Jag Panzer – Striking Variety

Wednesday, 27th September 2017

Dead Rhetoric: The proliferation of music and releases at our fingers tips is higher than ever before – probably due to the advances in home recording technology, affordability, plus the knowledge available if willing to seek it out through the internet. Does this necessarily in your view make for better music in 2017 – or do you think consumers are struggling to keep up with and make sense of it all?

Briody: There are pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it lets a band on a small budget like us be able to make records cheaper. You can make a good sounding record for quite a bit cheaper. The huge downside of it is you have a large number of bands who shouldn’t be making records yet. They really should be practicing more, they should be refining their art more. Back in the 1980’s, doing a song meant buying studio time, and you had to put it on tape at an hourly rate. It was expensive. Bands perfected their craft much more versus today- where anybody with a laptop can say they are ready to make an album. So we do have a flooded market, but we do have a market with some good bands and a good variety of metal. We have a flooded market also with bands that would be better if they worked at their craft just a little bit longer. During the early 1980’s it took a lot to get a record deal. Being able to come to that finished final product was a milestone.

Dead Rhetoric: Have your children helped you understand the changing ways of media consumption – and how do you apply this information to hopefully attract an audience to Jag Panzer of not just the old-timers, but newcomers and the young?

Briody: Both of my kids listen to music all the time. They don’t listen to a lot of music I like, unfortunately. I think that goes with any parent/child relationship. They listen to music usually by themselves with headphones, or with friends but everyone has their own headphones on listening to their own songs. They don’t really listen to a lot of albums – it’s usually just individual tracks. That makes me think… I don’t want to join that crowd, so that makes me rack my brain trying to figure out to get these people to listen to the whole album. I don’t know if it’s going to be possible, but I’m going to try it. I want people to experience music the way I did growing up, where you would sit down with your friends and put the needle on a record, listen to the whole thing from start to finish.

I love seeing the trend in vinyl coming back around- it shows that people want to buy a physical product. Vinyl is great- the big cover, the lyrics, it’s a tangible product and it’s got a different sound to it. I hope it catches on, it’s gaining ground every year from what I see- so I hope it takes even a bigger foothold.

Dead Rhetoric: How has your outlook on the guitar and the art of creating songs changed from your youth to today?

Briody: I write more songs on keyboards now. Not because I’m a good keyboard player- I’m probably a terrible keyboard player, but it means that I’m hearing the songs more in my head instead of a riff that my fingers are playing. I used to write exclusively on the guitar, except for the song “The Crucifix” which I wrote on an old Apple 2 computer. People thought that was odd back then- but now I write half the songs on the guitars and half the songs on the keyboards.

Dead Rhetoric: How did the band get the chance to appear in the movie Dark Places through your Ample Destruction track “Harder Than Steel”? Do you think this develops some cursory interest from people not familiar with Jag Panzer?

Briody: The cursory interest, for a band on our level, was through the roof. I started getting 10 e-mails a day from people, or ten private messages on Facebook- saying they had never heard of us until they saw Dark Places. Dark Places wasn’t a huge film for Charlize Theron, but if you scale how many people saw that versus how many people typically listen to a Jag Panzer record- the difference is huge. It definitely turned us onto a ton of people. As far as how they got ahold of us, it was just an e-mail. The producer of the film, I’m not sure if he’s a metal fan or he did some research into heavy metal, but the music director told me he got a note from the director to get Jag Panzer for this scene. They had us in a couple scenes, they had a couple of songs but one of the other scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. I think we were one of the two bands that the director himself said he would like the band in that scene.

It was a ridiculous amount of paperwork to fill out- that I got to do, thankfully- because no record companies owned the film rights to that song. It was a huge learning experience for me in dealing with the movie people.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you think this type of promotion is something other metal bands need to think about- looking at film and getting their music into different mediums like blogs, etc. to expose themselves outside of normal promotional channels?

Briody: Oh, absolutely. And I tell every musician that I know, if you can get your song in a film, in a video game, in a television show, jump on it. It’s really a whole new audience. I remember the actor in Dark Places, he (Shannon Kook) plays the song- I had put a tweet out on Twitter that it was cool seeing him play our music on screen and he re-tweeted it. And within an hour the amount of hits on our website just spiked, it hadn’t been that high ever. And it was just from this guy saying that.

Dead Rhetoric: While many people champion the works of bigger NWOBHM artists, would it be fair to say that you are probably the biggest Witchfynde fan in North America – what standout songs or albums do you treasure from their catalog?

