The year was 1992. Right Said Fred was too sexy for his shirt. Kriss Kross was making radio jump, Vanessa Williams was saving the best for last, and Jesse James Dupree and JACKYL were lumberjacking their way to a platinum debut album featuring a chainsaw as a musical instrument.
The hard driving, heavy metal sounds that dominated the late 80’s churned out bands by the dozens that more often than not, featured the same tried and true methodology: musicians wearing pounds of makeup, hair teased to the moon, and glittery, shiny glam-inspired stage costumes. Power ballads were the soup de jour, and the scene became..well..predictable. Image was sometimes MORE important than the music it would seem. But not to Jackyl.
Forming in Kennesaw, Ga in 1991, Jackyl quickly made a name for themselves with their wild, untamed, and uncouth approach to rock ‘n’ roll. Blending equal parts hard rock, heavy metal and Southern rock, Jackyl brought the metal scene back to its down-to-earth, wild, fun-loving roots. Full of tobacco spit, whiskey, and a cocky southern swagger, Jackyl relied on their music and their live performances to win over audiences. In 1992, their recipe for success yielded a platinum album for Geffen records and began a rock and roll journey that would continue and grow some 23+ years later.
Legendary Rock Interview’s SARGE recently caught up with Jesse James Dupree to find out what it is that keeps this band hitting on all cylinders.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Jesse! Hey, brother, thanks for joining us! I know you’re a busy man, but we appreciate you taking the time.
Jesse James Dupree: Hey, man! Sorry about the delay..I was gone all last week, and I’m just home today then back out tomorrow, so I’m stressing bigtime about getting everything done before I have to leave here, so..
LRI: Gotcha, gotcha. Well, let’s start off by asking you this- you guys are constantly touring, constantly on the road, looking at your tour dates, I mean, Jackyl has a Guinness World Record for most live shows..100 in 50 days..so my first question is..how do you guys do it? How do you keep going at this record pace? I mean, the knees to the breeze, pedal to the metal, 24/7..what motivates you to keep going?
JJD: Well, you know, if the truth be told, Sarge, my only real qualification in life is either driving nails or pouring concrete. That’s what I’ve done..that’s what I did before I was able to be blessed with success in the music business, so every day that I wake up and I don’t have to pour concrete or drive nails..(laughs)..is a day that I take as big a bite out of life’s ass as I can. I used to look down at my hands that would be cracked with the sulfur from pouring concrete, they’d be calloused up and bleeding from the damn, from swinging the hammer all day, and I used to say “one day..oneday..”..and when that day came, I never looked back, and every day that I open my eyes, I swear to God I think..I’m afraid I’m gonna open my eyes one day and it’s all going to have been a dream and there’s gonna be a guy outside my door honking the horn and I’m gonna have to go get in the truck and drive nails or pour concrete. So when I wake up and I get past that initial shock that I don’t have to go pour concrete, I realize, oh, no, I get to get up and I get to play with this big sound system, this big light show, I get to go do this in store promotion, or I get to tell the people about this liquor I’m celebrating that belongs to people that bust their knuckles 40, 50 hours a week or more..I mean, it comes from an honest place, you know..when I say that, I’m not just talking some line of shit. I’ll go one step further, I almost feel guilty at night when I lay down..not almost, I DO..I feel guilty at night when I lay down if I don’t lay down feeling completely worn out from work, and when you’re not slinging a hammer or pouring concrete, you know, you have to work even longer hours to get worn out, so I work 24/7.
LRI: Well, I can tell you, Jesse, we, as fans, can’t thank you enough for that. Every concert I’ve ever seen, you and the rest of the guys always bust your asses..never have I seen a night where any of you just called it in..you guys go out and kill it every single time I’ve ever seen you, and it’s double digits at this point.
JJD: Well, that’s kind of a standard we hold each other to, I mean, if one of us was to simply phone it in, the other three would be on their ass so fast, because, again, we take it extremely seriously. You know, we may not be the best musicians, but there ain’t nobody out there that means it any more than we do.
