Jackyl. They're the "hottest" group going these days. Their song "The Lumberjack" was the number one most requested, on AOR (Album Oriented Rock) radio, and their video was all over MTV.
Maybe you've seen the video. You know, the one where Jackyl's lead singer Jesse James Dupree plays a chain-saw!
In a business where it seems like almost everything has already been done — this has to be a first.
As a matter of fact, ten thousand South Dakota lumberjacks bought Jackyl's debut album (Geffen Records) just because it had a chainsaw on it! That has to be another rock'n'roll first.
And, the group is not without controversy. A Georgia K-Mart refused to carry their album. Bon Jovi and Lynyrd Skynyrd won't use them as an opening act. And finally, Jesse was arrested in Cincinnati for mooning the audience.
We talked with Jesse James Dupree about his group.
Q. Why didn't Bon Jovi want "Jackyl" as an opening act?
A. I don't know. Obviously it wasn't in his best interests, which, to each his own. There's room for everybody. Just stay out of my way. (Laughs)
Q. When you mooned the audience in Cincinnati, did you know you would be arrested? Was that a total surprise to you?
A. It wasn't a total surprise. It's obvious that those people are reminded daily of the tragedy that happened at the Who Concert. That really sticks in their mind. That's why they're so conservative as far as what they allow to go in The Gardens, which is understandable. I think there's a point where they're going overboard with being protective of their people. The crowds in Cincinnati are great crowds. They love to rock'n'roll. They love to get crazy. They're kind of suppressed by their city government. It's a damn shame. But, the main thing is, we're not banned from that town. Hopefully, we're gonna go back and play many, many more times.
Q. Have you ever touched the microphone with your chainsaw when you’re using it?
Q. Did you get an electric shock?
A. No. Not at all.
Q. Did you ever cut yourself with it on stage?
A. I've cut myself many times, but knock on wood, never with the chainsaw. (Laughs). I mean, I've got a cut on my thumb right now that happened last night, but the chain-saw was lying on the ground and I was away from it.
Q. You were a guitar player before you turned to singing weren't you?
A. Well, yeah. Both of those are matters of opinion. (Laughs). I never started out and said I'm gonna be a frontman. I was basically a guitar player who could never find a singer.
Q. "Jackyl" was together for only six months before you packed your bags for L.A. and two weeks of showcasing. Is that correct?
A. No. we were actually together a little bit longer than that, probably about eight months, I guess. You're in the ball park though. We got together and spent about six months on the road, plaving bars, and just getting our original set together where it was punching people in the face. At that point, we made the commitment to really start getting in front of the (record I companies. You gotta get the ball rolling' somewhere.
Q. How did you know to showcase the group in L.A.?
A. It wasn't like we said we're going to L.A. That was like the place to go in the 80's, but it's not the place to go to now. It's kind of time-warped there as far as the music scene. L.A. was just one of the many things we did. There was just as much importance in the fact that we went to Nashville and played a showcase there.
Q. Most bands would probably make a demo tape first; send it out to record companies, and then showcase. You did the exact opposite,
A. Jackyl is not about a tape. Jackyl is a 'live' band. We are all about playing 'live' every single night. There were several labels that said you need a demo tape to get signed — and we didn't have one. We had a couple of tapes we'd done, but it was nothing we were basing our career on. You cannot capture what 'Jackyl' does 'live' on tape. That's what we were attempting to do. Basically, what we did is went into the studio and turned everything up as loud as it would go, and rolled the tape, (laughs), to capture that energy. John Kalodner came in, saw the band play 'live' and said he was gonna sign us. He knew that we had to try and capture what we do 'live' on tape.
Q. Where did Geffen see you?
A. Kalodner came to Atlanta (Jackyl's hometown) to see us and signed us there. We did a showcase there.
Q. Wasn't it expensive to travel from Atlanta to L.A.?
A. There was nine of us loaded up in a Dodge Grand Caravan, a rented Dodge Caravan, pulling a little U-Haul trailer with our necessity equipment in back. We went out there and all stayed in one motel room for two weeks, living on six dollars a day and had a blast.