Guitarist Jake E Lee (Ozzy Osbourne, Badlands, Ratt) was a special guest on the December 9th edition of Eddie’s Sirius/XM show Eddie Trunk Live. Portions of the interview, transcribed exclusively by EddieTrunk.com, appear below.
On making new music with his latest band Red Dragon Cartel:
“I’m feeling really great. I’m doing well and everything is looking real rosy right now…I was somewhat surprised at the amount of love that’s out there for me but I’m not saying that I’m deserving of it. The band has now been rehearsing for a couple of days and they are just a great rock and roll band. I couldn’t be happier with them. It’s not Jake E Lee going out there and reprising the glory days. It’s a brand new band and I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
Speaking about why he retired from the music industry:
“Back in the mid 90′s, I think Jake E Lee’s shelf life expired. There comes a time when you’re just not cool anymore and [back then] it just wasn’t cool to be me anymore. Badlands was my baby and, to me, it was the best band in the whole world. When we were playing gigs, in the middle of a show, I would just say (to myself) ‘damn, this is as good as it gets.’ I loved the band and when we broke up (mainly for financial reasons) it broke my heart. I figured I would just try to bow out as gracefully as possible because I’d had a good career [up until then]. Im not one of those guys who needs attention and needs to be in the spotlight. I tend to shun it if anything so I really had no problem just retiring.”
Discussing being a guarded person:
Jake: “Yeah, I had a lot of bad experiences and relationships, specifically in the music business. When you are in it long enough, and you’re connected with the wrong people, you tend to not trust anybody. I didn’t particularly trust you (Eddie) in the beginning (laughs), but I do now.
Eddie: “Why didn’t you trust me?”
Jake: “Well, I hadn’t really seen or heard your show. I was vaguely aware of who you were and it could have been one of those ‘come on my show and let me make fun of you’ situations for all I knew (laughs). That would have been a worst case scenario, but I always look at worst case scenarios and try to balance it with the best case.”
Talking about the rumors circulating about him:
Jake: “There were so many rumors and there might have been a bit of truth to a lot of them. One of the rumors [I heard] was that I was living as a car mechanic. While not true, I did like to tinker on cars. Sometimes a little rumor gets out and it [suddenly] turns into a big thing. [Another rumor was] that I had fallen into a drug haze. While I’m not an angel, I never got to a point where I was down and out. It was [somewhat of] a responsible drug abuse I guess (laughs).”
Eddie: “Are you still on drugs?”
Jake: “Actually no, I don’t do them anymore. In truth, I did drugs as a teenager and even did them while I was in Ratt, everybody did. That is just how you partied [back then]. After I got the gig with Ozzy and saw what a mess he was, it kind of turned me off to drugs. I really kind of quit doing drugs while I was in Ozzy cause I always had that example of ‘yes, you could be him if you keep this up.’ I don’t think I could have ever kept up with Ozzy, he was a monster and I mean that as far as his ability to intake massive amounts of poison and still wake up the next day. In Badlands we partied a little bit but it was never anything on par with Motley Crue. [When I retired] I still went out and partied however I never got as bad as anybody thought [I had]. Five or six years ago I decided, ‘eh, [drugs are] kind of boring’ and I quit doing everything. Now I just concentrate on fine Scotches.”
On the financial aspects of music retirement:
Jake: “Leading up to my retirement I had accumulated a lot of gear and I would occasionally sell some of it to pay my rent. It’s funny because sometimes people would find out that I was selling gear and I would read comments on the internet [like] ‘oh, look how bad he is…he’s selling his gear for drugs.’ Couldn’t it just be that I was selling my gear just to pay the rent? Why is it whenever you sell something it has to be for drugs? Maybe it was just that my power bill had to be paid (as was the case)…[unfortunately] I don’t make enough on my royalty checks to actually support myself.”
Eddie: “Do you get any royalties from the two Ozzy records you played on?”
Jake: “I do get ASCAP checks from the Ultimate Sin record because my name on there however I don’t get any money from publishing. Since I don’t have any publishing I don’t know how much money [I may be missing out on]. I’ve been told that [publishing] is where the real money is. [I basically] get songwriter’s checks for the Ultimate Sin and all of the Badlands material.”
Discussing keeping it real live:
“I was going to concerts in the early 70′s and I loved the fact that it didn’t sound like the record. If I wanted to hear the record I’d go home, put headphones on, and blare it. I really loved hearing bands perform [songs] live at different tempos…it was like another variation of the song that I already knew and loved. To hear them expand on it or speed it up, that’s what makes [live] concerts exciting for me. By not playing live [without a backing track] there’s a chance you could fall flat on your face. [But] there’s also a chance you could take that song so much further than it was on the record and where it becomes a glorious moment. That is what rock and roll is all about…that kind of excitement which you’re never going to get by playing with a click track and using backing tapes. You are never going to get that really, really exciting moment [that way]. Like I said before, there’s [always] a chance it’s going to fall apart and you are going to look stupid but I’ll take that chance to get to the really godly moments onstage. That’s the only way you can do it.”
The ramifications of discussing his lack of writing credits with Ozzy on That Metal Show:
“I was uninvited to the Black Sabbath show in Las Vegas because of my appearance on That Metal Show. It was a little bit hurtful actually, I was really looking forward to seeing Sabbath but….oh well.”
Jake E Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel album will be released on January 28th. For more information about the record and live performances, please click here.