JACK STARR

\r\nLast Friday www.metalzone.gr had the pleasure of talking to one of the few lasting true metallers who are still Alive And Kicking and still amaze us and show us how much a young musician can learn through the experienced eyes of an 80s guitarist. We talked with former guitarist of Virgin Steele, Jack Starr, a guitarist a true star, by name but also by broadness of mind and talent. Jack talks about, his new album with Guardians Of The Flame which will be released in 6 months through Magic Circle, the differences in the new production by Joey DeMaio, the good old days, the metal scene today but also the possibility of reuniting with Virgin Steele or Jack Starr’s Burning Star! \r\n

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\r\nAt the other end of our line is a star, Jack Starr! Hello Jack, lets start from your current whereabouts, tell us a few things about your new album.
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\r\nJack: We started about two years ago and we’re almost finished with it, we’re going to … just to two more things with it. We’re gonna do the vocals and the lead guitar but everything else is done and it’s for the Magic Circle label.
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\r\nThe label of Manowar
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\r\nJack:
Yeah, label of Joey De Maio and Manowar and I think Rhapsody is on the label and couple of other bands.
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\r\nHoly Hell, etc. So is there any chance of seeing you in the Magic Circle festival in Germany among with them?
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\r\nJack:
Yes, well, this is what Joey has told me on last e-mail I got of him about three weeks ago. He basically said “Do not worry Jack” cause we wrote him an e-mail, we were like starting to say I’m not getting any younger and no one’s getting any younger and I’d like, you know, play in Europe and get this album done, you know. And he told me, he ensured me that the next festivals that we would be playing. So, I hope that this will happen, you know. I know Joey is a man of his word and he and Joey and Heinrich from Germany are the owners of this record label. And I think it’s gonna happen.
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\r\nWell, actually they’re planning a huge event as far as the Magic Circle festival because they’re going to play with a very low budget ticket. I think it’s going to be ten euro or something and they say that they are going to play all the Manowar albums so I guess it’s going to be crowded.
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\r\nJack: Yeah, I’m sure, I mean they have a lot of fans in Europe and so, yeah, I’d be happy to be a part of that. You know, just to play, it doesn’t have to be in a big place, it can be a small place. It doesn’t really matter. And sometimes I enjoy playing in small places better than a big place. I really do at times because very often in a big place it’s not personal for the band and you don’t have that communication.
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\r\nWith the fans.
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\r\nJack:
Right, exactly. So either way but I mean I have to believe for what Joey has told me and I don’t think he would lie to me, I think he is pretty sincere.
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\r\nSo, when do you feel that your next album will be out?
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\r\nJack:
I think in about… I think six… months. Ι have to finish the guitar and that can be done pretty soon and the vocals are almost all done. The songs sound good now but Joey… I don’t know if this is a problem… but the problem is… I don’t want to say the word problem. Forget I said the word problem, ok? The thing is Joey is a perfectionist. Now, I would have put the album out two years ago, I was ok with it. Joey’s standards are very, very high, everything has to be perfect. The recordings have to be in a certain way, the drums have to be perfect. I like things to sound good but I’m not a perfectionist. I don’t really care about that, I care more about the feeling. So the thing was when I talked to Joey about this… Jack, you’ve done it your way all the other times so why don’t you try it my way once. This was about two years ago and I said, you know what saying that anyway Joey told me, he said “Let’s try my way one time, let’s try my way and see what happens since you’ve tried it your way all the other times for all the twenty other albums that you did. So I said, you know what, let’s do it.
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\r\nThe way you say it, it’s as if he feels that there was something wrong with the twenty previous albums.
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\r\nJack:
The only thing that he felt was wrong and I agree with it is that they didn’t reach the number of people that would have been great to reach. And instead of being like a cult, you know, cult metal band, we could have become bigger if we have done certain things a little bit differently. So, I said, hey why not, we’ll try it your way. Because, you know, everybody would like more success, everybody wants that.
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\r\nYes, but you know, Manowar are receiving a lot of criticism for the way they’re making albums lately. Because what’s wrong it might be perfect sound-wise or production-wise or vocal-wise or playing-wise but the feeling is gone.
