THE SCREAMiNG JETS
iNTERViEWS JOE DELANEY OF JOETOWN
iT'S A HARD ROCK LiFE!
JOE DELANEY OF JOETOWN
TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT THE BAND'S LATEST CD PiLLS AND AMMO
AND NOT HAViNG TO 'PAY TO PLAY'
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
Ever since my relocation to the American Southwest (Albuquerque, NM to be exact), the music coming my way has been of the jazz variety. While the artists are just the sort of thing that could get a music scriber like me taken seriously (MELODY GARDOT and LUCIANA SOUZA), they are hardly the type of road-weary, hard-living, rock-n-roll lifestyle type interviews that have eluded me since my big move. In comes the Connecticut-based JOETOWN, whose independently produced ĎPILLS AND AMMOí has garnered favorable metal press and praise from the likes of head-banging luminaries as MIKE DUDA and CHRIS HOLMES of W.A.S.P. Fronted by lead singer and guitarist JOE DELANEY, the band rips through eleven tracks that range from balls-to-the-wall metal and gritty acoustic numbers that tip their banged heads to the likes of rock mavens LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE.
ROCKWIRED spoke with JOE DELANEY of JOETOWN over the phone. Here is how it went.
How long has PILLS AND AMMO been out?
We released the CD officially at the end of September. That was when we really let it out and itís been doing really well for us. Press-wise, weíve been getting a great response and sales have been pretty good. Itís a totally indie project. Iíve been doing it all on my own and fighting up against all of the big bands that are out there with real budgets. Itís been tough but every week we get a few more college stations spinning our music Ė especially now with Spring Beak being over. We keep picking up more and more specialty shows on the commercial stations. More and more good press keeps growing.
Sounds impressive for having done everything by yourself.
Before this, I did have a commercial recording studio and I was producing a bunch of regional acts and stuff like that but I ended up getting out of that business, but I still had the studio Ė which I moved into the garage next to my house. Three years ago we just dove on this record and did it in a bout a year. I worked with this guy that Iíve worked with a bunch of times named NATHANIEL KUNKLE. I worked with him doing the final mixing and mastering. Another guy that I worked with named IOANNIS is a graphic artist. He and I go way back and he has done things for DEEP PURPLE, STYX and the mushroom for THE ALLMAN BROTHERS. Heís a real god friend of mine and he helped me to put the whole package together. From there we got disks made, put press together and then we just started hitting it. Weíre trying to get more touring going and getting more support but itís kind of tough out there right now. At the moment, weíre just trying to hook on with somebody. I think weíll get something going here late in the Spring or early Summer.
Youíve listed off all of the good things that have happened by being independent. What are some of the bad things about it?
Itís really easy to run out of money. That is the tough part. The toughest thing is the way the business is set up. Things like getting on some good tour and getting on some good shows and festivals Ė weíve done some things like that where weíve gone on and people have heard the record and kept up with the band. However, there are a lot of times where these promoters want Ďbuy-onsí for tours and buy-ons for shows and we kind of refuse to have money going in the opposite direction for us to play. Not only are financial against that we are also philosophically against it. That has been the big hurdle There is this whole system in place where a band has to pay to get to the next level and weíve been doing about as good as you can with no real resources and simply going off the merits of what we do.
Youíre based Wallingford, Connecticut.
Yeah, thatís the town that Iím from. Itís actually a suburb of New Haven Connecticut.
What kind of music scene are you surrounded by there, if at all?
There isnít much of a music scene here. There is a little bit of music scene in New Haven but there is not a ton. Geographically, we are right in between New York and Boston. The good thing about Connecticut is that weíre surrounded by a lot of major cities that are a short, few hours drives away. In four hours you are in D.C. or Baltimore and in two hours you are in Boston. In an hour and a half you are in Manhattan. It is petty easy to get around in our area.
I grew up out East so I can remember how close things are.
After living in Southern California for seven years and knowing how stretched out things are there, it is just interesting to see that out east, it is a lot different.
I know. Iíve lived in L.A. for a long time. We still play out there. We got there at least once a year and we al have a lot of friends out there. We actually draw in L.A. as well as we do in our hometown.
Now that PILLS AND AMMO has been out there for people to hear, how do you feel about it?
I feel the same as when I finished it. I was really happy with the final product. I was pretty picky I recorded close to twenty songs to get eh eleven tracks the way that they are. I was just happy with the way that the band was presented and how me as an artist came across both lyrically and stylistically. What I am most happy about is the response that I am getting. People have perceived it the way that it was intended, which is good! If they have perceived it in a different way and liked it, then thatís cool too. I got what I wanted to get across.
Why the title?
Well, we were going through all of these songs that were in the running for being on the album and I was showing the band different things. Then, our bass player KEEFER Ė heís a rough and tumble guy and very much a proponent of the Second Amendment Ė he pointed out the contrast between the really heavy songs on the album like CRASH and a song like LA TUNING, which is just me on an acoustic guitar. With regard to the juxtaposition of the super-heavy and the totally stripped-down, he said that the contrast was like Ďpills and ammoí.
How did music begin for you?
Music began for me with guitar. It really began with being young and flipping around the FM dial and finding rock n roll on a little radio in my bedroom. It was that and my momís STAX collection. I remember hearing JAMES BROWN and BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS when I was like very, very little. And then there were my more conscious memories of being a little kid who is up late with nothing to do and flipping around on the radio and listening to things that are interesting.
What bands in particular, stood out for you?
DEEP PURPLE. From a guitar and a musical perspective, it was DEEP PURPLE and ZEPPELIN. I was a huge KEITH RICHARDS fan. I think pretty much every rock guitarist, whether they admit it or not, is a RICHARDS fan. I was also into JO WALSH. The big, epic classic rock stuff is what really had the most influence on me.
