Thursday, September 13, 2012
Liar In Wait: An Interview with Jesse Jolly of Amon
1. You're currently playing in Amon, which features the Hoffman brothers of Deicide fame. What's it like playing with them, and why the decision to name the group Amon, which was the original band name before Deicide?
-Being in a band with Eric and Brian has been fulfilling on many levels. I being a huge Deicide fan of course jumped at the opportunity to audition. We all hit it off really well both musically and personality-wise. Eric really helped push me to that next level as a death-metal musician in that I was forced to undergo many long sessions of practice for several months just to be able to pull off what he saw in his “Vision”. He wanted a bass player that was willing to do all of these crazy things like 5 and 6-string sweeps and odd-ball tapping techniques. Basically, he wanted me to play the guitar lines along with him –but on bass. Many times I felt that I really wanted to be more left to my own accord as far as playing whatever I felt would work best but it is his and Brian’s band, and I wanted to be there for them in whatever they felt they needed. They’re both really awesome people and I felt that they deserved that. It’s one thing to be a musician in a band and do whatever you want. –But I do consider myself somewhat of an aspiring session musician as well. And it’s very important to know your place in the grand scheme of things.
2. You've been quite a prolific musician, playing with many big names in metal. What got you into metal and made you want to become a musician?
–I suppose I really got my start as many others have: We begin to notice the power and high energy of metal at a very young age, through bands like Accept, Metallica, Iron Maiden, King Diamond/Merciful Fate, etc. There’s so much there to be attracted to. The vibe is just so empowering and fulfilling. My story is not much different than many of us who just heard it and fell in love with it. I picked up my first bass when I was just about to turn 12. I remember the very first night that I brought it home. I learned the vocal harmony of “Come as you are” by Nirvana. lol –I just played the notes on the bass. It wasn’t long after that, that I realized that I had a pretty good ear for just hearing something and learning it. It was all a very simple concept to me. Like-“You hear that note? Well… just play it. Just make sure you’re in tune, find the note and play it.” Of course a big wrench in my gears happened when I discovered that bands were using alternate tunings. That can really make learning by ear a pain in the ass.
3. How did you get together with Mike Browning (former Morbid Angel drummer) in After Death?
–If I recall correctly, I believe that began with me befriending the keyboardist at the time, Jason Kiss. He’s an amazing player who lives in Texas now, I think. I met him at the Brass Mug, here in Tampa, and we hit it off over some booze. He put the bug in my ear that he was jamming with Mike and asked if I’d be interested in auditioning. Mike is just an awesome guy. –As well as Damian Heftel, (still the guitar player at this time). So we immediately became friends. I helped write a couple of songs with them and we recorded an EP. I guess the main reason I stopped working with them was a simple difference in styles. Most of us know Mike for his time in Nocturnus and Morbid Angel. He has definitely stayed true to his roots… And I can certainly appreciate that. At the time I just had a different opinion of what direction I thought the band should go, vocally. I am more into the brutal growling type of vocals, as far as death-metal is concerned. Mike is much more “Old-School” in his approach. –A bit more “Thrashy” if you will. But there again, it is really Mike’s band and I would have never wanted to compromise his view of what After Death should really sound like.
4. Lull Me To Larvae is a much different venture than many of the other projects you've been involved in. What made you want to delve into a more classically-oriented sound?
