If you are looking for undiluted, no thrills, but highly addictive rock ‘n’ roll then checking out Australian rockers Jackson Firebird and their debut album Cock Rockin’ is one of those essential things to do. A heavily flavoursome and voraciously passionate, not forgetting riotous, collection of songs, the Napalm Records released brawl is one of the treats of this and 2012 with its staggered release. We had the pleasure to explore the world of Jackson Firebird with guitarist/vocalist Brendan ‘Harvs’ Harvey, talking about the beginning of the band, the album of course, tour secrets and plenty more….
Hey Harvs, welcome to the site.
Can we start with the beginnings of the band? How and when did you and Dale (Hudak) meet?
Well we first met when we were a lot younger, it’s not really hard to cross paths in a small town if you’re a musician. So we first met in a small band that was started years and years ago way before Jackson Firebird.
Was there an instant inclination to work together beyond that first link-up?
Not really, it was that early on in the piece that we hadn’t even really thought about playing in other bands, it was just the band at the present time, although towards the end of that band’s demise you could say, we were the only two rocking up to practice each time so it was just the two of us from a really early stage.
You hail from Victoria; how rewarding a place for emerging bands and in particular rock and metal breathing propositions is it?
Well if you were hailing from further down south in Melbourne you might have had more around you but living in Mildura felt so isolated from the rest of the world, it’s a bit of a strange thing to be doing, very underground. No internet in the early days, just hot metal magazines and whatever records our parents had!
Did you find any obstacles to your uncompromising honest in the face rock ‘n’ roll in those early years or it was pretty much accepted with the same eagerness as now?
Ah it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been! We just like doing what we’ve done; it’s why we started doing it. We enjoyed having a few beers and playing some rock n roll and to venture out into pubs and to play it live, and the receptions been rad so we’ve always just rolled with it!
We do have to ask the boring question, how did the band name come about; any particular meaning or inspiration for it?
We always thought we were a bit of a bogan band starting out. One of my first guitars was a Jackson Firebird and we use to think that was probably the most bogan guitar you could have so it just rolled off the tongue and ended up sticking to it like shit on a blanket!
Your debut album Cock Rockin’ has just had its worldwide release with Napalm Records. Did you have any particular expectations or hopes with its unleashing on the basis of its successful persuasion of the Australian rock fans and scene in 2012?
We were excited to get it out into Europe; it got received well in Australia. We thought it would be great to see how Europe reacted to it as they do like their Rock n Roll over there! And so far it’s been really good! We’re stoked!
It is fair to say that there is a devilry to your sound which as the album title suggests has a straightforward unbridled thirst for fun and simply rocking its rocks off. Has this form of rock always been your main inspiration growing up and on your songwriting or is there a more eclectic taste also beavering away inside?
Our sound just comes from us wanting to have fun. If its sounds like fun in the jam room and we have fun playing it, well that’s the way we’re going to put it down regardless of what people think. Um, we’ve always listened to stuff that we’ve enjoyed obviously, but I think having that fun element of playing it, if it’s fun to play- it’s never going to get boring for us. We just like rockin’ out and having a good time! As far as influences go, we grew up on a lot of metal. Your Pantera right through to the Easy Beats…The Allman Brothers, Beastie Boys…Blues Explosion- all that kinda stuff, I think subconsciously that stuff just starts to come out into your song writing without meaning to, but I think that’s a good thing having those traits come out. Could be worse- you hear a lot of shit on the radio!
What would you say are your most potent influences then?
Mine personally would be the Easy Beats, Blues Explosion, Bog Log right back to your RL Burnside ya know with the blues ‘n’ all that. I think for Dale you’d have to say Pantera and the Allman Brothers….and Elvis.
How does the songwriting process pan out between you more often than not?
Ah a lot of the time we just come up with it in a good jam. We get the riffs goin’, then try and work a melody out as ya may notice in the tracks that the lyrics are pretty complicated! Ha! But um, quite often than not Dale will come in with a melody and we’ll take it from there and build something up around it. There’s no set structure to a Jackson Firebird song, it just comes out and if it’s enjoyable playin’, that’s the way it’s gonna go down. As you may notice there’s a lot of Mother Fuckers in there- we don’t plan for that but it just fits!
The album is a fiery and raw slab of raucous adventure which sounds as if it is live inside the ears. How did you record the songs in the studio?
