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AC/DC & Jackyl: When Two Worlds Collide

By Mitch Lafon, Contributor
Monday, December 30, 2002 @ 1:56 PM

Mitch Lafon Sits Down With Voc

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What do you get when the South's hardest working band, Jackyl, meets the Southern Hemisphere's hardest working band, AC/DC…?

You get one of the best songs of the year, “Kill The Sunshine” (from Jackyl's new album Relentless), as well as one of the most entertaining interviews to grace the KNAC.com screen.

Having met through mutual friends a few years back, the AC/DC - Jackyl collaboration started with an impromptu jam session down in Florida. After having shared the stage, AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson suggested to Jackyl's lead pipes Jesse James Dupree that they get together to have a few beers and write a few songs. "Usually, that's just said, but never happens," comments Johnson. "I wasn't going to impose myself so I just let it go," picks up Dupree, "but then I got a X-mas card from Brian that said 'You should really call to hook up.' So, I went ahead and made the call. Brian's got this really cool English Pub in his house and it's just got a great vibe so we went in and staggered out with this greasy little song called “Locked and Loaded.” A month later, we were working in the studio with Mike Frasier who did AC/DC's A Razor's Edge and I called Brian and told him we were laying it down. He surprised me by flying in the next day. We were in the middle of a pretty damn big party. There was a ton of people in the control room and Brian was telling jokes like he always does. Periodically, we were telling people to shut up so we could sing. The next day, we sobered up and Brian suggested we listen to what we did last night and we looked at each other and just went 'Damn, that sounds killer.' So, we left it alone and that's just how it all came together. I'm just blown away by Brian. He's just a real guy."

The friendship stuck and both singers continued to hang out and work together. The latest effort is the co-written track, “Kill The Sunshine,” on Jackyl's latest CD. "There's nothing out there like it and it's great," exclaims Brian. "I know Canadians are great rockers and will love it. The first time we came out with “Back In Black” -- and I'm not shining anybody's shinola here -- but the American's didn't have MTV and if it hadn't been for Wolfman Jack we would never have got played at all. The first gig I did in North America with AC/DC was in Canada because the Canadians were just such big fans of that type of music. They just love rock 'n roll and the Americans just follow." Dupree adds, "We were sitting here one night talking about the new stuff that is coming out and how it's geared to reaching a broad demographic. Their goal is making sure people don't change the dial instead of making the goal being they want people to crank it up. Jackyl has always had a very polarized audience. You either crank it up or you turn the dial. You either love it or you don't. Brian just looked at me and said, ‘The reason people aren't playing natural shit anymore is because it's already been done by good guys before them.’ They keep saying rock is coming back, but I'm tired of people saying it. I want them to go out and tell ten friends and have them tell ten friends that there's a new rock record in town and it's called Relentless and by God damn it -- it ROCKS! It's loud, proud, hard and honest. I even tell people that if you don't like this record at least buy some kind of rock record, because the state of the industry is hurting right now. It's time for people that have been bitching about rock coming back to make a stand."

"That's the right thing to say Jesse," as Brian picks up the thought, "Because if you don't do that, you're going to end up like England. England is in the sorriest state it's ever been for music. I've just spent three months there and it's just becoming stupid. It's all boy and girl bands over there now. My friend Chris, who I grew up with in Newcastle and produces Top Of The Pops, has threatened to resign. He said to me, 'How can I do a rock show when every act I have on is the same as the one before. Girls dancing. Boys dancing. Girls and boys dancing and all singing the same pap written by the same writer and produced by the same producer.” It's almost a factory over there now. England, which I'm very proud to say was the country that really excited the world in the '60s and '70s with your Zeppelins, Beatles and ... you could just go on and on… is now the most boring place in the world to watch music. It's terrible."

"Is there any exciting place to watch music in the world?" I interject. "Australia," answers Brian, without skipping a beat. "Australia always gets me. Every time I go down to Australia, there's always some hot young little band that's coming up and they always have the same problem as AC/DC had -- which is getting across the Pacific to America. It's tough for them and I feel sorry for them. It's a real rock-oriented country and it's a wonderful country. Canadian bands tend to be great. But there seems to be this thing where people go 'Ah, they're Canadian, so fuck it!' That's the way it is, and it's annoying. It makes me so fucking mad... don't get me started. I would love for Jesse's band, Jackyl, to really break across Canada."

