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INTERVIEW: Jay R – Snake Bite Whisky

Snake Bite Whisky’s own website states that the band embodies “Full throttled, no compromise, in yer face sleaze soaked rock n’ roll. A much needed injection of nitro glycerine, “fuck you” heavy rock with attitude and flair in a dull music scene. Undoubtedly the most dangerous and intense live band in Australia. This is a band for people who like their rock turned to eleven, their sex dirty and their booze flowing!” In 2021 they have put all of attitude on record with the release of ‘Black Candy’ their second full-length recording, and first with two new members on board.  We caught up with Jay R to find out why you need ‘Black Candy’ in your life…

 

Mark: Hey Jay how are you?

Jay R: Good man.

Mark: Thanks for taking the time to have a chat after hearing the new album ‘Black Candy’ I just had to give you a call.

Jay R: Yeah, yeah we are man, it’s definitely a step up from ‘This Side of Hell’ which was a good album, this one’s more together I think and we’re super proud of it.

Mark: It’s got a different kind of sound too, there’s a lot more meat to this one – and a lot going on, not just Sleaze but a bit of Metal, a bit of Punk, all kinds of stuff.

Jay R: Yeah that’s kinds always what we were about, we have all kinds of influences but we didn’t have the guys in the band in the past who could translate it into the music effectively. We got pretty close with ‘This Side of Hell’ but before that it was pretty much hardcore Sleaze. Where we are at now with ‘Black Candy’ is definitely the kind of sound we’ve been looking for. Now we’ve got the players that can deliver that sound.

Mark: I just hope you get a chance to play it live – this is going to sound huge in front of an audience.

Jay R: Yeah its cool – the show we played a couple of weeks ago in Brisbane was a full house and we played the whole album from beginning to end and it went down a storm, and pretty much no one had even heard the songs before. That’s a good sign! (laughs)

Mark: It’s is a good sign and I think that’s because the songs are so immediate – right from the off ‘Thunderbird’ just gets you with that ‘Earthshaking sound’ I think the press release called it Southern Metal but that really is only part of it.

Jay R: Yeah it’s kind of hard to describe because it does have a kind of Southern feel to it but it just powers along. When we wrote ‘Thunderbird’ it was always going to be the song that kicked the album off – it’s like a punch in the balls, a statement of intent and then we take it from there.

Mark: It’s great to hear a band as well with some ‘no holds barred’ lyrics too – I love stuff like ‘Hammered’ and the whole attitude.

Jay R: Thanks.

Mark: What came first? Was the opener one of the first?

Jay R: No it was about third or fourth I think. When we wrote the album, because initially out plan last year was to carry on touring with ‘This Side of Hell’ – it had always been a plan to do two years touring, but just before our UK tour in 2019 two guys quit and we got Dan in on drums and Brad from New Zealand who played on the UK Tour and then Dan ended up staying with the band and then we got Laggy in the first part of last year. And then of course everything went to shit and we went into lockdown. So we thought “We’re not going to sit here and cry about it – we’re going to do something” So we knew we couldn’t tour so we sat down and wrote the next album. As we had a new line up we thought it would be good to get music out that had everybody on it. The guys were cool playing the older stuff but I get that you don’t want to be playing somebody else’s music all the time – so that’s what we did. So after three months when we couldn’t get together we had three months of getting together and rehearsing and the songs came out in different sequences. ‘End of the Line’ was actually the first song that we wrote.   

Mark: Oh the final song – that’s a classic to end the album. It’s interesting to hear that the pandemic gave you that extra time to sit down and put together the album because no matter where you are in the world it’s a different story – some places it’s really hindered putting together new music. This album seems to have benefitted you having that extra time that you maybe wouldn’t necessarily have if you’d been on the road?  

Jay R: Yeah at the end of the day we turned it to our advantage because you’re right if we’d just been touring last year we would have still written new songs but we wouldn’t have had much time to spend on them. So we took our time we got it written and recorded. We signed a new record deal too in June last year because we wanted to change labels and we got a better deal on the table. The label of course wanted an album and we said we’d give them one for March release and they told us then that they’d need everything by such and such a date and so I went to the guys and said “OK we’ve got to write and album and deliver it by this date” and they thought I was fucking crazy! (laughs) At this stage we hadn’t written a single song together as a new line up!

Mark: (laughs)

Jay R: But we did it as I knew we would.

