Jungle Rot - An American War Zone
By: Alon Miasnikov
Interview With: James Genenz (Bass), Jungle Rot
Death merchants Jungle Rot have been spewing uncompromising death metal since 1995. Band vocalist Dave Matrise has been the center of a changing line up yet was able to create 5 full length albums as of now. Last year's War Zone was well received by death metal aficionados world wide, and we spoke with band bass player James Genenz about the band and it's current activities.
Hey James, let's start with current events, what is the band doing these days?
Lately we have just been writing new songs, doing a few local shows here and there, festivals, etc. Hoping to secure a new record deal fairly soon, and hopefully with a label that will care and do some work with us. We're looking forward to heading back over to Europe to tour again this summer too.
I understand there's a new DVD out, "Live In Germany", what does it include?
It's basically our set from the Fuck The Commerce Festival in Germany from 2005 on the Fueled By Hate European Tour. Fourteen songs culled from all the albums up until "Fueled By Hate". It was recorded with several cameras and sound direct from the board. I think it could have been done better, but it's decent and a good representation of what we deliver live.
It's been a year since "War Zone" was released, how well was the album received?
Quite well! Most reviews were positive. People who are fans of Jungle Rot already were not disappointed. I'm hoping we scored a few new fans with this one too.
How different was it, if at all, from 2004's "Fueled By Hate"?
Well it was written by a different band so automatically it's got it's slight differences. Sonically, it's totally Jungle Rot! Right on the money. Some say "Fueled By Hate" had a slight hardcore bent to it, whereas "War Zone" sounds more like back to roots death metal. Personally I hear both influences in ALL Jungle Rot material. I think that's just our sound.
The sound on the album is very sharp and very precise, how did you achieve it?
That's what we strive for: execution. We practice our asses off when we do and when it comes to the studio, you know even with all the practice in the world, you still have time in the studio to get it perfect. Plus our guitar tone isn't so muddy and it's quite crisp with mid-range. So it cuts through nicely, like a chainsaw.
Back in time a bit, how did you guys originally start out?
Dave started the band over 12 years ago. He just found musicians in his local area that felt the same way he felt, and went from there. Pretty much how all bands are formed.
How did the whole war-related image and lyrics thing start?
It just fits our sound. Very militaristic, very steady. Like a tank. Plus war is a fascination as are the reasons for it. We like to try and touch on these subjects as well as injecting a slight bit of old school death metal humor in some songs. True Jungle Rot fans know of the black humor I speak of.
How do you deal with the subject in your lyrics? Do you think they glorify it? Criticize it?
Some songs are written from the point of view of the bad guy. Which could make one think we glorify war. Also there is some social criticism. Personally, we don't glorify war, but war is seemingly more and more a natural part of our history as humans. It just happens to be the subject we choose to touch on most.
The band has been through some line up changes, what caused them?
Basically that's Dave's whole bad luck story about never being able to find committed musicians to stick with him. People come and go and Dave is an intense personality. People think he is being mean when he isn't being mean at all. Some people don't know how to deal with his strong personality. I think it's just the way it is. Those past members couldn't cut it, and they were summarily ejected or quit.
Why did the band endure while so many death metal bands from the 90's fall apart?
Dave is a persistent fucker. He LOVES doing this band and couldn't imagine not doing it. I think he'd keep it going come hell or high water. Jungle Rot has always stayed true to it's form. None of us are against progress, but Jungle Rot is Jungle Rot. Changing the formula now would alienate those who have loved us since the beginning. I think that has helped us maintain our dignity and fanbase that has stood with us through thick and thin.
I read in your website that you were "Screwed Out" of your US tour in 2006, what happened there?
Just a juggling around of booking agents. We have a particular agent here in the States who is a complete asshole. Many bands from the US know whom I speak of. We wouldn't take his bullshit and he did his share of threatening to clubs and other booking agents and got us screwed out of the tour.
Did you get to tour after that?
No, we didn't. We kept our hopes up but in time we couldn't secure a tour that was worth it.
What's the deal with the whole Jamey Jasta wearing your shirt thing?
Jamey is a great friend of Jungle Rot. The first Jungle Rot release "Skin The Living" came out of Jamey's first label PURE DEATH. We have a history with the guy. So when we played with Hatebreed here in Chicago, we hooked up and gave Jamey a "War Zone" shirt. He decided to wear it on his MTV show Headbangers Ball. Well, that helped us out a lot. Got us hundreds and hundreds of friend requests and thousands of plays on MySpace. And then we got a couple shit letters from die-hard death metal fans calling us pussies because Jamey Jasta wore our shirt. They were calling us "Nu-Metal" and "Hardcore Fags" or what not, and that's just stupid. I had to address it on the website. I just hate all the shit talking and genre fighting. It's like childish gang bullshit.
What do you think of the current death metal scene in the US, and the current metalcore thing that's getting bigger there?
It's harder and harder to keep up with the scene as it goes in so many directions someone could get lost. I just pay attention to bands I stumble upon that I like, or the bands I've always liked. I dig some of the newer bands but not all of them. You can tell a lot of these new bands are not doing it with conviction. Personally, I don't care what gets bigger or what loses popularity. Real metal will always be just that, real metal, and it won't go anywhere like a trend does.
I understand you did two versions of the video for Victims Of Violence, what the difference between the two?
Just in the editing. The director's cut has more wartime violence and is in black and white. The label wanted the real version to be in color. That's pretty much all the difference is. Personally, the band likes the black and white version better.
Being so long in the business, and certainly not getting rich from it, why do you stick it out? Why continue?
I don't know how to do anything else. You know, it's fun..and the reward is something you can't buy.
What are your plans for the near future of the band?
Work harder with new business partners. Tour as much as possible and get a new album out this year! Thanks for the interview! Everyone should get in touch!