Jack Viper

Jack Viper

Only a few years ago it seemed that sleaze rock was condemned to leading a purely marginal existence – demoralised and in decline, having permanently lost its nerve. But the style, which in the beginning of the 90s was put out of business by the changed corporate policy of major record labels who chose to switch their attention to the newly emerged grunge, is now making its first steps toward a comeback.

Jack Viper, an English band, have been one of the pioneers of the sleaze revival in the UK, having formed in London just over a year ago. They are redeeming sleaze for the new generation, and, along with other newly emerged bands, are making a new home for this genre in London, a place very remote from its original birthplace in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

The attack which Jack Viper launch on the 90s styles has a sense of sharp urgency, railing against the continued dominance of indie music which, they believe, was achieved at a price of an amnesia, of forgetting how full-bloodied, unadulterated rock music should sound like. Jack Viper believe that the ground will soon be ready for a major change in rock trends and that a sleaze explosion is imminent. The music that they play makes this view sound very credible. This band presents a perfect union of form and substance – their songs are clear-cut and in focus and bear a convincing stamp of a real thing, of genuine A-grade rock’n’roll.

While a lot of the new bands in the UK are now becoming involved in the sleaze revival, Jack Viper were certainly among the first to bring sleaze back onto the London scene. The Mag got a chance to talk to the band before their show at the G Lounge in Camden on September 2.

What have you been up to since you came off your tour with Vixen?

Eddie: The big news is that our tune ‘Spider to the Fly’ got pre-loaded on half a million mp3 players. It’s really big deal for us and for the scene in general. This is an acknowledgement that sleaze rock really is an important genre and that it is becoming really big in the UK. I think that the fact that a multi-national corporation like Creative has realised this and selected one of the bands from the scene to go to this number of players is a big endorsement for the scene.

Jay: It shows that the scene is about to make that big step from the underground back into the mainstream again. It is coming out soon and it’s like having half a million singles out, so it’s big news.

Eddie: It is going out not only in the UK, but in Europe and in Russia, so Viper music gets out in a lot of countries. It’s also quite cool because we are actually the first unsigned band in history to get a full track on a top playing mp3 player.

Jay: A week before that we’ve nailed an endorsement from Marshall amps, the biggest amp company in the world, so the big boys are taking notice of what we’ve done and it’s moving now, and that is just a tip of the iceberg, we also have stuff which is in the pipeline now.

Eddie: There is stuff coming out in September, it’s cool stuff and it’s related to ‘Spider to the Fly’.

Does this mean that you keep writing?

Mister Kiss: Oh yea, we keep writing all the time. Our next song is not finished yet, we’re calling it ‘Death Trip’ for the time being and it’s an exciting tune, I’m happy about it.

Eddie: I get bored when I don’t write. When I’ve written a song, I want to write a new one. I wouldn’t be satisfied if we wrote 15 tunes and then said right, that’s it, and we would be just playing those. I get bored, you know? And it’s quite nice to have a big catalogue of tunes that you can switch around in gigs to see what the crowds like. It is interesting for us and for them too.

Tell me about the Vixen tour. What was the most exciting or memorable thing about it?

Eddie: For our last night with Vixen we were in Nottingham and it was cool, we all went back to the hotel and we were hanging out with them. The best thing about the tour was their acceptance of us, from both Vixen and House of Lords.

Jay: Vixen watched us almost every night, House of Lords were singing ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ [a Jack Viper song] everywhere they went and it was fucking great. Their bassist designed the new logo for us.

Eddie: They were ringing people from back home in the States saying ‘You’ve gotta hear this new band, Jack Viper, they are fucking ace!’ So it was nice to hear that these guys who’ve been around on the scene for years have accepted us.

Jay: Because these guys have had their careers, there was no bias, no competition, they were really friendly, to the point were they were wearing Jack Viper t-shirts on stage.

Mister Kiss: Just the banter between all the bands was great. I know that on some tours it doesn’t always work like that, but on this tour everyone was really communal, everyone hung out and it was really cool.

Jay: On our last night with Vixen we stayed up all night with them in the hotel. At five o’clock in the morning we were having coffee and croissants. ( Everyone laughs).

Eddie: With a sprinkling of Jack Daniels on top!

Jay: The Jack was finished, so we had to move on. (Laughs).

The Ferlanger: Next time they come through they said they wanted to tour with us. They were very nice people and if we could do it again, we would.

Jay: At the end of the day, we are quite different musically, we are a lot heavier than they are. The fact that they dug us and also the fact that their crowds liked us as well was really cool. We played in front of people who have never heard of us before, a lot of older people who we don’t normally play in front of, and they loved us. It was cool, really good.

The kind of music that you play hasn’t been heard for a while in the UK. Does it take certain courage to play it the way you do – with so much vitality and expressiveness?

Jay: It takes big bollocks! ( Laughs). When we started as a band we said that we were going to follow our own way, we weren’t going to listen to anyone else, we were just going to do what we wanted to do.

