Jake J and The Killjoys is a local rock group, that has been performing for a few years now. Jake J and the Killjoys deliver fresh blood rock n roll attitude with a louder than life new sound. They are influenced by mentors such as Alice Cooper, Doug Aldrich, Richie Sambora, and famed bassist Hugh McDonald. In honor of their new release “The Odium Opera,” going on presale on July 2nd 2020, we decided to do an interview with the lead vocalist, Jake Johnson.
Nashville Music Reviews – Thanks for doing this interview with us today. Let’s get started. How did you get your start in the music business?
Jake Johnson – I started just like anyone else does, by playing top 40 rock songs in pizza joints, pubs, fairs, etc. It was hard for me starting in Utah because I was in my teens trying to play bars so even when I could pack a bar, I couldn’t play the prime slot because of Utah’s super strict laws on minors in bars. As far as original material, there was just a time when I was with my drummer at the time, Eric Munoz, and he said, “dude, you gotta do original music. You can only go so far playing covers. Covers pay the bills, but that’s about it.” So I recorded a pop rock album, which is what you do when you’re a teen living in Utah. But after moving to Nashville, and being mentored by people like Desmond Child, I was pushed into my true calling which is heavy rock music. I haven’t looked back since.
That is amazing. It is crazy how moving to Nashville really pushed you to do what kind of music you’ve been wanting to do. How long have you been performing?
Since I was 13 years old, so ten years. Lot of changes along the way, lots of members, but I have enjoyed every second of playing with the people I’ve had the honor to play with.
A decade of performing is pretty impressive. What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
Without a doubt, playing my hometown arena in Salt Lake City opening for Bon Jovi. When we played the song “In My Arms,” I was getting teary eyed thinking about how this song was recorded in my drummers basement, and then we’re playing it at the biggest arena in Salt Lake. It was unreal. And the crowd was great. Loud as hell, they lit up the room with their phones, it was a really magical night. And the venue gave me a snowboard with my logo on it and a jersey with JOHNSON across the shoulders, which is ironic because my parents always hoped on me playing for the jazz. Go figure.
Tell me about this new project you’re releasing in July?
On July 2nd, my new album, “The Odium Opera,” goes on presale. It’s a concept album that’s heavily inspired by classic gothic romantic literature like Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Phantom Of The Opera, etc. It dabbles in romance, depression, anger, passion, religion, and everything in between. This is something I’m extremely proud of and I can’t wait for everyone to hear this modern gothic rock opera.
Who are some of your inspirations musically – Growing up, I loved anything ’80s hair metal, but I specifically loved Alice Cooper, KISS, AC/DC, and anything Ozzy Osbourne. In my teens, I really got into Black Sabbath, which inspired me to dabble in blues guitar and metal. So I’d listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan then Slipknot, Joe Bonamassa then Cradle of Filth. In the recent years, my biggest influences have been Type O Negative, Ghost, HIM, My Chemical Romance, Lamb of God, and Alice In Chains.
You seem to listen to a lot of different bands/artists. What is your favorite song to do live, whether it be an original or a cover?
It’s hard to say with the originals because these new songs haven’t really seen the light of day. However, I think my favorite is probably “House of Snakes” because I’m so proud of that riff. As far as covers go, my favorite song to play live is “Square Hammer” by Ghost because people lose their minds to that song. Plus, it’s super catchy. Who doesn’t love a catchy satanic song?
So, going on tour is usually a favorite with bands/artists. What are some memorable tour moments that you’ve had?
Oh my god, there’s so many but there’s definitely those few that stand out. When we did the walk to the stage at Bridgestone Arena and Vivint Smart Home Arena. Those are always fun because the adrenaline kicks in, and the game face is on. Any time we’ve played the KISS Kruise has been great. On KISS Kruise 7, it was my sound tech, my drummer, my bass player, and I hanging out in the cabin drinking beer and watching Wonder Woman and Beavis and Butthead. We were making commentary on both shows, and we were laughing so hard, I thought I cracked a rib.
What was your favorite part about filming the music video for “Vultures?” What’s the story behind that song
The fact that we filmed it in a haunted hospital that I used to act at was my favorite part. It’s an old hospital that was converted into a haunted attraction called “Asylum 49.” I used to act there before I moved to Nashville. I told the owner, Kimm, that given the opportunity, I want to film there. One moment that stands out the most to me was when I was in the straight jacket in that padded hallway, and I heard footsteps and people moving behind me. When we went to see who was there, no one was there. That place WILL make you a believer in the paranormal. The song has an interesting story because I wrote it about people who go through someone’s house as soon as they die to go through all their stuff. Hence the chorus “I’m not even cold, you’re drilling my teeth out for the gold, you vultures.” I also wrote it when I was in my deepest darkest depression stage, so there was a LOT of hate in that song. I definitely didn’t go into writing that song holding back, I wanted to express pure anger and hate in that song. It also fits into the “concept” aspect of my album because it’s the part of the album when the character is at his lowest point and get picked apart by the vultures of his community and left for dead. So as you can tell, this album is nothing but love songs.
Thanks to Jake for doing this interview with me today at Nashville Music Reviews. Make sure to preorder, “The Odium Opera.” now! Full album is available on all streaming services July 23rd.
Jerrett Franklin is a singer/songwriter from Loretto, TN. After growing up in a small town, he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career. After writing for a few different artists in the area, he decided to branch out and give local music the spotlight. That is where the idea for Nashville Music Reviews originated from. Nashville Music Reviews is dedicated to shining a light on local music and giving a voice to those who aren’t being heard.