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\r\nJack: Right, ok. That’s the problem with a lot bands. Sometimes it becomes sterile, you know what I mean? And too antiseptic, too plain so I know what you are saying but I have done it the other way where there is a lot of spontaneity in the stuff that I’ve done but I was never able to get to the next level. The next level of course is to be like Manowar or Iron Maiden, you know all these bands that have a lot of big concerts, you know, and sell a lot of records and all that so it would be nice to get to another level, especially in my age, you know. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I believe what’s more important is to make good music. So, this is what I’m gonna do no matter what. If I do it, you know my way or the Magic Circle way. I mean I’m trying it their way because I do like a lot of the things that they’ve done. In terms of the quality and, you know, the quality is really big but I do understand what some criticism, some people might say, it does sound maybe a little too perfect. That’s the trade of, that’s kind of… you know sometimes in life it’s like both roads, it can have a good and a bad side. And because I’ve gone down the other roads for a long time it takes a lot of courage sometimes to say, you know, I’m gonna try this other path and see what happens.
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\r\nYes, but you don’t regret having walked the other way? I mean…
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\r\nJack:
Oh, no, I don’t regret it because I do get a lot of good feeling when I listen to the old stuff that I’ve done and when I talk to someone like yourself, you know, who remembers that and I talk to other younger metal fans so of course I don’t regret anything.
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\r\nDo you have any details to give me about your new album for example some song titles or some themes?
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\r\nJack: Yes, well, there are a couple of songs that I really, really like and one song in particular is a little bit about what we’re talking about just now. The song is called “Defiance” and I don’t know the exact translation in Greek but it means being … Do you know what the word means in English? What this means is, let’s say you have an enemy who is much bigger and stronger than you are and you know that you are going to die because there is a thousands of them outside your door and there is only one of you but you have decided that you are still gonna fight them. That quality in a human being is called defiance.
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\r\nSort of like courage.
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\r\nJack:
Exactly. But it’s more than courage. It’s insanity.
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\r\nAre you like that yourself? You have to be to write a song like that.
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\r\nJack:
A little bit like that, yes, sometimes I get to the point where I don’t care anymore. So I’m a little bit like that but as not as much as I was before but I definitely have a little bit of that.
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\r\nSo what other themes are there?
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\r\nJack:
That’s one song, another song is about, is called “Inquisitor”. And that’s about the Spanish Inquisition. The words to that song I think can be applied to anybody who is fanatical about their religion. Anybody whether it’s Christians or Moslems or Jews or anybody.
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\r\nWhat inspired you to write that?
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\r\nJack:
Well, what inspired me to write that is the fact that lately in the news I’m seeing that a lot of the problems in the world unfortunately have roots in religion.
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\r\nAnd the way it’s used.
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\r\nJack:
And the way it’s used. Exactly. Because the religion is often not bad, I don’t think anybody’s religion is necessarily evil but I think in the way that people apply it and the way they express themselves through it. So this song is about one of the examples in history when religion was used in a bad way.
\r\nAre you a religious man yourself?
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\r\nJack: No, no.
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\r\nSo that would give you a critical eye towards religion.
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\r\nJack:
A little bit, I’m a little bit critical, yes. I’m definitely a little bit critical but I don’t think it’s a bad thing for everybody, I think some people really need religion and I don’t like to speak you know in generalities, say this is bad, this is good, you know. I think there is good and bad in it but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of bad and so it worries me.
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\r\nDo you think it might be manipulated news? Probably it’s what the media want to make it appear like?
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\r\nJack:
Yes, that’s very, very possible, because the media is very powerful and the media can shape public opinion. So that’s one of the songs, “Defiance” is another song, I wrote a song about heavy metal in the 1980s, it’s called “The Spirit of ‘86” and it’s all about, you know, I guess the bands that I used to enjoy, you know, in the 80s and about how it was a good time and something that we should all be proud of.
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\r\nIt was a golden era.
