Interviewee: Icky Jim
Label: EMG/Universal Music
Featured on: Loucifer Speaks Exclusive... So far!
MySpace is once again responsible for throwing another band into my direction - The Fifth. The Fifth seem to be hurtling into the public awareness through the use of their music on various TV ads (we'll get to that in a bit) and from good old fashioned hard work. Here's what Icky Jim had to say...
Lou: Hey Icky, thanks for agreeing to this interview - sorry it's taken a while to get these questions to you! How's things?
Icky Jim: Hey Lou! Things are great... busy. We recently signed with Fused Management, which led to us signing a deal with EMG/Universal. Our single "The Gift" is on the radio, and we just finished shooting a video for it. We also just did a killer photoshoot at a strip club in NC called Secrets Cabaret. Lots of strippers, lots of alcohol... and one hell of a hangover.
Lou: I know this is probably the question that every musician hates, but... How would you describe your music?
Icky Jim: Our stuff is basically heavy modern radio-friendly hard rock with flavors of the old school sprinkled here and there. We often get compared to bands like Shinedown, Alter Bridge, Godsmack, etc.
Lou: Which individual musicians have influenced you personally?
Icky Jim: KISS and Ozzy's guitarists got me into playing when I was a kid. I've always loved Dead Moon for their DIY code of conduct. Dimebag, Slash, James Hetfield, Johnny Ramone, Jerry Cantrell... I'm a big Veruca Salt fan, especially Nina Gordon. The first few Slayer albums were huge for me. Fear and Big Drill Car were also bands I listened to alot. Right now I'm listening to Black Label Society, Three Days Grace, and alot of black metal bands.
Lou: What was the first album you ever bought?
Icky Jim: KISS Alive II
Lou: What was the first guitar you ever bought? Do you still have it?
Icky Jim: I bought a Hohner copy of a Fender Telecaster when I was around 12 or 13. I pawned it a couple years later to buy weed. Then a few years later I went to jam with some guys and the other guitar player actually was playing that guitar! How odd is that?
Lou: Which guitar do you favour?
Icky Jim: Gibson Les Pauls are what I mainly use. Gibson guitars in general are my true love. I just got a Schecter S-1 that has a full mirror top, so I'm really digging that right now also. Its full-on sexy.
Lou: Do you have any tips for any aspiring guitarists?
Icky Jim: Keep practicing, I promise it will get you laid. Guitar Hero and Rock Band won't!
Lou: Do The Fifth have any tabs available online? It would be cool to jam along with the CD (yes, I am planning on buying it - listening to Reverbnation is cool, but I want more dammit! lol)...
Icky Jim: I get alot of emails about that, guys asking for TABS for certain songs. I haven't transcribed anything yet, but I'll get to work on it soon. So email the band and let me know which song(s) you want first!
Lou: Before checking out The Fifth on MySpace, I have to admit that I'd not listened to you before, but it seems like you've been involved with some pretty cool stuff - including sharing the stage with a host of big name bands (Staind, 3 Days Grace, Black Stone Cherry, etc). Which band did you most enjoy gigging with?
Icky Jim: Sevendust were a very cool band. CC DeVille was incredibly nice and really is a killer guitarist. Of the other bands, sometimes we don't have time to catch their show, we end up hanging with fans, talking and signing stuff, taking photos, drinking, etc. I'm still pissed about missing Three Days Grace's set when we played with them. I was busy raising Hell about someone robbing our beer cooler.
Lou: Are there any bands out there that you'd like to tour with, but haven't had the chance to?
Icky Jim: Fuck yes, plenty. Personally, I think something like a Cruefest would work well for The Fifth. We have alot in common with bands like Motley, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, etc. But we can also hold our own with heavier bands like Sevendust and Godsmack. My ultimate tour would most likely involve Black Label Society. Zakk is God and the beer would flow with ferocity.
Lou: What can we expect from a gig from The Fifth?
Icky Jim: A party. Energy, sweat, booze, and fun. We don't much care to just play for the crowd, its more about sharing the experience with them, partying with them. There's nothing more fun than a crowd of sweaty people singing songs together, ya know? It's never about just us, its about ALL of us sharing in the moment. We wanna send you home with a smile on your face knowing that you just went to a killer party.
Lou: Do you have any funny stories from being on the road with The Fifth?
Icky Jim: Well they all seem to involve Jagermeister and me being naked. I've been in clubs we've played before, and the owner will walk up to me and say something like, "Icky, you're going to keep your pants on tonight, right? Are you gonna behave?" I got in trouble a few months back for being outside after our show, with my dick out, jumping on cars and fucking their windshields as they left the venue. Jagermeister is the Devil. One of our crew guys usually gets assigned to stay with me at all times to keep me out of trouble. They call it "icky patrol". I've gotten pretty good at losing them though, just long enough to sneak away for another shot.
Lou: Do you have any plans to tour the UK?
Icky Jim: Yes. We toured Japan last year, now we're talking about the UK for our next tour. We'll see what happens over the next few months.
Lou: Your songs have also been featured on a few TV ads, how does it feel to know that your music is reaching thousands (well, millions!) of people that probably wouldn't get to hear it otherwise?