Eddie: And if that pisses people off, then fuck it, man!

Jay: We said we would take the chances. Luckily for us, in the year that we’ve been together, we’ve exploded on the scene, and I think we’re one of the major reasons why the scene is now starting to expand and grow and move out of the underground.

Eddie: One of the reasons why we got together was because we were so fucking pissed off with all the shit music that’s out there. So it wasn’t just the case of ‘Oh, let’s put a band together and play this music’, it was more of a statement like ‘Fuck this bollocks, let’s get out there and tell them to fuck off from the stage instead of bitching about it at home’.

Jay: If you go to see a band, you want to see a show, and that’s what we give. No matter what happens, we always give the show. Even when we’re off our tits drunk and we’re crawling on the stage, it’s still a goddamn show!

Mister Kiss: Even people who think they wouldn’t like us, they come down to see the show and we turn them, and they come out and say ‘Fucking hell, you’re not my kind of music, but I fucking love it!’

Jay: What we get a lot from older people is that they say that they don’t see this kind of music being played any more, and they are amazed that this is happening now. And from younger people we get ‘Fuck me, we didn’t even know this kind of rock ‘n’ roll existed!’

Mister Kiss: They are getting manufactured pop music and indie music rammed down their throats by mainstream players, and they are just not exposed to this kind of stuff, so they don’t know what to expect, and they come down to our show and they love it. We played in Sheffield, this is just another example, and we talked to a chap whose band was influenced by the Arctic Monkeys, and after the show he said ‘Fucking hell, you guys are amazing, I’ve re-discovered my love of sleaze!’

Jay: Another thing about Sheffield which I liked was that most of the crowd were 16 year-old girls, but they weren’t sleaze rockers or rockers, they were average mainstream people, and after the show it was like being in the Beatles, we were fucking mobbed by them!

Eddie: If you play to a sleaze rock crowd, of course they are going to like it because they like sleaze. The exciting thing about it was that these were mainstream people, and they loved it as well. Our fans seem to be quite broad among the age groups.

Jay: We are not restricted to sleaze or glam crowds. We play with metal bands and the metalheads love us as well, people who are into punk love us too. We are not a straight sleaze rock band, we are not restricted in that sense.

What do you think are the reasons for the audiences being so welcoming toward this kind of music?

Mister Kiss: It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s different from what’s being offered around at the moment. It’s different and it’s exciting.

Eddie: It’s been 15 years of people being force-fed the same kind of stuff. OK, fair play, indie music has evolved, but I hated it when it came out and now I’m just sick of it! When I decided to learn Van Halen, everyone was saying to me that I should be playing Oasis!

Do you have any interest in any of the 90s styles at all?

Jay: Maybe industrial and stuff like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. The thing about those bands is that they took a lot from the old sleaze rock scene, a lot of imagery came from there. So that was all cool, I dug those bands. They paid respect to the same scene that we are from.

Eddie: There were some cool bands in the 90s, but they didn’t get enough press. Bang Tango were an awesome band and they didn’t get enough press. Beautiful Creatures as well, they formed in the 90s and didn’t get enough press, and they were a fucking amazing band.

Jay: At the end of the day, it’s all been about timing. When grunge came along and killed off the original scene, what followed was 10 or 15 years of really bland introspective music. I think people are ready for a party again, they are ready for a bit of the balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n’ roll where everything goes. People want to see girls in mini-skirts. Hip hop had it for a while, they were bargaining on the same thing. We are brining it back for the rockers.

Do you think there is a revival of an interest in serious guitar craft these days among guitar players as well as the audiences?

Eddie: I think that’s related. By the end of the 80s in the end it became too commercial, everyone was just insanely into guitar. It did get a bit boring and a bit manufactured. So it did need a kick up the fucking ass, and Nirvana did that, and I respect them because they ripped a new one. They had the raw energy that you can see and it’s fucking exciting. But the trouble after that was that everyone thought that it was ok to be shit, and everyone has used it as an excuse because it’s easy to be shit. So for the last 15 years it has all been quite shit and people are just bored of it!

Jay: The solos are back with vengeance. (Laughs).

Eddie: Like with anything, if you get enough of one thing, it becomes fucking dull. I think people now want to see some motherfucker who can rip it up.

How would you comment on the whole rock’n’roll revival scene in the UK these days? Are there any new bands that you like?

The Ferlanger: Signed or unsigned?


The Ferlanger: I like Bullets and Octane, an American band, they are really cool.

Do you like any new British bands?

Mister Kiss: It’s difficult to say, I think we are playing catch-up to the Americans. There has always been a big rock scene in America because there they have enough people into different types of music, where over here you’ve got Radio 1 and that’s it, so whatever they played, that went.

Eddie: The unsigned band scene in the UK is healthy. There are a lot of different up and coming bands who all have a slightly different take on things and that’s good for the scene. If everyone sounded the same, the scene would die.

