srtitle.jpg (13783 bytes)
Interview with Jesse Damon

jesse.jpg (16969 bytes)

My first run-in with Silent Rage was just a few short years ago.  A close friend gave me a compilation CDR filled with songs from various bands I had never heard of, one of these was the title track from "Shattered Hearts".  It left such an impression on me, the song became an obsession for awhile, was the first thing I heard when I woke up and the last thing to put me to sleep.   When Z Records re-released "Shattered Hearts" and "Don't Touch Me There" in cd format, I had my preorder in.  Their Whitesnake/Y&T hooks and confident masculinity that energizes each song was a rare treat and delight, very much now as it was then. 

With their first album since the end of the 80s, that's over a decade for those with mathematical difficulties, "Still Alive" now out and available in an import store near you, Jesse Damon has been kind enough to grant us this interview that takes a look into the band's past, an inside look at their music and a hopeful glimmer at the future.   


1) How did Silent Rage get started as a band?
JESSE:  It all started with the three of us, (EJ, Mark, and myself); we’ve been long time friends since our high school days. The three of us together, started the band “RAGE.” Through numerous drummer changes, just like the Spinal Tap syndrome, and working hard at creating our own style, and sound, the band moved forward. It’s now 1986, we recruited a new drummer, and a new band name was chosen “SILENT RAGE.” We started off recording song demos, then we found our selves writing, and recording for our first album, collaborating with producer/artist Paul Sabu. In 1987, we landed our first record deal with Chameleon Records, and “Shattered hearts was released!

2) What was the circus of the 80s rock scene really like from your experience?
JESSE:  There were a lot of great bands from the 80’s, Motley Crue, Ratt, Dokken, Great White, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses to name a few. We know some of those guys; we’ve jammed with, and opened up for some of them. Looking back, those bands had some influence on us, but also, that was our competition. Tons of gigs, and lots of partying! When we’d play a concert, you’d not only have your fans in the audience, you’d see all the musicians with their strong looking stares, and their arms crossed, as well as the wanna-be dress up like a rock star type’s. It was one big chaotic networking party! It was a circus mentality…

3) Any standout and/or amusing moments from these early days that you would like to share?
JESSE:  I remember playing a show at “The Whiskey”, and at the end of our set, I ran off stage, and straight outside for some air, only to see a couple hundred people running down the street along side a flat bed truck. It was Dokken performing “It’s Not Love” as they drove down sunset strip. I liked that song, and getting caught up in the moment, I found myself running down the street with everyone else. We stopped when we reached The Rainbow Club, and now there must have been 500 or more people out in the street, and sidewalks watching them perform. Guess I got my second wind…

4) How did Gene Simmons discover the band back in the 80s?
JESSE:  SILENT RAGE was looking for management after the release of “Shattered Hearts” CD and we sent out a lot of press kits, one was sent to a company affiliated with KISS. A man named Howard Marks, the president of Glickman & Marks Merchandising Management Company. He flew from New York to LA to see us perform live. Although he told us he liked the band, and seemed to be impressed, he said, what you guy’s need is a personal manager, or someone to help launch you, and I know just the guy. He said, Gene Simmons, I’m gonna pass your CD on to him, cause I heard he’s starting his own record label. Gene contacted us 2 months later, and the rest is history…

5) "Don't Touch Me There" and "Shattered Hearts" original pressing CDs were being sold for outrageous prices due to their rarity prior to the re-release on various online auction sites. What are your thoughts on these being so highly prized (and priced)?
JESSE:  When I first saw the auctioning prices online I thought to myself, that’s Too expensive, you mean that’s the only way to get one of our CD’s, then I thought if people are willing, and continuing to bid for, and pay those high prices, then there’s still a fan base that wants SILENT RAGE product!

6) What do you think about the music scene in the USA and do you believe there is anything that could be done to change it for the better?
JESSE:  I think that the rock concert market is strengthening. I think that Festivals are becoming more popular now in the USA. The more multi band billed concerts there are, the more it’s going to open up opportunity for new bands to be seen, that have a lot of talent. Promoters want a strong billing to sell tickets. Most tours with 2 or 3 bands are all big names. We need to get back to the headliners taking some chances, and taking a new act out to open for them!

jesse2.jpg (32837 bytes)

7) Why release another album after ten years of silence?
JESSE:  I felt we had an opportunity to return, and pick up where we left off. I’d say it’s a renewed desire, with infinite possibilities!

8) Was there any particular vision for this new disc besides the obvious 'making a come back' vibe?
JESSE:  Once the decision was made to return, our vision was to continue the passion of our music, and to evolve.