–I must admit, I’m a huge fan of the earlier work of a Norwegian composer, Mortiis. I can honestly say that his later work is of no value to me, mainly because I’m not a fan of industrial music. –But man, His first few albums really made an enormous impact on me. Also, Danny Elfman has always been a huge inspiration to me. I started out with a solo project by the name of “As Under”. It was very similar to Lull Me To Larvae. All keyboards and primarily clean vocals. I pressed a record with As Under entitled “Sonata Word” and I sent out a few copies here and there, but never truly got the response I had hoped for from a record label standpoint. I just never found the right market for it. Not long after I met up with Michael Goodyear. I met him through his brother Nick, who I (once again), met at the Brass Mug. Mike checked out the As Under stuff, and was very interested in potentially getting involved. Mike is hands down, the most prolific writer/composer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He showed me a couple of tunes he had thrown together. (Things he had written before we ever met.) –And it was so close to what I was doing that it was eerie. All I had to do was think of a name for the project, and there it was. We have re-worked some of the old As Under material and converted it to Lull Me To Larvae. –But we write new material almost constantly. Our first album “Preservation of Madness” is completed and pressed. We’re just looking for label interest. We have our second album completed, yet to be pressed, and it’s a double-disc. The third album is completed as well, yet to be pressed. To be perfectly honest, this is my most valued project. I will never stop trying to push this one. Mike and I have put a lot of time, effort and emotion into it. –And we’ll continue to write, regardless of any outcome or lack of label interest.
5. Considering all the bands you've been in and the show's you've played, what is your opinion on the metal scene today? Do you feel it is growing/devolving/becoming stagnant? What bands have caught your attention in recent years?
–My opinion of the metal scene is that it’s oversaturated. It has never been more difficult for great bands to get adequate recognition in this day and age. It’s almost impossible to make money in Metal these days, without certain things in your favor-(money, location, eyeliner, 80’s flop hair-doo’s, etc). I can’t even look at many “Metal Magazines” these days without gagging. -So many little boys that want to be pretty. It’s just pathetic. The metal scene needs a sort of a “return to form” as it were… (Less bull-shit and more talent and inspiration). As a result of this oversaturation, the true metal scene is becoming more and more stagnant. Not to mention that the market itself is promoting A.D.D. by ushering in the “Digital Age.” Too many people are buying 1 or 2 songs on-line as opposed to a whole record. (LAME!!!) As far as bands that have caught my attention- I really have gotten into the European-Folk scene. Ensiferum, Finntroll, Korpiklaani, etc. I’ll always love the Death and Black-Metal, but I’ve really taken a liking to the more “Folk(y)” stuff.
6. Tell us about your time in Crimson Massacre and in Diabolic.
–My time with Crimson Massacre was seemingly brief. I believe I played with them for about a year or so. It wasn’t a very effective situation due to the fact that two of the members resided in Texas, while the vocalist Pete Olen and I were here in Tampa. We played about 5 shows between Tampa and Orlando but other than that, it didn’t really demand a lot of my time, so to speak. On the other hand, learning the material was very demanding. The guitar player/song writer James Jackson is a phenomenal musician. He pretty much introduced me to the more technical style of death-metal. He was writing the craziest and most frantic stuff that I had heard at the time, and I really struggled to learn a lot of it. –But I have him to thank for much of my versatility and skill as a bass player. I’ve always been a fan of a frustrating challenge, and James knows how to really bring a challenge. I dropped out of the Crimson line-up due to time constraints, which may seem contradictory. –But after James sent me the tracks for what was to be the new album, I just couldn’t dedicate the hours to getting it done right. At the time, I was in about 4 other projects. One of which being Blastmasters/Diabolic. When I moved here from North-East Tennessee, one of the very first people I met was Aantar Coates- (yet again, at the Brass Mug.) I recognized him from the picture in my copy of “Vengeance Ascending”. He was just blown away that I recognized him. –Which came as a surprise to me because I was essentially just some random dude. We became close friends and not long after, he called me up asking if I’d be interested in starting a band. He had just departed from Unholy Ghost and was looking to keep the ball rolling, musically. So we started “Blastmasters” which was a name that I hated and found to be very silly, but the music was great and I absolutely loved being a part of it. So after a demo, an album and a couple years with many gigs here in the U.S., Aantar called me up and basically said “Hey, Diabolic just broke up and now the name is up for grabs. We’re now going to be Diabolic.” I was not onboard with the decision to discontinue Blastmasters and change the name to Diabolic. We stopped playing the Blastmasters songs and migrated over to doing just the Diabolic tunes. The whole idea behind starting Blastmasters was to “Out-do” everything Aantar had done in the past. –And I felt that we had done that. So naturally I was just not feeling it. I dropped out of the line-up and went my own way. I’m still great friends with all of those guys, though.
