Over 30 years ago, Jackyl stormed the rock scene with chainsaw-wielding frontman Jesse James Dupree. Over the years, Jesse has released 9 studio records with Jackyl, been a TV star and an entrepreneur, and is about to release a new solo record called Breathing Fire on November 10. The first single, “Never Gets Old”, was written with Brian Johnson and is out now!
Please press the PLAY icon below for the MisplacedStraws Conversation with Jesse James Dupree –
On writing with Brian Johnson – It doesn’t get past me that nobody in AC/DC ever works outside their band. So to be able to work with Brian… I’ll tell you what, what you don’t think about that ends up being the most impactful is to be part of the process and watch Brian get excited. So, when you see Brian getting excited, there’s the guy that sang “Back In Black”, “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Hell’s Bells” and, “Have a Drink On Me”, and when you see him revert back to a teenager and just his enthusiasm for music, that’s pretty special. It’s pretty cool.
On how he first met Brian – His wife was hosting a fundraiser down in Sarasota, Florida. Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus used to have headquarters down in Sarasota. So a lot of the buildings are old Ringling Brothers buildings, and they kind of reflect the architecture, looks like it. There’s a beautiful old theater, a Ringland Brothers theater. She was working to refurbish it and she had a benefit and it was all these legendary people there, Duck Dunn from Booker T and the MGs and the Blues Brothers movies and Tina Turner’s band leader, and Cliff and Brian from AC/DC, just a lot of cool people. We met through that event and we just made fast friends.
On the video for “Never Gets Old” – The video, you can hit a QR code, go to YouTube, and put in Jesse James Dupree. The song is called “Never Gets Old” and you click on the QR code and you can automatically register to win a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida. Then If you can name all 35 bands that I pay tribute to in the font, the lyrics, the fonts, the lyrics that we use, if you can name all 35 bands, if I pick you as the winner and you’ve named all 35 bands correctly, you get a $1, 000 bonus check….So far people have been enjoying it and I’ve got tons of texts and emails and people saying, “Is this the right list? Is this the right list?”, and I’m not telling anybody. Because nobody can keep a secret.
On what makes Breathing Fire different from a Jackyl record – This is not a planned record. It’s obviously different. I mean, if Chris (Worley) and Jeff (Worley) were playing on it, it would probably still be a great record and it just would sound different and there’s nothing wrong with that and this wasn’t planned to not be a Jackyl record. This just happened. My son happened to walk into the house and I had these ideas after listening to some old AC/DC records, and I called Roman (Glick) over and we jammed. Next thing you know, I ended up with some of these songs. Then Brian Johnson happened to call me. I hadn’t spoken to Brian in six months and he called me within a couple of days after we recorded it. It all happened very organically and that’s the best kind of music.
On how he first used a chainsaw in Jackyl – There was a club in Atlanta called Magruder’s, Charlie Magruder’s, and we held the sales and attendance record. I’d always threatened the bar, the guy that owned the place that that I was going to bring a chainsaw in because it had a lot of wood like an Irish pub would have. This rock is a rock club, a rock and roll Irish pub, if you can imagine. I used to threaten to come in and cut the place up. I knew one night we were going to be setting yet another sales and attendance record for that venue, so I went and rented a chainsaw and I cut a bunch of stuff up and he got mad and fined us a couple hundred dollars. Then one thing led to another and we were jamming at the end of the night and I picked up the chainsaw and played a lead break. I carried it back to the rental place and forgot about it. My dad was there and he goes, “You got to keep doing that”. So a couple of weeks later, he shows up in a car, he always rode a Harley Davidson and he shows up in a car in South Carolina, opened up the trunk of the car and handed me a chainsaw, and said, “Keep doing it”. And the rest is history…What a definitive instrument for rock and roll. It’s loud, it’s aggressive. It’s stinky, it’s destructive, everything rock and roll should be.
