Jesse James Dupree may be the hardest working man in rock and roll. He has his own beer and his own booze. He stars in a reality show and he still finds time to write, record and tour with his band, Jackyl.
On July 31st, Jesse and his son Nigel will make rock and roll history when they become the first father and son team to release albums on the same day. The new Jackyl, Best in Show, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the band. The band have outdone themselves as it is the best album they have released since the beginning of their career.
In the interview that follows, Jesse discusses the new album, the decision to remake the rap song, "It's Tricky" and the rock classic "Cover of the Rolling Stone." We also talk about the band, how they continue on and succeed in spite of the music industry and the fact that we both like poontang much better than fowl.
Jeb: Best of Show is the best Jackyl album since the debut.
Jesse: I am blown away that you just said, because I know you don’t say things like that lightly.
Jeb: Well, the last song, the rap song, “It’s Tricky” with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC fame, is not my cup of tea, as rap makes me break out in a rash. The rest of the album, though, is killer.
Jesse: Now, that was just a bonus track and it is something that you didn’t pay for [laughter].
Jeb: Oh, I know you did the first rock rap ever on “Dirty Little Mind,” so I can see where you’re coming from.
Jesse: Darryl is a legend. It was actually his idea for us to do that. I will say this straight up, what an honor it was for us.
You know better than anybody, as you and I have talked about the industry before. We pretty much stay in our box of what we do, and we are honest about who we are. Every now and then, we get a Get Out of Jail Free card and do something that we enjoy. If you over analyze it, then you’re missing the point. I won’t make any excuses about it; we love it. If someone wants to discount the whole rest of the record, because they don’t like that song, then they are missing out.
Jeb: I will admit it made me smile the first time I heard it.
Jesse: You don’t really hear me rap. I let Darryl do his thing and I chime in, now and then. It was an honor to have him want to do that with us.
Jeb: When a musician makes a new album they are very close to it and can’t be totally objective. That said were there moments where you knew you were making a damn good album?
Jesse: In all honesty, we all felt something good was going down on this record. There is a lot of energy with everything going on right now. I have the Full Throttle Salon reality show, which was the number one show in it’s time slot among the cable networks. I’ve got the Jesse James bourbon that is in 33 states in only six months. People that bust their ass working 40 to 50 hours a week can now have a bourbon that they can call their own. I’ve got my son, whose debut record is coming out the same day as this Jackyl album, which is the first father and son debut, on the same day, in rock and roll history. I could keep going. I think all of this created a great environment to make a great rock and roll record.
Jeb: Nigel’s album is damn good. You must be a proud papa.
Jesse: I really am. He has his own sound and he does his own thing. At the same time, we both share a common denominator in this, as we both celebrate the fundamentals of rock and roll. That is what Jackyl’s music is and that is what his music is.
Jeb: Have you been tempted to collaborate with Nigel?
Jesse: He is like any man out there, I need to let him have his space and I need to let him feel comfortable to make his own way. He doesn’t want to ride his old man’s coattails.
He is in a special place with his songwriting right now. I think when the time is right, and it happens naturally, then it will happen. It is not like we’ve not thought about it; we’ve even talked about it. I don’t think we will do it just for the sake of doing it. We don’t want to force it.
Jeb: Us old bulls need to let the young ones have room to run.
Jesse: Exactly. I am still having a hard time realizing that he is 22 years old. When I think of us writing songs together I am thinking they will be called, “Are We There Yet?” or “Mama, I’m Through Come Wipe Me.” I am just blown away that he is grown and doing so well. He has a monster guitar sound and a great band and he’s doing good.
Jeb: There is another remake on Best of Show and that is the Dr. Hook classic “Cover of the Rolling Stone.” I first heard the song and I thought it was classic, then you Jackyl-ized it by adding the “We Will Rock You” drum beat and the chainsaw solo. Where did this idea come from?
Jesse: It is really just a belligerent version of that song. On one regard, it is very true to the original version, but it has just been bastardized with inflections of different things in it. I don’t know who else will recognize the cleverness in it. I am not saying that I am clever and that I planned it all out—it is clever the way that it just all worked out.
We were in the studio and Jeff [Worley] said, “Do you plan on doing anything with the chainsaw on this record?” I very rarely make plans to do anything, things just happen. I told him that I didn’t really have anything.
He got me to thinking and, in the back of my mind, I was wondering if I should do something with it. We were recording the record, so I decided to just let it go and not do anything with the chainsaw, unless something came up and presented itself.
We’ve always done some crazy little things on each album. I had the thought to cut a version of “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” as we’re both cut from the same cloth. There was no way anyone would have expected to see Dr. Hook on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and nobody would every have thought that Jackyl would be around for twenty years.
I grabbed an acoustic, and Chris [Worley] and Roman [Glick] got around the microphone, and we laid down a version that was true to the original. It was cool, but there was no way we were going to release that.
The guy that runs my studio has some old bootleg tracks of Queen and we were talking about that and the “We Will Rock You” drumbeat was in my head. I started doing the drumbeat.
The truth is I was jacked up on Ambien and I had drunk some liquor. I was at the house lying on the couch, flipping through CNN and Fox, just trying to figure out what the truth is. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I decided that I should put that drumbeat on that song.
I staggered up to the studio, which is in the building out behind my house, and laid that version down. It ended up so cool. The next thing you know, I realized that drumbeat allowed me a place to do a chainsaw solo, so I put it down.