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\r\nJack:
Yes, exactly, so I think it was like a love song to music, to music that I really, really enjoy and have been a part of so I have references to a lot of bands like, you know, references to Accept, to Metallica, to Manowar, to Raven, to Lemmy and it’s all in this song.
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\r\nSounds like a hymn.
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\r\nJack:
Yeah, it kind of is, exactly. So, another song is called “Day of The Ripper” which means kind of like day of judgment. This is kind of a funny story. I’ll just tell you real quickly how I got the title. Ripper means bringer of death, you know kind of like drawings you see with a man like a hood on his face and a big kinda like sword and represents death, well, that’s the Ripper. So, ”Day of the Ripper” I got this idea in 1988, this guy who is a fan of mine from Georgia he wrote me a letter and he said he really, really likes my music and he was talking about this other band called Virgin Steele and he said “You guys, I’m making a movie and I would like to use one of your songs cause we’re all high school kids, he was only seventeen years old, the guy that wrote me the letter. And he said, can we use one of your songs and the name of our movie is “Day of the Ripper” and it’s a horror movie, you know we’re doing this ourselves. And I said, yeah of course, feel free to use it and then about ten, fifteen years later I was thinking, wow, you know, that would be a great name for a song “Day Of The Ripper” and this guy he sent me a video cassette of the movie that he made.
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\r\nSo if he listens to the song now…
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\r\nJack:
I think he’ll be happy.
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\r\nI think he’ll be ecstatic.
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\r\nJack:
Yeah. And, you know, the funny thing is he didn’t become a movie maker, this was this kid’s dream, he wanted to be a movie maker but sometime people don’t follow their dreams so I think, you know, he probably just ended up, you know, getting married and you know being an account or whatever.
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\r\nYeah, I know with a day job.
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\r\nJack:
Exactly. But when he was a kid, this was his dream and he made this movie and he sent it to me so it’s pretty cool and I just like the title because it’s about, you know, like the day of judgment how people should be aware that whatever you do there’s a price that you have to pay. You know, whether you believe in God or you believe in karma or just the laws of the universe. I think that people pay a price when they do bad things and I think when they do good things.
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\r\nIt comes back to them.
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\r\nJack:
Yes, I really believe that. “Day of The Ripper”. But those are like some of the songs that I got behind the album and I do think this album could be one of the greatest albums in the history of metal or it could be one of the worst. I don’t know yet.
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\r\nThere’s no medium way to go.
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\r\nJack:
No, I think it will be really, really great or bad. Right now I’m thinking it’s gonna be really great but the mix is very, very important.
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\r\nWho is going to mix it?
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\r\nJack:
Ah, Joey. Joey is gonna mix it and also this guy from Germany that they work with, I forgot his name. If you look on some of the Manowar albums I think his name is on there but I forgot. I met him once and I forgot his name. Hopefully it’s gonna be good, if not then I just have to kill myself. I’m just kidding.
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\r\nOr you could just reunite Jack Star’s Burning Star.
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\r\nJack:
There you go.
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\r\nSo there is a reunion sort of trend going around, I mean At The Gates, Carcass, we hear about reunions all the time. Would you consider doing a reunion with Virgin Steele or Jack Star’s Burning Star?
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\r\nJack: Yes, I would either one it doesn’t matter. I would be up for it. With David would be a little bit harder because David likes to do everything his way, he’s got a very, very strong personality but if we could cooperate good, I certainly would be willing to do that with David and with Burning Star that might be easier because Mike Tirelli the singer is singing in a band from Germany, I think they are called Messiah’s Kiss. Have you heard of this band?
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\r\nYeah.
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\r\nJack: Ok. His manager I think is partners with Joey.
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\r\nSo there is a strong possibility of a reunion.
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\r\nJack: Yeah, that would be a lot easier, you know, to happen but you never know.
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\r\nThat would be a dream come true to your fans. You do know that.
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\r\nJack:
That would be great because Mike is a great singer \r\n

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\r\nBut I would be really, really glad if you reunited and I wouldn’t be the only one. I think they would be thousands to follow me in that.