Icky Jim: Its been an amazing thing. The Gray's Anatomy TV commercial aired for over 18 million viewers the first time. The Dodge Ram commercials were also very cool, awesome exposure for the band. We've worked very hard as a band for a long time, so its killer to see things beginning to pay off.
Lou: How did The Fifth get involved in those ad campaigns?
Icky Jim: That's a question for our singer, Roy Cathey. He's got some connections in Los Angeles. Oddly though, we didn't know about the Dodge Ram commercials ahead of time. Our bass player, B-Man, was at home watching TV when the commercial aired and he heard our song playing. He backed it up on Tivo to make sure it was The Fifth, and sure enough it was. So he called each of us on the phone to let us know. It was a trip, very exciting.
Lou: What's the deal with Monster Energy?
Icky Jim: We were approached by a couple of Monster Energy reps at a recent show we did for Harley Davidson. Apparently they had discussed The Fifth in recent meetings and had wanted to get involved with the band as a sponsor. So we set up a meeting with Monster rep Matt Wise, and Roy and I went in, listened to what Matt had to say, discussed our interests, and we made a deal to bring Monster Energy on board as an official sponsor of the band. We couldn't be happier. Did you know there are over 200 mixed drinks you can make with Monster? And the Monster Energy girls who appear at our shows are fucking HOT!
Lou: You seem to be catching the eye of various sponsors and companies willing to endorse you... If you could be sponsored by any beer (or other beverage!) which one would it be? Hey, you never know, they might read this!
Icky Jim: I heard last week that we are talking with Jagermeister, so we'll see what happens there. Other than that, I drink the shit out of Bud Light. I mean, Heineken has been a long-time favorite of mine, but I can drink a shit ton more Bud Light over the course of the night. Quality vs. quantity... its a decision everyone needs to make for themselves. Heineken is perfect when you're out for a quick sixer, but for me, its gotta be Bud Light for the long haul.
Lou: Your most recent album, "Confessions of Man" was released in September 2008, where can the readers of Loucifer Speaks pick up a copy from?
Icky Jim: Due to the band's recent signing with EMG/Universal, the CD will be re-packaged and re-released on July 28 (2009). Look for it online at iTunes, Amazon, etc. Check our website or myspace for details on where to buy it in stores. More info on that coming soon.
Lou: What kind of response has the album received from fans and the press?
Icky Jim: The fan response has been absolutely fucktacular. The last Fifth CD, called "Plead", got this band alot of attention. So for us, we weren't exactly sure how people would react to "Confessions Of Man". Its a bit darker, and a bit heavier overall. But the response has really been killer. Our first single "The Gift" has been in the Top 10 on WVRK-FM Rock 103 in Columbus, GA for the past 6 weeks and we've never even played a show in GA. Needless to say, we're fucking stoked. We also recently signed with Fused Management, based in Nashville, because of this CD. Ray Ware and Ricky B. Rogers of Fused heard our CD, flew out to see a couple of our shows, and we signed with them the next day. They've got all kinds of things in the works for us now. I'd LOVE to tell you about some of that stuff, but they'd kill me! As for the press, they've treated us well so far. You can read a review of "Confessions" in a blog on our Myspace page (www.myspace.com/thefifthnc).
Lou: What sort of subjects are covered in the album's lyrics?
Icky Jim: Betrayal, shattered relationships, strippers, cocaine, nightmares... you name it. There are also a couple of songs that have really seemed to touch alot of people. "One More Day" was inspired by the loss of Roy's father, but the bigger picture is something that almost all of us can relate to, and that is losing someone you love much too early in life. The lyrics are some of the best Roy has written, and that song has become quite an emotional part of our shows recently. The other song is called "Memories Of You". The Fifth comes from a strong military town - Fayetteville, NC is home to Ft. Bragg. "Memories" is dedicated to the men and women of our armed forces who have fought and died protecting our freedom. Every time a soldier is deployed, and they don't return home, it hurts. It affects our lives, it affects our friends lives, and it affects the lives of so many people here at home. Those brave men and women will forever be remembered by this band, that's just how it is.
Lou: How does "Confessions of Man" compare to the stuff you've done previously?
Icky Jim: As I said before, the material is darker, grittier, and generally heavier in most cases. "Plead" was a great CD for The Fifth, but "Confessions" is where we as a band have been striving to get to. This CD is much more of a collaborative effort than "Plead" was.
Lou: How long did the album take to write and record?
Icky Jim: Longer than it should have, HA! Because of our busy schedule, we took alot of breaks. We toured Japan during the recording process, did a series of Bike Week shows in Daytona and Myrtle Beach, played numerous other shows, and had all of our equipment stolen. If you were to take all that out of the picture, it probably only took 2 or 3 weeks to write the songs and maybe a month to record the tracks. Mixing took another month. But all in all, it actually took exactly a year from start to finish. I remember when I first got the actual CD. We were playing with Sevendust, and I was sitting alone in the balcony watching them soundcheck, and Roy walked upstairs and handed me the finished product. There it was, "Confessions Of Man". I immediately tore off the shrinkwrap and smelled the CD. It was a total flashback to when I bought that KISS Alive II album when I was a kid. That's the smell of magic.
