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Denim & Laughter: An Exclusive Interview With DON JAMIESON

By Krishta Abruzzini, Pacific Northwest Writer
Saturday, February 29, 2020 @ 10:04 AM


"Iím still trying to figure out what the goal is. Iím having fun while Iím figuring it out."

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On February 21st, former That Metal Show host Don Jamieson releases his new album titled Denim & Laughter. Jamieson comments on the new release:

"This album was recorded in front of about 40 hardcore fans in a speakeasy in a secret location in Los Angeles on October 19, 2019. Now the rest of you can enjoy it! I've recorded my stand-up albums in comedy clubs, rock clubs and now an illegal club. Comedy is way more fun when you're at the risk of being raided at any moment! Special thanks to one of my favorite all-time bands, SAXON, for letting me do the comedic version of their classic album Denim & Leather. And I can't wait to tour the U.K. and Europe with their singer, Biff Byford. They follow in a prestigious line of my album cover band parodies...THIN LIZZY, JUDAS PRIEST, LED ZEPPELIN. But of course, the album is not just for rockers, but for all people who like humor with a rock and roll attitude. Comedy is like rock and roll...it's no fun if it's not dangerous. And being a comedian on Metal Blade Records makes the whole package complete." source: Metal Blade Records

I recently caught up with Don on one of his business days. Our interview was set for 12:30PM. By 8:30PM (promptly, I might add), he was actually able to fit me in to his day. After shooting his That Jamieson Show (https://www.compoundmedia.com/shows/that-jamieson-show), he was on the road to join MLB Now (https://www.mlb.com/cubs/video/don-jamieson-joins-mlb-now?t=mlb-network) to talk about baseball and his new album. Don and I tried a couple of different time slots, and finally one stuck. Very grateful Don was able to fit us in.

8:30pm Sharp, JAMIESON: Hey, look at this. Right on time.

KNAC.COM: You are right on time. [laughing] Wow. So no pressure. Just interviewing this successful, emmy award winning dude that interviews rock stars and is super funny on top of it all.

JAMIESON: [laughing] Believe me. Thereís no pressure here. Iím a jeans and t-shirt guy. Iím easy going. Thatís why today I was so taken aback. Today was just the perfect storm of all this crazy stuff happening. Iím super grateful that people are being supportive, but man, I definitely could have organized it a little better today for sure.

KNAC.COM: You sounded crazy busy.

JAMIESON: Yeah. Like I said, everybodyís important. I needed two of me today.

KNAC.COM: Do you sleep?

JAMIESON: I think Iíll go face down in flames in my bed later.

KNAC.COM: Sleep when youíre in for the long nap.

JAMIESON: Dimebagís old saying was, ĎJamieson, go face down in flamesí.

KNAC.COM: Aww. I just interviewed Rita a few days ago. What a powerhouse. I really love her.

JAMIESON: Iíve known her for a long time. Sheís great people.

KNAC.COM: You have a new album. Are they called albums? Anyway, Denim & Laughter is coming out based off of SAXONís album Denim & Leather. I canít wait to hear it just based on the title.

JAMIESON: [Inaudible breaking up] With that kind of rock theme. Bands. Work. Kind of give us. But thoseÖ.

KNAC.COM: You know what? You are breaking up! Should I call you back?

JAMIESON: Is this better? I moved to a better spot.

KNAC.COM: Do you have to put your leg and hand up for an antenna?

JAMIESON: Iím in a sure fire spot. Here we go. Where did we leave off?

KNAC.COM: Tea Tree Shampoo and Adam Levineís nipples. Gorilla sex, spitting and banana tits.

JAMIESON: [Laughs] Well, in this age of downloads, and being able to cherry-pick tracks, I want to make sure that when people see one of the track names, and they think itís funny, they might be inclined to give it a listen. Hopefully after that, theyíll download the whole album. Iím old school, you know? I buy albums. I donít buy songs. I get the printouts of what everybody downloads, and I notice that if itís a really funny title, thatís what gets the most downloads. Thatís one of the fun parts of actually doing the album. Editing it, and hearing my voice over and over, itís torture. When it comes time to pick the track names, thatís actually kind of fun.

KNAC.COM: What is a Sporty Ford Fusion? It seems to pop up a few times.

JAMIESON: You know, I donít like to brag, but thatís the car that I drive.