Recorded the tracks all live to tape. It’s a thing we wanted to try and put across- the Jackson Firebird show is what we’re all about. As far as recording goes to capture that, we tried to take all the takes, drums and guitar, live down onto the tape and then build from there. Tracks like, Rock Solid are just one take. Vocals, the whole works…as you can hear Mick Wordly, the producer say at the start of one, “When ya’ll ready….”
Did any of the tracks take on a new character in the studio environment or is what we hear on the album more or less the riots we would find in your live shows?
Ah definitely. I think the live shows are heavier and louder. Also we did the album over a long period of time, just due to time restraints and just doing it off our own back in the early days, bit by bit, some of the songs probably evolved as you can probably hear with Sweet Elouise and Quang Dang um, a bit different to ya Cock Rockin’ but all in the same vain…Just stripped back down, Rock n Roll.
Tell us about that recording process for Cock Rockin’, the time taken and adventures had.
Cock Rockin originally no titled to be held on that…we had decided in our lifetime we wanted to put an album out, and just went off our own back, found a guy that we heard was really good with tape audio, um, we got a hold of him and locked down into is his studio and basically when we had the time started the record. We did it over a 14 month period. On the weekends we’d drive over 400kms from Mildura to Adelaide and do a day or 2 in the studio. I think overall, time on the album was about 12 days! It took a lot of time to make it but we weren’t in any hurry and we weren’t stressing to push it out to try and get labels or sell it…it was all about just achieving that goal of ours to make an album. I do recall putting the first 6 tracks down on the record and after having such a long period of time to listen back (back before heading into the studio) I think the next time in there, poor Mick, we told him we were gonna scrap the lot, we recorded them all again in only one session -thinking they sounded heaps better, then went back again about a month later and of course decided to go back to the fuckin’ originals!!!
Did anything come out of the recording which you have or will explore further in the next release?
I think it’s always gonna evolve. I think we definitely learned cool shit about tape. Sound wise, maybe this time we won’t go for such a live take…might try the more conventional way of just getting the drums down and building it up from there. We always jam live in the booth so after that take- if we get it we get it and if we don’t we’ll work on it from there. T’is gonna be bigger, badder ‘n’ better!
It is around two years between the Australian and this release of the album, is the feeling the same the second time around?
Is just as exciting coz it’s a totally different territory. We got to showcase our wears in another country that we’re not familiar with at all so it was just as exciting as the first time! Having already played the tracks for years we certainly honed in on ‘em and changed a few things here just to put a live spin on them and put on a better show.
Were you tempted to also tweak anything for this unleashing or had you already moved on to concentrating on your next endeavour in the period between releases?
I think once you record a record it pretty much captures that place you’re in at that time, I think to go back and tweak anything is a bit of a dick think to do. So we just left as is. That’s Jackson Firebird in that time, that’s how we sounded. We are certainly well underway into our second album and its sounding pretty huge so we’re looking forward to getting it out!!!
You have just finished a European tour, how did that go?
Tour was nuts! It’s still so fresh since coming back. Hopefully the memories will start coming back soon! But ah putting 19 shows down in 20 days was something we hadn’t really expected to do in the early days but it was damn good fun and we got to see 7 different countries! Crowd response was awesome, sold a lot of merch and yeah we had a killer time on stage and good parties with the other bands!
And any interesting stories to tell?
I think the beauty about being on the road, you never know what to expect…one night we stayed in the same room as ‘Horizont’ some kick ass rockers from Sweden and can remember the bass player vomiting on the ground next to the guitarist as he passed out, then supposedly the guitarist woke up in the middle of the night to the bass player pissing on his face!! Ha-ha always gonna remember that kinda shit and I’m just glad it wasn’t us hey!!!
What comes next for the band and for us from you?
Next for the band…we got a few weeks home them we’re off to Brazil to play some rad festivals over there, or down there, or wherever the hell it is! We’re certainly looking forward to getting another album out. We’re in the middle of recording that- we’ve recorded half of it in Austin, Texas and we’ve done quite a lot of demo work to finish the album off so really looking forward to getting stuck into that and getting a release date out…would be nice to get it out by the end of the year and then get our asses back to Europe!!!
Thanks for sharing your time with us.
Would you like to leave us with a final thought?
Like five wise men said…. Rock n Roll ain’t noise pollution!!!!
Thanks for your time. Harvs JF
Read the review for Cock Rockin’ @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/jackson-firebird-cock-rockin/
The RingMaster Review 28/04/2014
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