LRI: Awesome. You know, you guys are coming up on close to 25 years in the business. Lots of good bands back in the day, from the late 80’s to early 90’s..not too many of them around anymore, and the ones that are, are lucky to have a single original member. Jackyl is still sitting here with 3/5 original members, still kicking ass out on the road, packing houses..what do you think sets Jackyl apart from all of those other talented bands that didn’t make it? What do you attribute your staying power to? Was it simply the desire to succeed that you mentioned earlier?
JJD: I think that’s it’s more the reality that we didn’t base our success on whether or not we’ve been a critic’s choice, or whether or not we’ve been the flavor of the day on radio..I think we’ve been focused on the people in front of us that come out and see us, so I don’t think it’s relative to anything other than that one on one connection that we have with the audience, and when you base it on those standards, nobody can take that away. It’s never been about a record company dumping a ton of money on us, it’s never been about the critics, it’s never been about the charts- although we’ve been blessed to have a bunch of top ten hits, but it’s never been about that. It’s always been about the live show. I mean, if you think about it, they can’t take that away from you, and people can criticize if they, you know, get hung up on cliques or genres, or whatever the flavors of the day are, but..look..here’s the bottom line: Jackyl is a celebration of the fundamentals of rock and roll. We will leave saving the world and curing cancer to U2. They can write music that miraculously cures global warming..and God bless them! More power to them for doing that! I personally don’t think that you can forsake what the fundamentals of rock and roll are all about- two guitars, bass and drum, that beat, a good time, a cold drink in your hand, a beautiful woman standing beside of you shaking her ass, you know, or, for the women, to go where there’s a bunch of rock and roll gentlemen in the house, whatever the case may be, but we are a celebration of the fundamentals of rock and roll, and if anyone has a problem with Jackyl, then they’re thinking about it way too fucking hard.
JJD: If they can’t look at us and appreciate that, and appreciate the fundamentals of rock and roll..you know, they may not care about us, they may not wanna learn the words to every song, but unfortunately, the one thing they are doing is missing out, because, anyone who wants to come have fun with us..if they can’t come listen and let their hair down, escape for a few minutes..it’s the same thing- some people don’t wanna go see dramas, some people don’t wanna go see comedies, some people don’t like to go see love stories..to each his own, you know, but at the end of the day, it’s entertainment, it’s fun, it’s a release, and it’s honest. And that’s the key thing- it’s honest. Generally, you’ll find the people that don’t connect with Jackyl are the same people that have a hard time admitting that they masturbate.
LRI: HAHA! YES! I’d agree! Jackyl is feel good..it’s fun..it’s to your point, it’s a way to unwind. Folks out here putting in 40, 50, 60 hours a week, man, I don’t wanna hear a lecture about global warming..I just wanna go have a couple cold ones, be entertained..and that’s my Jackyl fix..that’s where you guys come in and you do it better than any band out there right now, man. Always have.
JJD: Thank you.
LRI: This is kind of a segue on that, and then we’ll get into some fun questions, but, again, you’ve been around for coming up on 25 years..the music industry is absolutely ass backwards from what it used to be. You signed with Geffen Records back in 92.. now folks are doing digital downloads, brick and mortar record stores are vanishing from the landscape. How do you continue as a band to grow and function with the differences in the music industry now? How do you continue to succeed today?
JJD: Um..again, we’ve just never played by other’s rules. We’ve created a universe that’s our own and pretty much thrive there. It’s a decision we made a long time ago..we’ve always been very self sufficient..self contained..and we found a niche with people that are unpretentious. Unpretentious and support our brand of rock, and it’s been a match made in Hell and we’ve been wringing it out for 20 plus years now.
LRI: Gotcha. Let me ask you..you’ve toured with, Good Lord, Aerosmith, Kiss, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, I mean, heavy hitters up and down the board..who have you NOT toured with that you would wanna tour with? I mean, what would be a dream tour mate for you?
