Jim Gillette on Nitro’s Reunion – “We Didn’t Get it Right Until Now”

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Jim Gillette on Nitro’s Reunion:
“We Didn’t Get it Right Until Now”

Interview by Robert Cavuoto

Nitro is reuniting with founding members; legendary guitarist Michael Angelo Batio, glass-shattering vocalist Jim Gillette and revered metal drummer Chris Adler from Lamb of God & ex-Megadeth.

They are currently working on a new CD due out this Spring with Grammy-winning producer Josh Wilbur who produced Lamb of God, Avenged Sevenfold, KORN, Megadeth, Hatebreed and many more. 

I caught up with vocalist Jim Gillette to discuss the reunion and the planned CD.

Jim Gillette (photo by Stephen Jensen)
Jim Gillette (photo by Stephen Jensen)

Nitro logo

Robert Cavuoto: Why is now the right time for Nitro to reunite?

Jim Gillette: As for the right time, I don’t know. About a month ago, I was sitting with my lady on the porch and I got a call from Michael, “We just got offered a record deal!” He asked if I wanted to do it? I turned to my girl and asked her if she wants to travel the world? She said let’s do.

Robert: Who was the record deal with?

Jim Gillette: We didn’t peruse. It just spurred the idea, strange how it all worked out. I guess it was the shot in the ass that we needed.

Robert: Are you still recording a new CD?

Jim Gillette: We are going into the studio on December 17th. We are using producer Josh Wilbur. He is the real deal and we are excited to work with him as we never had the opportunity to work with an “A” guy. Having Chris Alder on drums is amazing. As Michael and I were working on the songs, he asked who I thought we should get on drums. I said there is only one choice, Chris Adler! A week later we got a hold of him and he accepted.

Robert: How far have you gotten with the writing?

Jim Gillette: We have an album worth of material done. What’s funny is I haven’t written anything for myself in 20 some odd years so I just let the flood gates open. I was like “Damn I have a lot of shit in there!” [laughing].

Robert: Were you writing together in person or by email?

Jim Gillette: We’ve been doing it both ways. I would send him vocals and he would come up with the music. Other times he would send me riffs and I would put vocals to it. I went to Chicago to his studio and hung out for a little while. That’s where the bulk of the material came from. I think we wrote 7 or 8 songs while I was there.

Robert: What type of vibe does the CD have?

Jim Gillette: It’s very, very heavy. I don’t think you can get any heavier. It’s funny the first run with Nitro we started off super heavy. I don’t want to blame anyone as we had the ultimate decision, but it got shaped and molded by guys in suits that had no clue. All they wanted us to do was to sing higher and play faster. It spun out of control. If the goal was to be the fastest and the highest; we achieved our goal. We just had the wrong goal [laughing]. Our goal should have been to write some kick ass heavy metal. You have to bend a little otherwise the checks stop coming. This time we didn’t have any men in suits telling us what to do. We are doing what we always envisioned what Nitro should be.

Classic Nitro promo photo

Robert: Back in the day you guys looked like pretty boys with the hair and makeup but you weren’t anything like that; you were bad ass. The image didn’t match the sound of the band.

Jim Gillette: That’s what I’m talking about. We were an LA band and everything coming out of LA looked like Poison. The label wanted us to fit that mold. We went along with them. When people would see us live, they couldn’t believe it as we were in jeans and t-shirts. No make-up or high hair. We would just rock the shit out of them. That’s how we envisioned it from the beginning.  That’s why we are so excited this time around. We can do what’s in our hearts. We had all this talent and we didn’t get it right until now. If we don’t get it right this time we’ll have nobody to blame [laughing].

Robert: Speaking of the hair and make-up, was that all your hair in the videos?

Jim Gillette: It was mine except for some extensions in the back for length. That was all mine up top. What’s funny was that I let it grow longer than that later on. People thought it was a wig because it was so high. Girls would come to rehearsal and bring food, hair spray, and make-up. They would even do our hair. I can’t take credit for it; some girl who I don’t remember did it. The label gave us strict instructions as they wanted to approve the clothes and see the hair up high. As a matter fact there was a second Nitro promo photo of us in jean and t-shirts. I was wearing a baseball hat with my hair in a ponytail and they were livid. It was an indie label and surprisingly we sold a lot of albums without having any money behind us. In a way it worked, it caused controversy and people talked. You had two camps back in the day. The haters that thought we were glam pussys and the lovers that would say these guys were killer and can play. Either you thought we were the second coming or shit in a blender; there was no in between.

Robert: Will it be difficult to get up to speed vocally for the album and tour after all these years?

Jim Gillette: Michael thinks it’s better than before. He thinks it’s because I haven’t been killing my voice over the last 20+ years. I’ll let everyone decided when they hear the CD. With Adler and Michael I can be talking and it will sound bad ass.

NITRO (photo by Stephen Jensen)
NITRO (photo by Stephen Jensen)

Robert: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask, what did you think of your ex-wife’s; Lita Ford’s book?

Jim Gillette: I have not read it. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. [laughing]

Until new Nitro music is available, here’s some classics from the band:

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