This interview was provided by Tommy Higgins. It was originally printed in the Fall 1988 issue of Rock Scene magazine.
BADLANDS INTERVIEW: CARS, BARS & HIGH HEEL MARKS?BADLANDS IS BADDDDD!!!!
by Beth Nussbaum
Jake, so how?s life after Ozzy?
JAKE: I don?t know how to answer that. No one?s ever asked me that before. I?m a lot happier.
Was it difficult to get your own thing going?
JAKE: It took a while to get motivated to do it, but once Ray and I hooked up, it was pretty good.
So Ray, how is it working with Jake?
RAY: It?s great working with Jake.
Is this a dream come true?
RAY: Yeah it is. The last guitar player I worked with was a little weird, the band wasn?t weird, but they had their own thing about how they wanted to work and they didn?t open up to new things, ideas. (He?s talking about Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath.-Ed)
Jake, why did it take you a while to get motivated? Both, musically and on the business end.
JAKE: Musically, I did get motivated. On the business end, it was much more difficult. I love playing guitar, I love music, but I hate everything that has to do with the business end of it. It was more than I wanted to handle. The motivation factor had to kick in. Besides, I wanted a break after leaving Ozzy?s band. I read some interviews of his where he was less than kind towards me. That sort of disenchanted me more from the whole mess. I thought he was a friend.
Let?s talk about the band. How did you choose the members?
JAKE: Ray got a hold of me, he got my number, we hooked up and jammed, and it sounded good. I?m notorious for not answering my phone or returning messages. I don?t know why? I just hate the telephone. He called me several times and I thought ?yeah, sometime I?ll return his call?. One night he told his mother that he was getting upset that I wasn?t returning his calls and he was going to take a walk and try me again later. While he was out, his mother took it upon herself to give me a call. I came home and there was a 15 minute message from Mrs. Gillen, sort of not really scolding me, but kind of reminding me to call her son back. I guess that did the trick for me. Once he found out, he didn?t know originally that she had called me. He thought I was returning his calls, and he was upset.
So what about the rest of the band members?
JAKE: Eric played with Ray when they were in a band together. When Ray and I got together we used Eric because Ray happened to be staying at Eric?s house, and he seemed like the kind of drummer we were looking for. He?s not a Tommy Lee, which is what most drummers want to be these days. He?s a little different and we liked that. Also, he?s a bit of a clown, so we asked him to be in the band. It took us quite a few months to go through bass players until we ended up with Greg Chaisson.
Why did you call the band BADLANDS?
JAKE: I don?t know, somebody said the word and we were looking. It sort of came out.
You didn?t just want to call it ?Jake E. Lee?s? project?
JAKE: I definitely didn?t want to call it that. It?s a band, everything is split up four ways and everyone is in on the decisions. Everybody helps with everything and everybody gets paid equally. It?s not a solo project. The music is mine but it?s still very much a band.
So do you see a lot of longevity here?
JAKE: That?s what I?m hoping for. Everyone gets along great, everyone?s real good friends. We all have the same taste in music, there?s no druggies or alkies, everybody?s on the same wavelength, even outside of music.
JAKE: Cars. Ray is not into them, but he?s into martial arts. I used to kick box.
Why did you quit Ozzy?
JAKE: Because he asked me to. He fired me. He?s changing the story about it so much that I don?t know. He told me basically that it was time for me to go on my own. The thing is, I found out about it through friends, and I called him up and he confirmed it.
How is BADLANDS material different than the stuff you wrote with Ozzy?
JAKE: It?s definitely more blues-based. When we got together we used to play old Cream, Free, Led Zep, the kind of stuff we all grew up playing in the clubs. When we started writing songs, it carried over. It?s sort of 70?s blues-rock. I hate to say that; it?s a little more raw and funky.
Were there any collaborative efforts on the songs?
JAKE: Everybody has a hand in the arrangements, but usually I come up with the riff and have a basic song written. They put in suggestions. Ray writes the lyrics and melodies.
So tell me more about the songs?
RAY: We have another song called ?Rhythm Machine? which speaks for itself. A ballad called, ?Seasons?. That name could change. ?Rumblin Train? is a bad boy on the wrong side of town sort of thing. Some other titles that we have can change probably.
Jake, what are your favorite lyrics that Ray wrote?
JAKE: ?Camel Toes?, but that?s not on the record. Its sort of an inside band joke. I like all the lyrics that he does. ?Devil?s Stomp? is good. I like that. That?s probably one of my favorite songs on the record.
RAY: Mine too, that and the ballad.
Ray what?s your favorite piece of music that Jake wrote?
RAY: It varies, ?Rumblin Train? is a real slow bluesy tune, which I like.
How long did it take to get all the songs together once the band came about?
JAKE: We had 20 songs. There are 14 on the album. That went pretty quick, I?d say maybe about 2 weeks.
Jake, how did you find writing with Ray, was it an instant rapport?
JAKE: It was pretty easy. As I said before, everybody shared the same vision in music. That made it easier.