JJD: Um..well, who wouldn’t wanna go out and play with the Rolling Stones, I mean, that would be a blessing and a dream come true..to share the stage with the Rolling Stones..but you know, we’ve been fortunate enough to have Brian Johnson from AC/DC who’s come out and done dates with us and we’ve written and recorded with him, the only band in AC/DC’s history that they’ve worked outside their group with, we’ve had Darryl from RUN DMC..which, biggest thing I love about that, is it’s a head scratcher, cause who in the fuck would have ever thought Jackyl and Darryl from DMC..he emailed me this morning and wants to come out to Chicago and Erie, PA..I mean..how cool is that? And both guys are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
LRI: Ridiculously amazing, brother..I loved “Just Like a Negro”, and..your version of “It’s Tricky”? Blew me away..I was like “are you fucking kidding me?”. Crazy.
JJD: You know, it’s just something that came together..came from an honest place. It was Darryl’s suggestion for us to do it. We were like “Oaaakaaayy”..and we knocked it out. How crazy is that?
LRI: Again- I’m not sure these is anything Jackyl can’t do..now, here’s one thing I need to know..what the hell is going on with the “Full Throttle Saloon” tv series? I was talking to Mike Ballard (owner of Full Throttle Saloon) in Myrtle Beach at a Throttle Fest event recently, and he said you guys were waiting on a phone call to determine if you’d found a new home for the series? Lots of fans emailing me asking where you are with it coming back to the air?
JJD: Well, we shot last year, we’ve been working on the edit and framing the show up..TruTv and Turner ended up having a bad run with laying off like 3500 people and they lost their contract with Dish Network for awhile, and so, we ended up getting caught up in that mess for a bit, and then they had a new president come in, and he took the network more like, you know, Impractical Jokers, and stuff like that, and so we ended up pulling the show, cause, you know, they don’t own this show, we do, so we ended up pulling it back and we’ve just been looking for another network home for it, we just haven’t settled on one yet.
LRI: ok, so you have 2014 in the can, that you’ve already shot..are you planning to shoot for this year? 2015?
JJD: Um, we’re looking at it. Right now, we haven’t 100% locked it out, but we are tentatively planning on it, yeah.
LRI: Ok, and staying in that same vein, any plans to release the show on streaming? Like Netflix? Dvd? Anything like that?
JJD: Well, it’s available on Itunes for purchase, so you can check them out there.
LRI: All seasons? On Itunes?
JJD: Yep. All there.
LRI: Sweet! Ok..wanna get into one of Sarge’s favorite topics here..everyone knows I love my Jesse James Bourbon..there was this legal deal in Tennessee trying to define what legally constitutes “Tennessee Whiskey”..you against an unnamed whiskey company there that also produces whiskey..you suffered a setback recently in April with the lawmakers siding with them..
JJD: Well, they just..the state of Tennessee really screwed up by basically trademarking what they call “Tennessee Whiskey” which is against the federal law, so, what really sucks is, that, the attorney general for Tennessee ruled that he could not defend the state in their decision and so it’s an illegal law, and so it’s really just a matter of do we take them to federal court..I mean, it’s really just them calling our bluff on whether we’ll take them to court or not, so that’s what we’ve got to decide. We can go back and fight next year to have it repealed or we could just go on and file the lawsuit in federal court which is probably what we’ll end up having to do.
LRI: Wow. I’ve tried to follow it and keep abreast of what’s happening with it, and, I don’t know, with a certain distillery giving almost $100,000 to state lawmakers last year..I mean, it almost seems like a bit of favoritism going on there..
JJD: We had all the votes we needed to have the law repealed, and in the 11th hour there was a power play, and..look…. money talks and bullshit walks. It’s sad..I mean, when you really get into the government..you see it on the news everyday, and you know the government is screwed up, but the sad thing is that 90% doesn’t directly affect you right then and there, so, you see that it’s screwed up and it sucks, and you don’t do nothing about it, but when it’s something that affects YOU and you get inside of that.. I walked around the halls of that capitol and it just made me sick..the procedure that you have to go through.