KNAC.COM: And itís sporty.

JAMIESON: Itís not just a regular Ford Fusion, itís sporty. Itís a hybrid. It gets good gas mileage.

KNAC.COM: Thatís a little practical. Do sporty and practical go together? Is a sporty Ford Fusion rock & roll?

JAMIESON: All that big VH1 Classic money, I put it into my cars.

KNAC.COM: [Laughing] Youíre touring this in the U.K. and Europe with SAXON singer Biff Byford? I really love saying his name: Biff Byford. Can you tell me about that?

JAMIESON: Yeah. Itís a nice tie-in. Since itís titled Denim & Laughter, and obviously thatís a parody of the classic SAXON album, Denim & Leather. Biff and I, and obviously the other guys in the band, weíve become friends over the years. A couple of years ago, I went down to Philadelphia, and we were having some wine and some beer, and I just threw it out there, ďYeah, maybe my next album will be Denim & Laughter.Ē Biff was like, ďYeah, that sounds like a good idea. You should do that.Ē So they gave me their artwork, they gave me their permission and their blessings. So, yeah, Iím going to head over and open for Biff on his solo tour, because he has a new album out. (Biff Byford - School of Hard Knocks) (https://www.amazon.com/School-Hard-Knocks-Biff-Byford/dp/B07Z74DH3T)

So yeah, it should be a lot of fun. Iíve never been to the UK or Europe doing my comedy. Hopefully they dig my American jokes. Iíve heard the audiences over there are really good and really open to American comics. I just figured, if I curse a lot and say MOTLEY CRUE, and Ozzy, then Iíll be alright.

KNAC.COM: They like the metal there.

JAMIESON: Absolutely.

KNAC.COM: Youíve had quite a few musicians step up to play your intros, Dave Mustaine, Vinnie Moore. Do you ever take a step back and wonder how the heck you got here?

JAMIESON: Of course. Iíve never lost that feeling. Like KISS Destroyer when I was eleven. I never took anybodyís talent for granted. Dave [Mustaine] came and did That Metal Show a couple of times, he always was a great guest. You know, because heís honest and heíll tell you exactly whatís on his mind, which always makes the best guests when youíre making a television show or radio. He gave me his email, and he said, ďHey, if you ever need anything, get in touch.Ē Iím thinking, Iím not going to need this email. Heís a family guy. But we started a little back and forth and when it came time to do my last album, I was thinking, yeah, Iíd love to see if Dave would do the intro for me. Whatís the worst he could say? No? I emailed him and ten minutes later emailed me back and said, ďYeah, whatever you need. Let me know.Ē He did that one. The SAXON guys were going to do kind of an alternate version of Denim & Leather, the song for my album, but they had already come and gone out of the studio. Andy Sneap, whoís their producer and who also plays guitar in JUDAS PRIEST was standing there doing stuff, so I asked him, ďWould you be willing to do the music?Ē So I got Andy to do it and it came out really great.

KNAC.COM: I mean, stand up by itself is a tough business. Youíve weaved yourself a nice little niche, you know? And is it Neesh or Nich? Hmmmm. Thatís tough to do.

JAMIESON: Yeah, you never know where anything is going to lead. I never did characters or impressions, so I knew I wasnít going to go on Saturday Night Live. Iím not necessarily a clean comic, so I knew I wasnít going to do any late night shows. Itís kind of tunnel vision and one-track-mind for hard rock and heavy metal, and I also wanted to be a comedian and make all those worldís collide. We did That Metal Show, and after that I started getting offers to go out and open for bands. So I feel like, yeah, this is where I belong. These are my people. Iím the fan in the audience still. So when I go out and play for these crowds, itís so much fun, because once again, Iím one of them.

KNAC.COM: You said you were not necessarily a clean comedian, and I had no idea that you were a joke writer for celebrity roaster, Lisa Lampanelli. Her material was definitely not clean. [laughs]

JAMIESON: My how times have changed. You know, Lisa left the business. But in her day, she was completely untouchable. Writing for her was great. I had no boundaries. I just knew how ruthless she was onstage. Iíve done a few roasts over the years. Itís kind of nice to just write really awful jokes about people and hand them off, and hear people laugh at it, and nobody ever knowing that I had a hand in that. Lisa obviously wrote a lot of her own stuff, and sheís such a great lady. Like MOTLEY CRUE, I hope she comes back someday.

