INTERVIEW WITH AMERICAN BOMBSHELL MEMBERS JAY CEE, JASON CARR, ANDY NIXON AND JUSTIN BRYANT
Date: September 22, 2020
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, USA BASED ROCKERS AMERICAN BOMBSHELL CAME TO SLEAZE ROXX’S ATTENTION BACK IN 2016 WITH THEIR STELLAR AND GRITTY DEBUT ALBUM ‘NO REGRETS‘ WHICH FINISHED AT #6 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2016. AMERICAN BOMBSHELL’S MORE POLISHED SOPHOMORE ALBUM ‘TATTOOED ‘N BRUISED‘ FINISHED AT #4 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX READERS’ TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2019 WITH A LOT OF HELP FROM THEIR DEDICATED FANBASE AFFECTIONATELY KNOWN AS THE ‘BOMB SQUAD.’ IN THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF, AMERICAN BOMBSHELL HAVE UNDERGONE SOME KEY LINE-UP CHANGES INCLUDING THE DEPARTURES OF FOUNDING MEMBERS, STEVE BOYLE (GUITAR) AND DUSTIN GREEN (BASS). SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH THE REMAINING AMERICAN BOMBSHELL MEMBERS CONSISTING OF JAY CEE (LEAD VOCALS), JASON CARR (DRUMS), ANDY NIXON (GUITAR) AND NEWCOMER JUSTIN BRYANT (GUITAR), WHO HAVE TAKEN THE REST OF THE YEAR OFF FROM PLAYING LIVE SHOWS TO CONCENTRATE ON COMING UP WITH NEW MATERIAL.
Sleaze Roxx: So let’s start with the departure from the band of long-time bassist Dustin Green who played on both American Bombshell albums. What happened there?
Jay Cee: It is always hard to lose a member of the band, any band, and especially a founding member. We have had some struggles with Dusty in the past and always have worked as a team to try and address those issues. Sadly after many attempts, over several years, Dusty seemed to have grown weary of being a team player. Not sure if it is professional life or personal or a combination of both, but it became clear that he was not happy in this unit anymore. So unfortunately, it was decided to let him go.
Jason Carr: Priorities change for each of us as life goes on. He’s been with us since the beginning, and lives change a lot over six years. It’s not easy for any of us juggling personal life and band life when we still need day jobs to pay the bills.
Andy Nixon: We were very sad to see Dusty go, but the reality was that he had personal and professional commitments that stretched him too thin to continue with a full-time band.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have a replacement for Dustin and if so, who is it and how did you find him [or her]?
Jay Cee: At this point and time, we do not have a replacement and haven’t even really broached the subject. We are going to focus on getting the new album finished up and released and go from there. Our producer has offered to write and record bass lines for the new tunes as well as having Andy and Justin contribute on that front as well.
Jason Carr: We’re not in a big rush to bring someone in. Having no shows on the calendar leaves us in a position to take our time with the search.
Andy Nixon: We are still focusing on writing our third album, so Justin or I will handle the bass duties on recording.
Sleaze Roxx: I know that American Bombshell have some big plans for the future but there were some previous line-up changes that I’d like to cover. First of all, guitarist Steve Boyles, who also played on American Bombshell’s first two albums, left shortly after the release of that second record. Steve provided some rather cryptic reasons for leaving American Bombshell in an interview with Sleaze Roxx in November 2019. I am hoping that you’ll be more open on what happened. What are your views on why Steve ended up leaving and surprisingly, right after the release of ‘Tattooed ‘N Bruised’?
Jay Cee: Basically, it came down to control and writing styles. The first album was a great mixture of everything we as a unit loved. When we started writing for the second album, Steve wanted a bit more control over the style of the tunes and it was more in the punk direction. While we love those aspects and elements, we did not want to focus solely on becoming a punk band and I believe ultimately, that is what led him to leave the band.
