Marry heavy metal raunch to the traditional Southern rock boogie, and the baby will look something like Jackyl. The band's debut album, Jackyl, sold more than 1.2 million copies, due in part to the inclusion of a chainsaw solo on the single "The Lumberjack." The record remains one of the most consistently selling rock releases of the 1990s. Their second release, Push Comes To Shove, was awarded a gold record, the band appeared on the Beavis & Butthead soundtrack which went platinum, and their recording Woodstock '94, also went gold. Jackyl worked with AC/DC's frontman Brian Johnson on the single "Locked and Loaded," the firsttime a member of AC/DC had collaborated with another band.
Founded in 1990, Jackyl is comprised of vocalist Jesse James Dupree from Georgia, drummer Chris Worley and guitarists Jeff Worley and Jimmy Stiff from South Carolina, and bassist Tom Bettini from Tennessee. The band is part of a Southern powerhouse lineage that extends back to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. Jackyl rates higher on the raunch-o-meter than most of their Southern forebears however, evident in their list of influences which spans the greats of heavy metal as well as their ambition. As Dupree told Alex Richter of Rocknet, "We want to get up there with Metallica and Aerosmith."
Jackyl's first release was Jackyl in 1992, a record which went on to sell sold more than 2.1 million copies. Their 1994 second album, Push Comes To Shove, went gold despite the fact that there was no video, no MTV airplay, and no hit single. The album's success was a tribute to the power of Jackyl's touring and its attention to keeping its fanatic fan base satisfied. And it proved what Jackyl knew all alonghat there were lots of fans out there. "Most bands get supported at, say, MTV or radio...then the people say the TV or the radio stations program the people because the people see it or hear it so much that they go for it," Dupree told Gargano. "Ours has been kind of reversed from all that, we have forced people to deal with us because they know the [audience] is there for us ... at Woodstock '94 ... because of the numbers we were doing touring, they couldn't deny that there were people there to see us."
Jackyl attracted a broad audience, well, a broad audience of metal heads. It's not unusual to see a teenager in a heavy metal T-shirt sitting next to someone twice his age sporting a Hank Jr. or Rolling Stones T-shirt. A number of factors contributed to Jackyl's popularity. For one thing, they don't mess with the heavy metal formula. "Think balls-to-the-wall vocal delivery, with Jackyl's guitar-driven and blues-hued-musical fury, and you've got a clue what to expect," wrote Paul Gargano in Metal Edge. "When this fox runs through radio's henhouse, more than feathers are going to get ruffled ... just the stuff we've come to expect from Jackyl." And like metal mentors Kiss and AC/DC, Jackyl has never hesitated to behave outrageously whether giving their songs outrageous titles guaranteed to put off parents, feminists, and all the other forces of decency, performing naked, or even posing in the buff for Playgirl magazine. Dupree told Gargano, "We are what we are ... and we'll continue doing what we do because we are what we are, and we're not trying to change."
Another reason for the devotion of Jackyl's fans is the band's relentless tour schedule. Besides backing up established bands with a built-in metal following, like Aerosmith, Kiss, ZZ Top, and Ted Nugent, Jackyl embraces a work ethic that is outright puritan. In 1998, the band demolished the Guinness Book of World Records mark for most live performances in the shortest period held by George Thorogood and The Destroyers. Thorogood had played 52 shows in 50 days; Jackyl played 100 performances in 50 days in 27 different states! On October 2, 1998, in Abilene, Texas, the band played 21 gigs on a single day, which must also be some kind of record.
The band's members take their live shows very seriously and will do nearly anything to entertain the crowd. Even if it means firing up a chainsaw or blasting Dupree out of a cannon as they did in 1998, no sacrifice is too great. Audience members often become part of Jackyl's show as well, and it isn't unusual for Dupree to pull an audience member up on stage with him.
If there's one thing Jackyl isn't, it's a bunch of sensitive poets singing to a cultivated, delicate audience. Dupree admitted to Geffen Records that Jackyl wasn't interested in providing "introspective soul-searching, political commentary, or onstage self-righteousness." The type of thing Jackyl is interested in, for example, is chainsaws.
"Dupree's father attended one of Jackyl's early concerts," Jeff Worley told journalist Georgia Lecorchick, "and said, 'You boys are makin' enough of a racket, you oughtta bring a chainsaw on stage.' So we did." Jackyl took a camera and a chainsaw down to the local Long Horn Steak House where they planned to shoot a video for their single "The Lumberjack" in 1998. No one bothered to inform diners what was about to come off. When Dupree fired up his chainsaw in the restaurant and attacked a table with it, nervous patrons dove for cover.
Dupree explained the band's approach. "Real America is where people work for a living," he is quoted on Oberheim's Main Event website. "When the day is over and they spend their hard-earned money on rock and roll, they deserve to get their money's worth... It's just a fact that you're always going to have trends. Trends are cute, but we're proud that we're not the flavor of the day. We're just a straight up rock band." Band members are as loyal to Jackyl as its fans are. They have stuck together since the band's inception in the early 1990s. "It would be real hard for us to ever think of replacing anyone," Dupree told Richter, "because we're so close as a band and kind of close in our personal lives."
Since 1998, Jackyl has released three albums. Its third record, Night of the Living Dead, released in 1996, was a Jackyl project from start to finish. The band wrote, recorded, packaged, and released the album themselves on their own labelith the help from the people at Mayhem. Cut the Crap followed in 1997, and both Stayin' Alive and Choice Cuts, which featured covers of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band" and "I Am the Walrus" by the Beatles, appeared in 1998..
The band's straight-ahead, in-your face-and-groin, sound will continue to rock metal heads of all ages. And while it's unlikely that Jackyl will ever redefine its sound, the band will surely find new ways to entertain, shock, and deafen its fanatically loyal audiences.
Jackyl, Geffen, 1992.
Push Comes to Shove, Geffen, 1994.
Night of the Living Dead, Mayhem, 1996.
Cut the Crap, Sony/Epic, 1997.
Stayin'Alive, Sony/Epic, 1998.
Choice Cuts, Geffen, 1998.
Metal Edge, September 1997.
AMG All Media Guide, 1998: http://www.amg.com
Lecorchick, Georgia, Rock Me, Roll Me, Jackyl Me Off, 1998; http://www.geffen.com
The Main Event magazine: Jackyl's Jesse James Dupree: Playing for Real America, .
Woods, John: ROC Talk: Rock Me, Roll Me, Jackyl Me Off, 1994; http://www.geffen.com
Additional source material was provided by the publicity department of Epic Records.
B. Kimberly Taylor
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