Catching Up With Jesse James Dupree Of Jackyl
Jackyl’s Jesse James Dupree is not a fan of idle hands. When he’s not rocking out with Jackyl he’s brewing his Jesse James America’s Outlaw Beer or co-producing Full Throttle Saloon, a realith show on Tru-TV. Amidst all of that, the band is preparing to head out for a summer full of tour dates, including three New England Stops so be there!
I recently caught up with the outspoken, unapologetic rocker himself to talk about all things Jesse James and Jackyl.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
So Jackyl is set to hit the road for the start of another summer tour (check out the full list of tour dates at the end of this interview). Will this be a continuation of the When Moonshine and Dynamite Collide 2010 tour or will this be a brand new set list with yet another new Jackyl direction?
Kind of a little bit of both. That album has only been out about a year now and there still fans getting a taste of that record in different markets so we feel there is still a lot of work to do in order to turn the fans onto it. We are not letting up on that gas pedal at all. But at the same time we will have a few new Jackyl surprises that will make their way into the set pointing into the direction of some brand new material. We love our ability to road test the new songs before he hit the studio. That’s what made the difference on When Moonshine and Dynamite Collide which is why he had so many people telling us that the record had the same energy as the first Jackyl album. I think the main reason why people did get that perspective was because we road tested all of those tracks before we recorded them.
In 2001 less than a month after the 9/11 attacks Jackyl released “Open Invitation” which featured the lyric “I hate you Bin Laden”. The song mixed in lyrics from George C Scott as General Patton and President Bush reading from the Bible and Psalm 23. The band explained that the song was written in the key of anger and was directed towards those “assholes” responsible. Now that Bin Laden is dead can we expect a Jackyl sequel in a celebration of the event?
HA-HA. Ironically we had just flown out of the Boston airport the day before the attacks. We had played a Pot Festival in Maine that weekend and we had wanted to take some pot home with us but we knew we had to go through security at Logan and figured there was no way we could take that pot back with us. When we got to the airport we were all joking with each other because security was so lax. We literally walked through open steel gates when we were dropped off right to the gate for our connecting flight home and no one checked us. That’s the truth and we were joking that we could have brought all that pot with us. We flew home and the next day the Twin Towers were down. You can imagine what was going though our minds and how creepy that was for all of us. We were just there joking about how the security was a joke and then this happens. So just like the rest of the country it was staggering to realize how vulnerable we all were. Like everyone else after a week or so of being in a daze we tried to pick up and move forward with recording a new album. It was very tough to just go back to creating a beer drinking feel good rock n roll song. The way that we went in to clear our heads was to go in and record that song as a stream of consciousness. It was very therapeutic for all of us. We just laid it down and put it up on the internet as a free download and went back to work on the record. We didn’t realize at the time until someone told us in the studio that they shut the EarthLink servers down due to the heavy traffic created by this one song. They fined our asses $10,000 for the act. That was the only song that ever charted on the Rock Billboard charts without ever having the benefit of being released as a single. The Red Cross and various Firefighter organizations had asked permission to add the single to some compilation releases to help raise money and awareness so we did allow that. The song was embraced by the military and their families so we did press some singles up to be passed out to those folks. Even to listen to that song now almost 10 years later and for anyone who remembers how they felt on those days right after the attacks the tracks gives justification of why we went after him in the first place and why we were a continued presence in that part of the world. Anyone who doesn’t see that can kiss my ass.
Talk to me about Jesse James America’s Outlaw Beer. Who came up the concept and what makes it so unique?
First off it’s whole wheat non filtered beer combined with a blend of Pale, Caramel, and Munich malts. It’s brewed in the original hometown of the real Jesse James (Clay County, Missouri. It’s American made – somewhat of a rarity in this day and time!! It’s just a celebration of the outlaw in everybody! There are so many Americans out there busting their knuckles 40-50 hours a week or more and I wanted to be able to offer something that represents the true American spirit. This is not about some big ass campaign that Anheuser-Bush or Miller shoves down your throat, it’s more of the spirit of Middle America where we can all point our middle finger at corporate giants spending millions of dollars to have us by into their ideas.