KNAC.COM: Sheís always been my favorite for those roasts. Did you get your start with Andrew Dice Clay? Thatís a tough ticket. Most comics would be happy just having that on their resume. But no, you have to be one of the most prolific and hard working comedians out there.

JAMIESON: You know, again, everything Iíve done comes from my love for hard rock and metal music, and sticking to my guns on that. That led me to Eddie and doing That Metal Show, and Dice, he is my comedy hero. Jim Florentine had started opening for him. After a couple of years, he couldnít do some of the shows. I was hanging around at that point, and Dice kind of knew me. He called Jim, and he said, ďUh, I need that kid you hang out with to open some shows. The boy. I donít know his name.Ē

KNAC.COM: [Laughing] The boy.

JAMIESON: Yeah, thatís what he called me for years. Meanwhile, Iím in my forties. I was scared out of my pants. But I went up, and I did my thing and afterwards he said, ďHey, great job. Come back tomorrow.Ē And we did about ten-years together. Pretty much as close as you can get to going to comedy college. Learning the hard way, man.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of college, you majored in communications, so was your first goal to be like a DJ, or did you always know you were going to go into comedy?

JAMIESON: Iím still trying to figure out what the goal is. Iím having fun while Iím figuring it out. I did some college radio and stuff, but I wasnít sure, you know? I always loved comics. I always loved music. So I figured it be something in that world. I guess I kind of figured out after playing in bands in high school, did I want to be lugging equipment and having to deal with four other guys and their drama? I can just put my jokes in my pocket and keep all the money, thatíd be a lot easier. So I decided comedy was the way to go.

KNAC.COM: What instrument do you play?

JAMIESON: Guitar. Not very well. Being a comic might not be the easy way out, itís the hardest Iíve ever worked, not working. But it is really fun. I donít miss carrying an amplifier.

KNAC.COM: Well, you could have been a drummer. [Laughing]

JAMIESON: I know, itís amazing. Now I go on the road with these rock bands. God, these poor drummers man. They haul all this equipment, itís so crazy.

KNAC.COM: So, Denim and Laughter was recorded in a super secret Speakeasy in Los Angeles. Man, a Speakeasy just sounds so cool. Was this planned? How were the 40 super fans that got to be there picked?

JAMIESON: We did a Facebook event page, and we said listen, weíll email everybody the morning of the taping. A friend of mine owns a Speakeasy. Itís literally an illegal club in L.A. Thereís a bar and a stage, a great sound system. I just figured, you know, how cool would it be to do a comedy album and at the end, the police break down the door and yell, ďEverybody freeze. This is a raid.Ē

KNAC.COM: One can only wish, right? [Laughs]

JAMIESON: But we didnít get shut down. We got the album done and it was a lot of fun. I wanted to do it in that kind of vibe. I try to capture the vibe wherever I make an album. I thought thatíd be really cool. Kind of go back to the old days, and do it old school.

KNAC.COM: Iíve met you a couple of times while youíve been on tour with FASTER PUSSYCAT. Iím not sure why more bands donít hire a stand up as an opener. Itís great for the changeover, it keeps the audience entertained throughout the night.

JAMIESON: For me, it was the early 80ís and 90ís, like Dice, opened up for GUNS Ní ROSES, Sam Kinison did the Wild Thing, and Bobcat Goldthwait, these were rock & roll comics. Then when grunge came, it was so not cool anymore. I started going in with guys like Jim Breuer and Jim Florentine. Last February, at the same time I was out with POP EVIL, Breuer was out with METALLICA and Larry The Cable Guy was out with STYX. I mean, thatís a party right there. I love that. So itís getting a little more accepted, which is nice. I agree. It keeps people guessing. It keeps the scene kind of fresh. It mixes up the bill a little bit. I call it the sex, drugs and rock & roll set. Iím not going to go up there and talk about politics, Iím going to talk about MOTLEY CRUE, OZZY, BLACK SABBATH, ALICE COOPER, LEMMY and get everybody warmed up, and see them looking at the stage and smiling, and then let the headliner come on and do their thing.

