“For the first time things are going good for Jungle Rot and for a band it all comes down to timing.”
Jungle Rot is a legendary death metal act founded in Kenosha, WI in 1994. Since Chicago is the closest big city in proximity to Kenosha, I’ve been following the band for years which hasn’t been easy. Sometimes having a musical career is like having a cold; it starts and stops without warning, it can debilitate you, and the whole thing can come to an abrupt end at any time. Jungle Rot’s career has been filled with these starts and stops but that’s all about to change. Signed to a new deal by Chicago based Victory Records, J-Rot are finally on their way up. In 2011 the band released their new album Kill on Command, filmed two videos (‘Bloodties’ & ‘Rise Up and Revolt’), and just finished the March of Death Tour with Deicide. With summer looming ahead, I spoke with Jungle Rot guitarist/vocalist Dave Matrise to find out what’s up next for the band.
Here are some excerpts from that interview (4/20/12):
David Halbe: You just finished the March of Death Tour with Deicide in support of your latest album Kill on Command. How did the tour go?
Dave Matrise: The tour was excellent. It was everything we ever wanted, it was a full blown North American tour, we got to do all of Canada and the US. Plus, it was great touring with Deicide again. We’ve toured with them a couple times before. It was old buddies, old school, and a lot of support for one another.
David: What’s the hardest thing to adjust to after you finish a tour?
Dave: (Laughs) I guess getting back to reality. It’s nice to get back in your own bed but I think it’s just coping with the fact that you’re home. Touring is like a train, it just keeps running, you just roll with it and then all of a sudden it comes to a stop. It’s kind of a weird feeling, you’re in shock for the first week but then it sets in, I’m here now I’m home so then the hard work starts again and soon you’re fighting for another tour, eventually you just can’t wait to get out there again.
David: What’s next for J-Rot, are you planning on playing any European festivals over the summer?
Dave: Right now we’re off for two or three months and we’re gonna try to finish the new album up but I am working on a couple of tours right now for Europe in the fall, nothing locked in yet that I can announce but we are excited.
David: Last time I saw the band live, you were playing “Their Finest Hour” and “Blood Ties” off the new album, are there any plans to incorporate more new songs into your live set?
Dave: Yes we always want to do that. I was a voter to push as much of the new stuff as possible especially on this last tour because I thought it was the hottest thing out there. My guys constantly have to fight me about playing the old back catalogue but I think next time we go out we’re gonna shuffle a lot of songs around and start picking some of the newer stuff off Kill on Command cause I really like playing those songs live and some of the old ones I’ve been playing for quite a while and it’s nice to shuffle things around a bit.
David: You recently filmed a video in Chicago for the song “Blood Ties”, what can you tell us about that experience?
Dave: That was a fun experience. We got an itinerary in advance so we knew what time to show up, they were shooting already, we came in did our job and left. It was that easy. We didn’t need another performance video. We really wanted something that’s got a back line and a story line. At the time we didn’t know what the final product was gonna be but we’re cool with it. Victory did a great job.
David: Do you have an opinion on music downloading and sharing songs or music videos on sites like YouTube and Facebook?
Dave: My opinion has changed so much in the past two years, I cannot predict the future of music, somehow labels are going to have to give music away for free, the sales aren’t there and everybody knows it. But from a band’s view, we don’t care how it gets out there, we just want the music to be heard.
I’ve always claimed over the last ten years, I’m more in the shirt business than I am in the CD business because a band would just give their stuff away to be heard, you just want to make it, you just want an opinion.
David: Are you talking about making money from concert T-shirts as opposed to money generated from album sales?
Dave: Yes. Most of your bands are gonna say that they’re in the T-shirt business because that’s where all your money comes initially from your merchandise. We never made any money on CD sales and most underground bands are in the exact same position.
David: So if a fan really wants to support a band, they should buy a concert shirt at the show they attend?
Dave: Yes. Most of the people know that, the hardcore fans, they know that we get the money for those sales.
A lot of time people think we live like these big rock stars, riding around in tour busses, no second jobs, they don’t see the big picture unless it’s in their face. The reality is completely different. We’re living in a van five weeks at a time, you’re eating once a day, I mean it takes a very special person to succeed in this line of work.
If people just took five minuets to think about what we sacrifice with our jobs, our lives, our families then they might support us.
David: How are things going so far with Chicago based Victory Records?
Dave: For the first time things are going good for Jungle Rot and for a band it all comes down to timing. That’s the one thing this band has never had, what’s gonna happen after the next step and Victory did that perfect. I’m doing interviews constantly. The whole staff is just great at what they do. They’ve given us nothing but respect and we couldn’t be happier. After fifteen years of fighting, this is actually fun for me now.
David: I saw you guys play in Chicago, on the March of Death Tour, security at the venue was trying to control the mosh pit. Is that just a Chicago trend or did you see that elsewhere on tour?
Dave: I didn’t see any of that. Usually when you’re on stage you can only see about the first five feet and that’s about it, the rest is blacked out so you really can’t see the rest of the crowd.
We conduct violence though, as a musician I give what I get. We need the audience and that’s how you get the best out of a band. You’ve got to give them blood.
David: Name a venue where security just lets the fans mosh their brains out.
Dave: It really depends on what kind of a venue you’re talking about. In big markets on this last tour The House of Blues in Los Angeles was insane. There was the biggest pit, the most violent pit of the whole tour. They let that shit go on and they don’t even try to stop it, the only thing they are concerned about is jumping on stage.
For the small markets Bogies in Albany New York. They get sick down there. It’s a lot of old hardcore field back there. We don’t do a lot of hardcore shows, so it’s always a treat when we see them throw down, do those kicks and everything. It gets crazy.
David: I read recently that lack of touring has been a challenge for the band, do you think that has hurt Jungle Rot’s musical legacy, is that something you want to change?
Dave: Yes. It’s a combination of being sold the dream from previous labels but mostly lack of touring. We’ve had nothing but bad luck trying to land tours. It’s such a competitive, favor owed, political situation especially today when you have so many bands coming out and they’ll play for fifty bucks or their mom and dad will buy them an RV, it really hurts the hardworking band that’s been doing it for many years, just trying to keep going. It’s really tough these days.
We have to make money in this band to keep it going. We all have wives, jobs, families and houses. It’s really hard to compete with youth, that’s what it comes down to.
David: Jungle Rot has been around since 1994, you’ve toured with some of the biggest names in the business, who do you think could make up a death metal Big Four?
Dave: (Laughs) I know who can make it up. I’d like to see Jungle Rot opening, then go to Obituary, then Deicide and closing Cannibal Corpse.
David: The name Jungle Rot is everywhere, you guys are really starting to gain some momentum, how soon can we expect another release?
Dave: This time we’re going to get the new release out as soon as we can. I would bet by March or April you’ll see something new from us. Our game plan is to get back out on the road this fall, get the new record out and just keep going. Like I said earlier, timing and the wheel, we’re just gonna keep this wheel constantly moving, not taking two years off, looking for a label and trying to put something out. I really think this next album could be the strongest one of our career.
David: Thanks for you time, good luck with the upcoming album and the fall tour.
Dave: Thanks for the interview; we’ll talk again soon.
Jungle Rot (2012):
- Geoff Bub– Guitars
- Jesse Beahler – Drums
- Dave Matrise– Guitars, Vocals
- James Genenz – Bass