Meltdown

Welcome to Track X Track – episode 2. This time, I’m so proud to bring you my conversation with Jackyl’s Jesse James Dupree. We discuss their debut album track by track. Jesse tells me about working with a fairly unknown producer named Brendan O’ Brien. “I’m proud to say that we were the first, if not one of the first, to recognize his talents as a producer to get him his first gold record.”

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Jesse James DuPree of Jackyl doing what he does best….messing up the Machine Shop stage.
Photo: Jeff Mintline

He tells a funny story of a legendary grunge band that was kicked out of a Jackyl show. What two things did they guys have to promise to do after getting signed to a record deal? Jesse tells me all about that story, as well as a song he wrote for the band Kansas that Jackyl eventually used. We talk about the album artwork and lots more.

This is a very fun, interesting conversation about a record that broke these boys loose on the world!

Check out every song from the debut album below. A huge “Thank You” to Jesse for spending so much time with me discussing this record!

You can watch episode one of Track X Track with Brent Smith of Shinedown here.

-Meltdown-

  • I Stand Alone

    Jesse told me this song was written around 1989. After finding out he was about to become a first time father, Jesse wrote this song not knowing if he’d ever get back on stage again with his new found responsibility. “It’s overwhelming as a mid-20s guy having kids.” He also talks about a very costly lunch that he partook in as the album was about to be released.

  • Dirty Little Mind

    Jesse explained that this song was released as a single, after their original plan was scrapped because someone started playing “The Lumberjack” on the radio. We’ll get into that later. When asked about the girl in the middle of the song, Jesse said it was a random act of pornography that was captured on tape. He laughed, “That was just a moment in time that just happened to work out.”

  • Down On Me

    This may be the most interesting song I learned about on this episode. Jesse explained that he had written this song several years before the album was recorded. He was at a party where he met the singer from the band Kansas, Steve Walsh, who suggested they should write together sometime. He thought the singer was sincere, so he wrote “Down On Me” with a whole other production in mind, “Kind of like a Foreigner ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ kind of a song,” he said. Kansas never used it; their loss.

  • When Will It Rain

    “When Will It Rain” was another song that was written around the time of his son Nigel’s birth. He said he’d work at the bar all night, then came home where his wife handed him his colicky child. One very cold night, he went down to the basement, set up a four-track recorder and wrote the song. This song was written as a “when will I get a break” kind of a thing, Jesse said. He said the famed A&R man, John Kalodner tried to get him to change the lyric from “rain” to something else. But to him, it didn’t work so it stayed.

  • Redneck Punk

    This is one of the few songs on the record that Jesse didn’t have a hand in writing. Jeff Whorley and original singer Ronnie Honeycutt wrote “Redneck Punk”. Jesse talked about what a good guy Ronnie was at the time and still is. Jesse’s goal was not to break up the band, which he wasn’t in at the time when the song was written, but when Jeff asked him to join, he couldn’t resist. And, he said, being a part of Jackyl has been raucous ever since.

  • The Lumberjack

    This song was a staple at every Jackyl show since 1992, and even before then. Jesse talked about how he even began playing the chainsaw as an instrument in the first place. “What’s a more definitive instrument for rock and roll than a chainsaw?” That’s a great question! “It’s everything rock and roll should be!” he said. Jesse said his dad saw him play the chainsaw at a local bar and said “You need to keep doing that.” He talked about recording it in a studio actually full of chickens. That’s just for starters on this song, he talked a whole lot more about it. Fun fact: Jesse actually gave me the chainsaw they used in the video when he called me up on stage in the fall of 1992. It had the bolts sticking out of the side where the camera was mounted. The band signed it and we auctioned it off for charity. Man, I wish I had that thing today.

  • Reach For Me

    This is probably as close to a love song as Jackyl gets. “It’s the one song I felt was a little different than the rest of them.” He said it’s a big production song, and range-wise, it’s in the key of B.

  • Back Off Brother

    “We’ve been playing ‘Back Off Brother’ recently, and the response has been incredible,” Jesse said. “This is the only song on the album that has any sort of political slant. ‘Back Off Brother’ was me venting,” he added. Of course this makes sense, with the famous line in the song being “Uncle Sam…Kiss My Ass!”

  • Brain Drain

    This was another song Jesse didn’t write. This song was written by Jeff Whorley and original guitarist Jimmy Stiff. Jesse told me about Jeff and Jimmy growing up in the sticks, looking for any way to get drunk. “It wasn’t hard for me to wrap my head around it and sing it with everything I’ve got,” he said. He also talked about the ending of the song in which it fades, then comes back up, and ends cold. “That’s called having your cake and eating it, too,” he said.

  • Just Like A Devil

    “You talk about another song that was full of fire and brimstone,” Jesse said, talking about “Just Like a Devil.” Jesse said that this is another song that’s “up there” in the key of F sharp. He said the lyrics seem to require it.

  • She Loves My C*(k

    This song is another Jackyl classic. One that’s played pretty much at every show, unless there are little ears in the crowd. “It’s a very “Redneck Punk” type of song,” he said. He went into how A&R guy John Kalodner was the one person they wanted to sign the band. He said they were hungry and dirt poor, but so confident in what they had.

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