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Silent Rage - 2001 Interview with Jesse Damon

INTERVIEW: Silent Rage (Oct 2001)
Silent Rage are no longer silent.. sez Jesse Damon.

In The Spotlight - Silent Rage
Interview with Jess Damon
Written by: Gdazegod (October, 2001)

From the depths of the eighties, and the city of Lost Angels, come a quartet of Lost Angels themselves, who have suddenly been transported into the reality of 2001, with a new label, a re-release of their back catalog, and a new album and appearance at next years Z Rock 2002. They are of course, Silent Rage. The heavy handed outfit that bought you two great albums called 'Shattered Hearts' and the awesome 'Don't Touch Me There'. Featuring guitarist and singer Jesse Damon, guitarist Mark Hawkins, bassist E.J Curse, and drummer Brian James, Silent Rage have been popular with those 'in the know' for many years, even though they slipped out of the limelight during the nineties. Well after twelve years, they're back in the limelight, signed to Z Records, and busy working towards a new album next year. GLORY-DAZE's Gdazegod catches up with the band courtesy of Jesse Damon.. (Oct 2001)

Hi there Jesse... What a great pleasure it is to see Silent Rage back on the scene. It's been a long time since those glory days of the late eighties?
Yes, it's been along time, but to us it seems like yesterday, and we're still jamming together because it's in our blood. Looking back, it was the best of times. Now, we're very excited about our return!

Firstly, where do you think a band like Silent Rage fits into the hard rock scene now, with all this renaissance thing going on with classic rock, or more to the point, classic hard rock?
We have a hard edge side to us which satisfies the Metal Fans, and our melodic side for the rest. We'll always have some of our classic Silent Rage sound, but the band is evolving with the times.

It must seem ironic that since 1989 when 'Don't Touch Me There' was released, Silent Rage have become more popular than ever, and that's even during those years of inactivity?
Well George, I give thanks, and credit to our fans for that. We've always wanted to be at arms distance with our fans even through that inactive time.

That was one hell of an album though. What do you remember of that one in particular?
It felt like all of our hard work had finally paid off, and with Brian James as our new drummer, everything came together.

L.A was ablaze with great bands during the late eighties. What did Silent Rage try to do differently compared to all the other contenders at the time?
By just being ourselves. Collaborating each of our influences, and styles within our songwriting, vocals, and musicianship is what made our signature sound. Because of that, I don't think we sound like your typical sunset strip L.A. band. I sing with a melodic style, and a lot of the contenders at the time sang with a distinct character, or that whiney scream. Not that it's bad, it's just different from me.

We've heard how bands can become as 'big as Ben Hur' within the L.A area, but what about elsewhere in California? Did Silent Rage get down to San Diego or even up as far as Sacramento or Frisco?
We've played all over California, places like Lake Tahoe and as far south as San Diego. Also, Anchorage, Alaska, Oahu, Hawaii, and Las Vegas, Nevada which is always a favourite.

How about some of those other States where heavy metal was huge, Texas for instance? Did Silent Rage get that far afield?
No, not Texas, but we did a lot of interviews. I remember doing one live interview on air with Mad Max from Z Rock Station out of San Antonio, Texas. It was wild, I did the interview from New York and had a blast! Also, Boston, and Toronto, Canada were especially memorable, while on tour with Black Sabbath.

Most of us loved the image of the band. The back cover shot on DTMT was awesome, and even looking at some of those photos on the S.R site bought back memories.. It's synonymous with L.A bands, that whole image thing..?
Image is important to us, just as much as the music is. It's the Bizzness.

Paul Sabu did some early work on your material. How did he first become involved with the band?
We met Paul through a Movie Deal that EJ was involved in. Paul was scoring the music soundtrack for the film 'Hard Rock Zombies.' EJ passed along our demo to him. He loved it, and the rest is history!

Shattered Hearts (1987) Dont Touch Me There (1989)

There was an interim name change to The Hunger after 'Shattered Hearts'. Why the name change?
Gene suggested the idea, but after thinking about it, we decided to keep the momentum going with our original name.

You signed to RCA/Simmons Records for DTMT after 'Shattered Hearts' came out on Chameleon, and reverted the name back to Silent Rage. In retrospect, do you think this was a good move to go with the Simmons group?
Absolutely, although Chameleon Records started our career off, Simmons/RCA was offering a major label deal, and it was clearly in our best interest.

Gene was the Executive Producer, but did the band have full artistic license to put onto record whatever it wanted?
Yes we did, we had full artistic control. Obviously Gene had suggestions and input, but he never tried to mould us.

