GUEST APPEARANCE - Jameson Raid
Jameson Raid’s new album ‘Uninvited Guests’ might not be what you’d expect, as vocalist Terry Dark reveals…
“It’s always a pity when people don’t like what you’re doing, but what can you do?” asks Terry Dark, rhetorically. “Maybe they expected only old style JR playing only the old NWOBHM songs? Well, I don’t mind playing a few of the old songs and mixing them up a bit but I don’t want to play only old stuff,” he says, emphasising the word ‘only’. “Too boring, and, y’know, I've moved on as well.”
The topic of the conversation is a review of the band’s performance at Brofest in March. Jameson Raid headlined the final night, and played a set which was far more representative of where they are now than one which wallowed in nostalgia; and for some reviewers this was tantamount to heresy.
“There’s nothing wrong with the NWOBHM at all but the best bands move on,” Terry continues. “We are still pushing ahead soundwise; less brash, I think, with more polish and with thirty-plus years of influences in our minds and hearts that we’ve picked up along the way. The drums are obviously tighter and more modern sounding; the guitars are often doubled, and we have introduced some subtle, orchestral effects into some songs; also a modern trend.”
All this can be heard on ‘Uninvited Guests’. The band’s first ever album of new material, ‘Uninvited Guests’ is set for release next month but slipcase versions have been available at recent gigs, where a number of the songs have been worked into the set. It’s an ambitious and exciting album which, as Terry suggests, takes the still-recognisable sound of Jameson Raid from the twentieth to the twenty-first century. Songs like ‘Mr Sunset’, ‘Red Moon’ and ‘SS Idol Tearz’ – listen to that solo! – are quite obviously distant cousins to what the band were writing back in the 1980s, retaining the edginess and seemingly-understated malevolence that lies deep beneath the surface of a lot of the band’s material, but the eleven cuts on offer can easily hold their own against anything released by any of the new kids on the block. And ‘Metal People’ re-invents the metal anthem, avoiding the clichés but still being something we can all sing our hearts out to, loud ’n’ proud.
“I’m very glad you like the songs,” replies Terry. “It’s our best effort to date. ‘…Tearz’ seems to be popular with those who already have a copy, and ‘Red Moon’ I really like as well. From a vocals point of view though ‘…Tearz’ is my favourite. I was able to layer the vocals in the choruses to give choice and depth whilst starting the song quite simply. Adding the harmonies was very pleasing work, and the final mix bought a tear to my eyes. Don’t tell anyone!” he laughs. “I’m still enjoying my own lyrics as well” – another laugh – “which is not always the case!”
For the actual songwriting process a look in the rear view mirror was the starting point. “Pete [Green – bassist, and at just 16 years old a member of the line-up Terry refers to as JR2 in the early Eighties] and I love metal music, and we love the JR sound. The old ‘hits’ like ‘7 Days of Splendour’ and ‘Catcher In The Rye’ express the JR sound beautifully and have strong lyrical content; they have something different as well – their arrangements. Despite being seven minutes long, ‘Catcher…’ manages to hold the listener’s attention because of the dips and peaks in the arrangement: there are a number of musical segments that flow together to form one complete whole. ‘7 Days…’ is unusual as well as it has no standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo format. The second part of the song is musically a repeat of the first, and the solo comes at the end. So, when sitting down to write ‘Uninvited Guests’ we kept these things in mind, as well as the evolution of JR's music which we feel must take place. As you said, it’s our first ever full album with all new songs and, personally speaking, I think it works very well. Pete and I worked intensely on the music, lyrics and arrangements, and Dave [Rothan – guitars] and Lars [Wickett – drums] added a great deal to that mix. The sound is JR anno 2015 and that's what we wanted to achieve – still recognisably JR but evolved, transmogrified.”
As the sound has evolved, as has the band. How would Terry describe his “anno 2015” band mates? The singer laughs. “Ah, well, Pete, of course, I’ve known since 1980 when he bought his unique style to the band; he’s an easy-going guy who loves to play, play, play, and he's full of enthusiasm. He’s developed into an excellent songwriter and some of his riffs on ‘Uninvited Guests’ are sublime, unbelievably strong. Lars is a young gun with loads of balls, fanatic about his drumming, a cooler character, disciplined, and always looking at ways to improve things. His unusual drumstyle is obviously modern and I think this disturbs the NWOBHM purists somewhat! And Dave is more reserved off stage, less approachable than the rest of us; he's a perfectionist and will bite into something like a fanged beast and worry about it until it’s either solved or dead. His playing is outstanding, opening new vistas for us, and his solos are exciting. If I listen to his solo on ‘Breaking Point’ it’s massive, it’s magic, and it hits every spot I’ve got! All three guys are damn good musicians and together we’ll explore whatever’s possible.”
And how would they describe their enigmatic and charismatic frontman? Another laugh. “Best ask them that one! I think they’d say I’m not up-to-date in some areas and I need some help... But that's OK with me. I can live with that!”
‘Uninvited Guests’ will be available at first from www.jamesonraid.co.uk from 1 July – pre-orders are being taken now.
© John Tucker May 2015