Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jungle Rot's James Genenz Speaks the Truth

l-r: Jesse Beahler (d), Dave Matrise (v/g),
Geoff Bub (g/bv), James Genenz (b/bv)
Jungle Rot is one of my absolute favorite discoveries of the last year and their latest album, Kill on Command, towers over almost any other heavy metal release in recent memory. A no-frills, merciless groove-based assault, it simply refuses to leave my stereo and I feel like I should be traveling and speaking at school assemblies, handing out copies to impressionable youth lest they be tempted to go down the path of Black Veil Brides.

I am absolutely thrilled, then, to be able to share an interview with Jungle Rot's own James Genenz, bass monster, film aficionado and all-around good guy, on Kill on Command, combat movies and more:

Kill on Command is a behemoth. Looking at your tour dates, currently published online only through the end of June, what's the plan to get out there and promote the album?
James: We thank you! You know right now we’re just doing these local shows to bond with our new drummer in the live setting and make a little money to pay off some band bills. Our agent is soliciting us for tours, and we’re just waiting for something to bite. Like any business, it’s all about numbers. We have to have something to show for getting a good tour. The business kind of sucks the fun out of it.
Jungle Rot definitely have a formula and, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That said, Kill on Command is at least one notch "better," just a little richer - guitar leads, for example. How do you see it differentiated from the rest of Jungle Rot's discography?
James: No point in fixing what isn’t broken. We like our sound, our fans like our sound. New people are liking our sound. But then again, every album we add little changes here and there, nothing uncanny, but just enough. We experimented with more melodic parts on our last album, and that is still going on. This time we really wanted to write songs with more room for leads. Before we might have wanted to just write to-the-point songs, but we felt we could still do that and leave room for leads. Geoff stepped up and started fooling around more and more at practice, so we fit lead parts into the songs. It’s really nothing new for Jungle Rot, there have been leads here and there before, but it’s something that disappeared during the “Dead And Buried/Fueled By Hate” era.
What noteworthy gear do you use in the studio to generate that Jungle Rot sound?
James: We experiment each time in the studio with our own gear, and with what Chris might have around the studio. More often than not, the sound on the album is a mixture of various equipment, and to be honest, I didn’t even pay attention, haha!
After nearly twenty years of fads and trends coming and going you remain as consistent as Motörhead. Who among your peers do you admire or draw from for inspiration?
James: You know, we all really like various styles of music, and anything you listen to will eventually work it’s way into your psyche and maybe show up in what you write at the time. We just try and make music that we’d expect a band like Jungle Rot to make. Motörhead, AC/DC are good examples of that formula. Slayer is still kicking ass, whether we’re huge fans of their newer material or not, you can’t deny it’s still heavy as fuck and they still bring it. Destruction is heavier than ever. Sodom is still kicking it. I don’t even know what happened to Sepultura, haha! Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, we respect these bands and their dedication to the cause!
The theme of war and its atrocities associated with "Jungle Rot" could seem potentially limiting to your expression (though certainly not as much as, say, Viking metal. Or Scottish Pirate metal). Do you ever wish you'd gone with a broader or different concept (General Malaise or Really Bad Sinus Infection, for example)?
James: Well, actually not every song is about war, especially since I’ve been writing the lyrics. The new album has lyrics about homelessness (“Born Of Contagion”), drug abuse (“Life Negated”), the mosh pit (“I Predict A Riot”), overworking to obtain unachievable goals (“Demoralized”), etc. General malaise is definitely my inspiration, haha! I just write about things that piss me off, things happening to me or my friends and/or loved ones, world issues that irritate me.  As long as I’m writing the lyrics, I’m sure they will continue down that path. Of course I love to write lyrics about war too, and that theme will probably always stick with Jungle Rot in one form or another.
Some of the band's older releases are getting harder to come by as time goes on (though it is good to see many available as downloads now). How does an honest fan get a hold of Skin the Living, for example?  Any possibility we'll see some of the early material reissued or perhaps even tacked on as bonuses to future releases (or to what has to be the inevitable "Special Edition" of Kill on Command)?
James: We’ve talked about re-releasing Skin The Living and Slaughter The Weak many times. We’d love to put those both on vinyl. Maybe this will happen in the near future.  My idea was we take all eight releases and make a vinyl box set with all releases so far in a sweet ammo box or something! I’d love to see that happen. Once again, it’s discussed a lot but it’s not cheap and we need the right offer. We are also going to bug Victory about putting Kill On Command on vinyl too in the near future. As far as special editions, that would have to be up to them.
You guys are crushing it on the internet and using tools like Facebook really effectively. How has social media changed the playing field for Jungle Rot?
James: Social networking is just what you have to do to get people to check you out these days. Long gone are the ways of tape trading and writing hand written letters with flyers. I certainly do miss those days, but we sink or swim. We started nailing the social network thing early when MySpace first came out. We worked the MySpace page hard and got people to check us out. I think that truly helped get us out there a bit more. Facebook is no exception. We diligently work to promote the band online and actually it’s a lot of fun to have instant communication with fans, we enjoy talking to people and answering their questions VIA Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s a good way for us to keep everyone in the loop about what’s going on in our world, and listen to our fans opinions.
2008's Rambo seems to me the film equivalent to Jungle Rot. What are your favorite combat movies (and are you as worried as I am that the Red Dawn remake is gonna suck)? 
James: Movies are my lifesblood! Haha! My favorite combat movies? Definitely Full Metal Jacket and Platoon are up there. The song Kill On Command was actually written after watching Platoon and the My Lai scene in particular. Sands Of Iwo Jima, Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan, The Deer Hunter, Glory, and Stripes (LOL) are all up there! Red Dawn was a great movie, and any remake sucks! Please stop remaking movies! Film is a whole other interview subject with me, I could go on and on!
Honest answer - if I were to go out and start your car, what would be playing on the stereo?
James: Haha! 80’s pop cheese, King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, Genesis, The Police, Rush, The Misfits, Napalm Death, Bad Religion, Ghost “Opus Anonymous”, Venom, I like a lot of weird shit. I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks; John Harrison “Creepshow” soundtrack, Ennio Morricone, Fabio Frizzi, Goblin. I like a lot of crazy classical like Bela Bartok, Lygeti, and Penderecki. Noise shit like Gnaw Their Tongues, Atrax Morgue, John Cage, Einsturzende Neubauten, SUNN O))). I also dig on a lot of Depressive/Suicidal black metal like Hypothermia, Lifelover, Silencer, etc. You’d probably find a Notorious B.I.G. album in there too somewhere, haha! Once again, I could go on and on.
Finish this sentence for me: "By our 30th Anniversary Jungle Rot will..."
James: “…be lucky to be alive!”  Thanks so much for your support!!
Many, many thanks to James for taking time out of his schedule to speak with gogmagogical. If you haven't caught Jungle Rot yet, don't waste any time. Buy Kill on Command ASAP and then go back and get the rest. Check out the band's very active Facebook site and their page at Victory Records. And once they start touring, get out there. I predict a riot.


  1. Hey, gog, this is really cool. The best post I've seen anywhere in a long time. I've seen some people complaining about the label that Jungle Rot is on, and how they've sold out, but who cares if the music is good?


  2. Thanks, TMA. It was extremely cool of James to take the time out. Re: label elitism, I couldn't agree more. Frankly, I'm surprised that still rears its head. There are certainly a few (very few) labels whose brand is synonymous with good bands overall but, in the end, it's the music that comes of out the speakers and I don't care the least about what trademark is on the spine. Kill on Command could be on Jive Records for all I care - as long as it makes it from the band into my hands, I'm happy.