Jeb: This album is not just remakes. You have some great original songs. Talk about the title track.
Jesse: The lyrics to that song are probably my favorite, because it, lyrically, exemplifies who we are as a band. We’ve been kicking it out for twenty years and if you listen to those words, then you can tell it comes from an honest place.
Jeb: Speaking of lyrics on the new album, “I like poontang better than chicken” is classic Jackyl. Where the fuck did you come up wit that?
Jesse: We’ve been doing that chorus part live for a while. I would sing that over the drumbeat before I went into “Dirty Little Mind.” We would have this beat going on and I would go, “I like poontang better than chicken” and the crowd just loved it. It grew from there and I would just go, “I like poontang” and they would all yell back, “better than chicken.”
I knew that I could not ignore this, as it was such a natural thing that I had to make it into a song. I came up with a groove for it and we wrote a great rock and roll song.
Jeb: You and I are not Nigel’s age anymore. Do you ever come up with this shit and just start laughing out loud?
Jesse: You know, I never cease to entertain myself, and that’s a fact. I really think that is the key to my insanity.
Jeb: In this day and age, no one is going to support this on radio.
Jesse: It doesn’t matter. If you listen to these new songs like “Better than Chicken,” “Screwdriver” and “Encore,” then they are made for our live show. It does not matter if these songs ever see the light of day at radio, because they will be in our set and people will end up singing the hell out of them.
On the last album we had “My Moonshine Kicks Your Cocaine’s Ass” and our crowd has adopted that song and they know every word. Luckily, we don’t live and die by having radio singles.
There is a deluxe version of our CD that is available at Best Buy that has a DVD included with it. They are selling it for the same price as the regular version of the CD. The DVD is about an hour and a half long. There are three videos on it and there is a great Jackyl history lesson.
The four of us are sitting in a room and we tell the story of Jackyl, from when we were kids, all the way up to the present time. It is lengthy, but it flows well, and it is funny. I think there will be some ‘wow’ moments for people that watch it. It is a really cool behind the scenes story that I’m proud of.
Even if you’re not a fan of Jackyl, then I think if you watch the DVD, it will shed some light on the band that will make you rethink your opinion on us. Basically, we feel that we are making people finally start admitting that they masturbate.
Jeb: Jackyl is the Do It Yourself Band. Nobody holds your hand. You do it and you make it happen. It is very impressive to see someone with the energy, drive and passion to do something they love to do no matter what.
Jesse: I appreciate you saying that. People acknowledge that and it really makes me stop for a moment and be really proud. I don’t take what I do for granted. I have poured concrete for a living, and I’ve drove nails for a living, and I will do it again if that what it takes for me to feed my babies. Fortunately, I get to wake up each day and take a big bite out of Life’s ass.
I was talking to these guys yesterday, who live in this little town in Wisconsin, and they drive dirt track cars. They have Jackyl guitar picks glued to the dashes of their cars. They said I was the hardest working man in rock and roll. I am blessed to be doing this, and all of the other things.
I really appreciate it when people take time to acknowledge that we’ve been able to carve this career out when most people would have written us off. I am very proud and I am very vocal about it. I am so fortunate to do what I am doing and I am going to continue to take more bites out of Life’s ass. I think too many people believe their own BS and when that happens, you get consumed really fast.
Jeb: I want an honest answer from you. I have seen you play in front of twenty thousand people and I’ve seen you play in a parking lot to two hundred people. You put on the same show, with the same amount of energy in both settings. Honestly, how do you give both shows the same energy?
Jesse: The truth is a very simple answer and I don’t think you’re going to expect this answer. We have our stage set up—our amps, our drums and everything on stage the same at every show. Our world stays the same no matter where we play. If we are in a small venue, like we were the night before last, where the place held about six hundred people, or we’re in an arena in front of eighteen thousand, my world doesn’t change. The volume knobs on my amps are disconnected. They are wired straight wide opened. When we get on stage, and we feel that power, then it is a force to deal with.
You can be standing in the middle of Times Square and if I bring a hot chick and lay her down butt naked in front of you on a nice little comfortable bed, then I don’t think you’re going to give a damn about those thousands of people walking around. You are not going to hold off one second, you’re going to be all over it. It is just like that when those amps hit me. When that sounds comes on my dick gets hard.
Jeb: How did you get involved making whiskey?
Jesse: I have been doing the Jesse James beer for about six years. Some guys came to me and they had a bunch of bourbon that they had distilled. They wanted me to put my name on it, but it was three year old bourbon. I tasted it, and to be honest, it tasted just like Jack Daniels to me; it was really, really close.
I’ve never really drank Jack as much as I’ve drank Crown Royal. I always felt guilty about that because I want to drink American. I just couldn’t put my name on the three year old bourbon. They mixed it with a ten year old bourbon and all of a sudden it got special. It is like eight dollars a bottle cheaper than its competition – even more so when compared to Crown. I feel really good to be able to bring such an enjoyable drink to people who bust their knuckles 40 or 50 hours a week, or more.
Jeb: Last one: On Full Throttle, the TV show, you jumped off a bridge and you’ve been shot out of a cannon. Which was more terrifying?
Jesse: The cannon. The cannon has a violent exit.
Jeb: Would you ever do it again?
Jesse: Will I do it again? I don’t necessarily wake up and want to do it again, but I will if the cameras are rolling.
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