Jackyl Enlist AC/DC Singer


Even after ten years of making records, Jackyl frontman Jesse James Dupree still sounds like a star-struck fan when he talks about writing songs with Brian Johnson, the singer of soon-to-be Rock and Roll Hall of Famers AC/DC. “You’ve got to know I camped out for two nights back in 1980 to be able to buy tickets to the Back in Black tour,” Dupree says. “I was underneath a parking garage where the Ticketmaster booth was. So now to be friends with Brian is unbelievable.”

Dupree and Johnson teamed up to write “Kill the Sunshine,” from Jackyl’s new album, Relentless. Recorded at Cock of the Walk studios at Dupree’s home in Kennesaw, Georgia, the song came from the same writing sessions that produced the duo’s previous collaboration, “Locked and Loaded,” collected on Jackyl’s 1998 best-of set, Choice Cuts.

Johnson remembers, “Jesse had a couple of tunes, and he said, ‘You fancy trying to see if we can get a tune and some lyrics down?’ I said, ‘Sure, Jesse, as long as you got a twelve-pack up there and a bed for me to sleep in, I’ll come up.’ It was lovely. Like a bunch of guys having a bit of fun without the big pressure of a record company behind you pushing and squeezing. We just had a good time.”

The relaxed sessions meant any conflicts were confined to beer selection. “I drink Heineken,” says Johnson. “And poor old Tom [former bassist Bettini] just couldn’t understand that. He’d ask me, ‘Why do you drink that stuff? That ain’t proper beer?’ And I’d say, ‘I gotta tell you, Tom, I wouldn’t be caught dead drinking Budweiser. Budweiser is like making love in a canoe — it’s fucking close to water.”

The inclusion of a chainsaw solo on “Billy Badass” — another song on Relentless — continues a Jackyl power tool tradition that began with an assault on bar stools at a Georgia club, continued with the song “The Lumberjack” from Jackyl’s self-titled debut, and which to this day remains a staple of the band’s live show.

“We go through a lot of mikes because we take the muffler off [the chainsaw] and the mike is put right in front of the opening,” Dupree says. “You can actually see the pistons firing inside. It’s basically a wireless mike that mounts right there where the muffler is. It’s the absolute definitive instrument for rock & roll — it’s loud, it’s destructive, it’s stinky. It’s everything rock should be.”

Jackyl tour dates:

11/15: Topeka, KS, Kansas City ExpoCentre
11/16: Lincoln, NE, Landcaster Event Center
11/20: LaCrosse, WI, Hollywood Theater
11/21: Battle Creek, MI, Planet Rock
11/22: Merriville, IN, Star Plaza Theater
11/23: Peoria, IL, Opera House

Colin Devenish courtesy of Rolling Stone