it 9/11 happened here in New York and knocked us back on our asses. Since we got back to work on it we just tried to save that vibe we had in the initial session.



How did your working relationship with Brian Johnson come about?

Brian is obviously a huge inspiration to us. We're big fans of AC/DC. Brian has sold some like 150 million records. He'll party all night and be ready to work the next morning. Mutual friends introduced us and we struck up a friendship and started working together. He's a really good guy.



How has your relationship with Brian helped?

It doesn't hurt to have the lead singer of AC/DC work with you. No member of AC/DC has worked outside their band before. It's a big honor.



How important is touring for a band like Jackyl?

You got MTV playing everything but videos. It's harder and harder to get your music out there. Lucky for us we have the road. We stay on the road and use word of mouth. Our true followers out there never let us down.


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Why was your stay at Geffen Records so short, considering the success you had?

We followed John Kalodner from Geffen to Sony, thinking that would be the smart thing to do because he carried Aerosmith and Jackyl to Sony, they on Columbia and us on Epic. As soon as that record, Cut The Crap, came out on Epic it suffered because they merged 550 and Epic and laid off some 100 people. It was a disheartening experience; it was ashamed it didn't get the push from the label.



Do you still have a working relationship and speak with John?

I spoke to him last week. I don't do anything without his o.k. He has a good sense of what people connect with. You can't argue with all the records that man has sold.



What is this Humidity Records you are now on?

It's just a hybrid company that's a division and funded by Sony. This guy named Cameron Strange who has a label called New West. He's just an old-school guy as far as grass roots marketing. He's totally doing all the right things.



How do you feel about being clumped in with the 80's hair bands even though your first album came out in 1992?

We did do the damdest power balled 'She Loves My Cock'. It kind of sums it all up. I don't know. Anybody can lump us anyway they want to as long as they come see us live. It sucks to be categorized period, other than a straight-up rock band.



It seems Jackyl has an extremely loyal fanbase.

Yeah, our followers will kill ya. They're right there besides us. They believe in the band and God love 'em for it.



Do you feel that rock as it was is still making a comeback?

New music used to mean something because it had value. You had radio stations compete to play the music and that competition created an audience. That competition is no longer around. You got the Internet, 600 TV stations, movies on command, Sega, cell phones. The stereo is collecting dust in the corner.



How would you describe Jackyl as a band and it's music?

As a band we're four guys collectively the end justifies the means. Cool magic that works for us. As far as our music it's good music to cop a buzz, a good release.


Do you think if Jackyl came out today, the way things are now, that you would have had the success that you did in the 90's?

Things have changed a lot, who knows. In my mind we'd be finding a way to make it happen. We wouldn't settle for not achieving our goals. We try to be realistic for our goals and shoot for the stars (laughs). We'd figure something out.



Considering that Jackyl is such a great live band, will we ever see your live album, Night of the Living Dead, again?

That record was brought in as an import. (Mayhem Records) were ripping us off. So we all barged into there offices in New York, (looking for) a guy named Mark Puma. He wouldn't give us any accounting. He had thousands of (records) in his garage and stuff was getting bootlegged. We locked the offices down. It was just a mess. If I ever see him I'll settle the score. The guy showed me no respect.



I see you also released a solo album.

I had recorded a bunch of songs that were absolutely not Jackyl songs. A guy that ran V2 Records heard the songs and wanted to put it out.



What lies ahead for Jackyl?

Touring, touring, make a new record, make a new record, touring, touring. Just keep a rocking.


Band Website: www.rockmerollmejackylmeoff.com