Interviewed By Dave Palmer
A while back we interviewed Todd from Judge Jackson on alot of things including their album 'One Diamond' and more. With the bands new album on the horizon and the band coming back through the area, I decided to get back with Todd and discuss a few things. We took a look at the new music, the constant touring the band does among other things. Without further ado, this is how it went down...
Heavy Metal Resource: Hey Todd, good to talk again!
Todd McTavish: Hey.
H.M.R. : I wanted to start off by asking about the recent gig you did in Las Vegas. Where did you play at and how did it go?
T. McTavish: We played at the House of Blues. Did a set of 9 songs, all unplugged. Those are some of my favorite gigs actually. It was a fantastic show and I can't wait to get back there next time. That was our introduction to that particular club in Vegas.
H.M.R. : So how many acoustic sets do you play versus the live plugged in stuff?
T. McTavish: At times we've done alot of acoustic stuff in the past. I always refer to it as the sit down and the stand up. I really enjoy both, but I think I enjoy the unplugged stuff the most.
H.M.R. : I definitely wanna look at the new album. First off, do you have a title yet?
T. McTavish: Yes we do. It's gonna be self titled. Judge Jackson-Judge Jackson. It's the rebirth with JJ Garcia. It's definitely a fresh start. For industry purposes or what not, we just feel it will be more to the point.
H.M.R. : Now at the time of this interview it is rumored that the album is just about done.
T. McTavish: Yeah, it's in the can. Final mixes are going down. We are gonna wrap that up and finish the packaging and get it out there.
H.M.R. : What are we looking at for a date?
T. McTavish: October.
H.M.R. : Definitely have to ask about distribution. Are you staying small or trying for much wider coverage?
T. McTavish: Well, we already at the small level with stuff like CD Baby, but we are looking for bigger which is obviously the next step up for us. JJ has mentioned a bit about that next step of distribution. I don't know exactly what is going to happen, but I know something will. God bless CD Baby.com though. At least we know with them it is out there.
H.M.R : Have you had good luck with sales on CD Baby so far?
T. McTavish: Yeah, and they are Sound Scan so it's great. They have paid us thousands of dollars. It's been great. We love CD Baby.
H.M.R. : As you played your sets last night at the gig you mentioned some of the subjects that have inspired some of the music. Give us a little inside on some of it.
T. McTavish: There is a song called 'Lift the Bottle' about a Vietnam vet. It's recognition of the fallen soldiers who don't make it home after wars. Lyrically it's about faith and hope. Songs like 'Stand Up' that's about getting up if you've been knocked down. 'Hold my Hand' is just the reassuring of faith. I need someone to believe in me, just hold my hand. 'With You' is another tracks that is going to be on there. It will be the 'Amazing' of this album. It's a feel good song. Listen to it and hopefully you will feel good.
H.M.R. : As far as the tempo of this album overall, I am definitely curious.
T. McTavish: The album is balanced. We don't stray too much from those 'Amazing' & 'Times Been Changin' tones from 'One Diamond'. There is that kind of content on there. Also there is 'Grin' which is comparable to 'King'. There is a tune called 'Rock 'n' Roll' which is comparable to 'Roll' on 'One Diamond'. So it's balanced. There are definitely some rockers, but there are also those easy listening moments as well that your mama will like too.
H.M.R. : Last Night you mentioned a track that might make a movie soundtrack. While we won't mention names at this point due to things not being completely done, I did want you to mention some of the licensing that the band has done up this point.
T. McTavish: The movie is not a sure thing yet so we'll leave that alone for now. When you throw things out at a show like the fact that the song we were playing was in "My Name is Earl', it gets attention. All of the sudden people are paying attention to what you are doing. Sometimes I might do that. I might mention what a song is involved with that we are doing in some of these bars and people aren't paying much attention before I do. After it is mentioned you can't get out of there because you are being mobbed and are being treated like rock stars. This business is built on perception and hype and buzz. Sometimes you hear all of this buzz about a band and that's all it is when you see them because they don't have it going. That's what it is all about though. You want to use any hype that you can about something that you might have going on or have going on to let that crowd know and they might start perceiving you differently.
H.M.R. : How many tracks can we expect from the new album?
T. McTavish: Ten straight up. No covers, all originals.
H.M.R. : Ok, cool. Be excited to hear it for sure at this point. I was curious. Last time I saw you live you opened up with 'King' which really grabs attention in a hurry. Last night it was a bit different. I viewed it as the band gauging the crowd. You don't really know what is going to work at each show, but that seemed to work well.
T. McTavish: That's well said. Sometimes when you go into a bar, you don't wanna blow people out of their chairs with 'King' right away. They might not like you right off the bat for that. So sometimes we'll do 'Amazing' and start warming them up into what is going on. Now if you go into Sturgis which is what we are going to play, and the place is packed right from the start and people are ready to rock, we'll drop it with 'King' right off the bat. Sometimes we won't even be playing mellow tunes at these shows. Sometimes there is just hard energy all the way through. In smaller rooms where the crowd may not be all into it, we'll play mellower stuff.
H.M.R. : The last couple of times I have seen you play live, you pulled that off the same way. You started mellow and built into more of a frenzy. The crowd was nuts by the end of last nights show. I'd have to say that you guys as a band gauge very well.
T. McTavish: Thank you. We do have that ability due to the fact that we have been around for awhile. We have all of these tunes of our own and a good batch of covers so we can do whatever you want. If you wanna hear a cover set, then we'll play a cover set. If it's originals, then we'll play just originals. If you wanna pay us and want to hear a cover then an original and another cover all the way down the set, we'll do that as well. If it's a mellow crowd, we'll sit down and play a complete unplugged night. If they are rowdy, we won't sit down at all. We just gauge the crowd and give them what they want.
