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| 5 October 2023 | Reply

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – @toddstarphoto

According to Jesse James Dupree’s bio: “Jesse James Dupree is the owner of the multi-faceted Mighty Loud Enterprises, the front man of multi-platinum selling rock band, JACKYL, owns his own brand of spirits and has developed a research platform that will revolutionize the media industry. On the music side of things, where it all began—JACKYL and Dupree are more than 30 years in 2023. Not only is the BAND celebrating more than 30 years, but so is the BRAND of Jackyl.  The brand has been able to sustain the value of blue collar, working class America and has built up a list of rich radio relationships that have lasted throughout the past 30+ years. The common denominator with each of these projects, companies, and ideas is the synergy between them all.  Dupree has been able to build and nurture relationships that have crossed over into each of these endeavors and allowed him to continue to grow and create in a variety of different industries outside and inside of the music world. Regardless of the business or industry hat Dupree is wearing on any given day, he ultimately credits success to his ability to be a ‘manager of expectations’.” We get Jesse to discuss new music and much more…

Toddstar: Jesse James Dupree. How are you today, sir?

Jesse: Doing great, man. Where are you located today?

Toddstar: I’m between Detroit and one of both of our favorite places on Earth, Flint, Michigan, home of The Machine Shop.

Jesse: I’ll be there coming up in a few weeks.

Toddstar: I’ve been able to see you guys there many a time for your family reunions.

Jesse: They always do a great job. Kevin Zink is the best.

Toddstar: He never has a bad word to say about you that I’ve heard (laughs). Let’s talk about what’s going on with you, Jesse. You have a new single out, “Never Gets Old.” What can you tell us about this track that the fans might not grab the first time they listen through?

Jesse: I think you’ll automatically be able to see that it has Brian Johnson from AC/DC’s fingerprints all over it because we wrote it together and it was heavily influenced by me going back and listening to some old AC/DC records and I was just having fun with it. I never planned to do an album. It just kind of happened organically. I was messing around with some ideas that I had that were coming to me as a result of me being influenced. My son walks in the door, and I said, “What are you doing here?” He lives in Nashville, and he came home to get a free meal. He is a starving musician, but we feed him. We always joke about that. He came in and I said, “Go lace the drums up.” I called Roman and he came over and the next thing you know, we ended up with a whole bunch of songs. Some of it sounded so much like AC/DC, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do anything with it. Out of the blue, just coincidentally, Brian Johnson from AC/DC called me three days after we’d recorded the stuff and I’m like, “Holy, I can’t believe that you just called me. I need you to help me write some songs.” He said “Send ’em down here. I got a whole notebook.” Next thing you know, we ended up with albums worth of stuff. It’s a lot of fun.

Toddstar: It’s good to know the backstory. Rock is not dead and to watch you live, it proves that time and time again. I was able to catch a show you did up here in the summer with Buckcherry at a festival and you can still see the twinkle in your eye the minute you hit the stage. Jesse, how is it you keep that spark within you going after all these years?

Jesse: I’m just a blessed individual. Let’s be honest. I’m technically only qualified to pour concrete, so every day that I get to get up and make music and jump out there; we had 10,000 people at that show in Detroit that you’re talking about. It was a great night, great show, great crowd, and when you’ve got that kind of energy from the crowd, it’s hard not to get just over the top excited about it.

Toddstar: I’ve been able to see you guys live. I’ve done the Rocklahoma thing with you guys and a ton of shows at The Shop. There’s something special when you hit the stage at The Machine Shop. You’ve talked about Kevin and the venue, but what’s it about Jackyl, Flint, Michigan, and Machine Shop that just makes it family?

