Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster

author PP date 11/01/10

Braving the freezing cold temperatures that have been plaguing Copenhagen for more or less the entirety of December and January, I cycled my way with frozen knuckles to Loppen for an interview with Jake Duncan, the guitarist of Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster. Once the band is done joking around in the sound check, Jake makes his way to our table. He's got long hair, beard, and looks like the definition of a rock'n'roller to me, which is also evident in the way he speaks with that large, wide, Southern American accent. The stereotype is that the people from the Southern states are all dumb rednecks, but not this guy. Even though he seemed slightly disconnected from the interview - he looked and felt incredibly homesick at this point - each answer was carefully considered and articulated. That makes for an awesome interview; and we get to find out just how many American stereotypes Jake covers as he answers a couple of fan-questions in the end...great stuff. Hi and thanks for doing this interview. First of all, if you could just introduce yourself and what you do in the band?
Jake: My name is Jake Duncan, and I play guitar for Maylene. What's new in the Maylene camp?

Jake: New? Right now, Christmas, trying to get home. It's the newest thing I guess, we've been on the road pretty much solid since the middle of September, so we're getting ready to get home with our families and spend Christmas there. So feeling kind of home sick in a way?

Jake: Oh yeah man, very, very homesick at this point. Sure, that's understandable. You guys were in a bus accident about 11 days ago. What happened?
Jake: Basically a car had had a collision with another vehicle, a truck, it was actually a fuel tanker, and it was on the Autobahn in Germany. The car had stalled out in the middle of the lane, our lane, and by the time our bus driver saw the car stalled there on the lane, it was too late to avoid collision. So he just let off the gas and we hit the right back corner of the car, and then ran into the side rail for a little was pretty rough, but we barely missed the tanker as we stopped. It could've been bad, but we luckily got out of there with our lives, which is the most important thing, and got another bus a few days later. I guess as far as a wreck goes, it went the best it possibly could have gone. So you guys are also just coming off the Taste Of Chaos tour, how was that?
Jake: It was fun man, the shows were great. The guys in In Flames and Killswitch Engage were all really nice guys, and we're touring with Every Time I Die, and they were on Taste Of Chaos as well, and we shared a bus with them. We've grown to be pretty good friends with them, they're all really cool. We've been having a good time. The crowds were great too, we had a few nights where we were the opening band on the tour, so there were a few nights when the doors opened probably not soon enough and there wasn't a whole lot of people in there. Just a few shows, but that's always a bummer. Other than that, there were a lot of great shows and it was a lot of fun. So the fans received you guys well?

Jake: Oh yeah. You have certain spots where you get a better crowd reception and I think actually our best crowd reception was in Oslo, Norway. Which I was kind of shocked about, because it's such a heavy metal type of place, you know, and we're kind of the outcast when it comes to being on these tours, because all the bands are usually heavier than we are, but we're just like this rock'n'roll band that gets on the stage, but those kids at that show were really stoked and really excited just to hear some music, so it was a lot of fun. Actually I was gonna ask later on about that, because when you look at your tour history, I've noticed the same thing. You guys tend to play with a lot of metalcore, screamo, and scene bands in general, but not so many Southern bands. Obviosuly Every Time I Die now, but why do you think that is?
Jake: It's probably just has to do with the inception of Maylene. Starting out it was more of a heavy metal band, the first record was more of a heavy metal record. Kind of fused Skynyrd and Pantera...and you know, Maylene just kind of made a progression as far as musical style, but a lot of our demographic is still within that metal genre or scene. We've toured with a band called Clutch a couple of times, which was definitely more of a rock type of tour. And we always love to do tours like that. It's just that we take the tours that we are offered, and decide then, so we don't really have any control over what we get offered. We just basically pick and choose from what we get offered. And we get offered a lot of metal tours, you know. What about the Southern tours, I mean I guess there aren't so many of those around in the first place?

