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Articles Home » Interviews » Damon, Jesse - 2002 Interview
 
Damon, Jesse - 2002 Interview


INTERVIEW: Damon, Jesse (Dec 2002)
The Silent Rage mainman goes solo.. his latest venture.

In The Spotlight - The Hand That Rocks - Jesse Damon
Interview with - Jesse Damon
Written by: Gdazegod (December 28 , 2002)

Dec 2002: Striking out on his own for the first time is singer and guitarist Jesse Damon. Away from the heavy pyrotechnics of his band Silent Rage, to the calmer and more gentile suburbs of melodic-tropolis. Well that's how the PR might come across but believe you me, it's pretty hard to change the spots on a leopard, and Jesse's no different. 2002 has been an active year for the Silent Rage frontman. The successful comeback of the band, the release of a new album 'Still Alive', and first ever tours to Europe, and now this debut solo album 'The Hand That Rocks' completing what must be a year to remember.

During the nineties when Silent Rage were in hiatus, Jesse first had thoughts of putting together his own music. Even to the point of shopping his solo material to interested parties. This is how the rekindling of interest with Silent Rage came about. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, energies were directed towards a Silent Rage comeback, even though his solo venture was put on hold. The latter part of 2002 was a good time to redirect time and resource to 'The Hand That Rocks' sessions, with a significant helping hand from AOR hero Paul Sabu. So, after many years in the making, 'The Hand That Rocks' is finally a reality! Enter Jesse Damon. 'Thank you George. It's been a long time coming. There's been a great big feeling of anticipation from everything you could imagine one goes through to release a CD. I truly believe that this is the first of many more Solo CD's to come from me.'

Even with the long break between 1989/1990 and current day, the urge to release solo material away from Silent Rage, considering the band had become inactive at this point must have been strong. 'Yeah I'd say it started in the mid 90's as you mentioned, when Silent Rage was on their extended hiatus' agrees Jesse. 'I was itching to write and record more Silent Rage material, but the climate around the industry was changing from grunge to boy/girl pop bands and hard core rap metal. That wasn't me at all, so I started writing what I like to refer to as timeless melodic songs. I asked Paul Sabu if he'd like to co-write and produce these songs which eventually became 'The Hand That Rocks' CD.'

I think stylistically it moves in a direction quite apart from Silent Rage. This was a deliberate ploy on your part? And I'll also hasten to add that most of the album has a smoother sound. I'm sure it will appeal to the fluffy AOR brigade out there more than most. 'Absolutely' says Jesse. It was deliberate, but not a ploy, it was how I was feeling, and the kind of mood I felt like writing to represent myself as a solo artist. In Silent Rage, each member brought a style with him into the nucleus of the band, that's what gives us our signature sound. My contribution has always been on the melodic side, EJ (Curse) brought in a heavier side, and Mark (Hawkins) brought in a Bluesier side. As for 'Fluffy?' Haha.. when I write and record songs, I don't write them for a particular genre audience, I write what comes from my heart, and soul, and mind. Yes, I want the Silent Rage fans, and as many listeners as possible to love it, what's more important to me is I love what I'm doing, so let the chips fall where they may.'

Though in saying that, Jesse still hasn't sacrificed those razor edges riffs in amongst the melody. There's still a bit of guitar fury in there, especially for all those die-hard Silent Rage fans. 'I'm glad you mentioned this' points out Jesse. 'It's a mixture of style, and by interjecting an edgy riff, or a little bit of fury here and there, that's me also. I love to explore with writing, and playing. So for the record, I wanted to interject some of that kind of playing I'm known for. You know, 'jamming', and playing hard.'

However, when compared to Silent Rage's latest effort 'Still Alive', 'THTR' is a vastly different affair, and one which sees Jesse's creative side coming to the fore. 'Thanks, well, you have to have continuity through a whole CD, and there is a big difference in the chord structures, and lyric content between those two CD's. I approached things in a different way all together, because I used different inversions of chords. When I wrote the lyrics for each song, they came from a personal experience, or I felt with some songs, the material and lyric is much more introspective, than some of the tongue and cheek style you heard on the 'Still Alive' CD.'

Jesse has an array of musical tastes ranging from the fast and furious, to the classy arrangements of many melodic rockers. However, it is apparent that Jesse has always had an inkling for that softer/subtler touch. Whether it's a Foreigner type ballad, or a Bad Company bluesy rocker. 'Yes! I love a lot of styles of music, and because of that, I'm open to a vast amount of influences that colour, and create who I am as an artist. Let me give some of your readers an idea about some of the theme's of the songs on THTR:

Titles and Themes
Gotta Let It Go - A recurring dream of a relationship that's hard to let go!
Bad Bizzness - Acting selfish, and hurting the one you love!
Love Isn't Love - Two people give away their love to each other, and it's forever!
Lay the Blame - Discovering that love can sting, as well as sooth
Help Me - The struggle between good and evil!
Do You Feel Lucky Tonight - Falling for a seductive girl from the wrong side of town.
If She'd Be Mine - In love with someone who thinks your just friends!
Everybody Needs Somebody - Needing to find one's soul mate
Dear Sanity - Deep in thought, and asking your sub conscience what to do!
Someone Like You - Wondering, how can I be so lucky to have this person in my life?
Heart Of Love - When I'm not there, her memories of me sustain her



Many people know Jesse as a pretty awesome lead guitarist in a heavy rock band, yet many of the songs on THTR show a delicate side, perhaps in contrast to the material that many know him by. I asked Jesse how did he think the die-hard SR fans would relate to the change? 'I think the hard core rockers might be selective of certain songs they like, but the hard core fans will appreciate the depth, and growth of me as a solo artist. I chose not to compete with myself, or Silent Rage' he says. 'Maybe sometime in the future, I might decide to write and perform a CD that's of a harder rock vein. I'll leave that door open.'

