Catching Up With Jamie St. James of Black ‘N Blue
Catching Up With Jamie St. James of Black ‘N Blue
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Hell Yeah! was almost 8 years in the making. What were some of the circumstances which led to the long delay?
Basically we should have the thing done in 8 weeks but there was a ton of craziness that was involved in getting this album completed. The first stepping stone that fell off the trail was that Jef ‘Woop” Warner lost his recording studio (due to many different circumstances) so we had to scramble to get a new studio. I then joined Warrant in 2004, which really shouldn’t have affected it that much, but I hadn’t realized (at the time) how often those guys were touring! We were doing fly outs almost every week and because I live in LA and the album was being recorded in Portland, OR my time away from the project did become greater and greater. We didn’t spend 8 years recording this thing we spent just a few weeks if you string all the time together but it was just one event after the next which delayed us but I’m so happy it’s done and I’m so proud of it because it’s such a great record.
Frontiers Records seems to be a tailor made label for Black ‘N Blue. Did Serafino come to you directly with an offer or were you shopping “Hell Yeah!” around to other labels as well?
We had run our course with Z records, which is who I had signed with first. The whole thing was based on me signing a solo deal, then turning into a Black’N Blue deal. I had gone to my management looking for some additional financial backing to complete this record. Z records were happy with just getting their money back them and after 7 years were ok with us going with someone else. My management approached Serafino and we sent them a handful of the new tracks and they snapped us up immediately. So thankfully it all worked out, they are a great label and I’m very happy to part of the Frontiers family.
Do you generally read album reviews online and what has been the feedback so far for Hell Yeah! from both the fans and critics alike?
Since the album isn’t officially coming out until May 17th I haven’t read too much in terms of reviews yet but I have gotten some emails and messages from fans who have heard portions of the new songs and generally people seem to love it so far!
Was it easy having Jef “Woop” Warner as the producer of this album as opposed to past Black’N Blue albums? You had some real industry giants helping you in the past!
It was not a problem at all because basically the entire album was written by Jef and I. We know what we are supposed to sound like and I have no questions concerning his talents in the studio. During the initial part of the recording when were still in his studio he was getting some really terrific sounds so I said fine you can do this. We ended up using a few different engineers throughout the project but Jef knew what we both wanted for Black’N Blue in 2011. Why should we spend big money on a big name producer just to have someone come in to tell us what we are supposed to sound like? I think we made the right choice!
What is the story behind the track “Jamie’s Got The Beer”?
Let me go on record as stating that I had nothing to do with this track. I had no idea they were recording this in the studio. They played me this jam and I was like ‘what the hell is that???” They said “remember that day and we got all of this beer and we were all sitting around and you started chasing this one chick and you took all the beer and left!” I guess I didn’t come back so suddenly they came up with “Jamie’s Got The Beer”. Jef has a real strange dry sort sense of humor and they ended up putting it on the record. I was like really? They were like c’mon dude it’s only a one minute track!!
I’m dying to hear what inspired the song “A Tribute to Hawking”!
Well in the song “Hail! Hail!” (which was written by Jef Warner) Patrick (Young) was telling me I sounded a bit robotic on the chorus, doesn’t sound like normal Jamie. So as a joke to Patrick I went in and tried to sound like Stephen Hawking. So I came up with those lyrics and recorded it as a joke. So Patrick was dying and so were the rest of the guys and it was not something that was supposed to be on the record. It was strictly an inside joke and nothing more. I personally would not have put it on there but those guys thought it was so funny they insisted it be included. I told them all no one is going to get it. Kave a laugh if you want otherwise just push fast forward.
All songs go through growing stages while in the studio but are there any tracks on Hell Yeah! that changed drastically over an 8 year period simply because you had so much time in putting this album together?
I had put out some demos awhile back on a CD some rare Black’N Blue demos and the song “Hell Yeah!” was on there as was ‘So Long”. Those tracks had me on vocals but an entirely different band playing on them so they do sound completely different than the finished version. That being said I’m so happy with this new record and I think it picks up right where we left off in 1988. One review I did read said “Boy they are really trying to sound 80’s”. No. We are not trying to sound 80’s we are 80’s! I cannot not be 80s!!!
