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A Dirty Dozen with JEF RHODES of THEM DAMN KINGS – November 2020

| 4 November 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Jersey City, NJ Hard Rock / Metal band THEM DAMN KINGS has revealed the official music video for their debut single, “Throw it Away.” Self-directed and produced by multi-talented front-man Jef Rhodes, “Throw it Away” is off of their upcoming album, Rise Up. THEM DAMN KINGS is the one man Hard Rock wrecking machine created by New Jersey USA native, guitarist / multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Jef Rhodes. Jef is a long time professional Front Of House engineer, and backline tech who has over two decades of international touring experience with such bands as: Opeth, Cradle of Filth, Highly Suspect, Lacuna Coil, Watain, Mayhem, and others.” We get Jef to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The new song is called “Throw It Away” it was the first and oddly enough last song written for the album Rise Up which should be out spring of 2021…pandemic permitting. The riff was the first riff I wrote for the album but the lyrics were the last thing written I actually had struggled with the lyrics a lot and after all other songs were recorded fully the vocals for Throw It Away were written and recorded right at the very end. The song almost didn’t make it. Ya know I’m not sure what they may or may not grab, the song actually changes for me a lot when I listen to it which is pretty cool. I like abstract in the sense that each listener can take away what they want or need from it at the time they are listening. I think that’s the great thing about music each person has a special meaning for each song they listen to that is unique to the next person. And nah the only hidden nuggets we got are in our pants… sometimes not so hidden though.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

No doubt Ozzy Osbourne. I remember the first time I heard him it was like this lighting bolt hit my brain, sure I heard music before it’s always been a part of my life, my first real memory was a song by bread called “the guitar man”. My mom used to play it for me all the time, I think it was the only way she could get me to shut the F*#% up…. But nothing like when I heard Ozzy for the first time, I knew at that moment I wanted/needed to be rock n roll. What got me playing guitar though as strange as it may sound was Macaulay Culkin of all people go figure. Every kid was into that movie home alone in my generation and right around that time Michael Jackson was releasing the video for “Black or White” and of course Macaulay Culkin was the kid playing the guitar in the beginning of the video and it just hit me hard seeing him with that bad ass guitar… of course it was really Slash playing the notes who obviously is one of my hero’s. I knew right at that moment I NEEDED to play guitar… and my life’s been fucked ever since hahaha.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Oh man there really is to many to list, my taste can really change from one day to the next. My album collection is somewhere in the 5000 range and that doesn’t include the countless TB’s of hard drives I have full of just about anything you can think of. All I can really say is Rock n Roll that’s always been my guide.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Black Label Society, Motörhead and Beer.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

That’s easy Zakk Wylde man! Aside from Randy Rhoads, Zakk is my guitar hero and it would be pretty bad ass to do something like Cacophony, that was when Marty Friedman and Jason Becker got together and made that killer record… I’m telling you one day we’re gonna put out Wylde Rhodes,  hahaha probably a total fuckin pipe dream there but ya never know.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Haha I wouldn’t say cringe or disagreed with but I keep hearing Layne Staley a lot. It kinda bums me out sometimes because I have never once tried to sound anything like Alice In Chains. In fact I never got into them much until recently but back then I couldn’t stand the shit that was coming out of Seattle I was a Pantera / Skid Row / Sabbath guy and that music came along and just crushed what rock and roll was… of course now I’ll blast the fuck AIC and Soundgarden on my stereo… and ya know what better to be compared to Layne than say Justin Bieber.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Free booze! Remember that kids when we’re allowed to play shows again and your allowed to come see shows again.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Cooks hahahahaha most of the time if we’re lucky enough, we’ll be playing next to a Chinese restaurant and raid the trash can at the end of the night. The drinks I honestly never know they just seem to appear in my hand, one goes down another appears, the magic of rock n roll I suppose. As for who’s breaking out the 6 string and slinging it around that’s always me I never put the thing down. Most of the time the sing a long is me getting cracked over the head by my guitar and having a lullaby sung as I gently slip into a coma for the night.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Zakk Wylde. I’ve seen the guy like a million times and I’ve never met him. I was at the Metal Hammer Awards in NYC a few years back and I was down in the lobby hanging with a few people and who walks through the door Zakk Wylde I mean the guy is standing like 2 feet from me and just as I was building up enough balls to talk to him, one of the guys in my group had asked me a question and in the 3 seconds I turned away to answer Zakk was gone. I did get to see him sound check so that was pretty great. Another time I was doing a show that Ozzy was closing the night out on. I stood at FOH most of the show watching, at some point I needed a refill on my empty adult beverage so I started to head backstage and right as I got to the fence on the other side Zakk went into this ripping solo so I stopped and watched from the backstage side of the fence. So there was this metal mesh gate that you had to open to get back there and as I’m watching in awe bam the gate opens and slams into me, so I’m like wtf watch where the fuck your going… turns out it was Zakk’s wife Mrs. Wylde who just about took my nuts off with a metal gate. Sorry Zakk and Barbaranne didn’t mean to yell at ya.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Easy, professional drinker. Good news is my fall back plan is already in place.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I wouldn’t say a misstep, a do over yes. But I don’t know if I can openly talk about this just yet.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Oh man there are so many but I would say Robert Johnson. The recordings he did facing the wall during the Don Law session in 1936. I mean not much is really known about Robert Johnson and he died shortly after. I mean even just to be a fly on the wall at that moment in time. How fucking cool.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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