9) Can we expect to hear more from you guys or is "Still Alive” a one-shot deal?
JESSE:  Rest assure, if I have anything to do with it, then yes, you can look forward to more albums!

10) Would you mind commenting on the tracks from the album, giving the readers an idea about what to expect and background on some of the themes of the songs?
JESSE:  I’d say this new album is a bit heavier than the previous two. A lot of Rock artist’s start off heavy with their first releases, then they tend to collaborate, or write a hit, which usually sounds more melodic, or in a lighter vain. We did the opposite, and went in a little heavier direction with some of the songs, but still kept our signature sound!

Titles & Themes:
Still Alive - The struggle’s through life, and still glad to be alive!
Unchained - I dumped that chick that tortured me!
Whiskey Woman - The perfect companion!
Livin’ For the Moment - Might just die tomorrow, so I’m livin’ it up today!
At My Command - Someone to get down and dirty with, and loving it!
Is It My Body - Need I say any more!
When the Night is Over - You can never get enough of a great thing!
The Hunger - On the hunt, with an appetite for lust!
Remember Me - This Rebel has a cause!
I'm Back - The dude who gets what he wants!

jesse3srcover.jpg (30344 bytes)
Click the link to read the review of "Still Alive" here at RFMD.

11) I love the fact that the new album feels very 1980s in sound but still seems fresh without resorting to 'alternative modern rock' influences that have plagued other bands. What are your thoughts on other bands that have changed their sound to 'update' for the times such as Motley Crue, Dokken ("Dysfunctional", etc) and Warrant to name a few?
JESSE:  That’s there choice, and decision. Its personal, you do it for creative growth, or maybe one feels that they’re past material, or style is now dated to keep continuing on that same path, so they become influenced. Some welcome that, so that they stay current with the latest vibe, or fads. We don’t write songs to fit a particular time period, or fad, we write songs that come from our hearts, and hopefully they’re all perceived as timeless!

12) On your upcoming solo CD, what can we expect sound-wise? Will it be a hard rock album or go in a different direction?
JESSE:  The direction I’ve chosen is Melodic Rock, but it’s a bit lighter than SILENT RAGE material. Nothing like the new “Still Alive" CD, more along the lines, and feel of the “Shattered Hearts” days. Its back to my roots, with electric, and acoustic guitars, keyboards, and lots of harmony! The material and lyric content is much more introspect than tongue and cheek.

13) Do you feel you have more creative control recording a CD as a solo artist than being with a band?
JESSE:  Absolutely! I do feel more in control. When I’ve written a song for my solo CD, and I go to record it, it doesn’t stray too far away from the magic I felt it had, when I wrote it. When you’re a solo artist, you live or die by your own merits and decisions. When I bring a song I’ve written into the band situation, it’s worked on collectively, and sometimes the changes you can see it go through in working with co-writers can improve it, or sometimes just change it…

14) Is it difficult getting back into the thick of things (recording, touring, etc) after being gone from the industry so long?
JESSE:  As I mentioned earlier, there’s a renewed desire, with infinite possibilities! During the time away from the spotlight, we were still writing together, and also writing with other artists. We were recording song demos, and jamming collectively, as well as with other musicians!

15) Finally, who influences you as a vocalist and what are your top five favorite albums?
JESSE:  These are my vocal influences: Lou Gramm, Sammy Hagar, Dave Meniketi, Robert Plant, Dave Coverdale, Paul Stanely, Paul Rodgers, John Lennon, Paul Macartney, and of course Gene Simmons, and Paul Sabu, who’ve probably been my biggest mentors!

I’ll give you my top 7 favorite Albums!
1. Led Zepplin 4 (It Was the year I started playing guitar)
2. Deep Purple - Made In Japan (A great album for parties)
3. KISS - Alive 1 (The first time I stood on top of my chair through the whole concert)
4. Black Sabbath - Heaven And Hell ( Dio was a great addition, and collaboration for it's time, I still love Ozzy though!)
5. ACDC - Back In Black ( Everyone knew every song on this album, that’s how Big it was)
6. Blue Oyster Cult - On Your Feet Or On Your Knee's ( Buck Darma has Always been one of my favorite Lead Guitarists)
7. Lynrd Skynrd - One More for the Road (I love live albums, and this was a great one)

Thanks so much for your time and I am personally looking forward to hearing your new solo CD when it comes out. Good luck both as a solo artist and with Silent Rage!
Thanks Alanna, and Thanks to the Fans!!! Cheers!
Jesse Damon

Questions by Alanna Evans
(c) RFMD 2002