Jesse: I’m connected to that place because when Kevin first opened it, I don’t think he had ever really been in that business before, and he was trying to figure it out. There was a little bit of stuff going on with the building and a lot of stuff that he had to work through. He has and had so much heart, I tried to wrap around him and support him as much as I could with whatever advice I might’ve had. I’m so proud of him that he’s overcome the adversities that you have when you first open a rock and roll bar. He’s diversified. He does so much different stuff at the bar. It is not just rock. He just does a lot of different cool stuff and he’s always got his finger on what’s new and what’s cool. I’m proud of Kevin and I’m proud of that place. I feel like I’ve got some equity in it myself just because of the support and the love that we have for Kevin. We’ve just always had that connection. Then people that live in Flint, you’re talking about the people that exemplify real America and I mean that wholeheartedly. The people in Flint, Michigan will call bullshit on you so quick. They don’t put up with no BS and I mean for real. When you’re there and they take you in, open up to let you in the circle of Flint, you can’t take that for granted because they don’t just wrap around anybody.

Toddstar: So true, Jesse. The new single “Never Gets Old” just dropped and I’m already chomping at the bit for other new stuff. You say there’s a whole album. Is there some kind of timeline? Are you looking at dropping another single? Is the album going to drop soon?

Jesse: Yeah, the full album drops November 10th. I’ll be releasing another single soon enough. I’ve got the single “Never Gets Old” out now, and again, the next single will be dropping right around just before the album drops. It’s the kind of record that sounds like it belongs on vinyl, so there’s a limited run of vinyl that you can get at It’s just a really cool thing to drop the needle on the vinyl record. My publicist asked me before he sent you the information about connecting this interview, what are the emphasis tracks on the record? I said, “I would say that it would probably be songs one through ten” because it’s one of those records you can listen to from front to back.

Toddstar: I like that you admit that. You heavily leaned on some of your influences. You get some artists today who want to recreate the wheel, so to speak, and you said, this is me and my love of AC/DC and all things three-chord rock. How influential was that sound when you kicked this off years ago and put out that first Jackyl record? Was it the bands like AC/DC and others that really pushed you in the direction you went? With your voice and sound as well as the Dixie stuff you do, it would’ve been easy for you to do rockabilly or outlaw country thing. What pushed you towards rock to begin with?

Jesse: That’s what you do when that’s what your instrumentation is – two guitars, bass, and drums. That’s what kind of happens. I have a side thing that you just mentioned, Dixie Inc. Stuff that I do that’s more of a country feel to it and kind of a throwback country, paying tribute to the stuff that influenced me growing up. I used to hear the old Johnny Cash stuff blaring out of an AM radio in the front of an old Dodge Dart car when we would take my uncle back to the Marine Corps. I’d stand up in the front seat before seat belts and listen to that AM radio with old classic songs on there. I just love influence. I don’t flatter myself that I’m going to write a song that’s going to cure Cancer. I’ll leave that to Bono and Bruce Springsteen. What I can do is I can write a song that’ll stimulate your glands and you’ll get so hot and bothered to where you don’t even make it back home before you jump in the backseat and knock out the old dirty, dirty.

Toddstar: That’s the origin of some of the best music in the world. You and I both know that.

Jesse: That’s where rock and roll came from, right? It was about the beats.

Toddstar: Exactly. You recorded this with Nigel and Roman and you’ve got the Jackyl dates already on the books. What are the odds that you’re going to take this out and tour this once it’s out? Is there any interest in your end in doing some Jesse James Dupree solo shows?

Jesse: Yeah, I’m going to do that for sure. I just announced a show today in Kansas City with Jackyl on the air. I was talking with the morning show guy, and I think we’re going to do something where we get through playing that Jackyl show. We’ll finish at about 11:00pm and then we’re going to bolt across to a damn beer joint rock bar somewhere and play the solo stuff.

Toddstar: That’s a double whammy of good rock and roll.

Jesse: That’d be a full night of singing, for sure.

Toddstar: Jesse, looking back over your career, if you could have a go or a second swing at something, even if it didn’t change the end result, is there anything you’d like to take another stab at?

Jesse: It sounds hokey to say I don’t have any regrets that come to mind. I really don’t. Anything that’s ever been negative for me, I’ve turned it into a positive. Somebody telling me no is just a pathway to a yes. When I was born, it was primitive back then. Back then they left a big scar and these days they can do it without leaving a scar, but right after I was first born, they surgically removed ‘It can’t be done’ from my head. I’ve always enjoyed not having that disability. I don’t suffer from thinking something can’t be done.