LRI: Yea..it seems common sense, I mean, if it’s a whiskey and it’s made in Tennessee, it’s a Tennessee Whiskey. How can you trademark that title?
JJD: Yea, you know, if you make a car in Tennessee, it’s a Tennessee car.
LRI: Well, unless you contribute a hundred thousand bucks, you can claim it’s NOT a Tennessee car? I don’t know..just keep up the fight, brother. You’ve got a superior product in my opinion..hell, I’ve gotten several stores here in NC to start carrying your bourbon simply by asking them to order it, so I’m trying to help!
JJD: I appreciate that..you know, NC is a tough state with strict liquor laws, but almost all of the Jesse James Spirits line can be special ordered by the case, so ask for it!
LRI: Ok..let’s jump over to Throttle Fest.I know you have Throttle Fest Chicago coming up June 26-28, Ride for Dime June 27th– that’s gonna be kick ass- these Throttle Fests, you know, you have the Myrtle Beach one, Chicago, I know have a couple others, correct? Just taking the entire show on the road..
JJD: Kansas City, Myrtle Beach, Chicago, looks like we’re adding Memphis, and possibly Greenville, SC..
LRI: Oh, WOW! YES! Greenville, SC! Please, dude! That would rock! You talking about for this year or next?
JJD: We’re gonna try to work on it for this year.
*Editor’s note: ThrottleFest Memphis was just announced for August 28-29 with tickets on sale NOW*
LRI: Awesome! It’s hard for some of us to get to Sturgis, but the fact that you guys bring it down..the whole show on the road..absolutely kick ass. I did wanna ask you about the big daddy in Sturgis (at Full Throttle Saloon)..this year happening the first week in August.. I didn’t see an entertainment lineup listed yet..are you still working to finalize it?
JJD: We had a problem with getting the new website launched, but I think it’s going up this week and all the bands will be listed, yea..
LRI: Alright, man, know you’re busy, let’s get into some fan questions that we got emailed, so let’s have some fun, you cool with that?
LRI: How many chainsaws do you take on tour? Do you have a stunt chainsaw? Is it just the one?
JJD: I generally carry a primary and a back up. But there has been times where I’ve had more than that out.. I seem to always be breaking one, so there’s always a back up.
LRI: I see, ok..now, obviously, you have lots of female fans, so..boxers or briefs, Jessie?
JJD: You know what? I don’t really wear underwear so..
LRI: (laughs) you know, it’s not really a problem if you wear a kilt, ya know? I’ve got to get you in a kilt at some point..
JJD: I don’t know if I could swing that without underwear..
LRI: That’s the only way to wear it, bro..the only way to wear a kilt..otherwise, it’s a skirt!
JJD: I’d be afraid I’d..damn..I’m too damn accident prone..you’re bolder than I am, Sarge
LRI: Alright..let’s see..ok, you’re home, you’re off..what is your favorite home cooked meal?
JJD: We’ll go to Haye’s Market and they bring in fresh fish..my favorite meal is to grill out Grouper..I love Grouper.
LRI: Nice! But you do have cornbread on the side, right?
JJD: Oh, yeah, now, if we’re talking southern cooking, I could sit down and eat a big ol’ bowl of pinto beans and cornbread mashed up in it with some slices of onion..it just don’t get no better.
LRI: I’m originally from WV, so you’re speaking my language, bro! Ok..what bands on the scene do you like? Who do you find yourself listening to?
JJD: Umm..let’ssee..lately I’ve been checking out the new stuff from..what’s the name of that damn band? Uh..Apparition? Prohibition? What the hell is that name..gritty rock and roll band..? Fuck! (yells to his assistant) What’s the name of that band? (“no idea” comes the answer).. I’m drawing a blank on it..well, fuck..well, lately it’s been a lot of “Dad come check this out” from my son, Nigel working on his new stuff, so I spend a lot of time listening to that. Immersing myself in the new material..