What are the touring plans for Black’N Blue for 2011 and beyond?
We are doing the M3 festival on May 14 in MD playing along with Whitesnake, Tesla, Sebastian Bach, Mr. Big and a host of others. That is the only booked gig right now. We have an agent looking at different offers but nothing has been confirmed yet. If the album does well and there is a demand and it makes sense then you may see us out on the road but for right now we are just going to wait and see.
I know in the past you have done a far amount of skin pounding in and out of Black “N Blue and some other projects. Did you contribute any drumming on Hell Yeah!?
Damn you to hell for asking but yes I did. I did most of the drumming on the record and Pete did the rest of it. A lot of the songs are me playing drums but nobody is supposed to know that!!!
Jamie I have had an epiphany in terms of a very unique one night only type event which could prove quite interesting. Ted Poley vs. Jamie St. James – who is the better drummer that went on to become a top notch front man/vocalist? Ted vs. Jamie for all the glory. I think I could get a few celebrity judges..are you in?
Sure I’m in. No disrespect to Ted but what about Steven Tyler man?? I think he is the best rock drummer singer that there ever was!
Well I thought of that but he was going to be my first choice for one of the celebrity judges, he is getting quite good at it don’t you think?
Very true..but I’m in.
How many years did you perform in the KISS tribute band Cold Gin and did the band itself ever come out and see you perform?
Paul and Gene came to ever single show we did in LA. I’m pretty sure we played for two straight years. We played mostly in the LA area and we were the biggest thing in LA for awhile. I think Metal Edge stated at the time” How sad is it that the biggest rock act in LA right now is a KISS tribute band”. They did a feature on us and I think Eric and Bruce were there that night as well. The project itself came about accidentally. Tommy asked me to join the band because he knew some guy who could play this shit perfect..Jamie can do it! It was really fun for me because I got to play drums. I’m the one that insisted that when we play out we wear the makeup. This was the early stages of tribute bands. Today at this point I really cannot stand tribute bands by and large; just too many and I cannot stomach it at this point. But back when we did it there wasn’t any really who took it to the next stage like we did. Paul and Gene would actually help us put the makeup on and tell us exactly how to do it right. We played one of Paul Stanley’s birthday parties. We toured Japan. We played all across America and really had fun with it. Tommy Thayer has known every Ace Frehley note since he was 17 years old..so for him it was easy. Ace is one of his idols. It hurts me when folks give Tommy crap for being in KISS. He is so good at it and really plays homage to him and his legacy as KISS continues on and makes records and tours. He loves Ace. I love Ace. We have had several hang sessions where we just sit and talk for hours and listen to the stories about the old days. You cannot beat it!
If you had to pick one moment from the past as a highlight of your years in Black’N Blue what would it be and why?
I would say the first arena show we ever did with Aerosmith in 1984 opening up in front of 14,000 people. That night I was so scared I finally understood what folks meant when they would say “your knees were knockin” After like the 2nd song I was fine but that was a highlight. Also opening for KISS in 1985 in NYC at Madison Square Garden was unreal.
I enjoyed your time in Warrant and truly thought Born Again was a great rock record. They are now label mates with you at Frontiers so your part of the same family sort of speak. Have you heard any of the new material with Robert Mason and do you think he fits the band well?
I have heard him perform in Warrant and I think he is an excellent singer and I think he is really good for the band and I wish him well. I’ve only heard one new song I think but it sounded very cool. I met him at NAMM this year and we shook hands and I wished him well. Super nice guy. I hope the record does very well. Fans are always going to pine for the return of Jani but for now they will strive forward and do the best album they can. I think they will do very well with Robert Mason.
Hell Yeah! is not a one and done comeback for Black’N Blue I hope?
I think it is really like a new beginning for us as a band. I want to do another record really badly very soon. Yea maybe we won’t take 8 years like last time but we do like to take out time and not just release something to keep our name out there. We want to make sure it’s good. Like taking “Hell Yeah!” to another level. I’ll give it my best shot.