Headline Act: Lockjaw

With a new song and video out earlier this month, Lockjaw caught our eye (and ears). You can check out “Silence the Fear” below, but in the meantime here’s some background on the band courtesy of guitarist Jeff Ogle…

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

Dallas / Fort Worth, TX

How did you meet?

Lockjaw stems from 4 bands, really. Lockjaw (original lineup) and A Dying Faith, who started playing together around 2000. Also Jacknife and Anathemic.

All these bands played together in the Dallas scene for almost 20 years. Lockjaw still has three original members: founder Jeff Ogle (guitar), drummer (Scott Letz) and Gabriel Ayala (bass). We decided it was time to push the band as far as it could go nationally, so we had to part ways with former lead guitar and vocals, who were replaced by Joe Ortiz (vocals) previously of Jacknife and Justin McCurley (lead guitar) previously of Anathemic. This lineup is on the new record slated for early 2022.

  • Jeff Ogle – Guitar, founder
  • Scott Letz – Drums
  • Gabriel Ayala – Bass
  • Joe Ortiz – Vocals
  • Justin McCurley – Lead guitar

How long have you been playing as a band?

Lockjaw was one of the largest drawing bands in Dallas/Fort Worth throughout the early 2000. Lockjaw 2.0, with the current lineup, is completing its first album and has been working on the new record since Covid started in early 2020.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

Jeff Ogle (me) and my best friend Jason Morris (former vox, guitar) were right out of high school when we formed the band. During this time, the Dallas scene was huge. Pantera, Drowning Pool, Element Eighty, Slow Roosevelt, Big Iron, and so many more were thriving in the Deep Ellum, Dallas scene. Jason and I were driving to just pop in to some of the clubs to check out who was playing on a Sunday night, and both cracking jokes. Jason said something about going downtown to see some bands and joked about some of the ladies we might encounter.

He mentioned he was going to end up with a variety of STDs if he wasn’t careful, laughing out loud, and started naming ridiculous ailments he might get from the nightlife, such as Clubfoot, Lockjaw, and other rashes and non realistic STDs. We were both laughing and I stopped him and said, “LOCKJAW!!!! That’s the name of the band.” And I guess it just stuck. We were 19, 20 years old maybe. But we knew it was our goal to have a one-word name, and felt it was catchy name for branding so we stuck with it.

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What are your influences?

Metallica was always number one for me. I was in middle school in 1991 when the Black Album came out, and it was groundbreaking. It really changed my life and inspired me to want to play the guitar. James Hetfield and his percussive playing really just blew me away. I don’t think I can remember what it’s like to not have that in my life at this point. At the same time, Megadeth had just released Countdown to Extinction, which was also a great album.

That period of time was just so great for metal. A little later in school I got into local legends Pantera, and heard about this guy Diamond Darrell, or as the world knows him Dimebag Darrell. These guys were right up the road from us and turning into one of the superpowers of metal, I couldn’t believe his style and playing. That was around the time Cowboys from Hell came out and it really blew me away too. I think my soundtrack for Middle and High School were bands like Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, White Zombie, NIN, Korn, Manson, Ozzy. It was such a great time for music.

Influences these days are pretty much the same, but we really respect bands like Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Gojira, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, and some of the upcoming metalcore stuff coming out. I love where metal came from and hope to see more great bands to continue to carry the torch.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

This is a hard one. Lockjaw has had different phases for sure, but it always came back to heavy guitars and drums. Everyone has a different definition of “heavy” these days, but I can tell you it all comes from the same place… Sabbath, Led Zep, Motorhead, Deep Purple. They all have a few things in common that I really relate to, and that is a catchy hook/chorus. So when we play we are obviously more modern metal, or metalcore as some might say, I don’t really get into all the genre/ sub-genre label bullshit.

The goal is to write heavy songs that we want to hear, stuff we can party to, or make great memories to. Overall, I think the uniqueness is that we don’t really follow any current genre trends or standard. We are going to play bad ass heavy music, with great production and catchy hooks. That is about it. It’s hard to compare as the writer because it’s so close to our hearts. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, we drop the ego at the door and focus that energy onto the songs themselves.