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\r\nJack: I would rather hear a band that is bad, that plays horribly, that doesn’t play great guitar solos but if they sound unique, if they sound like themselves, you know like The Sex Pistols when they came out in 1977, they weren’t great musicians but they had a unique sound and it was very sincere, it was very guts. You know they had a lot of power so I admire anybody that has that kind of intensity and originality. There’s too many bands right now and I think this is what’s killing heavy metal. There’s like a million, million bands and 90% of them sound the same. So the ones that don’t sound the same I enjoy. Same thing with guitar players, just like a million guitar players that want to sound like Yngwie. Now it’s too much so simply why do they all want to sound like Yngwie, you know, it’s just unbelievable.
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\r\nI guess it’s a matter of vanity. Everybody wants to be great.
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\r\nJack: Right and Yngwie is great so they all want to sound like Yngwie but the problem is that there already is an Yngwie. He already exists so everybody that tries to sound like him…
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\r\nIt’s just a copy cut.
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\r\nJack: It’s a copy cut, right. Exactly, you know. I mean I try to sound just like Jack Star and sometimes it’s hard because then I have to learn my solos. I got pick my old cds, oh yeah this is what I did. But the funny thing is like my friend has a 15 years old son and when I moved to Florida I gave one of my cds to my friend and his son learned how to play every song on “Under A Savage Sky”, note for note. I couldn’t believe it and I was like shocked, like how did he do it but what shocked me Helenna is that I can’t do it. I can’t play my own album note for note. It’s no way, I could live to be a thousand years old and I would never able to do it because 60% or 70% of that album I did spontaneously. Do you know what I’m trying to say? I did it off the cuff, I didn’t plan it. So when I play to old songs a lot of it is spontaneous, now when I play them, you know. Like when I do the main riffs of the song but then what happens is when I do a solo, it’s not gonna be, you know…
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\r\nThe same.
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\r\nJack: Yeah, it’s gonna a little bit like it but it’s not gonna be the same.
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\r\nWell, you know as time passes and you have more and more experience, it’s only natural that you can’t play the way you played when you were younger and inexperienced. It’s just a matter of experience now. Because with experience comes skill and with skill comes more complex way of playing, I think.
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\r\nJack: Yeah, I think you are 100% right. And I will tell you something funny like when I was reading this thing about Jimmy Page and he was judging a contest in England where these guitar players were all playing Led Jeppelin songs, you know, and this guy won and he was like a younger guy maybe like 17 or 18 years old and he played one of the Led Jeppelin songs perfectly and then Jimmy Page had to give him the price cause he won a brand new Gibson Les Paul and then Jimmy Page said you played the song closer than I’ve ever played it in the last 30 years. And I knew exactly what he meant. Because this was same thing with me, you know. And I just thought that was very funny.
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\r\nIndeed. So, tell me how do you see the metal scene these days with all these genres around? Do you like the music in nowadays because you kind of told me in a rough way that you think that most bands sound alike. But how do you fell about the different genres, I mean nu metal, core metal, death metal, black metal, I don’t know there is a sort of metal for everything.
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\r\nJack: Yes, I think, you know what, I do think there are good bands in every style of metal. I think there are some great doom metal bands, you know, like Pentagram, you know what I mean the doomed sound. I think there’s some great gothic sounding bands like in the Nightwish kind of, Epica kind of sound, you know, I think there’s great even trash metal bands, you know, I don’t know like Hirax, remember them? And bands like that and then as far as regular metal bands kind of like what I like to play I think there are some great bands that are doing that right now as we speak. One of them I think is Edguy. Great, great band also I think Camelot it’s a pretty good band, they’re from Florida. I think Virgin Steele could be a great band, they could be but they are not but they are almost there. I don’t know there is, you know, there is a lot of these guys. I mean … there is always gonna be a great band. Metallica is a great band.
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\r\nDid you like their latest? Because it was really diverse.
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\r\nJack: No, I hated it. No I mean I like the Black album and Master of Puppets and probably the Ride The Lightning maybe that’s about it so as far as the new bands today there is really… I don’t know all these new bands, you know what I mean so I’m sure that there are some great, great bands.
