The Whipping Post presents...
Jacob's Dream Interview - Added 08/07/01
Read along on a recent interview that I had with John Berry (Guitar/Synth) of the amazing power metal band Jacob's Dream...
The Whipping Post: So, you guys have just released your new album "Theater of War". What has been the response so far?
John Berry (Guitar/Synth): REALLY GOOD. "HEAVY ODER VAS", I THINK THAT MEANS "HEAVY OR WHAT" IN GERMAN, GAVE US A 9 OUT OF TEN RATING, THATS PRETTY GOOD FROM SUCH A POPULAR AND CRITICAL GERMAN MAG.
WP: For those who haven't heard the new album yet, in what ways is it different/similar compared to your debut album on Metal Blade?
JB: WELL IT'S STILL THE SAME STYLE OF SONGWRITING BUT MIXED A LITTLE DIFERENTLY. WE STILL RECORDED A LOT OF SYNTH TRACKS BUT WE LAYED THEM BACK IN THE MIX A LITTLE MORE THAN ON THE LAST ALBUM, TO HIGHLIGHT THE GUITAR A LITTLE MORE THIS TIME.
WP: The song "Sarah Williams" on the new album is quite an amazing song. It gives me the chills listening to it. In fact, a friend of mine that runs another internet webzine called Thunderline Magazine has given it his choice as song of the year for 2001! Could you give us any background on this song? Is it a true story?
JB: YOU KNOW THATS A REAL LOVE/HATE THING. SOME PEOPLE LOVE IT, OTHERS SAY IT'S TO PREACHY OR SOMETHING. THIS MIGHT BE A LITTLE LONG WINDED SO BEAR WITH ME.... AFTER I LEFT THE BAND FOR A WHILE, FROM 92-96, OK MAYBE MORE THAN A LITTLE WHILE. MY REPLACEMENT ANDY FRASURE WROTE THIS SONG FROM AN EXPERIENCE HE HAD ONE NIGHT. AS I WAS TOLD: HE HAD A LITTLE TOO MUCH TO DRINK ONE NIGHT AND DECIDED TO DRIVE HOME. WHEN HE WOKE UP THE NEXT MORNING HE WALKED OUT SIDE AND HIS CAR WAS PARKED IN THE YARD AND THERE WERE TRACKS THROUGH A NEIGHBORS YARD. IT SHOOK HIM UP PRETTY BAD CAUSE HE DIDN'T REMEMBER EVEN GETTING IN HIS CAR THAT NIGHT. HE DIDN'T REMEMBER RUNNING OVER A STOP SIGN NEAR HIS HOUSE. IT OCCURED TO HIM HE COULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE AND COULDN'T REMEMBER A THING. THE UTTER STUPIDITY AND IRRESPONSIBILITY OF GETTING DRUNK AND CLIMBING BEHIND THE WHEEL ALL CAME CRASHING DOWN ON HIM. SO THAT WAS HIS INSPIRATION TO WRITE "SARAH WILLIAMS". ACTUALLY DAVID HELPED HIM OUT A LITTLE TOO. OBVIOUSLY ANDY WAS A VERY TALENTED MUSICIAN AS WE DIDN'T CHANGE MUCH FROM HIS ORIGINAL CONCEPT OF THE SONG. ANDY WAS ALSO THE THE ONE WHO BROUGHT THE GUITAR SYNTH TO THE BAND. WE HAD ALWAYS EXPERIMENTED WITH KEYBOARDS OFF AND ON BUT HE DISCOVERED THE GUITAR SYNTH AND IT WORKED OUT PRETTY WELL. SO WHEN I RETURNED THEY SAID "DOOD,YOU
GOTTA GET A GUITAR SYNTH".
WP: What are your touring plans in support of the new album?
JB: CURRENTLY WE ARE DOING ALL THE LOCAL SHOWS WE CAN GET INTO. WE JUST PLAYED A SHOW IN CLEVELAND WITH BIOGENESIS AND MORTIFICATION, WHAT A BLAST. STEVE ROWE IS AMAZING.
WP: What other bands have you had a chance to tour with lately? How have those shows went?
JB: WELL, WE HAVENT EXACTLEY TOURED THE NEW ALBUM YET BUT WE HAVE PLAYED A LOT OF LOCAL SHOWS WITH LOCAL BANDS LIKE WHITE RAVEN AND BIOGENESIS. WE PLAYED THE MICHIGAN METAL FEST WITH JUST ABOUT EVERY REAL POWER METAL BAND IN THE STATES. WERE ALSO HEADLINING THE MOSH IN THE PARK 7-28 HERE IN OHIO. SOME OF THE BEST BANDS IN THE STATE WILL BE THERE TOO.
WP: With your debut album, was the response better or worse than you all expected?