"And what about Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, etc. -- trying to re-invent themselves," I quiz. "I know Joe from Def Leppard," starts off Johnson. "I've suffered through their deaths and losing their homes, and I got a complimentary album sent to me, and when I heard it I just went, 'What the hell has happened to you guys? You've been listening to people in suits again. Haven't you?’ But Relentless is good and its raw. If you don't like it, put it down and get back to Gordon Lightfoot and Christine Aguilera. It's raw stuff that gets the old soul in the boots going. That's what we (AC/DC) do... I'm not trying to pretend that we do anything better than that. It's exactly the same. I remember in the mid to late '80s, one of our record company guys came to us and said we were going to have to change . Everybody has got these lovely leather coats on... I'm not going to tell you what we said to them, but what's that got to do with music? Jackyl are the same. They're just good boys that play good music."

"So Jesse, why didn't you follow the pop road?" I continue. "Because he knows I'll murder him," snaps Brian. "You can't polish a turd, ya know," philosophizes Jesse. "We have always been very honest about what we are. This is Jackyl's tenth year anniversary. We came out in 1992. We've never been the flavour of the day, but we've sold collectively over three million records. We've had to sell them door to door, and I've shook every person's hand that have bought our records. Nobody at MTV. Nobody at radio... we've never had #1 rock track at radio. But bands that came out along side us like Brother Cane and Candlebox who have had three or four number one singles at rock radio... Brother Cane had the number one most played song in 1996, but their albums collectively haven't sold 300 000. But people bought our records cause I think they sense that it's real... real from the heart." "Getting respect and selling records are two really different things," chimes in Brian. "They should give us credit for writing the most powerful ballad of all time which is 'She Loves My Cock.' If they want to talk about a power ballad-- THAT's a power ballad," Jesse ends.

With that said, the conversation briefly turns to all things AC/DC. “Will you be doing the symphonic orchestra thing like Kiss and Metallica," I question amusingly. "Ah, fuck that shit," reacts Brian. "Can you fucking imagine us with an orchestra?" "If you unplug Jackyl or AC/DC, all you'll hear are the amps buzzing," adds Jesse.

As for a new album, "We're getting together soon," relates Johnson. "I was just with Malcolm the other week at the races in England. It was a great day with his son and everything, and I said to him, 'Well, Malcolm, I think it's time,' and he said, 'Yeah, it's time -- we'd better get our asses into gear.’ Get into the studio and get another record done. We've had about ten months off and I've done fuck all. We'll be going back up to Canada to record the next one. We'll have such a good time at Little Bryan Adam's studio. I've got to stop calling him Little Bryan Adams. He doesn't like when I call him that. He's the same height as me," he laughs. "We're supposed to get it [the album] out by March next year [2003]. I hope we do. Which means we'll be back on the road by July. We'll keep our fingers crossed that we can get it done as fast as possible."

The band will also soon be inducted into the Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame beating out another rock Goliath, Black Sabbath. "I'd better phone up Tony Iommi and apologize," starts off Brian, "Obviously it's a great honour, and I'm still trying to drink it in. I had to go outside and take a moment to think about it and just realize what the whole thing meant. I'm sure later on it's going to hit us. I was telling Jesse before, that it takes me back to the time that I was in the bedroom with my two brothers with our tennis rackets and miming to the Dave Clark Five's “Glad All Over.” Who would have thunk in their wildest dreams?"

"When I heard that Brian was being inducted into the Hall Of Fame, it made me feel like a proud father," quips Dupree. "AC/DC created the environment that so many of us exist in now. They put down the first footprint for this kind of greasy ass rock that we play."

With the conversation winding down, both Brian and Jesse get in a few final words. "Jesse is as passionate as anybody in rock 'n roll," summarizes Brian. "Jackyl deserves to do so good. I'm going out to buy Relentless ,and if I'm going out to buy the record then the rest of the fucking world should buy the record. 'Cause I know what I'm fucking talking about."

"I want you to know that I really, really tried hard to write a song that could cure a disease," laments Jesse, "But I can't do it. If I could I would, but I can't. That's not what music is suited for. It's suited for an outlet, for a release... it's for an expression of your moods or to help you get into a mood. That's music and I'm calling on people to finally put their actions into motion, quit saying that they think rock is coming back, go and buy a rock record. I would prefer if you buy the Relentless record because I'm proud of it and I challenge you to find any other record out there right now that is a rock record. There's just not too much out there, but just buy a rock record and crank that son of a bitch up. I'm sure if you've got a cold one in one hand and your arm around a beautiful lady, you'll have the time of your life."

For more visit Jackyl's Internet presence at: www.rockmerollmejackylmeoff.com

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