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\r\nWell, you know I feel that I’m a little bit concerned about that because I can see bands like Iron Maiden go out for a tour, Wasp go out for a tour or Metallica and I’m thinking isn’t it a young band that top them, can equal them?
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\r\nJack: Right. I don’t know, maybe but maybe it’s gonna take a few more years for them to, you know, to…
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\r\nDevelop?
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\r\nJack: Yeah, to develop exactly. Get stronger and more confident, write better songs and do all that kind of stuff, you know. Right now I don’t think there is. Do you?
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\r\nNo, to tell you the truth I’m sort of disappointed in that way because I feel that if the older bands stop playing there aren’t great bands. There are all medium, I don’t feel that there is a band that can go over the hills, you know?
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\r\nJack: No, I think you are right. And there is no singers to me like Ronnie James Dio or like Bruce Dickinson or even like my old singer that died right Rhett Forrester, I don’t even see that good around now. Do you remember Rhett?
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\r\nAh, yeap, I do.
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\r\nJack:
“Out of the darkness”, he was a great singer. So I don’t see these kind of singers right now, you know, too many of these, there are better as good as that.
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\r\nSo, let’s go back into your past. Your course in the metal scene began in 1982 with Virgin Steele. Do you feel that nowadays after 25 years you are a legend in metal or do you feel that you haven’t been recognized over the years?
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\r\nJack: You know most of the time I feel that I haven’t been recognized and then every time I start thinking like that then something happens to make me think the other way but it’s kinda crazy. I mean like I have a little bit of boths.
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\r\nAnd there is a question about Guardians Of The Flame, your latest release under Seventh Sky in 2003 was a title from the second Virgin Steele album you participated. How come?
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\r\nJack: Well, at the time when I put that album out I was looking for a name for the band, you know, and people were saying, you know, it should have to do something with Virgin Steele because you were the guitar player of the band and this will help make the album more known so then I was thinking why not. I wrote that song “Guardians Of The Flame” and I came up with the concept but more importantly I like the concept of “Guardians Of The Flame” because it was saying something about how I felt about the music which is at the music what it should be preserved. The music was like a flame and that there should be guardians, there should be people like myself so that they believe in the music that want to keep it alive. So I thought it was a good title because it made sense to me.
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\r\nDo you have any bitter memories from your course in metal?
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\r\nJack: Bitter memories, ok. Well, you know, yeah a lot of them but you know I forget them real quickly. I’m the kind of person that I can’t stay mad at somebody more than one day.
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\r\nI have the exact same problem.
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\r\nJack:
Ok. So that’s bad because I forget about it and I say it doesn’t matter, yeah, this person didn’t show up on our biggest performance or this person called up the record company and said bad things that I said and then a day later I forgot, you know. Or this one did this or this one tried to be with my girlfriend, I don’t keep grudges. Do you know the word grudge?
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\r\nYeah, I do.
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\r\nJack:
Yeah, I don’t keep grudges, so I do have bitter memories but honestly it doesn’t bother me.
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\r\nOk. I wanted to ask you to define metal, you know being the person you are and having had the career you had I feel like I’m talking to one of the guardians of the flame so I would like you to give me a definition of metal because over the years and over the changes it’s gotten sometimes we get confused on what is metal.
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\r\nJack: Exactly. I like to do one thing before I define it with words, I’m gonna pick up my guitar and I’m gonna play a riff and I’m gonna say this is metal. That’s metal!
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\r\nThat’s the greatest definition ever.
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\r\nJack:
Thank you, but I was in my room and my guitar was right there and for that just let me pick it up and play something but metal. Ok. Forget that. Metal is to me it’s just music with intensity.
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\r\nSo how about bands like Linking Park?
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\r\nJack:
Very good. Good metal.
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\r\nOk. Don’t you feel that they are more rock and less metal? Do you feel there is a line between the two?
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\r\nJack: Yeah, they are probably more rock but they play with a lot of strength, they have a lot of conviction. Metallica live is metal, they play with tremendous conviction. Some of their records are awful but live they are just tremendous. The Scorpions live are great with a lot of conviction, a lot of power, a lot of intensity. I think that metal to me it just means intensity. Playing from your heart, playing, you know, strong.
