Flash Metal Suicide: Jackyl - the chainsaw-wielding princes of backyard BBQ

Jackyl
Jackyl

“I’m a redneck punk, can’t remember when I wasn’t drunk” - Brain Drain

Pound for pound, chainsaw thrusting good ol’ boys Jackyl are one of the most successful flash metal bands still in operation, with ten top 50 hits and two world records for excessive and dangerously reckless touring. They are also one of the most underrated and unfairly maligned. Most people aren’t even aware they still exist and when they are remembered by mainstream rock fans, it’s just a blur of rednecks with farm equipment. But the very thing that set Jackyl apart from the dizzying highs and tragic lows of the coast-hugging glam metal wave is also what’s kept them alive for so long. Jackyl showed up when the trend was drying up and thrived while most other long-haired chest-beaters withered and died. They were beyond trend, beyond fashion, they could not have cared less about what was happening in New York or LA or London, or anywhere else.

Sure, they played arenas, but in a very real way, every Jackyl gig was a backyard BBQ, a ragtag family gathering performed under a blazing sun in some endless rolling field full of mud, haybales, and farmer’s daughters. They were, and are, a band for the people. Not the cool people, necessarily, or the sexy people, but the real ones. Working class rock’n’roll for working class rock’n’rollers. The real deal in a vast and constantly churning ocean of posers and fakes. I don’t even believe in God, man, but God bless Jesse James Dupree anyway.

Jackyl are from Kennesaw, Georgia. I don’t know where that is either. They released their first album in 1992, right when bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains were cresting, and bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt, Dokken and Cinderella were floundering, cast off as old and irrelevant. Jackyl’s music – a fiery mix of Skynyrd and AC/DC – leaned a lot closer to the latter, and their attitudes and worldview was like a spit in the eye to world-weary, culturally-sensitive mopes like Cobain and Vedder. Their songs were exuberant odes to hard parties and vigorous sexcapades, accented with ham-fisted innuendo or outright vulgarity. I mean, there’s a song on the record called She Loves My Cock, for chrissakes.

Given the time and the climate, it really should’ve tanked. But Jackyl had a vision. Maybe the cool kids were gobbling fistfuls of grunge pie but it would takes years for it to trickle down to the Bible belt, if it made it there at all. Nobody ever catered specifically to the needs and desires of the kids who grew up with tractors in their yards. Didn’t they deserve their own band? I don’t care how much you love We’re Not Gonna Take It, you were not dressing up like Twisted Sister in Alabama. Jackyl stripped down their image to the bare Black Oak Arkansas essentials, took the standard flash metal template, and made it palatable for middle-America. And just to throw some gas on an already-roaring fire, frontman Jesse James Dupree learned how to play “solos” on a fucking chainsaw. Playing a state-fair after a puppet show is no come-down for Jackyl. They were made for it. They practically invented that gig.

And that’s basically how it went. Jackyl went platinum. It’s follow-up, 1994’s Push Comes to Shove, went gold. The band toured relentlessly, so much so that they eventually scored a couple world records, one for playing 100 gigs in 50 days, another for playing 21 gigs in 24 hours. Please let the madness of both of those achievements sink in for a second. And aside from an initial push from MTV in their earlier days, this was without much promotion or interest from mainstream rock channels. Jackyl won people over the hard way, through sweat and volume and bare tires.

Eventually Jesse James began expanding his empire, launching his own line of beer and whiskey and co-creating a popular reality TV show, Full Throttle Saloon, about the constant stream of misadventure at the largest biker bar in America. Dupree and Jackyl often appear on the show. Dupree got shot out of a cannon on it once. It’s pretty much exactly what you think/hope it is. Naturally, the fact that the bar burned down to the ground earlier this year put a bit of a damper on their production schedule, but there’s plans underway to rebuild it. In the meantime, Jackyl is on track to release their new album, Rowyco, in just a couple weeks. Most people will probably never hear it. Most people have no idea Jackyl survived 1992. But they did, and they’re out there man, right now, chomping corn dogs, popping wheelies and playing chainsaw solos, hopefully forever. Hail hail rock’n’roll.

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