GUITARIST JAKE E. LEE SAYS HIS GUITAR PLAYING WAS NOT AS “UPFRONT AS I WOULD HAVE LIKED” ON OZZY’S “BARK AT THE MOON” ALBUM

Chris Akin of The Classic Metal Show recently spoke with current former Ozzy Osbourne/Badlands and current Red Dragon Cartek guitarist Jake E. Lee. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by Blabbermouth.net).

Discussing whether Red Dragon Cartels’s new album, Patina, is comparable of Badlands:

Jake E. Lee: “I’ve been hearing the Badlands references and I can sort of see it. I don’t know that these would be Badlands songs, but obviously since I’m the guitar player and did the majority of the writing in Badlands, there’s going to be a similarity. But I think maybe what people are hearing is like you said, cohesion. This record is more cohesive. It’s more organic. It sounds more like a band. The first record, the first R.D.C. record, was more of a piecemeal process. It was done bit by bit. I would record a guitar part, then Kevin [Churko, producer] would bring in a certain drummer to play to that part. The process was actually somewhat alien to me. I hadn’t ever done anything that way before. It was interesting for me. But, at the end, that album is a little more disjointed. It sounds more like…it sounds like more me playing with different people, different singers, different bass players. It sounds more like that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think on the new record, it does sound more like a band. Also, the way I wrote it. For the first record, like I said, it was bits and pieces that I would come up with in the studio or had been taking off my computer. Songs were written around that. This was done with a band, with me, the bass and the drums, in a room and I would come up with the ideas, then we’d work on it, come up with another part. So it was written more as a band. And, I think that comes through. I think maybe that is partially why people are referencing Badlands when they hear it. But, yeah, I think it’s more of an honest record, for lack of a better word, than the first one.”

On whether the “dirty” and “raw” sound on “Patina” is why there are so many Badlands comparisons of late:

Jake E. Lee: “Yeah, I think so. The guitar is more in your face than it was on the Ozzy records, which was my main complaint about the Ozzy records — how the guitar wasn’t very… well, it wasn’t as upfront as I would have liked it. In fact, I hated Bark At The Moon, I hated the mix the first time I heard it. To me, it felt like Ozzy wasn’t sure that I was the guy and so he kind of had the guitar a little back further in the mix and he brought the keyboards up a little bit because he wasn’t completely sure that I was capable of taking Randy’s [Rhoads] place. That’s what it felt like to me anyway when I heard the mix for the first time. I really did hate it for a long time. Now, 30-odd years later, it’s grown on me. [Laughs] And, any other mix now would just sound weird and alien, so I wouldn’t even go back and fix that. Yeah, maybe the guitar sound is more reminiscent of Badlands. And just the fact when I was in Ozzy and I was writing songs, I realized and was told that it had to be a very specific kind of a song. You know, it had to be heavy metal and whenever I did kind of push the boundaries a little bit and give a song to Ozzy where I was expanding a little, and he would tell me straight off, ‘We’re not a jazz band, we’re not a blues band. This isn’t Frank Zappa.’ I don’t know why he would say that, but he said, ‘This is Ozzy Osbourne. I do Ozzy Osbourne songs.’ So, there were strict parameters as far as what I could write. And, so when we first formed Badlands, it was like a whole new world opened up for me and I could kind of do whatever I wanted. So, with Badlands, it did open up more and yeah, blues, I’ve always loved blues and so there is a lot more of that based in Badlands. With the new Red Dragon Cartel album, it’s kind of blues. It’s not as bluesy as Badlands, but, yeah, I got to play around with it a little more. There’s one or two songs where I do some jazz riffing. I’m not saying I’m a good jazz guitar player, but, it certainly fun to pretend like I am. [Laughs]”

Talking about what made him want to keep RDC going after an embarrassing debut live performance from singer Darren James Smith along with several vocalist changes afterward:

Jake E. Lee: “It was right from the get-go. The infamous Whisky show and the various [fill-in] singers toward the end of the tour, that didn’t help things either, although I will say, [those other guys] were never [officially] the Red Dragon Cartel singer. Darren and I had a dispute or a disagreement that needed to be worked out, and during that time, I got other singers in. But they were never hired and fired. It wasn’t quite as jerky as that. I had four singers available. I gave each of them ten days to come out on the road. It really made it interesting for me. It made it interesting, but yeah, that and I had bad management. Toward the end of it, it started making me think of the reasons why I bowed out in the first place. But I don’t want to make him feel too good about himself. And a lot of it was Anthony [Esposito, bass]. He came in toward the end of the tour, replacing Greg Chaisson, who had gotten a cancer diagnosis, so he couldn’t continue. I brought in Anthony and he’s just so gung-ho about everything and such a really solid player and a solid guy. And, very supportive and just upbeat about shit that I give him a lot of the credit for making what could have been the end of a shitty tour into something that looked like a glimmer of hope.”

Patina will be released on November 9th through Frontiers Music Srl. The follow-up to Red Dragon Cartel’s eponymous 2014 debut marks the group’s first release with drummer Phil Varone (Saigon Kick, Skid Row) and Esposito. The band’s current lineup is rounded out by Smith.

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6 Responses

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  • MikeyMan on

    Got the Patina CD pre-ordered, hope to receive it Friday!


  • James K. on

    I didn’t like the guitar sound much on Bark At The Moon either when I first heard it. A lot of the crunch and aggression was dulled some, pulled back as Jake says. But I love the songs on that album and I probably like the album more now than I did then. Jake’s sound was much more crisp and up front on The Ultimate Sin. The opening to “Killer Of Giants” from that album still gives me chills. Jake has always been underrated and underappreciated to an extent. He deserves respect because he enabled Ozzy’s career to move on after losing Randy. And that first Badlands album is a bliesy hard rock classic and one of my all-time favorite albums from that era.


  • Waverider on

    I just heard Havana from the new Patina album and watched the video. Sounds like Jake has the fire back☺ Thats what I’m talkin’ about! Looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.


  • craig on

    Very interesting article! The sound of the whole Bark at the moon record sounded off. I love that record, but like Jake was describing the mixing is off. I am more of a fan of The Ultimate Sin record. I remember seeing Ozzy on that tour and I think it was Motley Crue that opened up for them. Cant wait to hear the whole new Red Dragon Cartel cd!! Thats right I said cd. haha


  • T on

    I liked the solo on Bark at the Moon a lot, but there was too much of a chorus/flanger sound on it (admittedly popular at the time), which IMHO kind of washed out the sound. His playing was very good though, so it’s s shame it was not more clear (then again not much was clear back then, including much of the thinking). I also thought Gus’s sounds was washed out on the recent Ozzy album as well. Just to much effects. Randy and Zack didn’t have that problem.


    • Dana on

      Personally, from the Jake E. Lee era, I think Ultimate Sin, is a killer song. I also really like, Rock N’ Roll Rebel, from Bark.

      I also agree that the self titled, Badlands album, is really good.


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