KNAC.COM: I agree. Well, It has to be asked and Iím sure itís for Iím sure the millionth time, I know you have That Jamieson Show on Compound Media and fans loved That Metal Show, would you consider this a spinoff? And because everyone loves the first wife, you know, any chance for a reunion of That Metal Show?

JAMIESON: [Laughs] Yeah. So what Iím doing now, That Jamieson Show, itís kind of keeping the same spirit. You know, like when Tony Iommi was doing BLACK SABBATH with like fifteen other singers in the middle period there? And youíre like, ďWhy is Tony doing this?Ē But what happened? Ronnie came back, Ozzy came back, and so now, thank god, Tony kept the name alive, right? So thatís kind of what Iím trying to do, to keep the spirit of what Jim [Florentine] and Eddie [Trunk] and I did alive. Itís a great learning thing for me because Iím learning how to interview solo, pretty much for the first time. Most of my career has been interviewing people with two other hosts. So thatís really fun. Weíve had some great guests on. And look, itís the year 2020, itís the year of the rock reunion. What better time to bring back That Metal Show? Fingers crossed, hopefully we can get it done.

KNAC.COM: I know it would come with open arms. We have quite a close community with rock and metal, you know?

JAMIESON: When you do it, you donít realize the effect it has on people. The only way I kind of knew was because I loved Headbangerís Ball back in the day. That ended Ď95, we started in 2008. So thereís thirteen years where there was nothing from the scene. So if weíve had our run, weíve had a great run. I just hope it doesnít take thirteen more years to get another one, whether itís us, or somebody else. Letís get something going. Letís keep supporting these artists. We were the Tonight Show for hard rock and metal. These guys arenít getting that kind of exposure anywhere else. It never had to do with money or any of that stuff, it was like yeah, if you need to plug an album or a tour, come sit with us. Weíll bring balls, and have fun and make sure we get you out there.

KNAC.COM: Is it nerve wracking prepping for these interviews being the solo guy and not having the two other guys to bounce stuff off of?

JAMIESON: Yeah. I prep a lot more. I know most of the artists, maybe not personally but just obviously being a fan of the music. If I canít sit and talk to ALICE COOPER for half an hour after listening to his music for 35-years, then Iím not in the right job. Itís a little different, a little more challenging.

KNAC.COM: Iím curious if any of the artists youíve interviewed stand out for you? Obviously youíre not going to be able to say who the biggest dick is. Not who has the biggest, but who is the biggest.

JAMIESON: [Laughs] I mean, we never had Tommy Lee on, so, I donít know whoíd be in second place there. Phil Anselmo is pretty legendary I think. We had Phil on. I like the guys thatíll get out and talk smack, like Phil, like Dave Mustaine, Ted Nugent, whether you love or hate these guys, youíre going to watch because you donít know whatís going to come out of their mouth. So thatís what always makes guys like that interesting. For me personally, Lemmy is my hero. Everytime he came on, I was just a little kid. I miss that guy. I miss MOTORHEAD putting out music. What a legacy.

KNAC.COM: Aww. I know. He is missed. So I just watched a South Park episode where they were making fun of Disney, and I thought, wow, why aren't these guys getting sued? I know you were talking about your albums and how cool it would be to be sued. You know, like from your album Communication Breakdown, and having LED ZEPPELIN go after you in court. And I just learned, and Iím not sure many realize, but in the line of parody, anything is fair game. You canít be sued. Did you know that?

JAMIESON: No I didnít. And Iím actually pretty upset now because a good arrest would have probably helped my career in 2020.

KNAC.COM: I mean, this has to be pure gold for you! You can literally do anything.

JAMIESON: Yeah, until someone hashtags you on social media. No oneís sued me so far. Iíve taken on work from JUDAS PRIEST and THIN LIZZY and SAXON. So far, so good. Again, thatís the fun of doing it. These are the bands I love the most. Itís all a tribute and all from the heart. But if they have to, and I would highly encourage them to bring about a lawsuit. Because yeah, I need the publicity.

KNAC.COM: I often sign a waiver or contract when I do music photography, and often itís a very threatening contract of all the ways Iíll be sued. Iím always like, please do! I couldnít ask for better PR! [Laughs]

JAMIESON: It was a career killer a few years ago, but now itíll take you to the next level. Now Iím a brand, whoa!