7. What do you think are some of the most overrated bands in metal?
–I usually get shot down for my feelings on this issue, but the one of most overrated bands in my opinion is Slayer. Being a bass player/vocalist I never found anything Tom Araya did as inspirational. Slayer definitely had some classics, and I think we can all agree on that. –But I was never truly impressed with them. There are plenty of other bands that I feel were/are majorly overrated, but I certainly don’t want to alienate their fan-bases. Not to mention the fact that some of the members are now deceased and I would not wish to speak ill of their work and accomplishments.
8. Are there any live performances that were particularly memorable for you?
-Absolutely. My first real band “Evixion” (pronounced eviction) got the opportunity to provide direct support for Hatebreed. This was in my hometown area in Tennessee. Nearly every friend and family member we had showed up to support us. We had a mosh-pit of what had to have been 100 people during our last song. That was probably my favorite moment on stage because of the overwhelming vibe. I think the head count was just over 4,000 people in this place. There was just so much honor in being “hand-selected” by Jamey Jasta to open for them. I’m not a fan of Hatebreed’s music but that was just an awesome experience.
9. What musicians would you like to collaborate with in the future?
–I would love to get the chance to work with King Diamond. I just turned 30, but ever since I was 14 I have been a diehard Diamond fan. I have every album he’s done with Merciful Fate and his self-titled band. I’m a bigger fan of the actual King Diamond stuff but either way he’s one of my biggest inspirations in many ways. Perhaps another artist I’d like to work with would be Pat O’Brien from Cannibal Corpse. I’m good friends with all of the Cannibal guys but I’ve always especially enjoyed interacting with Pat.- Super-cool guy and very talented.
10. What are the plans for the future? Any other projects/albums in the works?
–I stay pretty busy with music, so yes- I have a lot of things coming down the pipeline. I’ve already mentioned the Lull Me To Larvae stuff. Mike and I are ready to jump at the first chance we get to make a good name for that project. Mike and I are also in a sort of Black-Metal/Folk band named “Promethean Horde.” Mike’s brother Nick (also the drummer for Paths of Possession) does the lead vocals for that project. We play shows all the time. –Including past shows with Korpiklaani, Moonspell and many others. We have a show coming up in December with Cannibal Corpse that apparently just got announced. We should have an album in the works as well. I’m currently working with Paths of Possession, which has been a lot a fun. That band has George from Cannibal Corpse doing vocals, so that’s a collaboration that I’ve always wanted to do. –And it looks like I might be playing on their 3rd studio release. As it stands, I’m filling in for the original bass player (Randy Butman) who is currently in the Army and overseas. –But if they want me in there full-time, I would have to accept. Lastly, I have a sort of “Dark-Country” project that I’m doing with guitar player Jack Goodwin of Promethean Horde, Paths of Possession and Cancerslug. The name of the project is “Jekyll and the Ripper” and I really can only compare it to creepy/depressed Johnny Cash. Some of the material is more traditional country music, but a lot of it is really sort of strange and haunting. We have a 3-song demo out entitled “Whiskey, Sorrow, Death.” Jack and I are currently in pre-production for our first full length album entitled “Heathen’s Grave” and we take the project very seriously. We’re currently also seeking label interest.
11. Thanks for your time Jesse. Any last words for the masses out there?
–Many thanks to Joshua Pratt and Kathy Dorado for giving me this interview. –And thank you to all of the music fans out there for helping people like me realize their dreams of just simply being heard and appreciated. Please help keep music scenes alive by spreading the word and coming out to the shows. Also, help us moderate the digital revolution by purchasing CD’s instead of individual songs online. Sites like Youtube.com are fantastic for helping us weed through the less desirables. –But please help your favorite musicians and bands do what they do and purchase their music from a legitimate source. (Preferably on CD- lol)
Check out Amon and Lull Me To Larvae
And for more information, contact Jesse Jolly here