BLACK ’N BLUE – Fight The Good Fight
Metal Forces, Issue 8 (1984)
I spoke to Jaime St. James (vocals) and Tommy Thayer (guitar) on a very bad phone connection from Los Angeles. Normally, the transatlantic phone service is as clear as a bell, but not this time! Black ’N Blue’s debut album release on Geffen Records was reviewed by Philip DiBenedetto in Metal Forces issue #5 and had received a slating, being dubbed a band who play “hard metal pop with a little bounce and a lot of make-up”.
Of course, the album could’ve been a real killer had the band decided to stick to the format of their original demos but ’twas not to be. I personally like the album for what it is and it’s certainly no wimp-out really (listen to ‘Autoblast’ or ‘One For The Money’ and you’ll hear what I mean). How does the band view the “too commercial” claims?
Jaime: “Well, I’m sorry if some people think that the record is ‘too commercial’ because that’s just the way it is… that’s the way we are. I mean, it’s not as if we sound like Journey or anything is it?”
Tommy: “I think it depends on who you compare the album to, whether you’re putting us up against bands like Mercyful Fate or Venom (which proves that these guys do take an interest in heavy metal unlike a lot of their American colleagues on the LA circuit).”
Jaime: “There’s probably more emphasis on the vocals than some people may like, but the record is Black ’N Blue and we haven’t wimped out.”
Philip also mentioned in his review that it was hard to believe how the band go all the way to West Germany for Dieter Dierks to produce the LP and give them an American sound, when they could’ve just saved dollars by recording in LA. So what have you to say in your defense Jaime?
“Well we could’ve stayed in the US to do it, but we felt that Dieter Dierks would give us a commercial edge that we wanted but still retain our heavy metal sound. A lot of other American producers wanted to get their hands on us and turn us into a real wimp-out with the use of keyboards and stuff, but we didn’t want that to happen. The sound he achieved for us we’re happy with.”
How different is the debut album from the mini-LP, Violent Kid, you planned to release as an indie product before you were signed, because I was never fortunate enough to hear a tape of it?
Jaime: “It was a lot rougher, maybe a bit heavier, but we never released it because we suddenly got signed to Geffen and had the opportunity to do a full blown album.”
Black ’N Blue made a surprise UK live debut, third on the bill, at the Hammersmith Odeon in London with Whitesnake and the Headpins. They were also scheduled to play a few dates on a support tour with Samson too. So what happened with that tour and were they disappointed at the reaction they received at Hammersmith?
Jaime: “The tour with Samson didn’t happen because we suddenly had recording commitments in Germany, so we couldn’t do it. We weren’t disappointed at the reaction at our London show because hardly anybody had heard of us (with a few exceptions such as us obscurists here at Metal Forces!) and we also came on much earlier than advertised, so a lot of people were still in the bar or hadn’t arrived yet. I think we went down pretty well, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves.”
The big question is though, when will you be back?
Tommy: “It’s hard to say, because we’ve pretty much ignored the US and so we’d obviously like to break some ground here (it being their native country after all). So far, we’ve played a few shows with Aerosmith and Night Ranger, but we really want to break out of California and do a major Stateside support tour. We’re currently negotiating in that respect.”
Jaime: “Maybe we’ll be back in Europe next year?”
It is possible of course that Black ’N Blue’s second album will once again be recorded in Germany under the production of Dieter Dierks.
So why wasn’t ‘Sign In Blood’ on the LP? Possibly one of Black ’N Blue’s heavier, catchy songs along with another ace cut on a demo I have with the truly inspired title of ‘We’ve Come For Your Girlfriends’?
Jaime: “‘Sign In Blood’ was originally going to be on that Violent Kid EP but we left it off our debut album because the other material was possibly better, and also it was co-written with a person outside of the group so that created problems. It might be on our second LP though. Hopefully, ‘Violent Kid’ will too.
“As for ‘We’ve Come For Your Girlfriends’, that was a fun song. You obviously have a tape we did in my parents’ front room from rehearsals. We may do that sometime, who knows.”
All I can say is that Black ’N Blue are not a wimp-out, they’re far stronger than the likes of LA laidbacks Dokken, Great White and our own Def Leppard and, I suspect, will get heavier. The strong will always rock, right? It’s a real pity the telecommunications service isn’t always as good!
Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 8 (1984)
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