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\r\nWith guts.
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\r\nJack:
With guts, yes. Manowar live is metal.
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\r\nYou can say that again.
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\r\nJack: Yeah. Manowar is definitely, you know, I mean it’s great and I think that I do that when I play guitar. I play sometimes like, I just turn everything up and just play and I just go for broke. It’s just like not even worrying about the notes that I’m playing. The notes will take care of themselves. I’m just worrying about nothing. I’m just putting it out there. And that’s a great thing to me is to be able to do that not trying to, you know, be like Dream Theatre or Rush or these bands that have a million little riffs to play, you know. All these crazy stuff, it’s not what I wanna do. So, yes, I do love metal and same reason I love blues music because in blues just like metal you can really express stuff of your heart. You know like Stevie Ray Vaughan and people like that, Jimmy Hentrix and all that, you know.
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\r\nThe question just popped up into mind by the way you are talking. Are you self-taught?
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\r\nJack: Yes, of course. Totally self-taught. I don’t really know a lot of musical theory. Sometimes I amaze myself by how little I know.
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\r\nDo you think the more a musician knows the less feeling he has?
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\r\nJack: Yes, that is so, so true. You know the problem is knowledge is a great thing but it can also enslave you. Because then you feel that you have to do everything with the rules that you’ve learned. So there is a lot of rules in music and regimentation and discipline and a lot of times when you obey all these rules and everything. It’s different, the music sounds different than people that don’t know the rules like Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Hentrix or Jeff Beck or George Harrison none of these guys really could read or write music and it just goes on and on but today what’s happening is most of the young guitar players that are learning how to play it’s very, very important to them to read and write music and to learn all the skills and all the modes and you know the ones who listen to like Yngwie, all those people they want to be able to play like that so they want to learn all the arpeggios and all the classical. I hate all that, I find it boring and it’s not just me you know. I just listen to all different types of music and I’ve been playing so long that it’s kind of like if you’re… if you put a monkey in front of a type writer or in front of a computer eventually he’s gonna type great books because he’s just there, you know, doing it. I feel that I play now very, very technical but I do it without knowing why I do it. So, then, you know, I’m not in a prison.
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\r\nYeah, I see what you mean.
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\r\nJack:
And sometimes like even if I hit a wrong note I’m happy. I go ok, this is cool, I like this note.
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\r\nDo you feel that’s partly the reason why there isn’t this feeling of rebellion in today’s music like it was back in the 80s?
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\r\nJack: Yes, that’s 100% true. Exactly, because the people playing this music don’t have that spirit, they don’t have a rebellious spirit. So, it’s not gonna get reflected in their music. There’s no Jimmy Hentrixes today, that’s for sure.
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\r\nSo you are not optimistic about having a sort of renaissance of the 80s.
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\r\nJack: No. I’m. I’m optimistic because this is what I feel that, because of the fact that I’m from the old school, I think that it makes me more and more desirable. Because there’s less of me now, there’s less people like me that are still doing that. And people are fascinating, especially younger people. It’s almost like looking at a dinosaur through a microscope. You know, let me look at this dinosaur, so this is how the dinosaur lived and this is where the dinosaur played and these were the dinosaur’s friends and wait the dinosaur made music. So it’s kind of fun I think and not only it’s fun but I think it’s a good lesson, you know, for a lot of young people in order to come out and see how I approach music, you know, and then maybe too it will have an impact. Cause I see that happen with really young people, I mean I’m talking about guitar players that are like nine years old. I know from little kids that play guitar in my town and I think it might change again because like I see… I see sometimes, my friend has a guitar store, you know, and I see sometimes and I really like little kids that go into the store and they aren’t concerned with rules. They’ll just grab the coolest looking guitar and start to play and make noise and I think they should be encouraged. You know, so hopefully and this is what I believe about education too that if you ask a young person, you know, like a four year old person draw me a picture of an airplane or draw me a picture of a car they will do it. Now if you ask the same person fourteen years later when the person is 28 years old draw me a picture of an airplane, draw me your car they gonna say no, I don’t know how to do that. Because education has sabotaged them, because their minds were open before education and they weren’t worried about any of the rules, they would track it up. Same when you say someone make up a song and they are very, very young and they are only been playing a violin like two months, they’ll go, ok. Here it is, here is my song or here is my painting, you know. And then I think the more people learn the more they become afraid to say here is my song or here is my painting or whatever.
