If you ask me how I got to know J.R Preston, the person behind Tjolgtjar and couple of other projects, I honestly can’t remember, if my life would depend on it. Actually, I kinda might remember… looking for some music in 8-bit computer sounds, I went through 8-bit Emperor and Mayhem to Xexyz, J.R’s NESBM (Nintendo Entertainment System Black Metal) project and from the, it was only a small step to get interested to his music and stuff he does.
I wanted to do this interview for a long time – and the time has come. Welcome The Reverend, folks!
Well, hello there, J.R., and thanks for your time doing this interview. First of all, I consider it strange there are not that many interviews with you about any of your projects. Is it intentional from your side (say, refusing to do interviews) or simply just not much interest in your musick?
Hi Rudolf. I have refused interviews in the past due to the fact I didn’t like the zines. I have chosen wisely over the years. I’d like to bring up something no metal band talks about, but they should. Let’s expose them, get them buck naked and leave em in the woods. Payola was a thing of the past that American radio stations and disc jockeys were fined and shamed for. The payola system in the 70s and 80s became the cocaine system (meaning instead of large sums of money your management would deliver large sums of coke to radio disc jockeys etc..) The internet brought about a new pay-to-play system that is completely unregulated and does not serve an artist. I don’t like the new payola system. Here is how it works for the last 10 years at least. You pay money to a “P.R.” company. I use “P.R.” very loosely because PR places are supposed to be utilized as advertising for a specific product which in most cases ensures the sale of said product. I am not a product, and music doesn’t exactly sell these days. Musicians are only in this game now for popularity. It’s a fashion show, and it’s no different than paying for likes on Facebook. That’s fine, I get it, but we have to separate art from fart. So when you see bands in every zine, all over the place in your face, know that these bands – or their “record labels” (and I use that term quite loosely as there is no actual record business today) have paid money to get them there, in your face daily, with their usually quite shitty, popularity contest, bargain basement, clone garbage, impoverished forever, virginal fantasy wannabe rocker ego trip “music.” It is my estimation that one can not truly be a musician when one’s time is spent doing other things than music. We could say that music is the hobby of 100,000 lonely human beings and they all pay their hard-earned money that they get from their actual occupations, to further the illusion that they actually possess some sort of creativity. I myself ran into a large snag years ago when people found out I was pro-gun, pro-hunting, and the opposite side politically that they believed me to be. Not being an illiterate hippy combined with not caring about where I fit in or how my art sells to a bunch of people I consider lower than cows, puts me in the bottom of the barrel. The thing is, that barrel isn’t even being used – everyone is outside of the barrel doing other things; each person a scatterbrained remnant, thinking their hobby is their job. People who can’t play rock thinking they’re rockers. People catering to third-world mindsets and not using their bought and paid for platform to push the world into the future and instead lying around in their own shit, wondering where the next dollar is coming from, voting for guys in fucking $3000 suits to hold office above them, and no one even running their own lives let alone running for public office. Have I said enough here? Maybe too much, I don’t know. I’m not that fucking important. If a label wants to pay for me to sell copies of cds that they spent their money on, then they can pay for the P.R., or they can do their job and network. I’m not a DIY Artist, I think DIY is for the birds. I’m not building nests and shitting on cars here, I’m putting out art that people actually listen to and enjoy. My music is not a logo, a patch, a t-shirt for you to wear to a family reunion or a stupid fucking concert. My art isn’t for pigs.
In your introduction you stated you couldn’t really remember how you started listening to my music, but you vaguely remember the 8-bit connection, and this is why I have loved getting to know you over the years. You are a genuine music fan. You are a real person! You’re a true music listener and I’m proud to talk to you right now. This is how music works! You search for something and you find it. You don’t peruse message boards or look at a cool record label roster. Your ears want something good! In my day and surely you remember these times, before the internet. The record stores where you only had the option of seeing the album cover, seeing the band name, reading the song titles, and making your decision based on that. Absolutely no hype went into anything. Every tape from the 70s was reissued with only a 1 pg insert. Records had nothing but the record inside them as they were on their 10th printing. Our options were limited but still so grand. Labels would pay for the right artwork, and put together the correct layout. The label I work with right now is doing these same things. It’s a perfect marriage. Super Sargasso Records makes me happy to come out of hiding and put out records again. It takes me back to the past, where my brain lives most days. I’m in a good place with this label.
Oh, yes! Those old days, there were a lot of bootleged tapes from Poland on the local markets, so not being rich enough to buy originals (and stores didn’t even sell them, only smal distros here or there), we went to those markets and bought tapes by exactly the same proces..the more complicated logos, inverted crosses, extreme graphics, the better…but, luckily, usually the albums were good (remember Sarcofago’s “Rotting” or Beherit’s “The Oath of the Black Blood”? Totally random pickups). But back to your person. Metal-Archives mention as your first band/project as ZERO, but from our conversation I know there were some attempts of creating musick even before, But before talking about your musical outputs, can you talk a little about when you start to play music, what was the initial impulse to start that and your musical influences?
