Interview with JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR
The Band: Jack Starr’s Burning Starr
Country: United States
JACK STARR is one of the big names and axemen in Heavy Metal history, no doubt about it. But the good news is that he is still on top of classic Heavy Metal, recording great albums as the one he is releasing with his band JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR, «Stand Your Ground», on August 25th though High Roller Records. Moreover, when you talk to the guy you feel all his passion for Heavy Metal still intact, just read and enjoy.
Hello Jack, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr is shining so much as ever with your new album «Stand Your Ground», how do you feel about it?
First of all metal greetings to you Alberto and hail to all my metal brothers and sisters in Spain, I am feeling great about the new album, I feel this is the best one yet and our last album Land of the Dead was also a wonderful album but I feel this one is stronger, I think that the playing is better on this one and I personally am playing the best I have ever played and Ned Meloni on the bass is also playing great and his bass work on every song is epic, especially on the song Stand Your Ground, I think that Rhino is always great on the drums and everything he has ever done is very powerful and of course Todd Micheal Hall is singing better than ever so Yes I feel GREAT about this album and I hope that everyone will listen to it.
As in the 2 previous albums, Defiance and Land of the Dead, you have counted with Todd on vocals, no reason to change when you have a big frontman I suppose?
We were happy to have Todd come back and do this album and for the most important reason of all, he really is a great singer and he sings very powerfully and always in tune, he has great phrasing and whatever he sings is easy to understand because like the great Ronnie James Dio, Todd pronounces the lyrics in each song so the listener can understand the words. Todd is also in the band Riot and this is not a problem for us, in today’s world there many musicians that play in two bands sometimes even more because the music scene is not as strong or as profitable as it once was, Rhino our drummer also tours with Ross the Boss and this is not a problem either. Rhino has been in Burning Starr for the last three albums and like Todd has toured with us in Europe and done festivals in America with us too.
Ned Meloni also repeats on bass and the new face is Rhino on drums, or not so new?
Rhino aka Kenny Earl is on the new album and has been also on the last two so this makes the third album that he is on with us, his playing is simply breathtaking there are moments when he is called upon to connect two different parts together in the same song that have different time signatures and make it smooth and he always finds the right drum fill to make it happen. Playing drums on a Burning Starr album is not easy our songs have many different parts and they must be transitioned very carefully and in perfect time.
That is one of the strong points of JSBS in my opinion, we are talking of a band, not only a guitar player doing his own stuff, right?
Yes this is a real band, it is NOT a Jack Starr solo album, everyone helped write and arrange the songs and everyone contributed their input for instance when we first wrote the song Stand Your Ground, Rhino said «you need to change the riff, it is not unique or powerful enough» and we worked on it with Rhino until everyone was satisfied, also some of the songs were completely written by Ned Meloni the bass player, I love the feeling of knowing that our collaboration will make something great and I welcome everyone’s input.
However, it’s unquestionable that Jack Starr’s guitars are always present and bright as ever, an album full of solos and great riffs
I think that it is important for me to stretch the limitations of my playing and push the boundaries and try to play better and better with each album and that is what I have done on the album. I was also helped by the great playing of Kevin Burnes who played all the rhythmn guitars and almost all of the harmony guitars on this album. Our other secret weapon was the great production of Bart Gabriel who came up with a lot of great ideas on this album and would tell us what sounds good and when we needed to change a part or redo something, Bart is very tough producer he believes that every note must be perfect and every drum beat must be in time and hit just right .He is a perfectionist and this is exactly what was needed to make an epic album like Stand Your Ground.
Yeah, Burt is another hard worker with so much experience. Right now JSBS is an “online” group, no rehearseals, tour dates, etc or it’s more as a full activity band?
We are starting to rehearse for a big festival here in America called «80’s in the Park» which features some of the biggest names from the eighties music scene and also we have been asked to play at a huge motorcycle festival in Florida, as far as Europe I think that our tours and concerts will be dictated by how well this album does, If it does well than there will be a demand for us to play there and we will be very happy to go there and do shows. So I am really hoping that the is album does great and makes a lot of noise in a good way.
Probably this «Stand Your Ground» is the best effort of your band since the come back in 2004, what do you think?
Yes I really think so and I also believe that the more times you listen to this album, the more you hear and for me every time I listen to it I am hearing different things, this is a very sonically rich album, there are many many layers and much to hear, If I had my way I would give away a pair of headphones with each copy !!
Hahaha awesome! How long have you worked in «Stand Your Ground» and how was the process?
We worked on this album five years and it was a slow very difficult process,involving several studios and many rehearsals and emails back and forth, Ned in that time got a pro tools set up in his house and set it up with the help of Kevin Burnes and Rhino also already had recording equipment, and of course Bart works with some of the biggest metal studios in Europe, so as you can see many studios were involved in the process This album was a team effort and sometimes a song would start with a cassette like Stronger than Steele and it would give us the inspiration and then we would bring it into the 21st century.
Any favorite song in the album?
My favorite songs are Stand Your Ground, Hero, and the Enemy which I believe is also Bart Gabriel’s favorite song on the album.
“Stand Your Ground” is your seventh solo album, it has all the taste of 80’s classic heavy metal. If we were at that time maybe you could be selling copies as popcorn at the cinema, but times are not that good now…
I think what you are saying is 100 percent true, if this album had come out in 1986 it would easily be a platinum album and we could sell copies like «popcorn at the cinema» but it is not and records don’t sell as much today but despite this fact I am sure that this album will do great and keep on selling for many many years, I think that great music is timeless and I think that some of the music on this album is timeless.
Jack Starr is an awesome guitar player, you got popular in the scene after playing with Virgin Steele in two albums, but after decades your popularity and recognition is still intact, not everyone can say the same, right?
Yes that is true, I have fans from all over the world who really love what I am doing and that is important for me because like all artists I want appreciation and love and I want to give my fans only the very best that I can do and this way I never disappoint them. There are some artists that when they make an album you know that it will be good and you don’t even have to listen to it, you can just buy the album and take it home and know that it will be good, I think that for me artists like Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Saxon, Maiden etc are like that and I have always tried for Burning Starr or my solo albums to be the same way.
After Virgin Steele you have played in several bands, such as Jack Starr, Devil Childe, Phantom Lord, Thrasher and Strider. Any especial affection for any of them?
All of those bands were cool and Devil Childe and Phantom Lord and Thrasher allowed me to play a different kind of music that I don’t normally get to play which is hard core thrash, this for me was a lot of fun to do and as far as Strider this was more like American type heavy metal like Van Halen and this is also something that I don’t do very often so it was very cool to make that album and there are some great songs on it.
It would be great to see JSBS here in Europe, any tour programmed in the short term?
Right now there are no tours planned but I think that if this album does well we will be coming there.
With the long experience you have after so many years playing, how do you see the Metal scene nowadays?
I think that the metal scene is coming back and lots of new fans are discovering metal some of them for the first time and I think that that is a good thing because Heavy Metal really is more than just music it is a lifestyle and it gives people a sense of belonging and community and in our world where people sometimes feel very alienated a sense of community is very important and that is why I wrote the song We Are One on the new album, it is about the metal community and it is something I love, so I just want to say thank you to Metal Brothers and all the cool metal fans in Spain, Keep the Metal Burning, Jack Starr, Florida 2017
Amen. Thank you very much for your attention Jack and congratulations for the fantastic new album!!