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\r\nI’m stunned.
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\r\nJack:
Really, why?
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\r\nBecause I’ve never thought of that aspect, ever before and it’s so true, so scarily true.
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\r\nJack: Yeah, I’ve always worried about the impact of education that maybe education has to be changed so that it honors the creativity in people and doesn’t try to stamp it up.
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\r\nWell, there’s always going to be the argument that if you don’t learn the basics from your predecessors then how are you gonna take it a step further?
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\r\nJack: Right, exactly. Well, that’s why there has to be a compromise and education has to acknowledge the creativity in individuals but of course basics should be taught too but I think that it can’t be engraved in stone even the basics. Because the basics that one person says it’s the basics today might not be the basics tomorrow or maybe they weren’t the basics three hundred years ago or hundred years ago. So I mean it shouldn’t be written in stone about anything and that’s what I try to do. You know not worry so much about making everybody happy. I just try to do what I got to do. Like a kind of grief be happy.
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\r\nWould you consider being a teacher of music?
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\r\nJack:
Well, I did that. I did that for about a year and it was ok. And I enjoyed it. I did that for about a year. I did that but was bothering me was the parents. The parents went, oh how come you didn’t teach my son how to play this thing or how come he doesn’t know how to do this and that was because I’m teaching them what I think is important. The problem is, it’s too much control and not enough self expression so I like teaching if you can teach what you want to teach but I don’t really like teaching anyway. I really just like playing. Really what I want to get out there, play and feel empowered. Do you know what I mean?
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\r\nI haven’t lain in front of an audience, no. I can relate to the feeling, I’ve seen what it does to the artists. I see their acceleration that they experience but I can’t really tell.
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\r\nJack: That’s what it is. It’s really a good feeling and I recommended it definitely. Good thing.
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\r\nOk. So last question is what are your expectations for the future? Do you feel that you’re still productive, do you feel that there is more steps to climb?
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\r\nJack: Yes, I really do. I feel that the album that we made in 2003 was a great album. I listened to it again and I really, really like that album. I really do. And I feel that I can do better than that but I just have to do it. I have to do it. And I wanna do it and the songs are written are about 80% done.
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\r\nBut you have to be perfect this time.
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\r\nJack:
Yeah, not cause I wanna be perfect.
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\r\nI know because your producer wants to.
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\r\nJack: Yeah, exactly. And I don’t know, we’ll see and maybe perfection isn’t for me, you know. Maybe it’s for bands like Holy Hell and Manowar and Rammstein and bands like that, you know. Maybe I should be more somebody else, Jack Starr maybe, I don’t know. But we’ll see what happens, I mean I’m gonna try to do this album and I’m gonna see. And the other thing too is that I’m doing something different on this album. I’ll just say it real quickly. Most of the bands today they tune the guitars low. Do you know what I mean? The tuning, it’s like, instead of like being regular tuning. So when I met Joey four years ago, you know, I went to visit him a couple of times and we hung out together for a couple of weeks and then I went back and we hung out more and we talked and everything. One of the things that were very, very important to Joey was that I sound low. So, I said “I don’t know, I’ve never played like that before” and Joey said “Trust me. You’re gonna like it. So this is what are things that we’re doing on this record that I’ve never done before on any album. I’ve never played low. And I’m gonna show you what I mean by low. I’m picking up a different guitar now, ok?
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\r\nOk.
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\r\nJack: This is my low guitar. That’s the low one. Did you hear that sound lower?
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\r\nYes, it has more vastness.
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\r\nJack: And I never did that before. So this is gonna be something different for me too, you know. And all the rest we did they sound like this. You see it’s very low sounding. And now I’ll say the difference, hold on. I mean I’ll switch guitars and now you’re gonna hear the guitar that I played on the other twenty albums. See it’s like higher? So that is gonna be the difference. One of the differences. I’m really trying something different with this album.
