By Jeb Wright
Jesse James Dupree is a busy man these days. I caught up with him for a brief chat while he was busy helping rebuild the Full Throttle saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota to discuss Jackyl’s new album, titled Rock Out With Your Cock Out. The place burned down, and the future of the iconic bar and TV show seemed to be in peril. Jesse does not ‘do defeat’, however, and while we were conducting this interview he was actually supervising wiring projects at the new and improved facility.
Jackyl is not a band that spends too much time trying to figure things out. They just ‘do’. They crank it up and have fun. They sing from the heart and write from the crotch; their new album is no exception.
Check out the interview below to learn more about the new saloon, the new album and how Jesse is not influenced lyrically by either Bono or Bruce Springsteen.
Jeb: I am loving ROWYCO.
Jesse: I’m proud of it and I appreciate you taking the time to check it out.
Jeb: Jackyl is a band… I’ve interviewed you enough that you know I mean this with respect. Jackyl may not be the hardest music to play, but you get what you get and it is going to be solid, and it is going to rock, and it going to make you laugh at times. You keep doing what you do and you do it well…
Jesse: We are very honest about what we do—I guess that’s the way to put it. We stick to it. I’ll leave it up to Bono and Bruce Springsteen to write a song that will actually cure cancer. They seem to think they can do that anyway. We celebrate the fundamentals of rock ‘n’ roll every day. I do my share of celebrity rides and motorcycle charity events and organizations. When it comes down to rock ‘n’ roll we don’t try to blow smoke up our ass—its rock ‘n’ roll, you know.
Jeb: You sound very busy. What’s going on?
Jesse: We are in the middle of getting this damn Full Throttle rebuilt. Look, I’m proud of the record. I think it has a thicker sounding production than we’ve ever had. Hopefully this won’t be our last and we can just keep kicking it.
Jeb: When my wife tells me I am acting like a teenager, I tell her Jesse is older than me and his last album is called “Rock Out with Your Cock Out.”
Jesse: [much laughter] That’s right. Use me as a bad example!
Jeb: How do you come up with that stuff? Are you test tasting your liquor when you think this up?
Jesse: Absolutely! Actually, the title came from my buddy Johnny Dare in Kansas City. Johnny had posted that picture and said he had found a picture of me when I was a kid. “Rock Out With Your Cock Out” goes perfect with that big-ass rooster sitting there. I think that picture comes from the early 1900s so we snagged it and used it. I think it is public domain.
Jeb: Are these all new songs?
Jesse: We recorded this right after the Full Throttle burned down. It burned down in September and I started recording in October. It was a good time to throw myself into the music. It was a perfect time to make that happen.
Jeb: Do you write all new songs or do you carry over riff to riff from album to album?
Jesse: A lot of this stuff kind of poured out of me like it had been around forever. I seriously just started laying down the riffs and stuff and started bringing the guys in as needed. Several of these songs we road tested before we actually committed to the final versions. We wrote the songs in pieces and then as it came together we’d learn them and then we’d go out and play them. It seems like that’s the best way for us to do it.
Jeb: Are you playing opening night of Full Throttle?
Jesse: No, we won’t play the opening night. Our night is always Thursday night which is the peak of the rally and that’s when most people are there. We are playing some of the new songs already like “Rally” and “Blast Off” and “Just Because I’m Drunk” (Don’t Mean You’re Right).
Jeb: That song is funny.
Jesse: That’s a drinkin’ song. I turned on a country radio station recently and it made me physically sick. These guys that call themselves country singers---I bet they’ve never laid a yard of concrete or built a house. I’m not saying all of them, but a lot of them you can tell they’ve never had a clue about putting in a hard day’s work. It’s pretty hard to write and sing a drinkin’ song if you ain’t put in a real day’s work.
Jeb: You have some country roots for a rocker.
Jesse: I’ve got a lot of country roots. I was raised on Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings and that kind of thing. All Jackyl is is a country band turned up to 12.
Jeb: Do you write lyrics on the spot? I can’t see you sitting for hours agonizing over the words. Yet the lyrics are part of your appeal.
Jesse: It just comes honestly… I’m not trying to be pretentious or trying to impress anybody. I know Bono and Springsteen tend to think they can walk on water when it comes to that shit, but at the end of the day even their best stuff is the mindless stuff [chuckles].
Jeb: I think you just called your own lyrics ‘mindless.’
Jesse: Well, that’s okay. That’s the way it should be. You should not be overthinking it. What I mean by mindless is that it is just stuff you sing from the soul and from the heart. You should not sing stuff that is super overthought and calculated. You need to write from the seat of your pants versus them trying to sit there and mathematically put something together.
Jeb: The best rock ‘n’ roll seems to come from the crotch.
Jesse: That is what I just said in a different way [laughs].
Jeb: The band has a good chemistry. A lot of bands that have been around as long as you are not putting out new albums. People may think it is because you have the TV show, but I think it is more than that…
Jesse: The band is touring just as much as before the show as it is after the show. Nothing has changed as far as that goes. We are still here because we are honest about what we do and we’ve made an honest connection with people who grew up the way we did. I am talking about mommies and daddy’s who let their kids watch HeeHaw on Saturday night.
Jeb: Tell me this Jesse… What does it take to rebuild the Full Throttle? You’re doing a lot of the hands-on work.
Jesse: I’m here with twelve guys who are busting their ass. I am in there with them and we are moving picnic tables around and we are installing the kitchen equipment and putting coolers into place. We are rewiring the place. I have about ten projects going on at the same time and I am bouncing around all of them while talking to you.
Jeb: What burned it down?
Jesse: It was a faulty extension cord. I was in Jacksonville, Wyoming when it happened. I watched it burn down on TV and went to the airport at 5:30 in the morning and rented a car and drove five hundred miles to Sturgis. I watched the ashes and I just stood there and cried. It was bad.
We moved down the road five miles and we bought 600 acres and we doubled down and we are making it bigger and better.
Jeb: How did you and Michael Ballard meet?
Jesse: We met about twenty years ago. I was booked in there to play the first year he had the Full Throttle and that is how we met. We made fast friends.
Jeb: ROWYCO has zero chainsaw solos.
Jesse: There is no chainsaw on this record but it still rocks just as much.
Jeb: Will you do a full tour?
Jesse: We have a full tour coming. We’ve been touring our asses off. I am taking a couple of weeks off to open the Throttle. We hit the road pretty solid and this year has been no exception, we’ve been hitting it pretty solid.
Jeb: Your son still playing in a band?
Jesse: He is playing with a band called Waylon now, so he is doing really good. Check them out.
Jeb: I am glad to hear things are going well for you, Jesse.
Jesse: Life is good. I can’t complain. I could be pouring concrete. If I had to in order to feed my babies then I would, but this is a good day today.
Jeb: What is the difference between TV Jesse and Jackyl Jesse?
Jesse: Nothing is really any different. I am just who I am. Momma would whup me otherwise.
Jeb: Are you as wild as people think you are?
Jesse: It depends. All of us have moments where we can be wild as hell. Then there is a time to go to Church in your Sunday clothes and act like a civilized person. I’ve been blessed to have great people around me and I do my best to just live and learn.
Jeb: Any last words on the record?
Jesse: Just rock out with your cock out, you know. Keep cranking that shit up. Come out and see us on the road.
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