Jay: It’s healthy competition that’s driving the scene forward.

Eddie: It’s good because competition breeds excellence.

Jay: It’s a tiered scene where a handful of bands are leading it at the moment, and then there’s a second tier of bands who are close behind. On the bands that we like, musically I don’t think there are many bands that we would say are great.

Mister Kiss: I like Motorhead. (Everyone laughs).

Jay: Musically a lot of bands are stuck in the 80s. They can’t get their heads around trying to bring it forward, and that’s not an insult, that’s what they do, and they are good guys. We’ve always said that this scene is going to make it back, but you have to look forward and bring something new to the scene. But as to the bands that we like… It’s a difficult one, isn’t it? Who do we like?

Eddie: Who did we play with in Nottingham?

Jay: New Generation Superstars.

Eddie: New Generation Superstars were really nice guys.

Jay: Yea, they were nice guys.

Eddie: And I liked their tunes.

Jay: They weren’t too bad.

Eddie: They had a kind of Backyard Babies feel to them and I really dug that. Also, we played with Junktion XIII the other day and they are fucking cool guys with good tunes too.

What do you love and what do you hate about the London rock scene?

Mister Kiss and Eddie: Wow! (Everyone laughs).

Jay: We love the people!

Does this scene offer many opportunities for bands to develop, are there many supportive promoters or maybe even A&R people?

Eddie: The positive thing is that the scene is really big here and a lot of people are open to it.

Mister Kiss: There are a lot of different places to play and there are lots of different cool venues around London.

Eddie: Also, there are a lot bands on the scene, so you can put together a whole night of sleaze rather than being sandwiched between some fucking indie bands. That is among the positives. The negatives about London is that there is so much to do, on any one night there’s usually four or five cool gigs, other nights going on, so it’s difficult to drive people down to one night and to get them come down over here rather than go and see Motorhead at the London Astoria, you’ve gotta compete with that. There are the positives and the negatives, like the fact that the labels and the mags are based in London, but then they travel around. And it’s fucking expensive to live here, man! (Everyone laughs).

What do you see as the next big trend in rock music?

Jay: The new breed of sleaze is going to be the next thing.

Do you really believe that?

Jay: One hundred per cent.

Eddie: There is mainstream press which is switched on to stuff, like Metal Hammer magazine where they keep on featuring the sleaze rock scene in the UK.

Jay: The question has been asked for years in the press: when is it going to come back, why is no-one getting signed. Metal Hammer is now beginning to say that this genre is staring to come back, but it is not going to happen overnight. Bullets and Octane have opened the doors in the States, and it is going to take one or two bands to kick the door wide open, and then this music will go big again.

Eddie: This scene is to a certain extent reminiscent of the L.A. scene just before everything went big, where it had a big underground following. So what is probably going to happen is that a record company will have the bollocks to sign one or two bands from the scene, these bands will do really well, and then a lot of other labels will try to catch up and sign a lot of the other bands on the scene and then that will be it. No-one else will get signed.

Jay: In Scandinavia and in Europe, and even in the States they started to recognize that London has become the epicentre of the revival of the scene.

Eddie: We did an interview for a Danish magazine which did a feature on the London scene, so the word has gone across the wire, people are sitting up and taking notice.

Jay: They are watching, and in the States they are watching as well, we’ve had a lot of offers starting to come in from the States.

This question is for The Ferlanger. The band had a lot of reasons to celebrate recently, how do you personally celebrate good news?

Eddie: Why not go for the old cliché – lots of bottles of Jack and attractive ladies!

The Ferlanger: Exactly, I’ll go for this cliché as well, what better way to celebrate! It depends on the good news as well, if it’s a top notch gig or something like that, we’ll do a gig and then have an after-show party.

This one is for Mister Kiss. What is one thing that people would have never guessed about you?

Eddie: What people never guess is that Mister Kiss and I are actually brothers.

Is that true?

Jay and Eddie: It is!

Jay: A lot of people know that there are brothers in the band, but a lot of times they think it’s me and Eddie.

Jay, what is the nicest thing a fan has ever said to you?

Jay: Anyone who would take the time to come up after the show and say ‘You fucking rock!’ You want something like ‘You’ve got a big cock’, but that goes without saying. (Laughs).

Eddie, how would you define a perfect rock song?

Eddie: A perfect rock song for me needs a vocalist who stands out from the crowd, not a generic rock vocalist, but someone when you hear that voice you say ‘Fuck me, that’s so-and-so’. I also want a guitar player who knows what the fuck they are doing and not showing off for the sake of it, not trying to impress all other guitar players, but a guy who fucking rocks and plays his bollocks off. I want big drums and a grooving bass line underpinning the track. That’s for me is a good rock song. Not too long, with good lyrics. The lyrics don’t need to be too serious, but the band has to be singing about the shit that’s happened to them, something that they know about. And if it happens, then it’s a fucking good rock song.

Guest article from Alyssa O.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

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