Interview: James Genenz of Jungle Rot

Jungle Rot’s latest self titled release came out recently. Ricky has a chat with the band’s James Genenz about Jungle Rot’s lengthy career in brutal metal…

First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers at Moshville Times over here in Scotland. You must be extremely proud of Jungle Rot as you are not only making us older fans, like me, relive the glory days but also establishing a fan base with new younger fans. How have the press and the metal world accepted Jungle Rot?

We are incredibly proud of the new album. A lot of heart and emotion went into this one, and we couldn’t be more stoked on the response from fans, friends and the press. Everyone seems to “get it” and the album is making waves like we haven’t made before. I’m glad people are enjoying the album as I believe it’s the best one we’ve made.

You started in ’92 at a time when death metal was starting to take a downturn in popularity and culminated in a lot of bands saturating the scene or breaking up at that time. How have Jungle Rot survived during these toughest of times?

I suppose we just keep grinding, you know? Even when times were tough, we stuck it out and wrote music and released albums, never giving up or quitting when it got tough to try nu-metal or some shit. We stuck it out the whole time. No breaks, no hiatuses, no reinvention; we are Jungle Rot. We aren’t going anywhere.

It’s testament to you guys that when death metal is having the best time since the mid 90’s again, that you are still here over twenty five years later. You must have suffered a lot of lows but here we are with your tenth album. How do you think the scene compares today to back then?

Late 80’s / early 90’s was the best time because it was just so fresh and the scene was bolstering itself. Even when the trend died in about 1993, and the death metal bands that signed to like Columbia, etc. were dropped, real death metal bands never stopped anyway. Most of us weren’t interested in what was going on in popular music. We just wanted to play the music we loved. Of course, there have been lows, like being in between labels and wondering if any label is going to give a fuck to release a new album. I think a lot of younger kids these days are getting into the true spirit of old school death metal, which is something that was lost during the “Guitar Hero” years when every band was out to outdo each other with technicality. People want to hear the meat and potatoes death metal, the way it was originally intended to be played.

Jungle Rot has worked with the smaller labels from the beginning to releasing this self titled album through much bigger label Victory Records. How has the relationship been so far and are they pushing for Jungle Rot to try out different tours than the norm for Jungle Rot, for example, with your recent Havok tour?

The relationship with Victory has been really good. They are behind us 100% it seems, and the staff really do what they can for us, within their power. They’ve got our music out to people that might not have known about it, and in the past 8 years we’ve been working with them, we notice more and more kids that just discovered us thanks to Victory. They haven’t pushed us to do anything we don’t want to do, but they do make suggestions and sometimes they work. Havok is a band we’ve enjoyed for a while and have played shows with before. They were a good fit to tour with.

There seems to be resurgence of old school aesthetics and releasing cassette versions of EP/albums. Is this something that you would want to do with Jungle Rot and be nostalgic about the tape trading days?

I’m all about old school aesthetics! Cassettes are definitely a throwback for me because of course I remember the time before CDs and the internet. All we had were tapes. Actually, Victory did release a limited cassette version of the album!

Can you tell us readers where the album was recorded and mixed? Did it take some time before you got the sound you wanted?

We recorded with Chris Djuricic as usual for the past 10 albums, at his studio Belle City Sound, in Racine Wisconsin. Chris is definitely a member of the band at this point, he captures us perfectly. This time around we all wanted to try something new, so Dan Swano at Unisound in Sweden mixed and mastered the album. Its exactly what we needed for the band. Everyone did a killer job on this one!

How was the lyrical content of the album created? Was this artistic freedom given to your vocalist, were the lyrics written by yourself or was it a mixture of both?

I usually write about things that are pissing me off at the moment. It’s not rocket science for sure. I just put pen to paper and let it spill out. I’ve written 99% the lyrics for the last 6 albums. There’s usually enough going on in the world to write about and make relevant.

Thankfully you as a band are what every band wishes for and that is to have a solid line up. What would you say is the reason behind the stable line up and how do you keep it that way? Are there times of disagreements but they are more constructive rather then destructive now than before?