Mark: The pressure obviously worked in that case! One of the things I wanted to get across was how there’s so many sounds going on but yet it all sounds so complete – for example with ‘Raised in Hell’ I get a real Motorhead meets Rose Tattoo vibe, and ten you get to a song like ‘Creepshow’ and there’s almost a bit of New York dolls in there! It’s a crazy mix but it works so well.

Mark: You must have some favorites though, at the moment I’m loving ‘Thunderbird’ of course, but also I’m digging ‘Dead by Dawn’ too.

Jay R: (laughs) Funny that! ‘Dead by Dawn’ is a funny one – when we wrote it – actually there were two songs that when we wrote them I worried that they wouldn’t translate on record – it’s different when you’re in the rehearsal room where you hear it in a different kind of way. And ‘Dead by Dawn’ and ‘End of the Line’ were the two I was kind of worried about, but when we heard the mix for ‘Dead by Dawn’ we thought it was fucking cool! My personal favouites? I love ‘Choke’ and ‘Bones in the Fire’ that one because it’s probably the deepest song on the album lyrically. ‘Sweet Cocaine’ I really love too because it’s got an old school G’n’R feel to it to me, although a lot of reviews have said it’s very Punk.  

Mark: I’m with you I think – I get that G’n’R and Buckcherry vibe.

Jay R: But honestly I love all the songs on the album. And ‘Hammered’ of course – when Stacii came with that bassline it created the song and when we were writing it, it was weird because I said we’re not going to have guitar in the verse and they thought “What the fuck are you talking about!?” but it worked for me it has a 70’s punk feel and almost Iggy Pop feel to it. Then when it kicks into the chorus it’s like pure Sleaze Rock!  

 

Snake Bite Whisky - Black Candy

 

Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the creation of any great album just to see how the magic happened in the studio what would you like to have been there for?

Jay R: Probably ‘Appetite for Destruction’ I think. If there was an album that was real lightning in a bottle I think that’s the album in Rock and Roll that truly was that. When you listen to that album and you forget about everything that came after it, that album was truly a soundtrack to their lives at that moment. And you can feel it, you can feel the realness of it, you know. At that stage in their career when they recorded Appetite to have been in the studio and to have seen that happen would have been something else. It would have been amazing. To me it’s one of the definitive Rock albums of all time because it’s such an honest, raw, record and the fact that it did so well is amazing obviously.    

Mark: I know a lot of people would agree with you there, I know there’s a lot of stories around it – I’d just like to have been there to see how any of them were actually true. 

Jay R: Exactly! (laughs)

Mark: Maybe seeing what Axl was up to in that song?

Jay R: (laughing)

Mark: You know the one.

Jay R: I know the one (laughing)

Mark: Take it all the way back for us Jay – when did you know that music was going to become such an important part of your life – did you always know or did it come to you later in a flash of light?

Jay R: Um, for me it was kind of like an instant hit. I listened to Rock and Metal as a teenager just as a fan and then we go back to ‘Appetite for Destruction’ really – that was the album that for me when I first listened to it made me think “Fuck yeah –this is what I want to do.” It just instantly inspired me to be a musician. And I was already like 19, 20 years old at the time, I was in the army and I thought, man this is really what I want to do. And there was no stigma around it and that’s why I’ve only ever played Sleazy Rock and Roll all my life because that’s the kind of music I love. So that kick started it for me, I’m not one of these guys who was a child prodigy, I can sing OK, but I’m not the greatest singer, I’m Ok, I get by (laughs)  

Mark: But it all fits together so well, the voice, the guitars the aggressive bass – it’s the sum of the parts.

Jay R: At the end of the day any art is viewed by the person who’s actually listening to it. I’m under no illusion that my voice is polarizing. I know it’ not for everybody, you know what I mean? It sounds like I’ve been gargling concrete all day! (laughs) 

Mark: (laughs)

Jay R: But that’s cool, it’s OK if you don’t like my voice it’s fine. I don’t care I just do it because I do what I do and I’m just grateful that there are plenty of people out there who love what we do.

Mark: Oh mate there’s plenty of singers out there that I don’t like – its each to their own I reckon and for me the voice fits the music. Now on to the next question – if you could invite three rock stars to a restaurant to celebrate the end of Covid, and just to make it interesting they can be living, dead or undead, who are you going to choose to share a meal with and chew the fat?

Jay R: OK first up and I suppose he is a Rock star in a way would be Johnny Cash – he’s just a legend – he was Country but he was a rock star by any definition at heart. He embodied it all.