Jason Carr: Sometimes answers can seem cryptic because with any line-up changes, there is always more to it than publicly stated. It would be crazy to say it simply boiled down to musical differences, but honestly there’s no reason to dig into all the dirt and inside situations. If we were at a level of fame where we could make some money off a tell-all book, I’d send you a preview copy [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jason Carr: The reality is, it would just be a bunch of social media posts and drama, and there’s already plenty of that to go around. It was personally tough on me because Steve and I had been in a band together in some form for eight years, and we always worked extremely well together. So not only was it a band relationship, but a long-time friendship as well. I won’t speak
for Steve here, and can only give you my perspective, and it was a combination of musical direction and conflicting personalities. Some people feel it’s worth it to work through differences for the better of a given situation. Others just don’t want to bother or maybe feel like they’ve already tried as much as they care to. In my opinion, no situation is ever impossible to work through, but I’ve been known to be overly optimistic at times. As far as his timing goes, we all have different limits, and you can never really “schedule” reaching them.
Andy Nixon: Steve was interested in going for a more stripped down, punk sound for the musical direction of the band, and the rest of us were more into the recipe we’ve always had — rock and roll with metal and blues touches. It was really just artistic differences, nothing more. As far as timing, I think it was more coincidental than anything.
Sleaze Roxx: Steve was replaced by guitarist Dustin Webster who lasted less than a year. What led to Dustin’s departure from the band?
Jay Cee: Dustin has an ever expanding family, just had a new baby in August, and he and his father had recently started a new business. So for him, he was being stretched a little too thin. It was totally amicable on both sides and he will always be a part of the American Bombshell family.
Jason Carr: Dustin and Sierra just welcomed the newest member of their growing family, Rowan, while at the same time he moved into a more demanding job situation. As you can imagine, his schedule became pretty packed. He’s one of the most upfront and genuine people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, and we had some amazing times together. He came out to support us on our first show with Justin as well. Total class act and I wish him nothing but the best. I am sure you will see him again on stage at some point down the road.
Sleaze Roxx: American Bombshell replaced Dustin with Justin Bryant who is a long-time friend of singer Jay Cee. Were there any auditions to replace Dustin Webster? How did Justin land the gig?
Jason Carr: We had a couple people in mind for the spot. I kind of deferred to the other guys to come up with suggestions since they are a little more well versed with who’s who in the local scene and what their capabilities are. Jay Cee had suggested Justin. After letting us know about their early history, and when he dropped by for the first rehearsal, he ripped through five of the songs like he’s been playing them for years. Great versatile player, and I’m looking forward to seeing what more he can bring to the table and on stage.
Andy Nixon: Justin was recommended by Jay Dee, and he was one of two guys we were looking at for the guitar slot. Having another guitarist that can do solos was an important criteria for me, as I feel that dueling solos will add another element to our core sound. We tend to not do open auditions because motivated players tend to reach out, and we usually like to have references before we bring someone in so we know they can hang.
Jay Cee: Dustin Webster in still very much considered a part of the American Bombshell family. It was a very amicable parting of ways. The best band break up I have ever had [laughs]. So when we started talking about new members, we knew we did not want to just do a cattle call of auditions and wanted to be selective of who we reached out to. Justin was a childhood friend whom I had jammed with in teen years but back then, it just never “stuck.” We had kept in touch and I knew of his accomplishments and endeavours so I brought his name up to the guys, and we just talked and vibed, and after jamming, we decided to not waste anymore time looking around.
Sleaze Roxx: One last question on the various line-up changes. How much involvement did Dustin Green and Steve Boyles have in American Bombshell’s songwriting for the first two albums?
Jason Carr: Steve and I had the basic foundations for three or four songs before anyone else came into the picture. As soon as we added the other three guys, those became fully fleshed out songs. The rest of the album — with the exception of the Billy Squires song, we weren’t available to help when he wrote that back in 1982 — came together with a pretty even mix of ideas from Andy and Steve. Same thing with ‘Tattooed ‘N Bruised’ — they pretty much split the riff ratio on that album as well, with the exception of “Joyride” which was primarily penned by Jay Cee. Dusty would help out with the arrangments for the most part, and then Jay Cee would come in with the lyrics and melodies.
American Bombshell‘s “Joyride” video (from Tattooed ‘N Bruised album):
Andy Nixon: Steve wrote about half of the material on the first two records. Dusty helped more with arranging than anything. Jason and I usually come up with the skeletons of the songs.
Jay Cee: The first two albums were a great mixture of everyone’s styles and input, the sum of all parts, but none was greater than the others.
Sleaze Roxx: Last month, American Bombshell announced that it was canceling all remaining existing 2020 shows, and would focus on writing and recording new music. What has been the impact of the Covid virus on American Bombshell and how and when did you decide to forego any shows in 2020 to concentrate on new music?