Briody: Yeah, I am definitely a huge fan. I thought Stagefright was one of the best albums of NWOBHM. It was actually a huge influence on our new album, because what I love about Stagefright is there is an incredible amount of variety on it. The title track sounds like a doom song to me, it’s very slow and has a sludgy riff. “Trick or Treat” sounds like typical New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The song “Moon Magic” is almost like something that Ghost would do nowadays, it’s very pop-ish metal. They really crossed the gamut with that album, but it was all still heavy metal, just different flavors and it was fantastic. I like the other Witchfynde albums, but not nearly as much as Stagefright. I would put that as a top 3 NWOBHM album.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you define success – and has that been changed or modified from the early 1980’s to today?

Briody: Yes, that has absolutely, completely changed and I’ll tell you what changed it for me was a band from Detroit called Vendetta. I remember in the late 80’s they were getting a lot of airplay on MTV, I just didn’t like the band. They weren’t terrible by any means, they were good players and I had a lot of friends that liked it but it just didn’t do anything for me. They were on MTV all the time- I remember I was at a club with a friend of mine and a bunch of us were around. They came on the tv, and he said, ‘Mark – that’s success’. And I said, ‘no it’s not!’. And he said, ‘well, they’re doing better than you guys!’. And I knew they were doing much better- but that’s not going to stand the test of time. Their music had no substance. 30 years later I am proved right- I don’t know anybody that has heard of that band. I’m not trying to bag on them, because they did have some success back then- the album just didn’t have the staying power.

That’s become success more for me. Money comes and go- it would be nice to make a ton of money off a record but I’m not sure very many people are doing that in today’s marketplace. I think success for me is if the music becomes a legacy. If there is still interest in it- I look back at Franz Schubert, one of my favorite composers. He did almost nothing when he was alive and became huge after he was dead. I want the music to have the staying power.

Dead Rhetoric: Do other musicians seek you out for advice, and if so what do you tell them to think about and concentrate on?

Briody: You know, they do and they quickly back out of it. I’m pretty honest with musicians about how little money there is in this. And how much work there is, and how thankless it is a lot of times. You are dealing with negativity constantly, and you have to have a plan to deal with it. You gotta have a plan moving forward. I get very honest with advice, and I don’t think a lot of people want to hear that- and so I usually don’t get a call back for a second set of advice (laughs).

Dead Rhetoric: You mean people don’t want to put in the hard work? Look at a band like Sabaton- they’ve put in a lot of hard work putting in 200-250 tour dates a year, plus regularly release records and promote them. They are one of the success stories in an era where people say there isn’t going to be a band that ever gets as big as Iron Maiden or Metallica…

Briody: I actually like Sabaton a lot. Some of my bandmates aren’t big fans of theirs. I think it’s cool to see a band like that do really well. It just helps metal in general- those guys are huge, I’ve got some of their material on my workout mix and it helps me when I’m training. The most common thing I get asked from other musicians is they want contacts- and I told them that I don’t really have any. We played Wacken twice and it’s a fantastic festival- but I don’t know anybody personally there. The promoter- I don’t know who books it. Years ago, somebody told me we were going to Wacken, they sent me a ticket, and I went and played. I have no clue how somebody would get on ProgPower, I don’t know how to get on a lot of these things. I just don’t have (the contacts) because I’m a little isolated here in Colorado.

Dead Rhetoric: Having played in Europe so many times versus touring here in the United States, what makes the festival market so special and enduring in comparison to the festivals that start up in the United States- which often struggle to get a couple hundred attendees per show?

Briody: I think they are very realistic in Europe. The festival people I know are very realistic as to how many people they are going to get the first year, and how they are going to grow every year. I think that’s the first thing, a big festival over there first started much, much smaller- and they had an idea that it would grow. They really make sure that all the bases are covered- there’s a metal market where you can buy shirts, jewelry, the beer- they make it an entire heavy metal experience, in every way. It’s really cool, I wish we could have more festivals like that here. Although I have played some smaller festivals here in the past couple of years that were also really cool.

Dead Rhetoric: What sort of passions or interests outside of music do you engage in when you have the free time?

Briody: I like to run. I love that. Although my favorite trail has become rattlesnake infested so I have to try to find a new one. That one was beautiful and scenic and quiet- but now has some deadly reptiles. I like to watch movies- I don’t get to watch nearly as many as I would like to. I am going to watch Wonder Woman tonight- I haven’t seen that yet.

Dead Rhetoric: What sort of touring plans does Jag Panzer hope to establish in support of the new record? Do you focus more on Europe considering their affinity for the band for decades, or are there hopes of doing something here in North America as well?

Briody: It will probably be a European focus but we aren’t quite sure yet. We actually have a real booking agent now, and he told me he was going to wait until the record comes out because he checked preliminary interest and there were still some promoters who weren’t aware we had a new record coming out. We would like to do as many shows and play for as many people as possible.

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