Jake E. Lee
Jake E Lee’s long awaited comeback has finally become a reality with his new band RED DRAGON CARTEL. Featuring HAREM SCAREM drummer Darren Smith as the lead singer of the band, Jake successfully delivers some magnificent performances showing his continuous talent as a guitar hero. RED DRAGON CARTEL’s debut album features a collection of fascinating tunes along with a variety of guests including Robin Zander of CHEAP TRICK and ex-IRON MAIDEN frontman Paul Di’Anno. Jake E Lee took time to talk to MUSE ON MUSE about his new band and its debut album.
Interview / Text Mamoru Moriyama
Translation Louis Sesto (EAGLETAIL MUSIC)
Muse On Muse : How was your recent guitar clinic in Japan with Warren Demartini? It must have been awhile since you visited Japan the last time.
Jake E. Lee : The clinics were fantastic. The opportunity to come back to Japan after 20 years and to hang with my old friend Warren was amazing. I couldn’t believe anyone would even remember me, let alone get the heartwarming reception I received. I’m grateful for it.
MM : Do you have any plans to do more clinics or even an instructional DVD in the future? I’m sure the fans would love it.
JL : I had no idea how to present a clinic before this, and I am afraid I still don’t! Warren and I just winged it. It was fun but I doubt I would do another. Nor does doing an instructional DVD sound like much fun, but who knows?
MM : Tell us about RED DRAGON CARTEL. How do you feel now that the long awaited album has been released?
JL : I’m relieved the album is finally out. Some of this music has been brewing for quite some time. Being in the studio is fun for a while, then it becomes tedious. Eventually you just have to abandon it and let it go.
MM : Your guitars bring a very energetic feel to the album, as well as the remarkable melodies and a dynamic band sound creating a magnificent album. What was your concept you had in mind for this particular album?
JL : I really didn’t have a preconceived concept in mind. Just to try to write some memorable music and develop it best as we could. I don’t like to get to caught up in how it’s going to be received or mastermind some overall gameplan. To me it is what it is, and for me it’s art.
MM : Please tell us about the guest musicians, and how they ended up playing on the album.
JL : Maria and Chris were recording next door with Kevin, as was Jeremy, and heard some of our stuff and asked to participate. Sass happened to be eating in the restaurant next door with Brent and talking about how she had recently become a huge Badlands fan. Brent told her he was recording some songs with me and I was 100 feet away. Robin and Tom were acquaintances of Ron. Rex, I had run into during the taping of the Metal Show. Paul we found through the internet. Scott we got ahold of through mutual friends. Todd was brought in through his association with Brent in Slash’s band. Whew, did I get everybody?
MM : Darren Smith is also known to the Japanese fans as a member of HAREM SCAREM. Did you know about Darren’s music prior to him joining RED DRAGON CARTEL?
JL : I’m embarrassed to admit I was unfamiliar with HAREM SCAREM.
MM : Listening to the opener, “Deceived”, your driving guitar riff and energetic solo definitely show your trademarks that the fans have been long waiting for.
JL : I did try to give a nod to my past with that song. Thanks for noticing.
MM : Many of your guitar riffs are very catchy and cling to the listeners’ ears. Do you take any particular approach when writing these remarkable riffs?
JL : No particular approach on my part. Only whether or not I found it interesting or fun to play. If it bores me it’s gone.
MM : Robin Zander of Cheap Trick singers on “Feeder”. Can you tell us why you had him sing on this particular song?
JL : It was the first song Ron and I had finished. On listening back to it, it seemed obvious to me that Robin would be the perfect singer for it. Thankfully Robin thought so too!
MM : “Fall From the Sky (Seagull)” sounds very dramatic. The solo in the middle section sounds very beautiful as well, and we can hear you playing the ‘Jake Fake’ too.
JL : Thank you and, good ears! I also did a “Jake Fake” on the solo in Deceived.
RED DRAGON CARTEL L to R : Jonas fairley(dr), D.j. Smith(vo), Jake E. Lee(g), Ronnie Mancuso(b)
MM : “Big Mouth” has a nice heavy groove and the vocals of Maria Brink from IN THIS MOMENT is a great match to the tune. She definitely brings out the brilliance of the song.
JL : She had come into the studio when we were working on that song and upon hearing said, “You’ve gotta let me have a crack at that”. So happy she did!
MM : The vocals on “War Machine” reminded me of Ozzy. During the guitar clinic in Japan, you showed some impersonations of Ozzy Osbourne. Did you give advice to the singer in the same manner?
JL : We wrote that as an homage to Black Sabbath. I don’t recall doing any Ozzy impersonations in Japan. Was I any good?
MM : The album ends with a beautiful piano song “Exquisite Tenderness.” What was the idea behind recording a piano tune?
JL : I was in the bar by the studio and noticed the grand piano in the lounge. It had been awhile since I played so I sat down and played the only tune I could remember. It was the first song I ever wrote back when I was about 14 years old or so. Ron heard it and asked, “What’s that?” I told him and that I had never known what to do with it. He said he did, we should close the album with it. I think it was a good call!
MM : What did you keep in mind during the recordings in regards to your guitar sound? It seems as though your sound was very raw and direct, as we could hear the actual attack from your picking as well as small detailed sounds during sound bends.
JL : I think a lot of it is due to the way and force with which I pick. My pick is at about a 90 degree angle to the strings which gives it a lot of attack, along with a heavy handed picking style. Some of the tracks, the beginning of Wasted, Big Mouth, and Slave were from my computer where I played guitar through a SansAmp directly in. You can still hear that it’s me playing. Most of the tracks though, were recorded through an amp into a cab in the same room I’m playing in, not inside the console room, so I can get more of the nuances of playing next to the cab. Old school.
MM : Please tell us about your gear. What guitars, amps, effectors, foot pedals did you use for this recording?
JL : The majority of the rhythm tracks were done with my 1968 Gibson SG standard. Most of the lead tracks were done with either my 1958 Les Paul Special or 1963 SG Jr. The beginning of the solo on Slave was done on a Gretsch DuoSonic and the solo for Deceived was done with the new Jake E Lee Charvel I had just received. I used a variety of amps. Feeder had a Lockard, Wasted used a Satellite, War Machine and Deceived featured an old 1969 Laney Supergroup, and the bulk of the rest was a combination of an old 50w Plexi Marshall and the EVH I use live. Cabs used contained either Celestion 25w greenbacks or Celestion Gold Alnicos. Pedals included a Johnny Octave fuzz, a Gretsch ExpandaFuzz, Fuzz War, a Bonnie Wah, an EH Frequency Analyzer, Ibanez Swell Flanger, DOD Buzz Box, and whatever struck my fancy at the time. Can’t remember them all.
MM : What do you have coming up next? Tell us about your upcoming schedule.
JL : We’re doing some shows in America down the east coast to Florida where we’ll join the Monsters of Rock Cruise headed for the Bahamas! Then in summer we’re going to Europe where we’ll be doing some festivals followed by a short tour of Japan in July. After that I plan on taking a break and seeing what it is I really want to do. I could very well be done with everything. Depends on how it goes. At least I’ll be able to play in Japan one more time.
MM : Please give a message to the Japanese fans.
JL : Thank you so much for your warm welcome back. Don’t know that I deserve it but am very grateful for it. REALLY looking forward to July when I can be back in Japan. Thank you.
RED DRAGON CARTEL official site : http://reddragoncartel.com/
RED DRAGON CARTEL / Red Dragon Cartel
CD : MICP-11128 AVALON
02.Shout It Out
04.Fall From the Sky (Seagull)
11.Feeder (acoustic version) Bonus Track