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\r\nYou know when someone is on diet and he sees the perfect chocolate in front of him but he can’t have it, you know the feeling? That’s what you just did.
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\r\nJack: Oh, that’s so cool, that’s great. I shall try to make a point that…
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\r\nYou made it loud and clear.
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\r\nJack:
But you did hear the difference between the two sounds?
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\r\nYes, I did. You torture.
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\r\nJack:
And the low sound is most of the music today, am I right?
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\r\nWell, I’m not playing the guitar but it does sound more familiar to nowadays sound. And you know when you picked up your other guitar, not the low one, the other one it sounded more of like ‘80s sound and the other one sounded more of like today’s sound.
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\r\nJack: Exactly and I think that that is what Magic Circle and Joey and everybody basically said to me, they said, you tried it the other way, you did good, you know, they were never critical cause Joey he told me: The reason why we want you on the label is cause we respect what you’ve done, you know. We like everything you’ve done and all that but we want you to try something different. So I said, ok. Let’s try it. And this is what it’s gonna happen on this album and I listen to some of the guitar stuff cause now we’re recording what this new sound is. I’m used to it now, I kinda like it actually. But I do wanna come to Greece and I really loved that and I hope that this is what ‘s gonna happen because it’s time.
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\r\nWe hope so too.
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\r\nJack:
And it makes me feel good really that people like yourself…
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\r\nWell, here your albums are like monuments, you know?
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\r\nJack: You’re kidding me. It’s so strange because, you see, where I live in Florida nobody knows anything about any of the metal except … the only metal bands that people have heard of in Florida would be if they are into death metal, maybe they’ve heard of like maybe, you know, some of the big death metal bands but nobody is heard of Manowar .
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\r\nIt’s a whole different thing in Europe and especially in Greece there is a big fan base for your music and classic bands.
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\r\nJack: That’s unbelievable. You know, it almost makes me feel like moving to Greece or Italy or one of those countries. And I got an e-mail from Germany yesterday, this guy wanted to know where he could get every cd of everything I’ve done and I told him where to get them but it was weird because in Florida where I live, I don’t think that anybody knows that I played metal before. If I play them something, you know, it’s like, what is this. They are like amazed, you know. And then if I play them Manowar they go, how is this possible and I show them the dvd. The dvd, you know, have them play in front of a lot of people. Wow, that’s weird I’ve never heard of them. I say no they are really big in Europe.
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\r\nIt sounds so strange as if you are talking to aliens.
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\r\nJack: Right but the people that they like here just suck horrible like, you know, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and they like hip-hop music.
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\r\nYeah, I don’t know what the hell is up with this R&B stuff and hip-hop.
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\r\nJack: Oh, I hate it.
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\r\nThat makes two of us.
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\r\nJack: Ok, good. I cannot say but it’s big here but I’m so happy to know that people in Greece and in Europe still like heavy metal. It is thrilling to me to know that. You’ve no idea how great it is.
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\r\nWell, that’s the truth. Jack I was wondering one last thing. Is Starr your true last name?
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\r\nJack: Yes, this is.
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\r\nYou were born a star?
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\r\nJack: I was born a Starr because this have been my family name. Starr. Now this has been a name for hundreds and hundreds of years.
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\r\nThis is a name for a career.
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\r\nJack: I know but my real first name is not Jack. It’s Jacques.
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\r\nSounds more French.
\r\n
\r\nJack:
Right. And this is where I was born and then I came to America when I was ten years old. So this is in my story the fact that I’ve lived in America almost my whole life but I was born in France. Dad who’s an American, met my mother in France and so that explains you know why I have the two nationalities.
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\r\nSo, send a message out to our listeners.
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\r\nJack: So, this is Metalzone. Well, I just wanna say, keep the metal burning. This is Jack Starr and Metalzone rocks! \r\n

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\r\nListen to the interview in streaming audio \r\n

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\r\nHellena Michailidou+Vaso Prasa \r\n

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