Jesse James Dupree Dives Deep Into Working With AC/DC’s Brian Johnson – ‘What an Honor, There’s Only One Brian Johnson’
Jesse James Dupree had zero intention of writing and recording his new solo album, Breathing Fire, but as he explained on Loudwire Nights Wednesday night (Oct. 18), he couldn't ignore the feeling when inspiration struck.
"I had an episode where I felt really guilty and I felt really ashamed of myself that I had not listened to a full album from front to back in a long time," Dupree admitted to host Chuck Armstrong. "We live in such a soundbite society and you're lucky for people to listen to a single."
As he explained, music has always meant so much to him and so he forced himself to slow down for a moment to right this wrong of ignoring the full album experience.
"I was in an AC/DC frame of mind so I pulled out the High Voltage album and I listened to it from front to back twice," he said. "Then I went to Highway to Hell and then I listened to Back in Black. And then I went to dinner and I was proud of myself and that was it."
At least, he thought that was it.
The next day, Dupree had a song in his head and he tried to figure out which AC/DC album he had heard it on.
"I didn't find it. I realized I've just been inspired. So I picked up my guitar and started figuring it out, what I was hearing in my head."
Like clockwork, as Dupree was messing around on his guitar, in walked his son, Nigel, who happens to be a phenomenal drummer. In exchange for a meal — "He's a starving musician, but we feed him" — Dupree told his son to go lace up the drums and then called his Jackyl bandmate, bassist Roman Glick, to come over.
"They looked at me like, 'What the hell are we doing,'" Dupree recalled. "I just started riffing and they came in and it was such a powerful thing. We did it for a couple of days and we ended up with a lot of songs."
How Brian Johnson Got Involved With Jesse James Dupree's New Album
Even with a couple of days worth of recordings and a lot of songs, Dupree admitted he still wasn't sure he would do anything with them. As if fate hadn't tempted him enough already, a few days after the impromptu recording session with his son and Glick, Dupree received an unexpected phone call.
"It's Brian Johnson from AC/DC," he said as he kicked into his best impression of the iconic singer. "'Hey, Jesse, me son. I'm drinking some of your whiskey.' He had a buddy over and they opened up a bottle of my barrel-strength Tennessee whiskey that I had sent him about a year ago. I told him, 'I was not going to be that guy and call you, but since you called me, I've got some songs you got to help me write' and then we took it from there."
Dupree and Johnson have worked together in the past; Johnson actually joined Dupree on Jackyl's "Locked and Loaded" from their 1997 album, Cut the Crap.
While Johnson's vocals don't appear on Breathing Fire, he ended up co-writing several songs with Dupree — including lead single "Never Gets Old" — and even gave him a song he had written with actor and songwriter Jimmy Nail called "Rappa De Pappa."
"That's about the Pope and it's just got a cool groove to it," Dupree told Chuck. "Think about it — what an honor and what a big deal it is for me that he would trust me with something that he created, you know? It's something that doesn't go past me."
As humbled as he was to have worked with Johnson, it was clear that Dupree was just as grateful for the unique experience of working with Nigel and Glick in such an unexpected way.
"I go back to playing with Nigel, my son, and Roman, who's my brother ... I'm so anxious for you to hear the rest of the album."
Dupree's also anxious to play these songs live.
"We are going to do some shows with this. I can't not go play these songs. I've got to play them and I want them to be played with Nigel and Roman. I want it to be what it is — I'm excited about it. When you hear the whole record, you'll see why."
Jackyl's Final Show of 2023 is a Family Reunion
As focused as Dupree is on Breathing Fire and figuring out what future live shows with Nigel and Glick might look like, he remains just as energetic about all things Jackyl.
"Jackyl won't stop playing," he said without missing a beat. "We stay on the road."
READ MORE: How Did AC/DC Get Their Band Name?
"So many people road trip from all over the place," Dupree said. "Come round your year out with the last Jackyl show of the year in an incredible town that is nothing but rock and roll ... Make your plans for a road trip and come and enjoy our last show of the year."
What Else Did Jesse James Dupree Discuss on Loudwire Nights?
- How he and Brian Johnson first met: "There was Brian and Cliff from AC/DC ... and then my dumb ass."
- What it's like getting into heated debates in the studio with his son
- The latest whiskey offering from Jesse James Spirits
Listen to the Full Interview in the Podcast Player Below
Jesse James Dupree joined Loudwire Nights on Wednesday, Oct. 18; the show replays online here, and you can tune in live every weeknight at 7PM ET or on the Loudwire app; you can also see if the show is available on your local radio station and listen to interviews on-demand. Stream "Never Gets Old" at this location and then check out Jackyl's full tour schedule.
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