I bought “Rotting” and Beherit on the same day at the record store. ALCOHOLIC COMA! METAL OF DEATH! BOTH GOOD FINDS. I started at a very young age with music. My mom was all about the records. She had lots of good stuff, and we only had 3 TV Channels back then. One of them showed a music countdown every week. The FM Radio station that came in (I lived in a small town with no options for stations where I could actually hear the music) had Casey Kasem’s Top 20. We had American Bandstand on television too. I would also watch Soul Train. I’m talking about being a little, little kid. Music was everything to me. I fancied myself a singer. I wanted to write parody songs like Weird Al when I was 5 years old, so I always made different words up to the hits. When I was 7 I discovered 80s hard rock through my sister. She had lots of records and tapes. I saw all these older girls loving guitar players, especially rock and heavy metal guitar players, with long hair, black clothes. I thought, I have to learn how to play guitar or I’m never going to have a hot girl. In essence, I wanted to play because I wanted to get chicks.
Did it work? I thought girls were into Axl Rose, Sebastian Bach and such…not black clothed guys…but guitar was essential, I guess. So, let’s get back to musical influences..I know you’re quite a Kiss fan, am I right? What bands would you also cite as forming J.R. Preston as a musician?
This is before Axl Rose. I speak of KISS without the makeup and OZZY, and RATT, and WASP, hell let’s face it, even Billy Idol… the short time before MTV started manufacturing bands by co-mingling with Record Labels. My sister also owned the first print of “APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION” with the uncensored album cover. I remember thinking oh man, there’s a boob on there! My biggest musical influence was my guitar teacher Davey. I could cite 100 bands here, but every person does that. The most important person to me was Davey. Without him teaching my stubborn young playing-by-ear know it all ass, how to correctly play things, I wouldn’t have ever been able to write songs. He gave me tools to go in to my own brain and pull out the music that was in there. Most guys just read tablature. I was writing songs at a young age because covering songs wasn’t a problem. I had ears that could transcribe.
Oh, and of course it worked, are you kidding? Girls didn’t care about anything but guitars back then. Guitars and cars. But I didn’t have the money for a cool car so I got a cheap guitar instead, ha.
You’ve made a really wise choice, lol. OK, now…I know you don’t like your early music/projects, but let’s talk about it anyway…So, what bands/projects have you been associated with? And as you are quite a capable guitarist, what style you have started with? (to be specific…projects and bands before ZERO, as this is listed as officially your first)
The stuff before Zero quite frankly sucked. Various cover bands and wannabe metal posers. People that wanted to write songs but were incapable. There was only one that I really enjoyed but we broke up cuz the drummer who was the band leader told me the bassist sucked, and it was hard to find another bass player. So I started Zero with that bass player. I already knew him and didn’t know the drummer much. My allegiance was with the bass player so we forged ahead and had some good fun with Zero. I was mostly joining cover bands full of older people who sucked. They thought they could sing. And they always had a shitty bass player. There were lots of guys who thought bass would be easy, and they sucked. The guitarists thought they were good but were basic Blues players with no soul whatsoever. One band was called The Rocker Shop. It sucked. I didn’t own a car at the time, my mom had to drive me 30 miles to practice. I was still a kid, in high school, so you know, it was a whole routine, beg mom for a ride, it got to be a fucking drag. I dreaded going to their dumb basement to practice their shitty songs. One day I couldn’t make it, so they kicked me out. I was relieved cuz they fucking sucked so bad. All the bands played the same covers. The Eagles, Head East, and all that fucking stuff. If they played heavy songs it was always Crazy Train or Sunshine of Your Love. Same shit every time. I started a band in my mom’s garage cuz I was like 15 or 16 and that’s what you did. I met two guys who would eventually be in Blood Cult but at different times. We played really terrible metal covers because they sucked. We got a good drummer eventually. He had money and a vehicle, and pot. It’s not like I was doing nothing on my own before all this. I was recording little demos of me playing guitar – I used a karaoke machine. You could overdub on those, ha! I wrote songs and I did vocals. Sometimes I would record band practice. We never had a name. I did not want a name for the band anyway. It sucked… but this new drummer guy allowed us to sound like a real band. The band Zero was formed then, and we recorded two demos. The first one exists only on a terribly beaten up tape. It’s not listenable. The second one still exists, along with a couple live tracks. Zero sucked too, but it had good guitar playing. It was different from other local acts. We wrote all our songs, we had a lot of fun, we smoked a lot of pot back then. I wish I hadn’t done drugs, but it’s part of being a rock n roll kid, lost in the backwoods of society. Who cares, though. We ended up winning a battle of the bands, not bad for high school age kids smoking weed.
That reminded me my experience as a drummer in a Metallica worship band, lol. Oh, man, that was terrible…
Yeah around the time Zero quit there was emphasis on Metallica covers and I’m not into Metallica. I was glad when we broke up, because it was getting stupid.
Well, this one happened in about 2012…guys were basically all into ‘llica and nothing wrong with it..you like them, you like them. I prefer own material, because I rather be another boring band, than the best Metallica cover band. So I’ve opened my mouth online about going to practice so boring song from Metallica (Suicide Redemption, which is 9pr so minutes of boring guitar masturbation)….and I was out lol.
No one should cover Metallica!
Lol. I agree. Although Stormlord’s cover of “Creeping Death” is better than original.
(end of part I., to be continued)