H.M.R. : I wanted to look at something that I feel is important at this point. With the bands chemistry going great and the album in the can, I wanted to have you give the readers an idea of what is coming up in the near future for the band.
T. McTavish: Well, we have the three shows at Sturgis coming up this week. That will be really exciting, just the energy of the whole thing. When we get back, we have a show at B.B. Kings at Universal Center. Then it's time to get the record finished up. Get it done with the final mixes. Get that all happening. Early September we start the Nascar promotion. We are going to be doing some shows down at the race in Fontana on Labor Day weekend. Fox television is coming down with us to film us. We are going to do some private parties for the Nascar community which they are filming and they are gonna make a video that is going to be on Speed channel with us and Nascar which is 'I am the Man' which originally is 'I am the King'. You really can't buy promotion like that at our level. We are totally stoked. That is really good because that is going to be a national campaign. We are doing a bunch of charity events in September as well. We're playing an event for AA. We're also playing an event for Ride On Therapy, a horse rancho in Chatsworth, California that accommodate autistic kids working on horses therapy. We played one show for them which was a total success. Now they have invited us to another fundraiser they are going to be doing. October rolls around and we go to Lake Havasu the first week for the Lake Havafest rockfest or whatever they are calling it. We have the pleasure of opening up for the Black Crowes. I think we are playing three shows out there. The first show is on the main stage and the next two are on the side stage. On the main stage I believe we start the whole show off. On that gig there are four bands. There will be The Doobie Brothers, Govt. Mule, and Cheap Trick. We are opening up for those guys. Then I think it's The Black Crowes the next day. We are just stoked to even be in the same breath as some of these guys.
H.M.R. : It's definitely a compliment, but at the same time it's showing that all of your hard work is really starting to pay off. The band is starting to hit these plateaus that alot of bands want and don't get.
T. McTavish: Yeah, who doesn't want to be a rockstar. The thing that they don't tell you is that it might take a while. It also may never even happen at all. So many things have to come into alignment. Good songs don't just fall out of the sky, you gotta write 'em. It's not just all flashbulbs and autographs, let's just put it that way. If you think it is all that, you are going to be sadly mistaken.
H.M.R. : Getting back to the new album, what alot of new people to the band may not realize is that this is actually going to be the bands fourth album. 'One Diamond' is pretty readily available at this point and in time, the new album will be as well. Do you have any plans at this point to go backwards and maybe reissue the first two albums or are there going to be some legalities that may make that a problem?
T. McTavish: We started selling them and started printing them up ourselves with both records on one record called 'The Junkyard Years'. We probably won't ever slap a barcode on them and you probably won't ever be able to get them online or in record stores. It will be more of a collector's item. Yeah, we had two records before 'One Diamond' and for our hardcore fans now, those records obviously hold alot of weight to them...they love it. They want us to play songs off of those records at our shows. Obviously we are pushing stuff off of 'One Diamond' and the new album alot more right now, but we'll always try to throw one or two songs in from the old batch. It will probably be something that you will be able to buy at our live shows.
H.M.R. : In wrapping things up here, I did want to mention that some of the promotional things such as the NHL Hockey promotion video can be found at the bands website. I'm sure that the new stuff will be put up as well with the Nascar stuff?
T.McTavish: Oh yeah, you can be sure of that. You can about imagine with me being Canadian how excited I was about the NHL stuff. People pick up the Stanley Cup and hear my voice in the background, I mean c'mon. It just gives me chills.
H.M.R. : There really is no doubt how cool that really is. To think of something that you personally created being used on that grand of a scale is just amazing. Also, we talked a bit about the 'My Name is Earl' thing, but is there anything else out there from a licensing standpoint that you can mention at this point?
T. McTavish: There are alot of irons in the fire right now. I just don't want to get too carried away with things. Sometimes I get jinxed with things like that, so I just like to keep it under the radar. With the Nascar thing, it's going on as we speak and the other two things are already done and gone. You could turn on the TV tomorrow on Speed Channel and you'll hear our song on there. So until it really happens, you don't want to get too carried away with bragging about it. Until the checks in the mail and in your hands, it ain't signed.
H.M.R. : In closing, is there anything you wanna add that we may not have covered?
T. McTavish: Just that we are more happy now as a unit in the band with the four of us. It's a pleasure to play rock 'n' roll. It's fun being in a rock 'n' roll band. We are just enjoying ourselves. As little validational points come our way, steps come our way, this is a fun industry to be in especially if things start developing into good things. It's even fun to be in this from a fans perspective, but when you are the band up on the stage and things are starting to happen, it's an exciting industry to be in. Things are good and we are really happy and blessed that we have been given the opportunity to all come together. The chemistry seems to be there. It is amazing. It's amazing that the four of us have come together from different parts of North America. We have got the compass traveled. East, West, North and South. We've got somebody from California, West Coast. Somebody from Texas, down South. Somebody from Indiana toward the east and then we have me from Canada up North. We are definitely balanced in terms of direction. One Diamond...all points on the compass.
H.M.R. : That's definitely an interesting take on that.
T. McTavish: Somebody pointed that out to me the other day. I had never thought of it that way. I like it. You can also here the influences in the music from those areas which is cool. We sound overall like a Midwest band which is cool because that is where we go over best!
H.M.R. : Alright, sounds great. That's about it. Thanks for taking the time with me again Todd, it was fun!
T. McTavish: Thanks Dave, I do appreciate it!