Will fans be able to get a taste at various stops throughout the tour?
We are about 500 cases back ordered at the moment. I’ve got customers in Texas and Oklahoma going onto Kansas and Missouri buying it and taking it back to their states by the trunk load just like in Smokey and the Bandit! We currently are in Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, South Dakota and soon to be in Ohio; we just cannot keep up with the demand. I’m having to seriously look at expanding production at the brewery because we cannot keep up with it all. Believe me it’s a great problem to have but it’s unfortunate because I have great folks like you in the Boston area (for instance) pressing me because they cannot get it. So trust me I’m all over about wanting to get it everywhere and I didn’t expect to take off like it has.
How did you become involved with Full Throttle Saloon, the reality TV show broadcast on TruTV?
I’m executive producer of that show and have been involved in the production end of TV for about 6 years now. I was the producer of the MTV show Two A Days in 2006-2007 which chronicled the lives of teens at Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama and members of the football team and how they balanced athletics with school and relationships. That show was nominated for an Emmy Award. I’ve worked on several pay for views and now have the Full Throttle Saloon reality show. We will have cameras rolling when up in the New England area so make sure you make it down to one of our gigs!! This show is funny, quirky, and has a little bit for everyone so please check it out. We will be opening a brand new saloon up your way in Laconia, NH and Jackyl will be playing during the start of Bike Week in June!!
Jackyl holds two Guinness Book of World Records – one for playing 100 concerts in 50 days and another for performing 21 concerts in a 24-hr period. Which was tougher?
I’d have to say they were both really grueling. In fact I was so wiped out after that 50 day period I had to be hospitalized out of pure exhaustion. My body literally shut down. I’m embarrassed to say that but it’s the truth. It was a promotion, we had set out to complete in support of “Choice Cuts” a greatest hits release and I think we earned the moniker of “The Hardest Working Band in Rock n Roll”. I’m very proud of that accomplishment.
What is your best memory about performing at Woodstock 1994?
That rotating stage was something else. I remember that stage turning around and seeing 600,000 fans all at once, it was like a sea of ants!! Unbelievable feeling we all had of playing in front of that many people all at once. Definitely a career highlight! Just seeing that was awesome, let alone being part of the show. We were just starting our 2nd tour after playing gigs with KISS, Aerosmith, Damn Yankees, ZZ Top and a host of others on tour for the first record. The mud, the rain, the fans..all great memories.
You have collaborated with singer AC/DC singer Brian Johnson first on the 1997 tune “Locked and Loaded” and the 2002 song “Kill the Sunshine”. No other band can hold that distinction. How did you get so lucky?
We are just fortunate to have Brian as a good friend. He’s been a Jackyl supporter since the first record and the fact that he wanted to work with us..it’s better than winning a Grammy!! He’s everything you would expect the singer of AC/DC to be and more! I just spoke to Brian last week as he is out supporting his new autobiography doing some press and book signings and hope to see him if our schedules permit. Great guy and I wish him all the luck with his new book.
Is the Jackyl song ‘She Loves My Cock” on the first album really about a fetish for a pet rooster? After all there are cocks at the beginning of the video for “Push Comes to Shove” so my assumption is not unwarranted.
HA-HA-HA. The reason that song exists at all is because of Iggy Pop and the song ‘Cock in My Pocket”. As a young musician being turned onto Iggy and basically learning from the master that there are never any boundaries on what you can create as an artist. It allowed me basically to step across that line of what is considered dangerous, as least lyrically, to the mainstream listener. It’s almost like the first time you do something in your own life that is dangerous. Stepping out there and doing something crazy. That was my first step in that direction musically. The actual song lyrics came from a porno flick called “Any Time Any Place” from 1981 starring Seka. The male lead character’s name was “Skinner” and she was performing on him and had looked up at him at one point and stated “Skinner I Love You”..in which he replied “You don’t love me you just love my cock!”. What an arrogant thing to say!! In time of course I started to say it myself which then led to the track. K-mart refused to sell our first record which led of course to us playing in front of the store on a flatbed truck and the rest is history.