Jay Cee: Well, of course it ruined the rest of the year for us show wise. Our last show was in March and a week later, everything locked down. Not being able to go out and connect with the fans and have that drive there to keep moving upward and onward is difficult. So we decided to spend the rest of the year getting a new album together. We could go out and play some shows. We have had offers, but there are members of this band that have family memebers that rely on them for various things. Whether it’s children or elderly parents, we really decided that we needed to keep them in mind and not put any of them at risk no matter the cost. Music is not going to die and go away, and we will be back swinging in 2021 or as soon as we feel safer about it all.
Jason Carr: It just got to a point, in my opinion, that performing shows with so many changing constraints were just more stress than anything else. Nothing is more important to us than having that moment with the Bomb Squad when we are on stage and they are giving us back everything we’re giving. With all the rules and restrictions changing on a regular basis, it gets to a point where it is hard to really feel like it’s a “moment.” Can you really have a moment between a band and fans when there is this invisible ‘barrier’ of confusion, rules, and the unknown? With that in mind, we decided to just scrap what we had scheduled and use the time in a more productive way, writing new material.
Andy Nixon: No matter what side of the fence you are on, we can all agree that Covid is lame, and completely backbreaking to the rock / metal community. We decided to forego the remaining shows after we played our last gig in May with limited capacity, and we decided it would be better to focus on writing a ripping new album to come out swinging when gigs are a thing again.
Sleaze Roxx: How is the writing going with respect to the new material? When can we expect a new album?
Jay Cee: Writing is going great. Before Covid hit, we had already started laying down tracks for a handful of songs and then it came to a hault. So we have spent that time getting the rest of the ideas we have tightened up. It could be looked at as a blessing too because with adding Justin to the fold, he will get to have contributions on the new album as well. He has already brought a very solid song idea soon after joining up. I would say the first quarter of 2021 should see a new American Bombshell release.
Jason Carr: We have a handful of tunes recorded and ready for vocals, and another handful ready to start recording. And you can add to that a good chunk that are showing promise and coming along nicely in the writing. It’s still up in the air if we want to start releasing music on a regular basis, and then put a full-length together when enough has been released — for those that enjoy the album experience — or do we hold onto these and put them all out at once. It’s morphed into more of a “singles” type of market, which I kind of feel is the way to go, but we’ll see. I’d say we’ll have something out and about in the next three to six months, depending on how we decide to release it.
Sleaze Roxx: What are American Bombshell’s other plans for the future?
Jay Cee: World domination! What else is there [laughs]?
Jason Carr: Get back on stage. Aside from what we’ve already discussed, this is our goal #1. It’s what we live for, and it’s where we shine.
Sleaze Roxx: I agree. You guys are great live! Let’s go back a little bit. When and how did American Bombshell first form?
Jason Carr: Steve and I were in an alt-metal band together for a couple years prior to Bombshell. Steve was looking for an outlet for some ideas he had been working on that really didn’t fit into our current band. He asked if I would put some drums to his tunes, so for about three to four months, it was just him and I messing around with ideas on our own. Steve had reached out to Jay Cee to see if he might be interested in adding some vocals, and shortly after he started joining us, we reached out to Andy and Dusty to complete the project. Keep in mind, we were all in other successful bands at the time, and this was more or less a side project outlet. When we had enough material to do a show, we decided what the hell, let’s see how these tunes go live. We all lasted about a year juggling Bombshell with our other bands, but it soon became obvious that Bombshell was a whole other beast, and we all needed to focus on it.
Jay Cee: I got a call from Steve in 2014 and we got together. Jason and him had already jammed on some stuff so the three of us got in a room and banged out some songs. It was really cool so we scouted out Dusty and Andy from another band in town and once they checked out what we had going on, they jumped on board.
American Bombshell‘s “No Regrets” video (from No Regrets album):
Sleaze Roxx: How did the band name American Bombshell come about?
Jason Carr: It was a name Jay Cee had for one of his previous projects. He mentioned it one night when we were tossing around ideas, and had said he hadn’t found a good fit to use it yet. We unanimously agreed that it fit us perfect.
