The Jesters Of Destiny recently put out their first album in decades, and it’s pretty killer stuff (we reviewed it here in case you missed it). We here at R!S!P! (mainly Horace Cordier with some help from yours truly) were given the opportunity to interview bass/vocals man Bruce Duff and guitar man Ray Violet about getting back together, the new album and other Jesters related stuff! So without further ado…
Rock! Shock! PoP! - How did you guys initially hook up with Brian Slagel and Metal Blade Records for your "Metal Massacre" compilation appearance back in the band's early days?
Bruce: I contacted Slagel directly and sent it in, and he went for it. Sounds simple, it was!
R!S!P! - You have always been a wildly eclectic band musically. Did you find that that hampered you in any way in the metal scene? Do you even consider yourselves part of that musical peer group?
Bruce: A club booker back in the day told me, “You guys are too metal to be punk and too punk to be metal.” I always thought, doesn’t that just mean we’re a kick-ass hard rock band? Labels can wear you out. Back then, if we were part of a peer group, it was the wildly eclectic L.A. live club scene, where we played with bands as varied as Jane’s Addiction, Thelonious Monster, L.A. Guns, the Fuzztones, Super Heroines and the Dickies. Nowadays, I think we’re somewhere between the doom bands and the new garage scene.
R!S!P! - Can you tell us a little about the various projects you've been involved with in the years that the JESTERS were on hiatus after your covers EP "In A Nostalgic Mood"?
Bruce: While I was in the Jesters I also played with Jeff Dahl, Twisted Roots and John Trubee’s Ugly Janitors of America. Since then I played with Keith Morris and Bug Lamp, the Adz, Angus Khan, Sweet Justice, Tim Harrington. Currently play with the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs and the Magnificent. Also have produced and managed a number of bands.
Ray: I was recording and mixing the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Bobby Womack, Ike Turner, Sly Stone, and then co-produced recorded and mixed God Lives Underwater’s Life in the so-called Space Age and stuff for Tim Harrington. And the Jesters Bruce and me were still close to each other musically speaking but this album didn’t start happening until we hit on a few things that we both got excited over.
R!S!P! - What prompted reconvening the band?
Bruce: We’ve always shared whatever we’re working on with each other. There were some songs we were doing, early demos of “Flesh Parade” and “Unknown Artist,” that we heard each other working on, and we thought they sounded like the Jesters. One thing led to another.
Ray: When you find excitement and joy in the music that was previously created, you always have a longing for that happy combination of events to surface, and luckily that has happened with Sorrows.
R!S!P! - Were there growing pains once you started recording or did it come naturally?
Bruce: We were working as a unit separated by 3,000 miles. While technology nowadays has broken down a lot of barriers, it’s not the same as being side-by-side in the control room. It came together through a lot of calls, texts, emails. This made it take longer, but the initial chemistry from the old days was still there and it developed pretty easily.
Ray: If we had pushed to do another album before this one naturally developed then there would probably have been growing pains but we started this album when the first songs dictated it.
R!S!P! - I hear so many different things in your music from Frank Zappa to THE BEATLES, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT and even doom metal. What were the first records that made a huge musical impression on you in your youth?
Bruce: Beatles White Album, Hendrix Electric Ladyland, Purp Sab Zep. The White Album and Ladyland are both seemless in terms of sequencing, sprawling in terms of length, and a variety show as they go from song to song, constantly changing and evolving. They also have a lot of characters and scenarios that are unusual in the songs. I like all of these things and strive to make records that have these qualities, without so much consideration or worry about genre or labels.
Ray: Link Wray, The Kinks Kinksized and Kinks, Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced, Cream. As you can see, guitar heavy stuff for me.
R!S!P! - Outside of different musical influences, were there any other factors that influenced the new record like politics or events in your personal lives?
Bruce: The short answer is yes. A lot of stuff happened personally in the last 30 years, and we all know what’s going on back in the USA. It’s all in the lyrics; we were never that fond of obtuse or obscure lyrics, we’re pretty much an open book in that regard.
Ray: For me just the politics of heavy riffage.
R!S!P! – The best politics of all! We’re card carrying members of the heavy riffage party around here. Next question. Favorite track off the new album and why?
Bruce: Must be an OK album because it keeps changing for me. First it was “Flesh Parade” because it kicked it into gear, then “Chalk Outline” because it’s got the whole kitchen sink, but now it might be “My Card, Sir” because it’s so relentless.
Ray: “Fire in the Six Foot Hole Reprise.” (“Another Fire Six Feet Deep”). This song moves through a number of sections and has a heaviness that is just my cup of tea. I also really enjoy the J.P.Sousa/Circus bridge every time I hear it.
R!S!P! - Future plans? Will you be touring? Will you consider recording more albums?
Bruce: We’re still in promo mode for this one, but if we get some cool offers we’ll play. Probably some appropriate festivals if we can get that happening. We’re always recording so yes, most likely more music.
Ray: Recording; More is better More, More, More
R!S!P! - Last question – you guys have, since your inception, had a strange influence over metal, punk and alternative music. It’s fair to say that the JESTERS were ahead of their time. How does it feel to look back on what you guys did then and see the effect it’s had on the current musical landscape?
Bruce: It’s of course flattering when someone says that we had an impact on them and their music. When it’s someone as amazing as Jussi Lehtisalo of Ektro Records and the bands Circle and Pharaoh Overlord, it’s humbling. We’ve been called ahead of our time, iconic. On the other hand, to quote my friend Wayne Kramer, “It doesn’t pay to be a legend.”
R!S!P! - Congratulations on the new album by the way. It's terrific and very unique.
Bruce: Many thanks, it truly means a lot to us.
Ray: Thanks as well and it really does mean a lot to have our music enjoyed.
Keep up on what the Jesters Of Destiny are up to be checking out their Facebook page here or poking around at their official website here.