I think the biggest thing we have done recently is bring in a producer to help us realize the true vision of this project. We were working with Sterling Winfield, who worked with Pantera, and was responsible for Far Beyond Driven, and pretty much everything after, including Damage Plan and HellYeah. After we started mixing the first song in 2018, we got the mix back for the song “Deadlights”, and I asked Sterling for an honest opinion about where to take the songs, and he gave me some solid advice, letting me know that it was time to bring in a producer to help us really break the songs down and rearrange them so they could be their very best version.

So we did just that, and brought in producer Chris Collier, who had worked with quite a few very notable acts that we really respected, like Korn, Prong, KMX and quite a few others. Chris is nicknamed “The Wizard” for a reason. He really breaks songs down and helps us see a bigger vision for where the song can go, rather than were we think it should go. Working with artists at the very top of the game can give one a very advantageous perspective, and I think paired with a talented producer like Chris who has that perspective along with some amazing talent to compose, really has helped us on the record. We are at the point now, where every single track must be a banger.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

I don’t know that we have any one theme other than just being real. I think it’s important to write stuff that matters, not only to us, but content that will connect with the world. We have had a rough 18 months with the pandemic, and the world needs music to escape to in my opinion. While “Silence the Fear”, our latest single, is a pretty inspiring and positive message some of the other songs may not be so positive.

Metal is such a great genre for expression, I feel that it’s our goal to connect with our fans and help them see they are not alone. The lyrics on the record so far touch on mental health, the human condition, and even subjects like human trafficking, that are pretty sensitive, and we tackle those things because they matter. Again I don’t think we are trying to make some huge statement with anything, but our vocalist Joe Ortiz is a really deep, and I might venture to say sensitive guy, and very people and the relationship we have with each other, the Earth, and humanity as a whole. So we definitely go deep on a lot of the subjects.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

We love to play live, that is the ultimate payoff for us. More people=more energy and connection. We are very particular about where we play, who runs sound, other bands we play with. We want to make sure the experience for the fans is the best we can give them. Especially on the new record, we are investing quite a bit into our live stage sound and allowing ourselves the ability to perform at the highest level.

We recently switched to in-ear monitoring, so we could incorporate backing vocals, harmonies and be able to hear each other fully to do so. It’s really a game changer for us. We have played hundreds of shows over the years, I couldn’t even begin to count. We really enjoy doing theatre stages, they allow for more movement, and sound is usually better.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

We did a show in front of four high schools that came together every year in the early 2000s, at the Ridglea Theatre in Fort Worth, TX. It was called the Headbanger’s Ball, and there were usually 1500-1800 seniors that would show up in costume to party. We were headlining that show one year, and halfway through the set, I jumped and came down wrong on my knee and blew it out. Broke the tibial plateau and was in writhing pain. But we were playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Ridglea. So I had my guitar tech, stand me up, balance me and feed me shots of Jager between songs, to help with pain. We finished the set, and they wheeled me off stage and I went to the hospital. It was terrible, but what a great memory.

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

The whole band uses ESP/Ltd guitars and basses. I’ve been playing the EC(Les Paul Style) models for quite some time, but recently picked up the TE (Telecaster) body and have really enjoyed them. I’ll be playing both models on the upcoming tours. They are extremely versatile and I can use the TE model on the more intricate picking songs, and my EC body when I just want to pound on the strings.

Our drummer Scott, uses DW Drums and Sabian Cymbals at the moment.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

We released our new single, “Silence the Fear” on August 6th and it’s the first of many on the new record. The song is produced by Chris Collier and Lockjaw. We are on all streaming platforms. We also just released the video for “Silence the Fear” on Youtube. All the social and streaming links are right here.

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What are your plans for the next 6 months or so?

We just signed with new management, which we are really excited about and we are working on booking festivals and tours to support the record in 2022. We have a few big show announcements in Texas coming up as well.

The album release plan is going to be somewhat different that we have ever done before. We plan on releasing a string of singles throughout this year and early 2022 leading up to the album release, along with videos and other promo content.

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

I think a Killswitch Engage tour would be great for us. We would really enjoy playing with them, I like their vibes and their style, the music is obviously awesome too! There are some really great bands in Dallas/Fort Worth, and I love a lot of them. I would probably want our friends Within Chaos, or Light the Fire with us. They are both killer bands.

Check out 2021’s Headline Act Playlist on Spotify and YouTube

Lockjaw: official | facebook | instagram | tiktok | bandcamp | spotify | youtube

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