If the owners and producers of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre approached you about doing a cameo in yet another sequel along with contributing to the album’s soundtrack would you do it?
Yes. Of course. Roger..make that call!! Who knows maybe the producers are part of your regular readers!!
What is the biggest difference between Jackyl signed to Geffen records in 1992 and Jackyl in 2011?
We have always stayed true to what we do. I don’t think there is any huge difference in that we are and have always been straight ahead rock with guitars, bass, drums and chainsaws. We have the advantage now to step back and look at ourselves for a minute and make our own decisions. You don’t have that as a new band because you are constantly trying to prove yourself to an industry that only cares about you making a profit for them. Jackyl is a celebration of the fundamentals of rock n roll. If you look back at guys first jamming back in the 1950’s and then see the crowds of fans enjoying them and asked them what is about this new rock n roll that you like? None of them ever stated that they wanted to go out and save the world or anything like that. If you had told them a guy named Bono was going to come around in a band called U2 and save the planet they would have said they wouldn’t give a damn. Because at that time rock n roll was about the beat, it was about them stimulating their glands jumping in and out of those big old oversized back seats they had in the cars back in those days. Those are the fundamentals of rock n roll and that’s what it was built on. If you try and bring it up to me any other way I’d say you are full of shit. In the commercialism of it all and the arrogance of it all I feel it has (at times) gotten lost. Jackyl is a tribute to those fundamentals and I’m proud of it. Someone will attempt to overanalyze it and us and miss out. If you sit at home..you’ve overanalyzed it. The rest of us will be at the Jackyl show having a damn good party.
If you look back that period of the early 1990’s when that first album came out do you feel an even bigger sense of accomplishment as an artist that you were signed at all given the state of the music climate at the time which was changing drastically and that maybe time had passed Jackyl by?
I agree that if Jackyl had come out in the 1970’s or the 1980’s the Jackyl story may have some different chapters. Having said that I don’t have a problem with how the story exists today and how the events have played out. I think there is something to be said given all the bands that came out in that two year period of 1991-1993, if you weren’t from Seattle or a grunge band you didn’t break out or sell anything. Nobody wanted to know you if you were just about straight good time rock n roll. Jackyl has sold over 3 million records and that’s something I’m very proud of. Even though the flavor of the day was going against almost everything we were doing and held dear we still had success. That means a lot and it was still a pretty amazing accomplishment. I know for a fact that in 1992 WAAF (107.3 in Boston) had us on heavy rotation even though the climate was changing. All of the events of my life and career that have stemmed from my success in that band so how can I not be satisfied? Hell yeah..my dreams have come true 10 times over anything I thought I would ever accomplish and I’m not finished yet. Someone who doesn’t live in my shoes may not comprehend the magnitude of it all or not even care..and that’s ok. I don’t have a damn thing to bitch about. I’ve poured concrete to make a living, I’ve built houses to make ends meet, I know what it like to look down on my hands and have the sulfur from the concrete cracking my palms. Once again the responsibility of me representing the fundamentals of rock n roll with my soul comes first and foremost. I’m celebrating with those people that work hard for a living and will raise a beer with them loud, proud, hard and honest.
What can fans expect from Jackyl and Jesse James Dupree coming to see your show on this summer tour?
It will be everything you love about straight ahead rock n roll and it’s more about being a part of the show than just going to the show. They are going to hear everything they want to hear, sing along with us and just have a night they will not soon forget. We admittedly have not been up in the New England area as much as should have been. We have been finding ourselves being pulled to the midwest and middle America, playing tons of summer festivals every year. We don’t get up to the Northeast as much as we should have so I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and really hoping you get the word out to our fans to go once..go twice..just go!!
Catch Jackyl on tour:
5/28 CENTREVILLE, VA BULL RUN REGIONAL PARK – THUNDERFEST