Mark: Great voice too.

Jay R: Yeah I love it we kinda do a bit of outlaw Country in some of our songs I like to mix into that deeper kinda vocal and that’s directly because of Johnny Cash. But yeah man, what a legend in everything he’s done. If there’s anyone you’d want to have a drink with he’s one of the guys!   

Mark: He’d be on my table too.

Jay R: Number two it’s got to be Lemmy! To me he’s the Rock and Roll version of Johnny Cash – he did what he wanted to do and never wavered from that. His life was amazing and he just stuck to it and I loved his attitude – “We’re just a fucking Rock and Roll band man!” It was as simple as that. And of course his infamous drinking capabilities wouldn’t go amiss! (laughs)

Mark: A great guy I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times and he was always the same, he’d sign anything for you give you common sense advice and offer you a smoke like a gentleman. Wonderful guy! And the table has room for one more who else are you inviting along? I reckon those two so far would get on well, I’m not sure if they ever met.

Jay R: Yeah definitely. Who would be number three? That’s a hard one. Fuck! I’m gonna say Axl.

Mark: I had money on that! (laughs)

Jay R: (laughs) mainly because he was a big inspiration to me when I got into music, I always admired the way that he didn’t listen to anyone else and did it his way. He didn’t do an interview for ten years because he didn’t want to do it and lately he’s become a little political which kinda irritates me because I don’t think politics and music mix well but yeah, he’s one I admire and I’d love to hear his side of the G’n’R story because we’ve now heard pretty much everyone else’s side of things. But Axl hasn’t said anything so that would be col. He is a musical genius there’s no doubt about it, he’s ultra-talented and I think Chinese Democracy is a very underrated album – there’s some really good moments on there it just wasn’t the G’n’R that people were expecting.   

Mark: Even some of the demos over the years that have been discarded along the way have been great.

Jay R: Yeah, yeah. I think he’s an interesting guy he’s had an interesting life and as a private guy I think it would be cool to have him at a dinner party just to find out wat actually went on.

Mark: Absolutely. And the final question to close – a real easy one to end the day… What is the meaning of life?

Jay R: (laughs) Fucking hell! Sex Booze and Rock and Roll, that’s all it is.

Mark: Nice answer. Before we go what is ‘Black Candy’ apart from of course the great new album by Snakebite Whisky?

Jay R: Now that’s a good question isn’t it? I don’t know man, we call it sweet but deadly but we called it Black Candy because we wanted people to think about what it means. It alludes to a lot of different things – I mean it alludes to drugs, it alludes to sex. It’s something that’s familiar but dark which I think kind of sums up the way we are now as a band musically because it’s still got the touchpoints people can recognize, but there’s a harder, darker edge to this album. So that’s where we went with ‘Black Candy’.

Mark: Great description of a great album, love the artwork too. I just hope I get to travel over East soon to see you play it. That would be great.

Jay R: We’ve love to head out your way too, the problem is the flights and trying to recoup on playing a show. We’d love to play a Festival to get more bang for our buck, it’s not that we don’t want to do it because we want to play everywhere. So it’s in our plans.

Mark: That sounds great. Thanks so much for your time mate it’s been great to chat and thank you for a great album.

Jay R: Thank you man, thanks for the support, we really appreciate it.

 

snakebitewhisky

 

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Album review: WAYSTED – Vices

waysted vices600Rock Candy Records [Release date 12.02.21] In 1983, after an enduring love affair with UFO, a brief flirtation with Ozzy, and a frustrated liaison with Fastway, bass player extraordinaire Pete Way founded Waysted. Around him, he assembled a shit hot … Continue reading

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Album review: JOHN DIVA & THE LOVE ROCKETS – American Amadeus

JOHN DIVA & THE LOVE ROCKETS – American Amadeus      SPV/Steamhammer [Release date 15.01.21] John Diva & the Love Rockets 2019 debut album ‘Mama Said Rock Is Dead’ charted in the top 30 of the German album chart and they had successful tours around Europe. Now they … Continue reading

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Album review: L.A. GUNS – Renegades

L.A. GUNS - RenegadesGolden Robot Records [Release date 13.11.20] L.A. Guns, born out of the 1980’s rock scene in Los Angeles and the Sunset Strip, have become synonymous with the Hollywood hair metal rock scene, famous for putting on amazing live shows with … Continue reading

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