As a writer and reviewer, but more importantly, a fan of melodic rock, I love many of these songs. I'd love for Jesse to continue in this direction, but one suspects he may be at a musical crossroads because of this. I asked him whether he can co-exist in two realms, between the heavier SR stuff, plus his own radio friendly stuff. 'Well put! Yes, I can exist in two realms, or two different styles. To put this into perspective, I wrote some of this material for THTR during a time I was also writing with Gene Simmons (KISS). I find it fun to have the ability to write for both genre's. I've also tried my hand at writing songs for country pop artist's with Paul Sabu. So to answer you plainly, yes I can write both styles' he says.

Let's touch on the songs for a bit. For starters, your email handle dearsanity makes it onto the album as a song title. What is the significance of this title? It seems to have some importance for you. 'There was a band named Dear Sanity from Los Angeles, that I was friends with. They broke up around the late 90's, but I always thought that name or title would make a great story in a song. So I did! In writing the song, I thought about a famous section in the Los Angeles Times newspaper called 'Dear Abbey', and with that sentiment in mind, instead of the lyrics writing to someone for help, I'm asking my conscience to tell me what to do.'

A track like 'Love Isn't Love' is quite frankly.. killer stuff! How many more of these do you have locked away in that creative vault of yours? 'Many! Thanks my friend, that song actually was the first song I wrote for THTR. I've been writing a lot of material recently, it's been like a faucet that keeps running water. I try to put all my new idea's down on tape or paper, but sometimes they get away. I've been blessed with it.'

Having Gene Simmons help out on 'Everybody Needs Somebody' is a masterstroke. Not everyone can lay claim to that fact eh? 'No, I guess not. I do feel privileged at the opportunity Gene gave me, and keeps giving me to co-write with him. Initially, he came and asked me to write songs with him, not the other way around, so that helps ones confidence level tremendously.' What were your favourite tracks on the album? 'I think 'Love Isn't Love' is probably my favourite, but after that they're all my babies.'

Jesse has known Paul Sabu for years now. Even as far back as those 'Shattered Hearts' days on Chameleon Records. Paul's input to 'The Hand That Rocks' was a critical one, assisting Jesse throughout the recording and production. 'He always plays a very significant role' says Jesse. 'As co-writer on songs, arrangements, producing, and of course any performing he does vocally, or guitar playing wise etc. He has the ability to pull out the best from me when I'm recording a part, as does Gene. There's something to be said about being in the presence of a well-known talent, that inspires ones performance.'

Well, you probably know that we here at GLORY-DAZE-ONLINE are HUGE fans of Paul's previous work. Did he temper your arrangements with his appreciable sense of melody, or was it a case of his 'melody' meets your 'melody' to come up with the best result possible? 'Both I would say. It would depend on the particular song or situation. I like to think we make a good team.' Hey you even get the lovely Teri Tims to lend a hand. Lucky guy! 'Oh Yeah! She's got a great voice, with strength and range. Some of the background vocals on THTR are a blend of the three of us, Paul, Teri, and I.'

Well now that 'THTR' is out in the market it's a matter of wait and see with the media responses right? 'Yeah, I'm waiting for those reviews, but thumbs up, or down, this CD is what I wanted to do.' Your release date was delayed a bit. What are the arrangements with distribution of the album both in the US and abroad? 'Both, US and International are included. The distribution is worldwide, and the orders keep comin' in.'

Despite the release of 'THTR', Jesse's involvement with Silent Rage is still ongoing. I aksed him what chance of having some of his solo material played by the band? 'The rest of the guys are very supportive' he says, 'and although at the moment, none of the songs from THTR are in the Silent Rage live set, given the right set of circumstances, it could happen. On the other side of the coin, I am going to add a song from Silent Rage to my solo live set.'

Finally Jesse, what are your plans over the Xmas break and early into the new year? 'As we speak, it's on to more interviews and promotion for the new CD, as well as some parties to attend. I'm also working on live dates for next year for both Jesse Damon, and Silent Rage, and on and on, and spend a lot of time with family.'

Thanks for spending some time with us Jesse, and thanks for the opportunity yet again! 'Talk to you soon! Thanks George, and all at GLORY-DAZE, and Happy Holidays to all! All The Best, Jesse Damon.'

Resources:
Jesse Damon website: www.jessedamon.com

Related Articles:
Jesse Damon - 2002 The Hand That Rocks
Jesse Damon - 2002 Interview
Damon, Jesse - 2013 Temptation In The Garden Of Eden

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