At what point did the listener become the guy who straps on the guitar and writes and sings and all of that? When did that happen?
I started playing guitar when I was like eleven or twelve. I had played for a while after that and got an after school job working at a music store where I would teach beginners how to play. When I was sixteen years old, there were all of these professional players that would come into the music store that would play locals gigs and stuff like that. One Friday afternoon a guy came in and said, ĎHey, youíre good enough! We donít have anybody, could you fill in?í I had no license yet and before I knew it, I was playing in some pizza place playing HONKY TONK WOMAN with guys that were twice my age. That was kind of how it started. I played guitar for a while without singing. I was kind of limited to singing background vocals. I became a vocalist when I started songwriting. I started to really get deep into the songwriting thing. The craft of it was what drew me to it and how things could be expressed uniquely through a song where your influences would come through yet making your own statement with it. Initially I wrote within other bands but after a while I started liking the demos that I did before having to show them to the singer of whatever band that I was in. I think was about the time that I felt I needed to make the jump.
Sow as JOETOWN the first time you ever stepped up front.
Pretty much. That was the first time I had ever done everything. Before this current line-up, I was in a band called THE AMERICAN TRASH. In that band is the same rhythm section as this band so almost everyone from that band is in this one. The lead singer of that band was STEVE BRODERICK who is in TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA now. He is a great guy. If you ever look around and find some stuff, AMERICAN TRASH released two really great sleeper rock records - mainly the first one. The band had a little buzz for a while but then like a lot of bands, nothing ever happens. I was really proud of what I did with that band but after a while I thought it was time for me to step up and be the front man.
Talk about each of the members of the current line-up and what you think each of them brings to the table musically and personality-wise.
KEEFER probably has the most personality. He is a former teamster and big time rowdy biker. He plays a í72 RICKENBACHER and heís got the same bass rig that heís had since he was a teenager. He lives the part. Itís like having the movie EASY RIDER in your life all of the time. So thatís his deal. He keeps everything real. Heís really no bullshit and if anything cheesy tries to sneak ití way in, he stomps it out. C-BONE is the drummer and heís one of my closest dearest friends. Heís just an amazing groove pocket drummer. He doesnít have a lot of flash. Here have been times where Iíve had to have people fill in for him because of whatever personal stuff was going on. Heís one of those people that make it sound so incredibly simple but when replacements have come aboard they have found that the stuff underneath the surface is really quite intricate. Weíve never cut a song with a click track or anything like that because heís got near perfect meter, so that is pretty cool. KERRY GOLLARNEY was brought into this because I was moving up front a s a singer and I found it limiting to deal with all of the guitar parts and all of the vocals. I wanted to bring in another guitar so KERRY came in. Heís an awesome player and heís also a bagpiper. Heís also got an Irish band called THE FIGHTINí GOLLARNEY BROTHERS. Heís a ringer bagpiper and a great guitar player and singer. Heís a great guy and Iíve been so happy since heís been in the band.
How does songwriting get done in this band? Is it all you or is it a band effort. How does that work?
It depends. Most of it comes together with me putting together a song that starts with a riff or a lyric and I have pretty much eighty-five or ninety-five percent together when I bring it to the band. The same place we rehearse is the same place that record. Everything is always set up to record. Sometimes, songs come together just by us jamming like the second track on the album FINGER. That song was written, recorded and done in about twenty minutes. KEEFER started the bass riff and we came in. I didnít even lay guitar on that one at all. I was so busy frantically sketching down lyrics on scrap pieces of paper. Some tracks were more of a studio labor intensive. There are two sides to it.
What are your thoughts on the current state of rock music?
I donít think much of it. Like all popular media, there is just a lot more of it nowadays. You have to sift through to find the things that are gems, more than ever. They put out ten times as many movies as they did two decades ago. Itís the same with music and now because of the web, the amount of content is staggering. As far as rock n roll goes, I see a lot of things that have the moniker of rock n roll on them but I donít see a lot of rock n roll. They are definitely manufacturing an idea of what they think it is. I see less and less of the architects of rock-type attitude in the music, which is something that Iím serious about. Iím a huge fan of CHUCK BERRY, LITTLE RICHARD and JERRY LEE LEWIS and there is something to that first generation of rock n roll that annoys me when I see it lost.
Iíll tell you what annoys me. GUITAR HERO.
You know, that is a blessing and curse. The curse is the number of people that they can bleed. The blessing is that there is a generation of kids that have been exposed to a lot of music that wouldíve been over looked. A friend of mineís kid is all psyched about songs by THE RAMONES, and YES and STYX and I donít think that an eleven year old in 2009 wouldíve ever had the opportunity to be presented with that kind if music if it hadnít been for GUITAR HERO. Amongst all of the things that are obviously wired and negative, I think there are some silver linings in there.
What songs off of PILLS AND AMMO stand out for you at the moment and why?
I would say that the first track HOLE IN MY SOUL is unique. There is that whole element of the talk-box being in the chorus of that song is interesting. If you notice on the record that there are a lot of things that are like mid-tempo grooves, which is a place where we hang a lot musically. With a lot of bands, they are either super-slow or super-fast and we land in the middle there which is kind of cool. The song is incredibly simple and the lyrics are kind of basic. It really is kind of a blues song in a rock format.
Earlier, you talked about wanting to go on the road soon. This is a fantasy question. Who would you like to tour with?
Itís the same thing Iíve wanted the whole time.
What would you like someone to come away with after theyíve heard this CD?
Iíd like them to feel energized and to feel that theyíve experienced something and that it wasnít simply music and sound that went by. I would hope that they could connect with it and relate to it. Maybe on a more surface level, if I can get someoneís foot tapping when it comes on the jukebox and order a shot, then thatís cool too.