Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview With Zebra's Randy Jackson

Interview By Keith McDonald

Zebra broke into the hard rock scene with the release of their self-titled debut album. With their hits ‘Tell Me What You Want’ and ‘Who’s Behind The Door’ their album was certified Gold selling right out of the box. But the band didn’t match the success of that release with the albums ‘No Tellin’ Lies’ and ‘3.V ‘ despite some rather good songs. As MTV abandoned bands from their era, Zebra kept going playing gigs mostly around the East Coast and their hometown of New Orleans. But 2003 sees the release of their fourth studio album, ‘Zebra IV’ and a tour to follow. I recently had the opportunity to speak with signer/guitarist/songwriter Randy Jackson who gave me some insight on the band. You can check out their website at www.thedoor.com for more information.


Why so long for a new studio release? It has been some time.

We didn't have a label to finance the recording after 1986 but eventually (recently) technology allowed us to produce the entire thing ourselves at minimum cost with better quality than all the previous records. I was involved in the development of an interactive musical instrument called "The Key" from 1992 to 1996. The instrument allowed anyone to play a guitar-like instrument (The Key) along with videos or CDs. I oversaw the programming of the music. We encoded a lot of Videos that came out during that time period (Page and Plant "Unleaded", Aerosmith's "Big Ones", The Who's "30 Years of Maximum R&B" among them). If you have any of the videos we worked on you will see our "KEY" logo on the back that identifies the tape as being "interactive". We recorded the drums for "Zebra IV" in New Orleans in 1996. Guy got breast cancer that year which slowed the process down a bit. I took a break to do "The Sign”. I think that this CD just means more to me than the others and I wanted to make SURE I got it right both musically and lyrically.


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Are you releasing the album yourselves or having a label do it? If by yourself, how hard is it doing it yourself?

It is on "Frontiers" in Europe and it is on "Mayhem" here in the U.S. We are doing a LOT of the promotion ourselves. It is a lot of work but we have a lot of help from our fans who have volunteered their time!



Is the new album more towards the first album's sound or different?

Some of the songs (Arabian Nights, KK is Hiding, Light of My Love) lean a lot more towards my Led Zeppelin influence than on the 1st record. The rest is a variety of styles but all very representative of Zebra. The one song that is very different for us is "Waiting To Die"



Are you still the primary songwriter or do Felix and Guy help out?

I wrote all the songs and got some help on "Free" from Felix and Guy. I wrote "Arabian Nights" with Mark Hitt.



Were you surprised at how well your debut album sold right out of the box? I believe it was the fastest selling Atlantic Records debut at the time.

We had a LOT of fans back then but I think everyone was shocked when it came out of the box like it did.



Will you tour in support of the release? If so, will it be worldwide or just the U.S?

We will tour the U.S. but I really want to get over to Europe. We just have to figure out the best way to go about it.



Many people think Zebra broke up, yet you've been touring since day 1. How do you keep going?

We never broke up. We always played live shows. The fans keep us going and we have a great time on stage.



Are your Atlantic albums still available or out of print?

The 1st CD and the "Live" CD are still available from Atlantic. The others are available at our website. www.thedoor.com



I see you released a 'Best of' in '98. Is that still available?




How well did 'China Rain' do and will there be a new Randy Jackson album?

China Rain never got a fair shake. I do plan a solo acoustic CD in the near future!



Did you ever consider becoming a four-piece band considering that at the time you came out, MTV was so into the "look" of a band?

No. The challenge was always keeping it 3 piece. Except for Chili Willie on Sax it will remain that way.



Did Atlantic Records promote 'No Tellin' Lies' and '3.V'? It didn't seem that they did.

I think they should have promoted them more in New York and Louisiana. A lot of our hard core fans still don't know we had 2 other records after the 1st.



What made Zebra move from New Orleans to Long Island?

Better chance at record company exposure. We also knew we would learn a lot about the business quickly up here.



Do you feel you made any mistakes with the release of 'No Tellin' Lies" that you would have like to change if you could?

We shouldn't have released it. We were rushed to get it out and we didn't have time to digest what we had done. A lot of radio stations complained that they couldn't hear the vocal in the 1st cut "Wait Until The Summer's Gone" when we shipped out the promo copies. We re-mixed it but by then it was too late.



What single is going to radio?

"Arabian Nights" is first. "Why" will probably be second.



What lies ahead for Zebra?

Rock Rock Rock!

Visit Zebra at www.thedoor.com


Write to us at

P.O. Box 1487
Selden, NY 11784

Band Website: www.thedoor.com