JB: WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO EXPECT FROM IT SO ANY GOOD RESPONSE WAS MORE THAN A SURPRISE, BUT TO PLAY TWO EUROPEAN FESTIVALS AND TOUR EUROPE ON THE FIRST ALBUM WAS INCREDIBLE. EVERY ONE KEPT TELLING US IT WAS ALMOST UNPRECIDENTED FOR A METALBLADE BAND.
WP: I've noticed that there are other bands on Metal Blade, or have been on Metal Blade, with Christian band members like Tourniquet, Mortification, Galactic Cowboys, King's X, etc. It seems like Metal Blade is pretty lenient with the messages of bands as long as the music is high quality. Is this the same feeling you guys get or have you run into some problems with song lyrics, album cover ideas, etc. that have ruffled some feathers?
JB: YEAH THEY ARE COOL WITH OUR CHRISTIAN MESSAGE, WHICH IS A LITTLE UNEXPECTED CONSIDEREING SOME OF OUR LABELMATES, BUT FROM THE START THEY SAID THEY WEREN'T GOING TO PUSH US IN PARTICULAR AS A CHRISTIAN OR WHITE METAL BAND CAUSE OF THE CONTROVERSIAL NATURE OF SOME OF OUR LYRICS. AND THAT'S COOL CAUSE THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TAKE THE FLACK FROM PEOPLE WHO DON'T GET IT.
WP: I've heard lots of comparisons to Queensryche and Iron Maiden. In fact, that comparison is mentioned on your website. I'm not a listener of either of those bands, but have you had any negative reactions to the small similarities or do most people not really care?
JB: WE USED TO BE MORE THAN A LITTLE CONCERNED ABOUT STEREOTYPES, BUT ANY MORE WE TAKE THE COMPARISONS AS A COMPLIMENT. I LISTEN TO THOSE BANDS AND I HOPE THEY TAKE IT AS A COMPLIMENT THAT WE ARE COMPARED TO THEM.
WP: You guys seem to be more interested in following your own likes in writing and playing music instead of just following trends. How important do you think it is to be yourselves instead of following the crowd?
JB: IF WE WEREN'T TRUE TO OURSELVES IN OUR SONGWRITING WE WOULDNT BE TRUE TO THE PUBLIC EITHER. BANDS THAT WRITE TO PLEASE THE TRENDS HAVE NO HEART. THEY MAY HAVE TALENT TO BE SURE, BUT IF YOUR HEART ISN'T IN YOUR ART, ITS NOT AN
WP: What is the main purpose of the band Jacob's Dream? Do you guys do this as a career, for fun, as a ministry, or a little of all the above?
JB: ALL OF THE ABOVE. IT'S NOT ALWAYS FUN, IT DOESN'T BRING IN MUCH CASH, AND SOMETIMES YOU WONDER IF ANYONE IS LISTENING TO THE MESSAGE. BUT IN THE END WE KNOW THAT THIS IS WHY WE ARE HERE. I KNOW IT MIGHT SOUND HOAKY BUT I FEEL CALLED BY GOD TO PLAY METAL. IF THAT'S MY PURPOSE, I CANT ESCAPE THAT AND IT KEEPS ME GOING THROUGH THE ROUGH SPOTS.
WP: It's obvious that you guys spend a lot of time in writing great lyrics and music. My impression from the debut album is that the lyrics come first and then the music, which would be opposite from a lot of bands. Am I way off base? Do you guys have any special methods or anything when it comes to writing songs?
JB: ACTUALLY THERE IS NO MORE EMPHASIS ON ONE OVER THE OTHER. WE HAVE HIGH STANDARDS FOR BOTH. IT JUST HAPPENS THAT DAVID IS EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED AS A WRITER. IF I WRITE A SONG WITH GOOD MUSIC AND FAIR LYRICS, HE'LL MOLD THEM INTO WHAT SOUNDS GOOD TO HIM, ONCE IN A WHILE I HIT THE MARK THOUGH,:)
WP: What's in store for the future for Jacob's Dream? Any early ideas on the direction of your next album?
JB: WE WOULD LIKE TO WORK WITH RICK VIERS AT JON SHWAB STUDIO AGIAN BUT THIS TIME WITH HIM IN MORE OF A PRODUCERS ROLE. WE'D LIKE TO BRING HIM IN ON THE PROCESS AT AN EARLIER STAGE THAN THE ACTUAL SESSIONS, IE. GET HIS INPUT ON TONES AND SONDWRITING AHEAD OF TIME.
WP: Anything you'd like to say in closing to all the Jacob's Dream fans out there?
JB: THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HAS SUPPORTED US WITH THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY AND PRAYERS AND KINDNESS SO FAR. AND IF YOU WANT TO SEE US IN YOUR TOWN/COUNTRY, BUG THE HECK OUT METAL BLADE AND LET US KNOW TOO. THANKS MATT.