Toddstar: That’s a great view and outlook on life for sure. You mentioned recording with your son. That had to be just a kick ass feeling.

Jesse: There’s nothing better. It’s something that not a lot of musicians get to experience… making music with your son. It is so personal because not only is he my son, but I know where his influences came from. I know what he was exposed to. I say ‘WE’ were growing up. I kind of felt like he and I grew up together. The first time you have a kid, that’s when you start growing up. So, me and Nigel grew up together.

Toddstar: I totally get it. My son’s 31 and I feel the same way that you feel about it. Looking back on this album – where it came from and where it’s headed – are there any songs that you think “Maybe I should have reworked this” or are you the kind of guy that lays down an album and once you put it in the can, you’re done, and you don’t second guess yourself?

Jesse: Not necessarily. We released “Kill the Sunshine” that I’d written with Brian Johnson. I’m really proud of that and it was a great Jackyl recording, but the sounds that I got on this Breathing Fire album, there was such a different energy happening that I had to rerecord that one again. Working with Brian, it just fit. I wanted to be able to encapsulate everything I was doing with Brian, so there’s a new version of “Kill the Sunshine” on this new record. That’s really, really a great version.

Toddstar: I really like the original. I can’t wait to hear this one.

Jesse: I changed the lead breakup on it, you’ll hear it. It’s just another phase of that song.

Toddstar: Jesse, think back to your career and your catalog, if you had to pick one song title that you felt best represented your life, the way you lived, and it was going to be etched on your tombstone at the end of the day, what song title would that be and why?

Jesse: “I Stand Alone” doesn’t even need an explanation. If I had to throw everything else away, I’d keep that one. That’d be the one. When I wrote it, Nigel had just been born. I wasn’t playing. I thought I had to get a real job, be responsible and a dad, and not play anymore. That was just where I was at that moment when I wrote it. It was kind of a serious thing. That song exemplifies adapting and overcoming, right?

Toddstar: Absolutely. For the new material, you played with Nigel, brought Roman in, and you wrote songs with Brian Johnson. Who’s still on your bucket list? You’ve been doing this a long time and you’ve been around. Who’s still out there that you’d like to write with or record with that you haven’t yet?

Jesse: Wow. We’ve written with Darryl Mac from Run D M C. We’ve written with Brian Johnson. I’ve written with Desmond Child. I had a big pop song hit with a boy band called O-Town that I wrote with Desmond Child. Desmond has got a new book out about all the hits that he wrote, but I wrote that in the south of France in a castle that a bunch of us had been invited to go for a songwriting retreat. I’ve done some cool stuff. Speaking of Flint, Michigan, Mark Farner has reached out to me and said he’s interested in us getting together and writing some songs, and it’s been kind of weighing on me. I feel bad that I haven’t made the time to make that happen. So that’s something I need to put at the top of the list, get Mark Farner to come down and cut some tracks with him.

Toddstar: Talk about putting some roots down in Flint, Michigan between The Machine Shop and Mark Farner, I don’t think you could dig any deeper.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – @toddstarphoto

Jesse: Yeah, he’s badass. I may actually do that. I may bring him down and see what happens because he’s a god. When they released “The Loco-motion,” it was in 1974 and I remember hearing that song coming off the jukebox inside my parents little café. I remember when I was at that castle on that songwriter retreat. Carol King was over there. I got to work with Carol – she wrote “The Loco-motion.” Now that you’ve just kicked my ass, I’m going to have to reach out to Mark and get him down here. I get emails from him all the time. It makes me happy to hear from him.

Toddstar: I can imagine. Jesse, I know you’re a busy guy and I appreciate the time. As a longtime fan, this isn’t the first interview and I hope this is not the last. I look forward to seeing you rocking the stage somewhere near me at some Jackyl or Jesse James Dupre solo show. Whatever it takes, I want to be there.

Jesse: Come see the show at The Machine Shop.

Toddstar: Absolutely. Good luck with the album. Can wait until it drops on November 10th, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Jesse: Alright, thank you so much.









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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