Being a collector and reader of the hard rock scene for many years now, it still staggers me somewhat that there was next to no promotion for DTMT, or none that I saw. Do you recall it being that non-existent in the press, or was I reading Playboy instead of Metal Forces?
Yes, I know that there wasn't enough press, I only wish their could have been more promotion. But here's some press magazine's I do know that some of your reader's might have seen us in: Billboard, Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Rip, Hard and Heavy, Kerrang, Screamer, Metal Hammer, Rock Scene, Metal Force, The Hard Report, Cashbox, Rock Beat, L. A. Weekly, Music Connection, RandR Report, Metal Shop, Metropolis. As you can see, we had some press, but more would have been better..

We reckon it was one of the best albums of 1989, and outside L.A no one had hardly ever heard it back then?
Thank you! Coming from you that means a lot. At least Simmons/RCA did get us onto MTV and debuted our 'Rebel With a Cause' video which gave us national exposure.

I've compared your material to Y & T (Earthshaker era). What about you guys though? Whom do you cozy up to as a comparison?
That's a big compliment. I think Y & T kicks ass, and if we're compared to them that's very cool! Speaking for myself, I like to listen to a lot of blues rock, and feel that I've been influenced by some of the best rock singers and guitarists there are. Sammy Hagar, Lou Gramm, Paul Rodgers, David Coverdale, to name a few singers. As for Guitar influences, it started off with Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Page, then moved into Michael Shenker, Robin Trower, Neil Schon. I like Satriani too.

Jeff Lynne released a comeback ELO album this year called 'Zoom', and this made me wonder as to the inclusion of E.L.O's 'Can't Get Her Out Of My Head' on DTMT. Who's idea was it to include that one?
We all liked the song. Gene said 'why don't you record it' and once he heard our rendition of it, it was a go.

Also the rehash of 'Rebel With A Cause'. Why a second go at it from the initial cut on 'Shattered Hearts'?
Gene loved that song, and said 'It's a Hit.' So we made a few changes, and re-recorded it. By the way it turned out on DTMT, I think we did the right thing.

Mark, Brian, E.J, Jesse

As I've read elsewhere on the Net, the deal with RCA/Simmons later went sour. What happened there?
As we were about to record our second CD for Simmons Records. The President And V.P of RCA were fired and the new guy didn't know us from adams and cleaned house. We were disappointed, but continued to look for a new label.

You guys have hardly been inactive since though, some of you playing locally under the monicker Band X... How often were you guys getting together for that gig?
While we were looking for another deal on RCA, it was something to do to keep our chops up. We continued to songwrite with each other too.

So, the big question is.. who made the decision to reform the band properly, and for what purpose?
I was trying to find a deal for my solo CD and a label suggested that we re-issue our Silent Rage catalog to establish some history. Word got out and we started to get offers, and that's how it began.

And I suppose that leads on to another question.. 'were Silent Rage headhunted and asked to consider reforming?'
Nah, we talked about it amongst ourselves and felt this was a good time to reform and play live to support the new CD.

I think we can all be thankful that you've made that decision. So, that will entail a back catalog of both 'Shattered Hearts' and 'DTMT' coming out on Z Records soon. Will there be anything different to them second time around?
No it should be the same.

Hopefully the prices will be reasonable enough so people don't have to pay exorbitant amounts of money on Ebay? (esp 'Shattered Hearts')
It should be reasonable, there'll be plenty of copies to go around.

Hey, and next year you're gonna be on the bill for Z Rock! I betcha plenty of Euro/UK fans will be looking forward to that?
Not only them, but we're totally into goin', and looking forward to Rocking the house for our Euro/UK fans.

This will be the first time for the band to showcase abroad?
Yeah that's true. Can't wait!!

Hopefully this Terrorist stuff won't be hanging around next year, so you can travel safely and with some confidence?
Silent Rage has always had confidence, I just pray that this world will be safe next year, especially if we're looking at a tour ahead of us.

Depending on how things progress, that gig will just about coincide with your new album on Z Records right?
Yeah, it will give us a lot of exposure, and we're looking forward to that gig!

There are a number of unreleased tracks on your website. Some of these will be on the new album then?
Yes, some of those songs will be on the new CD. I'd rather not say which ones yet, because we haven't made the final selection.

Also, with a twelve year difference to make up time, what sort of sound is the listener gonna hear on the forthcoming SR record?
Like I said before, we'll always have some of our classic Silent Rage sound, but the band is evolving with the times. On the forthcoming new CD you'll here some un-released songs, as well as a couple brand new ones.

With the heavy handed approach to S.R's music, does that mean the band have to get into shape to prepare for some energy sapping gigs?
Hell no!! We're not over the hill, we're ready to kick some ass!

Talking of getting into shape, tell me, is E.J still pumping weights these days? I used to subscribe to Musclemag and saw an article on him from about 1991..
Yeah, he's still in good shape, andstill attracting those rich, young, and pretty girls!!!

Hey Jesse, thanks for the opportunity to touch base. Can't wait for you guys to hit the stage again! Welcome back!!!

Rock on over to Silent Rage's website

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