Spotlight Interview With Dracula Jackson
Dracula Jackson has released a killer full-length album that reaches into classic rock with warm tones, vocal harmonies, and a descriptive lyrical approach that all comes together to create something that sticks.
The Together album is at times, brutal lyrically but the attention to detail is outstanding and the vocals are always boasting hooks with a great rock swagger that feels like an arena rock show.
The tracks have this great almost theatrical undertone that make sit feel like they could be straight out of scenes from a play.
Guitar work is exceptional to say the least as clean and fuzztones lay atop each other and make this create lush soundscape that surrounds you.
This is an incredibly fun album, and it has the ability to grab you and not let go. The whole thing is a little engulfing but in the best way possible.
There certainly is another world to fall into with this release and its super fun to let it happen.
The drumming is absolute perfection and just adds to the classic rock aesthetic so well it's infectious.
The songs have this edginess to them but aren't super heavy by any means. There is always this gracefulness to the performances in a way and that makes it even better.
This release has loads of hooks both musically and vocally and really come off genuine.
Any fans of real deal rock n roll will love this record and with its release, we wanted to have a talk with Dracula Jackson about where this album actually came from and what may e coming next.
Here's what happened.
RAG: Let's kick things off with the Together album. This record has a super genuine classic rock feel to it! Where did this album come from? I reached a threshold of songs that I felt all had a similar level of energy and attack, and realized they belonged on an album together. (no pun intended, lol) I had recorded "Apart" and a couple of the others a while before, then one day, I just got obsessed with completing the whole thing. Some of the songs like Daydream and Superthruster were older, but I felt they deserved to be included, since I thought they still rocked. As with all my stuff to date, I do all the writing, arranging, performing and recording, so it's no small task to record an entire album. I'm a bit of a control freak. ;) Next time around, I will more than likely get someone else to mix, just to take a little bit of the work off my plate. Artistically, the album is a long, autobiographical love note. A lot of songs about love, loss and struggle, (and one about a fish pond of course.) I didn't come up with the "Apart/Together" thing until just before it was released, but I felt that tied the whole thing together (again, no pun intended.) RAG: There are certainly some different styles on this release. Who can you say are your biggest musical influences?
1. The Beatles
When I was a little kid, I found 2 vinyl 45s in my parents' basement. One was John Lennon's "Imagine" and the other was Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" I played the hell out of those two singles and then became obsessed with the Beatles.
In 1985 or so, I got Prince's album 1999. I couldn't believe it when the liner notes said he played all the instruments and recorded it all himself. I instantly became obsessed with learning how to do the same thing. Bear in mind, there was NO digital recording back then, it was all tapes and all very manual. I don't think much of what I write actually sounds much like Prince, but that influence has remained strong since the 80s. (Yes, I'm an old guy.)
When I started building bands in high school, it was always a bit of a competition to show off what we learned how to play during band practices. The brass ring was always Neil Peart's drum parts. I never got that level of skill on the drums, but I really do love Rush's precise writing and awesome guitar tones. Rush is a big one
4. The Cure
Robert Smith and The Cure kinda changed my life and opened my eyes to truly artistic music. The polar opposite of a band like Rush, The Cure was all about mood, texture, and poetry. I am probably influenced more by the Cure than any other band, artist or combination thereof.
What can I say about Radiohead? One of a kind. I actually had people tell me my stuff sounded like theirs before I ever even listened to them, but it sure got my attention. I love everything they have ever made.
Unbelievable voice, incredible songwriting. Easily the most remarkable talent of the 21st century (in my opinion anyway.)
7. Deathcab for Cutie
One of the best lyricists in the world. I don't come close to his level of wry wit and clever writing, but I love the band and I've seen them tons of times live. 8. The Grunge Bands (Nirvana, Soundgarden Alice in Chains) What an incredible period in music. After being barraged with high-pitched falsetto, spandex & hairspray "glam rock" for the latter half of the 1980s, suddenly this authentic voice came across the airwaves, and knocked that artificial s*** off the radio. The song was Smells Like Teen Spirit. While it's almost trite at this point, when it was new in 1991, my entire generation stopped breathing, dropped whatever we were doing and listened for 4 minutes. (then ran to the record store.)
9. Jeff Buckley
The coolest voice I've ever heard. I heard his stuff on the radio in the late 90s and immediately bought the album and played it for anyone with ears who would listen. 2 years later he was gone. The few times I've had people tell me I sing like JB have been the highest compliments I've ever received.
