Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: January 2009
Brian Rademacher: Congrats on the new CD, I have to say Iím really not a rap fan but the ďSwan SongsĒ release has sides of just about every genre and if rock or aggressive music fans give it a listen Iím sure they would like it.
J-Dog: Yeah, thanks man, weíre getting a good reaction from the rock fans because they say we do it with enough taste that they love the album. Weíve all been in so many bands; metal music was with us throughout.
Brian Rademacher: Tell me what J-dog was like in his school years?
J-Dog: (laughing) thatís the first time I was ever asked that question. Basically I never went to school. I guess I stopped when I was twelve years old and sent away to a boot camp and whatís pretty wild is another member in the band was sent away to the same boot camp. This was a few years back and we didnít even know each other. Technically, if I went to school I would have went to Hollywood High because itís down the block from where I lived. I spent most of my time skateboarding and playing music.
Brian Rademacher: What was the first CD you owned?
J-Dog: It was a cassette and it was Warren GĎs first album from 1996. I bought it at the Warehouse.
Brian Rademacher: How about the first concert you ever attended?
J-Dog: It was THE WHO. My mom took me to the Hollywood Bowl, I lived close to it. That was awesome and that is where I started to pick up the bass because THE WHOís bass player did a ten minute solo and that was awesome.
Brian Rademacher: At what age did you lose your virginity?
J-Dog: Fourteen and she was a crazy slut. I met her at the boot camp, because the boot camp was for girls and guys but they were separated. She banged several of my friends at the same time. I really didnít care I was fourteen, but I waited a few month before I did it. I remember RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE was blasting in my ear. My friend was in the other room where he was with his girlfriend. Great to lose your virginity too RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE!
Brian Rademacher: When you were in negotiations with A&M/Octone was it tense at all?
J-Dog: We were already signed to Interscope and we had a deal going on with MySpace Records. I think Interscope and Octone had a joint venture going on. So we went in there and we were already signed and when Octone heard it they wanted it. The label had some ideas and we had some ideas and we both hit it off. Theyíre great.
Brian Rademacher: So you had no restrictions?
J-Dog: No, we tried to keep it as raw as possible with Octone, but MySpace records wanted to censor some of the lyrics and we told them we wonít do that. Even when Octone came in and heard it they said to MySpace Ďwhy isnít this record out? Itís awesome, it needs to be outí. MySpace Records turned around and said because of the censorship issues. Octone said weíre willing to put it out. Fuck it.
Brian Rademacher: What was it like at your first show with the whole band?
J-Dog: It was crazy. I didnít know what to expect and our first show was in Bakersfield, CA. It was for a thousand people and sold out. I was in shock; people were flying off speakers and we were jumping into the crowd. It was amazing; I didnít expect it to go so well.
Brian Rademacher: Are you taken back that so many promotional venues are open to the band, like "UNDEAD" is featured on the Madden NFL 09 soundtrack and another track is on Rock Band 2?
J-Dog: Itís coming quick and itís amazing, but for us, we are levelheaded dudes and it will not affect us. Itís cool to hear all that stuff but weíll still be the same no matter what happens. Iím happy and it makes my mom happy. Iím pretty straight.
Brian Rademacher: Do you feel since you wear the mask you can go out on a limb with the lyrics?
J-Dog: It definitely makes it easier wearing the mask even though people know who we are. We would still write the lyrics with or without the masks but we do have the luxury of people not knowing who we are. Whatís nice is that there are bus posters all over L.A. and I have the luxury of not having people stop me and asking questions and things like that. But we would be singing the same thing with or without the masks.
Brian Rademacher: Have you been to New York City yet?
J-Dog: Yeah, most of my family is from BrooklynBay Ridge. How about you?
Brian Rademacher: I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Queens and then to New Jersey because the taxes were too high in NY.
J-Dog: Yeah, they are fucking ridiculous; I heard a pack of cigarettes are way high in New York, like $8 to $10 a pack. I also have family in New Jersey. My sister lives in Blackwood, NJ.
Brian Rademacher: Letís get to some of the tracks on the album. ďSell Your SoulĒ seems to me a dream that canít be achieved. Am I on the right track?
J-Dog: Yeah, you got it. Itís basically about the struggles in life and its like people try to do stuff and they just canít do it. Itís about struggles and hardships of everyday life. We wanted to make a heavier song and it all fell into place.
Brian Rademacher: I think it was the song ďYoungĒ that had a choir in there and it really gave the song heart. I liked it.
J-Dog: Yeah, it was two little girls that are both choir singers. It came out awesome. Even my mom started crying when she heard it; she said it came out so beautiful.
Brian Rademacher: I think it was the last song ďParadise LostĒ that you used violins, which came out great.
J-Dog: Yeah, we used a violin and a big grand piano. Like I said, most of us used to be in different bands and our singer writes most of the songs and music. He has a European background and has instrumentation in his blood.
Brian Rademacher: Is it really that hard to live in L.A.?
J-Dog: L.A. got a facelift recently; there were places where I couldnít even walk around because you would get jacked. I had a knife pulled on me a million times. Iíve been pistol-whipped. This was all over the place, the city used to be run by gangs. But now they really cleaned up the whole entire city, itís definitely different from when I was growing up to now. Thereís a bunch of yuppies living here now.