Lou: What was the writing process like? Did you all get together and jam, or did you each bring your own ideas to the table and then work from them?
Icky Jim: A bit of both actually. A few of the songs I sort of brought in as completed demos musicwise, but even on those songs, the guys were able to put their own spin on things by the time it came to record. In other cases Marc and B-Man would get a riff going and I'd just sort of jump in. We'd hit the record button on this Akai machine and off we'd go. I remember the day when we came up with the music for the title track. I had been drinking all day, and Marc and B-Man were jamming on riffs while I was outside smoking. I heard some killer shit so I ran back in the house and grabbed my guitar to join in, but I was so drunk that I ended up playing the riff totally wrong from what they were playing. So when you hear the finished track, the first measure of the main riff is what Marc and B-Man were playing, and the second measure was my drunken interpretation of what I THOUGHT they were playing. We put the two riffs together, back to back, and it just worked. "Broken Mirror" was written the same day, in similar fashion.
Lou: Which song from the album are you most proud of? If you can pick one, that is...
Icky Jim: For me, it would probably be "The Gift". Its one of the songs where I wrote most or all of the music, and I also contributed to the lyrics. The fact that it ended up as our first single makes me feel like I finally did something right for once.
Lou: Which song seems to be the most popular with your fans?
Icky Jim: I always hear people yelling for "Better Way" and "Dirty Money". "Dirty Money" is the stripper song, and people always throw dollar bills onstage when we play it. If we get close enough to the edge of the stage, the girls will stuff the money right in our crotches. Hey that money comes in handy at the truck stop at 3am after a show, HA!
Lou: Which 3 historical figures would you most like to have a beer with and why?
Icky Jim: Historical as in celebrity?
1. Charles Manson - I bet he'd scare the fuck outta me, but I would love to just sit and listen to him ramble.
2. Tori Amos - Maybe I could get her drunk enough to sing "Leather" softly in my ear.
3. Dimebag Darrell - The Idol! "a" beer? No way, that would be an all-nighter.
Lou: Jack Daniels vs Jim Beam?
Icky Jim: Jager baby!
Lou: Social Networking sites are crazily popular at the moment... There's MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and probably a billion others that I've not even heard of... Let's settle this here and now, which one's best? There's no denying that they're great for bands wanting to spread the word about their music!
Icky Jim: Myspace is the best for staying in touch with fans. Facebook is best for the industry stuff.
Lou: It's actually sunny here in England at the moment (I know, it's shocking!), so that can only mean two things... Festivals and BBQ's. Which bands would play at The Fifth's ideal festival and where would it be held?
Icky Jim: Well the festival would be held in Amsterdam... for obvious reasons! I'd say the reunited original Guns N Roses would headline, and throw on Shinedown, KISS, Black Label Society, Slipknot, and Motley... or perhaps Black Sabbath, but I would have to choose their setlist. A killer mix of the old school and new school makes for a well rounded crowd. And just for me, the afterparty would feature Slayer taking requests into the wee hours.
Lou: If you had the use of a time machine, where/when would you go and why?
Icky Jim: The cheesy answer here would be to go back several years to when stock in Microsoft was dirt cheap. However, I think to be able to go back in time and see that first handful of tour dates with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads in the UK would be fucking amazing.
Lou: I've read that you guys have a DVD on the way and that it contains footage of a recent acoustic show. When will this be available and are you able to tell us any more about it?
Icky Jim: The DVD is called "Deconstructed" and contains re-worked acoustic versions of The Fifth material from both "Confessions" and "Plead", plus a surprise or two. It will hopefully be released in the next few months. We filmed the show in front of our hometown crowd, it really was an amazing night. The set looked perfect, very much in true Mtv Unplugged fashion. There were candles, lighted props, fancy rugs, etc. Truly a beautiful night, and one of the absolute highlights of this band's career. We can't wait to get it out there, and we hope everyone will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed doing it. That was our first ever acoustic show.
Lou: What's the weirdest question you've ever been asked in an interview?
Icky Jim: I don't know, but thank you for not asking why they call me icky jim, HA! That's a first.
Lou: Where can the readers of Loucifer Speaks check you out online?
Icky Jim: For up to the minute things pertaining to The Fifth, check us out on Myspace at www.myspace.com/thefifthnc. You can also visit www.the-fifth.com, and to stream all or most of the band's recorded material for free, you can check out www.reverbnation.com/thefifth. The text may be out of date on Reverb Nation, but the music is all on there. We are also on Facebook and Twitter now.
Lou: What's next for The Fifth?
Icky Jim: Our new video for "The Gift" will be out very soon. There's rumours of the band flying out West to work on some songs with a certain rock star that I'm not yet allowed to name, and of course we're always out there playing shows and meeting new people everywhere we can. In the meantime, our goal is to get our single "The Gift" added to as many radio playlists as possible and perhaps play some radio festivals across the USA this Summer. Have beer will travel! Lou, you're fucking awesome. Thanks so much for checking in with me and The Fifth. Cheers!