On surviving the grunge and alternative movements of the ’90s – We were definitely aware that that was going on. We never were the flavor of the day. I don’t even want to say this because it sounds like I’m comparing, but I mean there were so many bands in history that never had number-one songs, Led Zeppelin or whatever. You look at bands like that, again, we’re no Led Zeppelin, but I’m saying we’ve never let that define us. Whether or not we were the flavor of the day or a critic’s choice that’s the double-edged sword that sometimes that can be the worst thing that could ever happen to you…It’s one of those things that you don’t take for granted. We have so many people that (support the band) there’s Ken and Diane. They’re a couple that comes out. I mean, I use them because they probably seen 250 Jackyl shows. But there’s more than that, there’s a whole bunch of individuals that we’ve gotten to be friends with and that we know have seen numerous Jackyl shows. They come out and we just have a blast. No two shows are the same.
On Full Throttle Saloon rebuilding after the fire – We moved down the road. We moved from 32 acres to 600 acres. We have the Full Throttle Saloon in the Pappy Hoel campground. PappyHoelcampground.com if you want to check it out. It’s again, 600 acres, 1, 000 RV hookups, 300 cabins, tent camping for days. Harley Davidson’s got a big building out there Eagle Rider, Topcoat, Amsoil. All those national sponsors. We have an all-you-can-eat breakfast, buffet, dinner buffet, a convenience store, three racetracks, a firing range. You can shoot 50-caliber guns and Uzi machine guns. We bring in cars and vans for you to blow up. We have a runway on the back that airplanes take up people parachuting. It’s damn Disney World in the Black Hills of South Dakota for adults.
On Jesse James Dupree American Outlaw Bourbon – I’d worked with some other companies consulting them on their brands from Zippo Lighters to Budweiser and Sidney Franks’s company that brought Grey Goose and Jagermeister to America. So just the obvious step was to go ahead and just build my own brands. And one thing led to another and, and found a guy that was sitting on $5 million worth of great bourbon and we partnered up and started putting it out.
On his record label – Mighty Loud Records, through Universal. In the past, I used to put out Powerman 5000, a couple of records with them, and everything from Powerman to Tanya Tucker to Eve to Adam and of course the Jackyl records and stuff. But the entertainment business is so different from what it was even 10 years ago. It’s just really different now. Streaming and stuff is a whole different ball game. You used to go to the mailbox and pull out a hefty check for records, for being an artist, and now the streams and such just pay such (minimal amounts). You hear artists complain all the time, but I feel sorry for the new bands that are trying to make a living in music because it’s not like it used to be.
On possible touring – Jackyl’s got a bunch of tour dates that we’re doing between now and the end of the year. I leave out tomorrow for South Dakota. So, we’re constantly playing. Jackyl is still stronger than ever. It’s a lethal band. I enjoyed it. I love those guys, they are my brothers, but I am going to be doing some solo dates because I want to play some of these songs with my son. Roman and I both are excited about playing songs with my son.
On upcoming plans – (New Jackyl will be out) whenever it happens. I’ve got a lot of stuff that I do with the Harley Davidson Motor Company that I’ve been doing. I’ll find out in a couple of days if we’re going to do it again this coming year, but we’ve been building out the Rolling USA campaigns and they’ve been going really great. It’s something that is like no other experience. When you give somebody a chance to win a motorcycle, a Harley Davidson. They bring 10 people out on the stage with you and they each get to put a key in the switch and see which one cranks it and whoever cranks it wins it. I’ve given away my 20th motorcycle this past Saturday.
On being able to play and record with his son – It’s as rewarding as it can be challenging. You can be in a band and argue with your bandmates about a guitar part or a drum part and that’s one thing, but when you’re having that discussion with your son, and he throws the sticks down and goes, “Dad!”, it’s pretty funny. It’s one of those things that I don’t take for granted. He’s such a talent and he’s an old soul, and so is Roman. So it’s so much fun playing with both of them.
On bands using tracks – I don’t get it. I know there’s a big debate about all that stuff, and I just don’t care. We do our thing and people can decide what’s good or not. They don’t need to hear me talk about politics or degrade another band, it is what it is. I just want to do my thing and leave me alone.