“JUNGLE ROT” INTERVIEW by David Maloney
First off I would like to thank you for answering some questions for our publication, it’s with great pleasure to have you guys within the confines of our magazine. How are you guys doing? How are things in the World of Jungle Rot?
James: Things are okay. During the winter we tend to hibernate a little, what with hunting season and Dave having to work. Plus, who likes touring in the winter anyway? We usually use this time to write and record, which is what we’re doing now. Writing new songs for the tenth Jungle Rot studio album. Hope to get it out by the summer and hit the road hard.
“Shots’ firing overhead, out of breath, thankful to be alive, an exhausted, courageous soldier takes cover in a nearby trench. Overcome with tragedy, the cadet looks down to carefully remove his worn down combat boots to discover his feet numb and blue, knocking him back with an overwhelming smell of decay and gangrene. This phenomenon is known as “jungle rot”. This is quoted from your band Biography, I just had to start off our interview with this excerpt. I usually avoid the standard “Why you named your band XYZ” but I was fascinated with the definition of Jungle Rot, I’ve heard it several times over the course of my young 42 years (: but never fully understood the exact meaning. I must ask how and why did you decide on this name for your band? Can you tell our readers more about the band?
James: Jungle Rot is of course a chronic ulcerative skin lesion thought to be caused by polymicrobial infection with a variety of microorganisms. It is common in tropical climates. It happened to soldiers a lot in Vietnam because it was so wet there and soldiers feet would get soaked and these guys would go days without taking their boots off. As far as the band name, the band was started as a side project joke band first in 1992. Of course naming your metal band after various diseases is cool right?
Indeed it is……
You are veterans of the Metal music scene, Death metal to be exact , formed in 1994. You have been described as being brutal, Dark and full of volatility. Would this be a fair assessment ? for the fans who are unfamiliar with you. To me this sinister picture painted fits your name perfectly.
James: The band was actually started in 1992 as a side project/joke band by a few guys in Kenosha and didn’t get serious until about 1994 when Dave decided to take it a little more seriously. Even though we have many dark subjects in our songs, there is also a lot of political commentary and in keeping with the origins, we’ll also touch upon black humor here and there, songs that don’t take themselves so seriously.
Jungle Rot Hails from Kenosha, wisconsin, Tell us about life in the Midwest and the Metal scene in the early stages of your career. Did you feel in those early days that some 24 years later you would be still kicking it up and pulverising your fans with your chilling live shows?
James: The Midwest metal scene has always been amazing. I think we get overlooked a lot for the coasts simply because California and New York are painted as the coolest areas of the US. But the Midwest has spawned some amazing talent that may get overlooked. Early on our scene was tight, very much on par with any other scene. Bands like Master, Devastation, and Sindrome held it down for the Midwest in the early days. Jungle Rot would probably be considered part of the second wave. I believe we’ve held our own and we’re happy to do it as long as physically possible!
In many circles some have compared you to a mix of early Slayer and Sodom with more aggression, how do you feel about such a statement? That’s some impressive company and big boots to fill. Are you even concerned with comparisons? I feel you have a unique style and identity all your own and a ever growing fan base to prove it.
James: it’s an honor and of course those bands are the ones that influenced us from the beginning and still do! We just do what we do we don’t care who thinks it sounds like what, or any of that. I believe we have a very distinct sound and songwriting approach. We are unique. Every show we play we always seem to be the odd band out, and we’re absolutely fine with that.
At this point of your Careers , you have toured the World and have seen bands come and go, respectively. Does Jungle Rot feel they still have something to prove to the Metal scene, your peers and your fans at this stage of the band’s progressive and evolution? Do you feel there is still more to learn and room for more growth and development?
James: We really never felt we have anything to prove. We do this because we love it. It’s not a competition for us. We just try to make music we want to hear, gradually making progressions here and there but never trying to deviate too far from the original Jungle Rot sound and style. We respect all our peers and fellow musicians for their efforts. We definitely develop a little more on each release. We are older men and kinda stuck in our ways. Perhaps a bit jaded. But we’re gonna do what we want until we physically can’t pick up the instruments anymore.
Do you consider yourselves still major players in the Death Metal scene? This is not a slight in any shape or form. Metal evolves so fast now with Genres and subgenres popping up everywhere. Bands are so accessible now with the presence of the world wide web and makes it a very competitive animal. Can you give us your take on Genres and subgenres and the rapid growth and evolution of metal? Where do you see it heading? Do you feel it’s like everything in life what’s old becomes new again?
James: Again, we’re not interested in being a major player or top dog or anything like that. We just do what we do. Music constantly evolves but notice more often than not it always comes back to the past. There are certainly way more subgenres in metal now than there was when I was growing up but that’s to be expected. I listen to so many styles of music that I don’t even care about the genre labels anymore. I listen to what I feel. Putting names on genres only separates music fans further.
You signed with Napalm Records in 2009 and had a solid couple years than you signed with Victory Records in 2011 both respectable labels in their own rights. What led to the separation from Napalm records or the reason not to resign with them? What led you to decide to sign with Victory Records? Moving forward were you happy with A) leaving Napalm? B) Signing with Victory?
James: Napalm did all they could do for us for the one album. We had great push in Europe but nothing in the US so we felt it necessary to sign with a US label. We’ve known the Victory staff for many years so when approached about it we figured ‘why not?’ So far, so good with Victory. They’ve done everything they ever promised and more. We’re different for the label and we like that. We don’t just get lumped into 1000 death metal bands on a label. We stick out on the label, and the staff is always gracious and hardworking. We are completely happy with the end result.
Your years of hard work landed you guys gigs supporting bands such as Deicide, Entombed (A.D.) Six Feet Under, Vader, Obituary, Suffocation, Goatwhore and more. That is some impressive company, what was it like to share the stage with such bands and future legends? Do you enjoy playing as a supporting act? How do you feel about headlining your own tours? What band’s have you had supporting you?
James: It’s always amazing to think I’m good friends with the band’s I grew up listening to. It’s truly awesome. We always enjoy our tours and we try it make them as smooth as possible. Touring with Deicide is always a pleasure as Glenn looks out for us more than he probably should. Our brothers in Obituary are always great to tour with. Of course we love the Goatwhore dudes and they are destroying the planet regularly and wish them the best. We don’t mind being a supporting act we just want it get out there and play. Headlining a tour can be sketchy as we feel we might not be that big, but we’ve done it and we’ve had success doing it. Last time we headlined the US we had Lightning Swords Of Death and Woe Of Tyrants out with us.
In closing what does 2017 hold for Jungle Rot and what can fans around the world expect from you in terms of music, touring, festivals etc?
James: We’re working on writing for the new album right now. Hopefully we can get this out by the summer. We have a few tours being discussed for the US and Europe and I shouldn’t divulge any information about those until they are confirmed. Essentially, we’d like to get the new record out and just tour as much as possible this year!
I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with Metalheads Forever Magazine, it’s was a pleasure talking with you. Do you have any closing words or a message for your fans and readers of this publication? Good luck with your future endeavors.
James: Cheers to you for the interview! Everyone prepare yourselves for the 10th Jungle Rot studio release coming this year!!
Thank you for your time and your support!
David Maloney / MHF