Jay Cee: I had come up with the name a few years before I met any of the guys that would become American Bombshell. I had been doing a lot of heavy metal / nu metal style bands ala Pantera, Machine Head, that sort of style of music. I had just left my current band and decided that I wanted to do something more straight up rock n roll sounding. So once I came up with the name, I started trying to find the guys to do it. It actually started with my friends Greg Tizer and John Tingly. Then I moved to Indianapolis and started over again. So I basically held on to the name ’til we started jamming and when we needed a name, I happened to have this one ready to go.
Sleaze Roxx: I found American Bombshell’s sophomore album ‘Tattooed ‘N Bruised’ to be a more polished sounding album than the debut ‘No Regrets.’ Do you agree with that that assessment? If so, was this an intentional move on the band’s part?
Jason Carr: I completely agree, and it wasn’t so much intentional as natural, based on our experience and growth in no small part to recording with Mike Clink at EastWest Studio. ‘No Regrets’ was basically “We’ve got these tunes, and we’ve got $10. Where can we record them?” It was a bit more than $10, but you get the idea. Recording with Clink became a gauge by which to both strive for, and compare to — stylistically, logistically, and all points in between.
Andy Nixon: ‘No Regrets’ was recorded by our buddy Scott, and he did a great job with what we had. Getting involved with Marc and Eric from the Pop Machine made all the difference in terms of sonics, gear, guitar tones, microphones, etc. The more polished sound was a by product of that, and it was very intentional. Why would you not want a more refined album sonically?
Jay Cee: I don’t disagree. After working with producer extraordinare Mike Clink, we of course became a little bit more aware of our production. Not that we wanted to be changed, but being produced is different than just recording and going with whatever comes out. Our first album — I think there was a fire to just get something out because we loved what we were doing so much and felt like it needed to be heard.
Sleaze Roxx: So how were the recording experiences different for those albums?
Jason Carr: As mentioned earlier, ‘No Regrets’ was a shoestring budget, and was coming from the viewpoint of “Let’s get these tunes recorded and out there ASAP.” With the follow-up, we wanted to take a bit more time and production. I mentioned the idea of working with Eric Klee and Marc Johnson at The Pop Machine, having worked with them in the past and knowing what their capabilities and environment was like. They have a world class studio, positive attitudes, and great knowledge / ideas. We were a little different than what they typically record, but it made for a great combination. They weren’t afraid to push us to get the best out of us, and they are perfectionists.
Jay Cee: For me, it was about being produced. Like I said previously, the difference is basically the same as comparing LA to Indiana [laughs]. Not that I dislike our first CD, but there was a difference in approach for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: American Bombshell have received a lot of support from Junkyard in the past. David Roach even made a guest vocal appearance on the album ‘Tattooed ‘N Bruised.’ How did you guys strike up a friendship with Junkyard and what has their support meant to you?
Jason Carr: Steve’s all-time favorite band is Junkyard, and when they were back together and doing shows again, he saw they were going to be doing a few dates in our area. We had worked with Rockerchix Promotions — Kenda and Jesse Brunette and crew — on a couple shows here in Indianapolis, but their home turf is Green Bay, Wisconsin. Junkyard was scheduled to perform at Phat Headz in Green Bay, so we got in touch with Kenda and asked to be a part of the show. Not only was it the beginning of a great relationship with the Junkyard guys, but it was the beginning of our home away from home in Green Bay. It’s great to have friends at their level who still understand what it’s like being at ours. They’ve been incredibly gracious to us, and any time they are coming through the Midwest, we make it a point to try to sync up. Their fans have accepted us with open arms, and it always makes for an awesome show together. David had joined us on stage a few times for our cover of “Sin City”, and when we were in the process of recording ‘Tattooeed ‘N Bruised’, Jay Cee had the idea of bringing David in to partner with him on “Only Rock ‘N Roll.” Jay Cee messaged him and David was absolutely on board. It was pretty great seeing Steve watching David record the vocals, and it was great to be able to hang out in a different environment than a venue.
Sleaze Roxx: You also had Guns N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus make a guest appearance on one song off ‘Tattooed ‘N Bruised.’ How did you guys end up hooking up with him?
Jay Cee: That was very fortuitous — pun intended — because our producers, the brothers Johnson, Eric and Marc, know him and made the suggestion to have him guest [on the album].
Jason Carr: Eric and Marc from the Pop Machine are actually friends with Fortus, and made the suggestion to reach out to him and see if he would be interested in adding something to the album.