Do you think that ?click? was out of respect for you because you are the more established one in the group?
JAKE: That had nothing to do with it. There are times when I did a song and someone wanted to change the tempo, to get a different feel to it.
What made you know that Ray was the right singer for you?
JAKE: I really wasn?t looking for anyone in particular, I just wanted certain other things especially someone who didn?t do drugs. I wasn?t looking for any particular qualities. I just wanted someone who felt right. That?s what happened with Ray.
Ozzy says you were difficult to work with in the studio. Is that true?
JAKE: He?s over-dramatizing the whole thing. I?m always late, but he knows that. I told Ozzy a lot of times that he was an asshole and to shut up. I don?t change my words. I don?t screw around with people?s heads. If I don?t like something I say it. I am always late. I was late for my audition. On the first date of the American tour, right after that I missed the plane because I was late. He knows I?ve always been late. He?s using that as an excuse to get rid of me, but I was late from day one. That?s one of the things about him that upset me. He made it sound like it was something I developed over the course of time I was with him. I try being on time but it never works out that way.
Let?s talk about your record deal with a new label, Titanium Records.
JAKE: There were pluses and minuses to it. We felt the pluses outweighed the minuses. We would be getting a lot more attention, being the first and only band on the label, as opposed to being one in a large stable of bands. We wouldn?t have to vie for attention.
What about the budget?
JAKE: They?re not hurting for cash. We have the plus of being on a small label and having the large financial backing from them.
Do you feel more pressure because it?s your own band?
JAKE: I probably feel less pressure. There were big shoes I had to fill and Ozzy had a predetermined audience to please. With this one, the Jake E. Lee following is probably so small, if there is such a following, I would assume that they would like what I like.
So you?re not worried about pleasing your fans?
JAKE: I don?t want to come off sounding selfish, but I do things to satisfy myself and the band without really considering other people. It?s not a disregard for the fans, but I have to satisfy myself first.
How?s the recording of the album going and are you doing anything different in the studio?
JAKE: It?s going great, we?re more than halfway through. Not a whole lot different. The last time I was in the studio, Ozzy wasn?t there for much and I didn?t get along with the producer. Ozzy didn?t either.
Were you surprised at how well the ?Ultimate Sin? album did?
JAKE: I?m surprised at how quickly it sold. I don?t think it sold more than his other records, just quicker. It sold fast. His other albums just sold moderately, but for a long amount of time.
Are you taking your time recording this album?
JAKE: We spent about 5 weeks or so in the studio and we have a two-week break now before we proceed further. Once we get back into the studio we?ll be there for about 3 weeks?about a total of 2 months.
Ray, how would you describe the album?
RAY: Good old Rock ?n? Roll, done our way. With Sabbath and Ozzy, Jake and I had to fill certain shoes and you can?t really project your inner feelings of what you want to do, you go by the guidelines of the band. Now it?s more coming off singing my own melodies and writing my own lyrics and doing what I want to do. It?s not that I want it to go ?this way? or ?that way?. The style of the band is like that.
Tell me about John Sykes. Originally you were going to play with him, right?
RAY: He?s a great guitar player, but the timing was off for us. Some things happen for a reason and some things don?t connect for a reason. We didn?t hook up. I think he was pressured to do something and I had a different outlook towards the band.
Ray, does it feel like you?ve finally got a grip on your career?
RAY: It definitely feels like we?re pulling our own strings and making our own decisions and you have no one else doing it for you, so if you fall, it?s you that gets hurt and takes a chance. As far as the music is concerned, I?m doing the type of music that I want and singing the way I want to sing. I want the kids to accept me as a singer. I did the Sabbath thing and the kids would have thought I was a ?D.O.S.? singer and I didn?t want to be labeled as that.
Isn?t it ironic that you were with Sabbath and now you?re with Ozzy?s old guitar player?
JAKE: It?s not that weird, both bands have been through so many people, at times it feels like all the musicians in the world have been in one of those two bands. I think they?re still going out as Sabbath, as a matter of fact.
So when is the album coming out?
RAY: We?re hoping for February, but it maybe 1992!!!!
What about the tour, when are you getting out there?
RAY: We?ll probably go out as soon as we?re finished recording.
Jake, is it going to be weird going back to the clubs?
JAKE: It will be weird. We?ll look for an opening spot. It wouldn?t bother me as long as we can get a decent sound in the club, and as long as it?s not to small and there is somebody in there. That really wouldn?t bother me.
Ray, what does the band do for fun together?
RAY: We sleep together: there?s a real camaraderie, a real respect. There?s a tension too that creates a good snowball effect and that creates a good camaraderie. We haven?t been going out that much. We?ve been trying to finish up this album. The fun we?ve had is the Pole Position and the pool table.
JAKE: When we got together we went out and now the other members wonder if when we do go out, if the girls will notice anyone but Ray.
RAY: I get labels now. Everybody in the band thinks so.
JAKE: It?s probably all the high heel marks we get across our faces as they run up to get you.
RAY: I would take that with a grain of salt.