KNAC.COM: I mean, Iím the girl that got sued by AEROSMITH. How cool would that be? Iíd get a t-shirt made saying that and wear it proudly. [Laughs] So, you became an Emmy award winner for your work with HBOís Inside the NFL doing sports-themed comedy sketches along with Jim Florentine. Since you blew off our morning interview to go talk about baseball, Iím guessing that sports is a pretty big part of your life. I guess it kind of goes hand in hand with Rock and roll? Does having an emmy just give you like the golden key to every city?

JAMIESON: Well, yeah. I mean, sports was definitely a big part of my life. Iíve worked in sports throughout my life. Some people know me from that place as well. But for some people, they donít realize that. I went to the MLB Network today and talked baseball, but then I have to go back and put on my heavy metal hat, and I was doing a comedy podcast. But yeah, those are my three loves. Hard rock, comedy and sports. Iím just lucky to be able to swim in all those waters.

KNAC.COM: To be able to make a living doing what you love? That is gold.

JAMIESON: Yeah, except I get to walk around all day with TV makeup on. It gets rid of the wrinkles and bags under my eyes.

KNAC.COM: But you look pretty though, right?

JAMIESON: Yes. I feel very beautiful today. Except Iím going to look like a three day old prostitute when I get up tomorrow.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of sports, what did you think about the Superbowl half time show that has everyoneís panties in a twist?

JAMIESON: Yeah, you know I talked about Adam Levineís nipples last year. I got it out of my system. At the end of the day, with that kind of thing, The Grammyís, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, itís like hard rock and heavy metal, that music has never been mainstream. Do we really want to be a part of that club necessarily? Is it a great honor to do all those things? Sure. But at the end of the day, nah, we have our own club. Weíre cool over here. Donít worry about it.

KNAC.COM: I agree. I do think our genre is making a cool little comeback though. I see a lot of youngsters at shows that genuinely seem into it.

JAMIESON: Yeah. Lots of young bands right now. Whether you love them or hate them, GRETA VAN FLEET is making it cool for young guys to pick up guitar. Lzzy Hale is making it cool for young girls to pick up guitars and play. I think besides some of the old bands coming back and reuniting in 2020, like RAGE and MOTLEY and BLACK CROWES, etc...Thereís a lot of new bands on the horizon too. That lane is open. Itís always ebbs and flows with this kind of music. While things are healthy and things are good, letís flood that lane. Rock the nation as SAXON says.

KNAC.COM: Are you set to sail with the Monsters of Rock cruise?

JAMIESON: Yeah, Iím heading out tomorrow. Are you going?

KNAC.COM: No. You know, Iíve never been on one. I donít know why. Everybody asks me. Iím not sure if I want to get stuck on a boat with everyone for 5-days. [Laughs]

JAMIESON: Yeah, FASTER PUSSYCAT will be there, Iíll be there.

KNAC.COM: I might do it next year.

JAMIESON: Things go from ten in the morning till two in the morning. Itís just a great time. Especially for the cruisers, you know, you can find yourself in the pool next to John Bush from ARMORED SAINT, eating breakfast next to Kip Winger. I mean, does it get any dreamier than that.

KNAC.COM: So dreamy. I canít stand it. You are really selling me on this. I might have to stowaway.

JAMIESON: You could stay in one of FATSERís cabins. You could stay with Danny. Just donít put on a Budweiser shirt or heíll try to drink you.

KNAC.COM: Oh good lord. [Laughing]. I will say it is so good to see Taime sober and doing so well.

JAMIESON: You know, Iíve toured with them both ways. I toured with them when he was drinking and drugging and I toured with them when he was sober. I like both guys a lot, but I like the sober guy better. Just as a fan, he sounds a million times better, he looks better. If he wants to do FASTER for another ten or fifteen years, he can do it now. Heís much happier. Itís all good in that world.

KNAC.COM: Iím super happy for him and happy he got himself out of that. A lot of guys in this industry do not. I hope you have happy sailing, and that you do not own a Budweiser shirt. I know it was a long haul today, and I sure appreciate you taking the time.

JAMIESON: Thanks for your patience and I really, sincerely appreciate the support.

A big Thank you to Don.

For more info, please visit:
Don Jamieson/B> online:

http://www.donjamieson.com
https://twitter.com/realdonjamieson
https://www.facebook.com/donjamiesonofficial
https://www.instagram.com/donjamiesonofficial/


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