American Bombshell‘s “Money On The Liquor” feat. Richard Fortus on guitar (from Tattooed ‘N Bruised album):
Sleaze Roxx: Do you find that having guests of that caliber on your albums tends to overshadow the band or is it all positives?
Jason Carr: I don’t feel it overshadows anything. You’ve got 98% of an album pure Bombshell, and 2% added bonus flavor. Obviously, we hope it might open up a few extra fans to us by way of the guests, but the reality is, these are people we are fans of, and having them contribute is special to us, as well to our fans.
Jay Cee: I don’t think it overshadows the band or the album. I would like to think that the fact that anyone of the guests liked the band and the songs they were on to appear and have their named tagged to it. It’s a win/win in my opinion [laughs].
Andy Nixon: Guests are there more to just add a little flavor, and it’s a great gateway for their fans to get turned onto us. A solo here or a few sung verses won’t overshadow a whole album, unless we wrote shitty songs [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Very true. Are there any plans for any guests to appear on the next American Bombshell album? If so, who will the guests be?
Jason Carr: None at the moment, though you never know. These kinds of things tend to happen in the moment, at least for us. We’d like to ask your readers to respond with who they think might be a cool addition to a Bombshell track?
Andy Nixon: I have a few guitarists in mind that I would love to see contribute, and with no gigs really going on, it might be pretty easy to accomplish, and I would like to keep the special guest thing going with each release.
Jay Cee: I would like to have a couple different singers but i don’t want to say who at this point. Not sure if the other guys have any thoughts on that.
Sleaze Roxx: It appears that this information is staying under a veil of secrecy for now [laughs]. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Jay Cee: I just want to say that one person does not make a band and I can understand from a fan perspective that feeling of loss when someone leaves. We would not have ever wanted to go through it, but as a band, we have to keep moving forward and we want the Bomb Squad — the greatest fans on earth — to know that we love and appreciate everything, and will do our absolute best to keep the American Bombshell machine kicking and rocking.
Jason Carr: Nothing I can think of, and I’d like to say a big thank you to all at Sleaze Roxx. You guys have all been most gracious with us, and we appreciate your support and coverage. Here’s hoping our third album can find its way onto your Top 10 list again!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Well, your last one was very close to making the Sleaze Roxx’s 2019 Top 10 list! Last question for each of you, what are your three all-time favourite albums and why?
Jason Carr: First, Fates Warning’s ‘Awaken The Guardian.’ From the moment I heard this album, it spoke to me. John Arch’s unique vocal style and lyrics wove perfectly with Jim Matheos’ music. Having new music again from these two amazing talents has been incredible and adding [Rob] Jarzombeck on drums for the new stuff — pure genius. Second, Judas Priest’s ‘Sad Wings of Destiny.’ It’s just incredible front to back. There are epic journeys with “Victim of Changes” and “Dreamer Deceiver” / “Deceiver” to crushing rock masterpieces of “The Ripper”, “Tyrant” and “Genocide.” Third, Opeth’s ‘Blackwater Park.’ You can’t go wrong with their entire catalog — yes, even the new stuff — but this for me was a standout moment when their production caught up with their talent. Ask me another day and this might switch between ‘Watershed’ and ‘Ghost Reveries.’
Andy Nixon: First, Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets.’ Do I really need to explain? Second, Pantera’s ‘Far Beyond Driven.’ Drums, guitar, vocals — all years ahead of their time. Third, Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction.’ Yet another one that needs no explanation.
Justin Bryant: First, Van Halen’s debut self-titled album. It’s the epitome of rock guitar that spawned thousands of young wannabees. Second, Queen’s ‘Queen II.’ It contains hard rock to opera in one disk served with a side of unparalleled talent, attitude and taste with unmatched production. Third, Badlands’ self-titled album. It’s organic, raw and brazen. It was stridently against the grain from what audiences expected — a masterpiece.
Jay Cee: First, Badlands’ ‘Voodoo Highway.’ I think that Ray Gillen is an amazing singer and they really found their stride on that one. Second, Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction.’ It really changed the face of that scene of music at that time. There’s not a bad song on that album. Third, Queen’s ‘Night At The Opera.’ Freddie [Mercury] was such a masterful writer and creator of melody. I think those four guys together were such a creative force they could have done anything musically they wanted.
American Bombshell‘s “Saving Me” lyric video (bonus track on Tattooed ‘N Bruised album):