LRI: Cool! Well, I was gonna mention Sister Sin to you, too..I’m about to hit the road with them on the Mayhem Festival, so if you’re into old school Crue, check them out..
JJD: Well, the main thing I listen to, I have Sirius XM satellite radio and I listen to 70’s on 7, I think that’s my favorite station on there
LRI: Love it! One of my fav stations as well..love it! Ok, just a couple more questions..are you a boobs or butt man?
JJD: (pauses) butt man.
LRI: (laughs) aww, Jessie..ok..let’see..if I get you a kilt, will you wear it?
JJD: I done told you, I don’t think I’d damn..I wouldn’t do it justice..seeing how good you look in one, I don’t think I could do it justice (laughs)
LRI: (laughs) ok, man, I’ll let you go with this final question- what can fans expect from Jackyl this year and on in the future?
JJD: Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but we’ve been opening with a new track called “Blastoff”, and we are hoping to finish putting new music down so we can get a new CD out, so hopefully our schedule will allow us to do that sooner rather than later cause we’re gonna be touring a lot, but we are working on it.
LRI: Awesome! Well, I wanna say thank you…and this is from me and, I’m gonna speak on behalf of Jackyl fans everywhere, thank you for entertaining us, thank you for busting your ass on stage night after night- sometimes literally- I’ve seen you fall down…
JJD: (laughs) yeah..
LRI: Thank you for your hard work and your dedication on behalf of our men and women in uniform..our veterans..Jessie, man, I salute you, brother, I appreciate what you’ve done and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
JJD: Well thank you, and I can’t tell you how sincerely humbled we are when we look out and we see dedicated people, not only to us, but to the lifestyle, so many people at so many shows..especially in the last 5 years.. you know, more than in the past..the thing that’s came about is we have groups of people that are meeting each other at the Jackyl shows, and then they are coming out meeting each other in different towns and the meetings are getting bigger and bigger, and they are relationships that are formed at the show, and then I see them on facebook where they’re sharing stuff and making plans to come to the shows…it’s probably been one of the most humbling things I’ve seen, you know, within the band’s history, uh, to see that kind of bond happening between people that share a love and lust for the things that we celebrate in a rock and roll show. And again, you’re one of those people that I would say is part of that family, so I appreciate you always being there for us and for being patient with me while I get on the phone to do this interview with you..
LRI: Always my pleasure, Jessie..again..THANK YOU!
Jesse and Jackyl on the net:
http://www.jackyl.com – Official Jackyl Website
http://www.jessejamesspirits.com – Official Jesse James Spirits Website
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialJackyl – Official Jackyl Facebook
http://twitter.com/jackyljesse – Official Jesse James Dupree Twitter
Jesse James Dupree – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Roman Glick- Bass
Jeff Worley -Guitar
Chris Worley- Drums
Jackyl Tour Dates:
6/20/2015 Earleville, IA Romper Room
6/27/2015 Greyslake, IL Throttlefest Chicago
7/11/2015 Gettysburg, PA Gettysburg Bike Week
7/16/2015 Erie, PA Roar on the Shore
7/17/2015 Cadott, WI Chippewa Valley Rock Fest
7/18/2015 Oshkosh, WI ROCK USA Ford Festival Park
7/18/2015 Waukesha, WI Waukesha County Fair
7/24/2015 Morgantown, WV MountainFest Motorcycle Rally
8/6/2015 Sturgis, SD Full Throttle Saloon
8/15/2015 Clearfield, PA Clearfield County Fairgrounds
8/21/2015 Snyder, TX White Buffalo Bike Fest – Scurry County Coliseum
8/22/2015 Sterling Heights, MI Live & Loud Concert @ Freedom Hill Amphitheatre
9/17/2015 Ocean City, MD Cowboy Coast Country Saloon