10. REM/Hendrix/The Smiths/Jane's Addiction/At the Drive In (The Mars Volta)/Ben Folds/Fleetwood Mac/Interpol/Lush/NIN/Old Metallica/You get the idea. :)
RAG: When and how did this all start for you as an artist? I started playing piano when I was 4, taking classical theory lessons for 7 years. When I was 11, I quit piano lessons, then walked home and wrote my first song on the piano immediately afterward. Later that year, I got a drum set and played hours a day along with Police, Rush and Zeppelin tapes. (My parents loved that time...) In high school, I got my hands on a synthesizer, a bass and then a guitar, and I was off to the races. I had idolized Prince since late elementary school and was intent on recording an album all by myself, like he did. In 1988, I got a 4-track cassette ministudio, and within a year, I had recorded a "full length demo" (partly achieving my goal.) It was littered with mistakes and time problems, but that's how I got acclimated to recording. I spent my 20s and 30s touring around with bands, then went on a hiatus for the last decade, while raising children with my wife. One of my coworkers sent me a message back in September of 2021, asking if she could grab one of the CDs I had on my desk at the office. I said, "Yeah sure, who cares?" and expected to never hear anything else about it. A week later, I had gotten messages from everyone in my office including the owners, saying they were really surprised with how much they liked it, and they all asked why I wasn't pushing it. So, I really just came back out into the new world of digital music/streaming/playlists/etc. in October 2021, and it's been more fun, (and successful,) than i anticipated.
RAG: What else really inspires or influences you to write? I hate to sound like a cliche, but I think that like most artists, I write to work through difficult or emotional issues, and music is a catharsis. I also have what amounts to a compulsion to write and record. As I've been prepping for the next record, I found I had written & recorded over 60 different songs in the last few years alone, but I don't even remember doing half of them. (and no, I'm not a drunk... anymore.) If I had to guess, I'd say that is something of an unconscious drive or a compulsion. Then there is the "channeling" way, which is when music and lyrics appear, with me as the medium. That one is rare, but it's awesome when it happens. I love finding sounds, finding words, finding changes, putting them all together and getting the reward feeling of hearing it on a recording afterward. (Not to mention, the reward of other people telling me they like it.) It is a love/hate thing, because when things work, they really work, and it feels great. Other times, when things aren't clicking, and it feels forced, it sucks. During those times, I can convince myself I'm not any good at all. Then 10 minutes later, I may write something like "Burn" or "Apart" or something that ends up being really great. The artistic process is totally nuts, and I think it's different for everyone. RAG: Will we see any videos this year from you? I made a video for "Apart" in January https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho0Lso_oImw My wife Laura directed and co-starred in it. That came out really nice! I'm hoping to get a video done for "Burn" and also "Daydream" this year as well. Who knows? This all depends on how willing Laura is gonna be to help me make 'em. lol RAG: Are you performing live right now? Sadly, no. As a family, we have been in a bubble since the beginning of COVID-19. We've got 2 little babies, and one of them is still too young to get the vaccine, so we're hanging low until that happens. I'm looking forward to doing some live shows again though. It's been almost 10 years since I've played any of my stuff live, and I think it's gonna be awesome to do. On the other hand, I'm kind of amazed at how much traction I've gotten releasing this record (and Landmine,) without ever leaving my house. The digital music world is way different from the one I "retired" from. Much more like a video game. Luckily, I'm pretty good at video games, which may be why things are going well so far. ;) RAG: Who are you listening to right now? I'm really impressed with Phoebe Bridgers. My wife loves her, and a couple of her songs are amazingly intricate and eclectic. I still listen to a lot of Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie, plus we love to stream Billie Holiday in the house at all hours of the day. Her music makes every day feel like Christmas. My song "Burn" got added to a playlist called "Songs with the same energy as 'Right Down the Line' " which is this 1970s yacht rock song by Gerry Rafferty. I was a bit perplexed as to why that playlist had such huge listenership, then I realized it's because that song was in "Euphoria" I just saw the episode last night and the scene was not what I expected. The song is gorgeous, (and I get why they felt like "Burn" matched it, and I love the compliment,) but the scene was super violent and anxiety-provoking.) Ah, art. :) RAG: What are you doing when you're not working on music? Raising children, Playing Fallout, Remotely working in IT (Computer Networking), riding bikes, and watching movies. RAG: What's next for you as an artist? I have a huge pile of unfinished recordings waiting to be released. I've been preparing to call the next album "Record at the End of the World" (I came up with this before COVID hit, and it was more about the end of the record business itself as I saw it.) My wife and I listened to the tracks in the car the other day, and she had this idea that it should be a triple album. We talked about the concept and decided that there were essentially 3 different flavors or genre influences happening. The idea is that the 3 (or 4?) covers will all be part of a larger work, so you can put them together and see the full image, but each stands on its own as well. One is dark, one is light, one is silly or campy. Most of the writing is done, but there are some arrangements to be refined and plenty of parts to finish recording, (not to mention, mixing, mastering, etc.) For this one, I'm almost certainly going to need help with the mixing. I gotta learn to let go a little.
RAG: This album feels like it was a big undertaking. What advice would you have for other up and coming artists out there? Don't do it. Just kidding. Keep at it, and don't give up! Keep playing, keep learning, keep listening. Odds are, if you like what you're playing, someone else will too. Don't let rejection and criticism bother you. Keep going, keep submitting, until it starts happening. RAG: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Thank you for your support, and stay tuned, because there is more to come!