Brian Rademacher: Whatís your perception of the police there?
J-Dog: No Comment, but itís a double-edged sword because I canít say I hate them because without them it would be anarchy but the fucking assholes who arrested me for drinking on the street ran my name and took me to jail. Fucking when I was in jail I was supposed to fly to Baltimore, MD to play a festival and I almost didnít make it. The whole band would have been fucked. The county jail is overcrowded so they let me go.
Brian Rademacher: Do you have a favorite song on ďSwan SongsĒ?
J-Dog: ďCity SongĒ. It has all our favorite music put into one.
Brian Rademacher: I really donít have a favorite because there are so many great songs from ďUndeadĒ to ďCaliforniaĒ to ďPimpinĒ. People just need to give it a listen.
J-Dog: Yeah, we are getting a great response. The thing is we have all our favorite types of music on there. If you buy a metal album or a rap album you get ten or twelve songs all metal or all rap. We mixed it up well. Our CD gets you up, brings you down. It goes through all your emotions and dynamics and you donít get bored listening to it.
Brian Rademacher: The first song on the record, ďUndeadĒ, is also the first song I heard by you guys and that song really pumps you up and gets you hooked on the band.
J-Dog: Yeah, a lot of people like that song. Some idiot in North Carolina did a review and said this band sucks, they stole a PAPA ROACH riff. Itís one of the riffs from Ozzy, one of the best fucking rockers in the world and itís a tribute to Ozzy. Is that guy from North Carolina a fucking idiot? All he wrote was invalid. I love it when people talk shit, it cracks me up. I really donít care and I donít get offended, it makes me laugh. At least get your facts right.
Brian Rademacher: I read you have a clothing company called L.A. Pride?
J-Dog: No, thatís my roommates company. She lives right next to me. She makes T-shirts up and sells them. She pretty much sponsored our band. Her name is Lauren.
Brian Rademacher: Was ďParadise LostĒ an easy song to write?
J-Dog: Fuck NO! That was probably the hardest song to work on. It was physically straining on everybody. Johhny 3 Tears wrote so many different versus and Deuce wrote so many different versus and choruses and meshed them together and wrote them and rewrote them. It was really challenging to record that song and it came out the best it possibly could. Johhny is not really religious but heís very educated on the subject and wrote some pretty crazy lyric s and getting into some deep stuff. He will be getting out of jail just before our tour. Heís one of them smart dudes thatís too smart for his own good.
Brian Rademacher: What are you expecting from the European crowds?
J-Dog: I know our label e-mailed us asking for the band to be escorted out there because itís not a good idea having six guys partying and not being taken care of. Weíre worried that we wonít be coming back laughing.
Brian Rademacher: You have any feelings on Eminem?
J-Dog: I think heís extremely talented and everyone in our band respects him and listens to his music and he inspires some in the band.
Brian Rademacher: How about New Kids On The Block?
J-Dog: Didnít they just have a new album come out? Well I know we played a show in the same town as them and they had a shit-load of people there.
Brian Rademacher: Who do you listen to nowadays?
J-Dog: I listen to a lot of different bands but lately I listen to BRING ME THE HORIZON from England and MARCY PLAYGROUND a band from the 90ís. I listen to them non-stop.
Brian Rademacher: Has your life changed at all since the new CD has come out?
J-Dog: Going on tour changed a little bit but coming home people have changed a little bit towards us. We get invited to these high-class parties and clubs now. We donít go to them because I want to be on the streets and drink and hang with my friends.
Brian Rademacher: Since the album came out and is doing great, do you get more girls and sex now?
J-Dog: On the road girls throw themselves at you but thatís for any band. Back home I get no pussy. With the mask people donít know what the fuck I look like so once I get home itís all the sameÖ no pussy.
Brian Rademacher: When do you expect another album to be released?
J-Dog: Once we finish our touring cycleÖ maybe a year or two from now? We have about 30 songs out there right now with the Internet and youtube. Thatís enough for two albums.
Brian Rademacher: What does image mean to you?
J-Dog: Hold on, Iím looking out my window and there some porn stars walking up the blockÖ
I know how important it is to have a band have those kinds of images and it could be the same band doing the same music. Meaning one band wearing bell bottoms and the next band looking like M÷TLEY CR‹E. The band looking like M÷TLEY CR‹E is going to get bigger. Itís extremely important for everyone in the band, we are who we are.
Brian Rademacher: Your image was that from the band or a product of the record company?
J-Dog: Fuck NO! The record company hasnít changed our image or our music. Everything about our band is authentic. We made the masks, we made our image, and we dress the way we want to dress. Itís 100% us. If they tried to change us it would fuck everything up and if they did we wouldnít listen anyway.
Brian Rademacher: J-dog itís been a total pleasure talking with you and continued success with the new CD ďSwan SongsĒ, itís amazing.
J-Dog: Thanks man, cool, sorry about all the yelling in the background thatís my friends hanging out.
Brian Rademacher: No man, thatís cool, I love it. Later.