Jake: Not over here, really. There are some Southern type bands but I would say that there's not too terribly many left. We're one of the few bands that are still playing Southern Rock music, and for us, it's just rock, and it comes out Southern because we're from the Southeast of United States, so it's just kind of how it comes out, and just kind of what we were born and raised on. Classic rock and stuff like that. That's just kind of our interpretation of rock'n'roll, so. Your third album "III" has been out for six months now. How do you feel about the record?
Jake: I like the record, I think it turned out great. It was definitely the rock-iest record of all three that we have, and that's what we were really going for, and I think it turned out good, even down to the mixing and mastering. We wanted it mixed and mastered like a rock record. Like you hear these metal records and stuff, and they're so compressed, there's no space in the mix, and we didn't want that. I would say that the record's a little bit lower volume, but it doesn't just have the heck compressed out of it. Down to the recording...mixing, mastering, I think everyone was pleased with the way it turned out. What are your favorite tracks on it and why?
Jake: My favorite tracks are probably track 9 "Harvest Moon Hanging", track 6, I believe it's "Listen Close", and I like "Step Up", which is track five. It's really hard to pick my favorites, they're kind of our babies, you know what I mean? It's kind of hard to pick your favorite kid. But I would say that those three songs, and why they're my favorite songs, I don't really know, I just like the way they came together, and the way they sound, and they're fun to play live. We've never played "Harvest Moon Hanging" live, but I would imagine it would be a really fun song to play live, and we'll probably eventually get to it. So how do you think that the record compares to "II" or even the debut album?
Jake: I think it was just the next progression of the Maylene sound. As far as comparison, it might not be as heavy, but I think it's just as hard, and I think from the first record to the second record, the step in the direction of just becoming more of a rock type sound, I think that the third record was the next logical step for that. Compared to the first two, I think it's exactly what it needs to be. About two years ago, you switched four guys out of the band. Do you think that has impacted the way you guys sound today?
Jake: It definitely has. A lot of early Maylene fans grew to love the old lineup just like any fans would, and it was definitely a bummer to see the old guys go, but it was just time for them to do something else with their lives. But it was either continue going as Maylene with new guys or just stop being a band, those were really the only two options, because the other guys had other things that they wanted to do. I think we've definitely been well received considering that we only have two original members left. The old fans have met us now, the ones that have wanted to, and have learned to love Maylene even for the changes. I think it has worked out good. This next question you probably have been asked a million times now, but I'm gonna ask it anyway. So I've read that the name and the concept of the band is based on the legend of the criminal gang of Ma Kate Barker and her sons. Can you expand a bit on the story, 'cause I'm actually not that familiar with it?
Jake: Are you familiar with the public enemy era, gangsters like John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde? Yeah.

Jake: Basically it was a time period in the 30s when organized crime grew prominent. Basically the legend of Kate Barker and her sons is that she, Kate Barker, would organize these criminal activities for her sons to carry out, and she had a group of outlaw sons who would carry out these deeds. Legend has it that she was the brains behind the operation and kind of told her kids what to do, and stuff. We take our name from that, Maylene is a town in Alabama, but it's based on her story, Kate Barker's story. And our whole metaphor is that we are her sons, we've done wrong, and eventually Kate Barker's sons got gunned down because of their wrongdoing, and basically it's like we're speaking from the grave, trying to warn people not to do what we did, so that's kind of the concept. So how did you choose such a....different concept? How did you decide one day that okay, this is what we're gonna do as a band?

Jake: Well, I wasn't at the band at that point. I think our lead singer Dallas grew up in this town in Ocala, Florida, and that's where Ma Barker was from. He used to visit these different re-enactments and things like that. Her old house that she got gunned down in was there, her and one of her sons, so he was just kind of fascinated by the story growing up, and things like that kind of stick out in your memory even as you get older. I'm sure that's the reason why he decided on that concept. When you are writing the songs, you said that you are kind of singing the story from their graves, technically, right?
Jake: Some of the songs, yeah, they follow it pretty closely, but some are just about everyday life and things that we go through. So how are you able to step into their shoes, so to say, I don't want to say impersonate, but to be their person?

