JACKYL – Celebrating 25 Years of Rowdy Rock n’ Roll

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Jesse James Dupree – Photo Credit: Bennett Robinson

Think back to 1992. Many bands made their debut around that time. Now think about how many of them are still together. Or how many haven’t broken up for a length of time and perhaps gotten back together and barely resemble the old band, with perhaps only one or two original members. Very few have stood the test of time. Well, one band that has managed to stay the course in basically one piece is Jackyl. Their self-titled debut album was released that year, yielding four singles that are still among their most popular and most-beloved fan favorites, The Lumberjack, I Stand Alone, Down on Me and Dirty Little Mind. As they celebrate 25 years together, Jackyl has recently released an 18-track compilation album entitled 25 via Mighty Loud Records and frontman Jesse James Dupree took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk to Screamer about it.

The album includes Down on Me and The Lumberjack, as well as many other Jackyl favorites such as When Will It Rain, Push Comes to Shove, Dumb Ass Country Boy, My Moonshine Kicks Your Cocaine’s Ass, Screwdriver, and Rally, among others. According to Dupree, “With this compilation, we are celebrating 25 years of Jackyl rock n’ roll–the fundamentals of rock n’ roll. And beware, we are not slowing down anytime soon.” The two previously unreleased songs on the album are a live version of Redneck Punk and a cover of the song Hot and Nasty by Black Oak Arkansas. The Hot and Nasty track was actually recorded around 20 years ago and Dupree shared why they chose to record that song in particular. “We did this song because everyone was comparing the band to AC/DC and Black Oak Arkansas. We had heard of AC/DC, but we were not familiar with BOA, so we discovered them and wanted to do a cover. We found it again twenty years later, dusted it off and wanted it to be a part of this anniversary album.”

So let’s go back in time just a bit to find out how the band originally formed. It all stems from the great state of Georgia, which is where Dupree met the Worley brothers, Jeff and Chris. He shared, “They were playing in a band right out of high school and they were coming to see a band that I was playing in. I used to hate them coming out because they always got my guitar player really stoned! But they were always great guys. And then around the time my son was born in ‘89, I came off the road, to be there for my kid being born and stuff. Things just fell together at the most unlikely time. We ended up in a situation where I was managing a bar and the guys would come in to play and I would get up and sit in with them. And the place was packed out with people coming to see us jam together. So we knew we had something special, and we just kind of jammed together and Jackyl grew out of that.”

As the band’s bio states, “Jackyl shot out of Georgia with its wild, untamed and uncouth approach to rock n’ roll. Equal parts hard rock, heavy metal and Southern rock….full of spit and swagger and a ‘dirty’ sense of humor to boot.” The band quickly signed with Geffen Records and that self-titled debut album went platinum, they toured alongside bands like Aerosmith, KISS, Ted Nugent, and ZZ Top. Speaking of touring, it seems like this band hardly ever takes a break from it and are even in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Hardest Working Band in Rock n’ Roll” for performing one hundred shows in fifty days and twenty-one shows in twenty-four hours. Although that was several years ago now, Dupree said, “We still hold the record. I don’t think anybody’s gonna beat our record, the way we did it, you know?”

Dupree says that the band currently does about 120 shows a year and are currently on the road promoting 25. Taking a look at the their tour schedule, it is clear that the band is well received especially in the Midwest, as well as Southern States. When asked if he believed there is any special reason certain areas of the country love Jackyl so much, Dupree said, “Anywhere where people work for a living, you know blue collar America, anybody busting their knuckles 40-50 hours a week; that is who comes out and supports the band. That’s where you’ll find Jackyl. The Midwest is a no BS place. They love their rock n’ roll.” Dupree has blue collar roots himself,  and when asked what he would be doing if Jackyl had not taken off back in 1992, Dupree shared with a laugh, “I’ll tell you this, the only thing I’m qualified to do is pour concrete!” He added, “You know what, I can’t imagine not doing it. I mean, it’s like, can you imagine changing your name? It’s just who you are.”

Obviously Jackyl is highly connected to the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota. In fact, every Thursday night of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is “Jackyl Night” at the Full Throttle and Dupree is also a partner in the business alongside Michael and Angie Ballard. Known as the World’s Largest Biker Bar, the Full Throttle unfortunately burned down in September of 2015 in an overnight fire. At first there was a question of whether the bar would be rebuilt at all, but soon enough Ballard announced that they would be back again in time for 2016’s rally. The new location is 5 miles down the road from the original location, at the site of the Pappy Hoel Campground at the base of Bear Butte. Last year, although there was still ongoing construction, Dupree said, “For everybody that is out there this year, they will be able to say that they witnessed the grand opening year of what will turn into an even bigger, badder machine. Party central, ‘beyond Thunderdome’ for adults who love bad-ass motorcycles, beautiful women, and a cold drink.”  At the time of this interview, the 2017 Rally had not yet occurred, and Dupree shared some of the amenities that would be available for attendees. He said, “We’ve got 600 acres. The property looks real great this year. We’ve got the Olympic size swimming pool, we’ve got hot air balloon rides, we’ve got helicopter rides, we’ve got cabins, RV hook-ups….. So, it’s an amazing property.” In fact, there were 70 cabins on the new property at the time Full Throttle took over, and around 200 cabins (which survived the fire) were moved from the original property. Reservations for camping in 2018 are already being received at www.fullthrottlesaloon.com.

Dupree also added, “Sturgis is about the lifestyle. There’s a lot of bands that come and play all the time. It’s about a brotherhood. People that love riding motorcycles. It’s just a great event.” Jackyl’s most recent studio album, ROWYCO, was released right before 2016’s Sturgis Rally, and even included a track called Rally. This year, 25 also came out not long before Sturgis, but according to Dupree, “It’s just a coincidence that the Sturgis rally aligns with the anniversary of Jackyl’s first album release.”

Dupree does so much more than perform with Jackyl and one of the things he also promotes on the road, doing bottle signings for fans is his own Jesse James Bourbon which he said is “doing really great. Over 150,000 cases sold which is a huge deal. We’re just spreading the word about the bourbon everyday.” He also owns Mighty Loud Entertainment and manages several bands,  including Wayland, which now includes his son, Nigel Dupree. Thankfully, he said, “My work is play,” so the the workload doesn’t bother him at all.

Dupree doesn’t have any precise reason why Jackyl has managed to stay together all these years when many other bands have not been able to. “You know, I don’t know,” he said. “We actually get along with each other for the most part. I mean, we have our ups and downs, but we’re fortunate enough that we all get along with each other. And I can’t imagine doing it without ‘em.”

As proof that he always has something going on, at the end of this interview with Screamer, Dupree said, “I’ve actually got two gentlemen from the FAA standing in front of me. They just handed me their card, because we’ve got some issue with the helicopters.” But he did have a note to add to the fans of Jackyl: “Just come and see the band live and celebrate 25 years. We greatly appreciate all the support over the years and we look forward to 25 more.”

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