Sea Of Tranquillity recently conducted an interview with former OZZY OSBOURNE/BADLANDS and current RED DRAGON CARTEL guitarist Jake E. Lee.
Sea Of Tranquillity: BADLANDS, the band you formed after your stint with OZZY OSBOURNE, ended way back in the early Nineties. How much has creating music remained a part of your life since?
Jake: Well, after BADLANDS, I did put out a record in Japan, “A Fine Pink Mist”, which was all instrumental. It was me playing all the instruments and that was good for me, it was cathartic, in a way that I didn’t have to, not compromise, that I didn’t have to argue with anybody else about what I wanted to do. I kind of liked that and I liked seeing everything coming out how I envisioned it in the first place. So I continued to write music for myself via computer because it was so easy to do, for all those years. I continued to write… I have a multitude of song ideas and completed song that I’ve written. I never expected or… I never did it for anybody else, I never said someday I’ll do these songs and people will hear ’em. It was just more of a release for me and I was content doing that. I didn’t have to have the world hear everything that I did, but to answer the question [laughs], I never really stopped creating music, I just quit letting other people listen to it.
Sea Of Tranquillity: [In the Internet age], fan and critical comment has become almost immediate and uncontrolled. Even given that, though, I was amazed at how vicious some of the criticism was towards the band’s debut live performance, especially towards Darren James Smith [RED DRAGON CARTEL singer]. How hard was that for the band to take?
Jake: Ummm, no, that’s true, that’s true. The Whisky performance, it was, umm… That was probably my fault for not putting my foot down, I wanted to… We had never really rehearsed, or played together as a band before that gig and we had only, I believe, three rehearsals to learn the songs together, to get the set together and play the show, whereas I had hoped for a good three weeks to get the band tight. However it was sort of thrust upon us unknowingly and rather than cancel it, we decided to go gung-ho and see what happened. What happened wasn’t that good [laughs] and I’m not saying that the acidic reviews of the show were not deserved, but yeah, it’s a little easier these days with the Internet to say stuff and not really be held accountable. It doesn’t bother me; I don’t care, I really don’t give a shit. Like I stated previously, I don’t do this for the people, I don’t do it for the fans, I do it for purely selfish reasons, that’s for me. I play music for me and if I’m good enough and enough people care, then that’s wonderful, I appreciate that. If they don’t like it, fuck ’em, I don’t care, I’m not doing it for them. So the Whisky show, yes, that was sort of a disaster, but in a weird way I’m kinda proud of it because it did become such a big deal. I think we were groundbreaking. [laughs]… It was a groundbreaking gig. The fact the so many people hated it and made such a big deal about it. If we’d have done a good gig, if we’d done real well, we’d not have gotten half the press and someone once said any press is good press. I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but hey, we got noticed, you know. Maybe, maybe, I am a genius and I know how to get press and maybe I made the band play very badly. Maybe I poured a bottle of vodka down Darren‘s throat so that we would get noticed. I’m not saying I am that genius, but is it possible? I leave it to you…
Sea Of Tranquillity: Now obviously you had a number of year’s worth of material to work through for the debut RED DRAGON CARTEL album. Does that well run deep enough to be plundered for album number two? Or will you be putting together a completely new set of songs for your second album?
Jake: There’s an abundance of song ideas. If there is another album, I imagine that we’ll try to do it both ways; look at what I’ve written previously and jam together like BADLANDS. In BADLANDS, we mostly just got together and jammed and wrote the bulk of our songs that way. It would be nice to try it with RED DRAGON CARTEL also, but I’m not guaranteeing that there will be another album. I know the record company hopes there is [laughs] and the band hopes there is, I just… I just did this as a last hurrah and just to see what it felt like to be back out and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I miss my home life though, and I, as I stated previously, I don’t “need” this, and as long as it’s not tiresome or becomes too much of a “job,” I can see it going on. Right now I don’t know. We’re at the beginning of the European tour. It’s wonderful to back over here; it’s even better that I get to play Italy and Spain for the first time ever. But we’ll see. If it taxes me too much, I can easily go back into retirement. It’s me first, and whatever makes me happy. If making another record makes me happy, then I’ll do it. If making another record becomes grueling, then I’ll just stop and feel reassured in knowing that there’s really not going to be a whole big world that’ll miss me. Some fans will, and if that’s what happens, I apologize to them…
Sea Of Tranquillity: Your time with both OZZY OSBOURNE and BADLANDS came to abrupt halts. Is there a feeling of taking care of unfinished business about RED DRAGON CARTEL?
Jake: No, there isn’t. [a long pause] Oddly, or maybe not, my tenure in both of those bands were four years long. Maybe that’s how long I have to do a project? Which means I have another three years with RED DRAGON CARTEL maybe?! No, I don’t feel I have any unfinished business, other than once I get to England, and especially Scotland, I did not have a Scotch habit before, and now I do, and so I’m looking forward to trying single malts, especially the “Isles” malts. I don’t know what that’s really got to do with anything [laughs]), but maybe people will come up to me during the show and ask me to sample something I haven’t had before.