Jake: It's just kind of like. We know the story, we know the legend, but we kind of embellish it a little bit ourselves, kind of make it our own. There's a track off the newest record called "No Good Son", and it's written from the perspective of someone, an outsider, maybe younger than the rest of the guys, joining the group. And that's kind of metaphorically the role that I've played in the band, joining later and stuff. It's just kind of written from that perspective. And that didn't really happen, but it's just one of our avenues that we've taken from the story and embellished on a bit. Okay, so do you think that the Ma Barker story is an infinite well of song ideas, or do you think that at some point you'll have to write songs that are not connected to the story, or are you always going to be able to continue the story somehow?

Jake: Well it was actually... even with the album artwork for our newest record, we weren't sure if we were gonna continue the whole concept of Ma Barker and her sons, but while we were recording we decided to continue it on for at least one more record, and I don't know about the next record, if we're going to continue it or not. It kind of just happens as we write new songs, we'll just see how it goes. So if not, what would you write about?

Jake: I would imagine... I don't write lyrics for the band, but I would imagine it would just be about every day life and things that we as musicians go through on the road and just our lifestyle. Family, friends, all that kind of stuff. All your albums except for the first one are titled with the Roman numerals. I was wondering why you guys chose to number it chronologically like that instead of choosing titles?
Jake: We hadn't really given it much thought when we were recording our third record, we didn't even consider naming it anything other than "III", like we never talked about it, it was just "III". And it seems to all of us to be kind of a rock n roll thing to do, and we're into that. I don't know, I hope that we continue to do it, because I think It's cool.... So next one will be "IV" then?

Jake: Probably, and the one after that will be V, and the one after that might be VI, but that remains to be seen. I've also seen that you guys have dealt quite a bit with, for example, WWE. Are you guys big wrestling fans or?
Jake: Couple of our guys are really big wrestling fans. I wouldn't consider myself a wrestling fanatic, but I do have friends back at home that love to watch it, and I watch it with them and enjoy it. But yeah, a couple of our guys are into it. I'm not as big into it. Do you think that the Maylene sound is, in a way, a perfect fit with the wrestling atmosphere?

Jake: I would say that our sound is suitable. It kinda comes from a part of the country that's known for just standing up for whatever it is you believe in, and that's kinda how the whole wrestling attitude thing is. Standing up and proving somebody wrong, or just making a statement. I think it is suitable and it fits. So I have a couple of fan questions to the end, submitted by our readers. What's your favorite beer?
Jake: Beer? I hate to answer this question in Europe, because everyone will hate me....Budweiser! I knew you were gonna say that!

Jake: I love Coors Light too. I like the crappiest beer. Beer over here is good, but it's hard for me to drink because it's so strong tasting. It's just not what I'm used to. [laughs] This next one is an interesting one. Do you guys hibernate during winter?

Jake: Umm...we'll if we're not on the road....well, I can tell you this man. Since we've been over here, it's been so cold that I usually hibernate on the bus until I absolutely HAVE to get off the bus and come in here and soundcheck, because it's so cold. Where I live, if I'm home during the winter time, it's usually pretty mild. I live in a mild climate. I talked to a girl from home today, and she said it was actually like 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I don't know if you all do Fahrenheit or Celsius here. It's probably 16C or something. I usually don't have to hibernate, but over here I've wanted to. The last one: what are your favorite bands?

Jake: This is strictly me, this doesn't represent anyone else in my band necessarily, because they might be embarrassed because of what I would say. Obviously I love classic rock, AC/DC, Zeppelin, Skynyrd. I love some 80s type of stuff, Def Leppard and stuff. But I'm a huge fan of modern radio rock, like Nickelback, Breaking Benjamin and bands like that. I love bands like that. My favorite band that we've toured with so far as far as music is Clutch that I mentioned earlier. I love just good, riffy, rock'n'roll like that. Alright, that's all the questions that I have, thanks for the interview, and good luck with the show. Do you wanna add anything else to the fans, to the readers?
Jake: Yeah. Just keep rocking and rolling!

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