The three of us have been together now for 14 years or so. Basically, we all realized that we all want to do this together. Sometimes you jam with people and it just doesn’t click. The three of us totally click. We don’t really need to discuss song writing or anything much. We pretty much understand what we’re all going for without a word being spoken. Of course, we have disagreements, but they are miniscule and few and far between anymore. Unfortunately, our drummer situation hasn’t been very good. So, we decided to just be a three piece and hire drummers as we see fit. We’ve got an awesome stable of drummers to call upon, but we’re quite lucky to have recorded with Jesse Beahler again. He fits perfectly.

How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio?  Where do you get together and record?

The three of us live in different areas but are close enough to get together once in a while. I think as we’ve matured as a band we don’t need to “practice” as much as we used to. We’ve gone weeks without jamming together and we’ll come together and it’s like we never stopped. We get together at Dave’s house these days, as renting a practice space became asinine since we weren’t in it that often. We’ve recorded every album with Chris Djuricic at Belle City Sound in Racine, Wisconsin.

How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Jungle Rot a band where all members contribute to the songs?

The songs are written long before we go in the studio. Dave will usually come up with some riffs and show them to us, and we’ll arrange them. Geoff will make drum tracks on the computer, and those two will bark out some vocal patterns and then send those finished songs to me and I will sit and write the lyrics.

You have a tried and tested a formula that you basically stick to when composing songs. Jungle Rot fans know exactly what to expect with your records and it must be said that you may have one of the most loyal fanbases around. Does it still amaze you the length your fans would go to see you live or purchase all merch?

I am forever grateful for the loyal fans that have stuck behind us, the die-hards who buy every single piece of merch and assault us after shows wanting autographs. These people make it all worth it and it’s amazing to know music I collaborated on is celebrated by so many cool people!

How did you get Schmier from Destruction to collaborate on vocals on “Fearmonger”? Was it just something that cropped up in the studio and thought, fuck it we shall get in contact with him and see what he says?

We did a cover of Destruction’s “Invincible Force” on our 2009 album What Horrors Await and Schmier eventually heard it and told us it was a great cover, so when we did the tour with them last year, Schmier would have Dave come up and sing the song with them and they sounded killer together. We asked Schmier if he might be interested in singing with Dave on the new Jungle Rot and he was totally with it. We sent him the tracks and he recorded his vocals in Switzerland and sent the tracks back and that’s what you hear! We are beyond thrilled to have him aboard!

Another legend of the scene is Dan Swano who mastered and mixed this album. This is different from the norm for Jungle Rot. What made you come to the decision to go with Dan and what do you think he brings to the sound that is different to your previous albums?

We just thought maybe it was time to try a different set of ears. Chris Djuricic recorded and produced everything we’ve ever done, he’s also done most of the mixing and mastering too. We just decided to try a different route. Dan is a legend and we knew he would do a great job. The record is hot, everything sounds great and it sounds amazing turned up loud! Not to discredit any previous mixes on previous albums, but we just wanted to try something different.

So when do the Europeans get to see Jungle Rot support this album on tour? Any UK dates planned?

Apparently, we are working on something for Europe for April 2019 so we will see how that goes. It’s rough for us to get over there. Years ago, you would make money there. Now we seem to not make much and its hard to leave your household for no money. I’m hoping we can start getting on more festivals out there because I see the emails and comments and people really want us out there! We’ve always had a great time in Europe!

How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs?  Do you have plans to go on bigger tours and further afield in 2018?

It hasn’t been super hard to juggle. We all have regular jobs too, but fortunately we have cool bosses who will let us tour. I do hope that if we tour in 2019 we get a huge tour, something to remember!

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

Thank you to all Jungle Rot supporters! Your allegiance is not overlooked!

I thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. A fun question to end this interview.  If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

Depends on the party I suppose! Are we talking close minded metal heads? Or a free for all? Personally, I would probably play some 80s new wave hits, like Duran Duran, etc. haha! I love super heavy shit, doom metal and such, but not too many people wanna “party” to that stuff, haha!

Jungle Rot is out now through Victory Records

Jungle Rot: official | facebook | instagram

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