Interview by Alan Daly
We chatted to vocalist Luke Frizon and guitarist Julian Renzo of Australian Jack The Stripper at Brutal Assault, and they told us about their first trip to Europe.
Alan: Nice to meet you. You played on the Jägermeister stage this morning?
Luke: Yeah. It’s our first time in Europe. We were really surprised to be offered such a big stage, sandwiched between Obituary, Moonspell, and all these big bands, and us.
Alan: Having heard some of your music, the first band to spring to mind is Dillinger Escape Plan. Would you say that they are one of your influences?
Julian: Not an influence so much. I never really listened to them a lot. I think perhaps that maybe Dillinger’s influences and mine were similar. It just sorted of turned out that we both play fairly jarring music. We’re tuned a lot lower. On immediate first impression, a lot of people sort of think “yeah, it’s pretty similar”, but if you listen to our album all the way through, you’ll probably find more differences than similarities.
Luke: I think the ethos behind the music is very similar. That’s probably where comparisons can be drawn. We’re both acts that try to push things.
Julian: Superficially, we’re like Dillinger. There’s a lot of running around and throwing things.
Luke: We played with them last year in Melbourne, and it was a big sold out show and people were coming to it thinking “oh these guys are like these guys”, but by the end of the night they were going “nope, they’re definitely different”.
Julian: We do get that comparison all the time.
Alan: I think the high energy of both bands is something that people connect. What did you make of their recent announcement that their upcoming album will be their last after twenty years.
Luke: I think they’re splitting up. It’s good to know when to die with dignity. It’s an aspect of a good musician, is to know when to put something to rest after it’s been done for a certain time, so you’re not just repeating yourself. But they’ll come back after a while.
Alan: The sheer energy onstage. Can you keep doing that into your fifties?
Julian: We’re tired! Really.
Luke: I almost fell asleep after our set!
Alan: And this is your fist time at Brutal Assault…
Luke: Our first show in Europe, ever.
Alan: Well, maybe you think this is the norm. Not all European festivals are help in eighteenth century fortresses!
Luke: We’ve got a good mix of shows coming up. From this, we’re going to Rockstadt in Romania, then we’ve got shows in Switzerland, France, Belgium. The Belgian one is being billed as a birthday party or something. We’ll get the full mix of different venues and different vibes.
Alan: What do you think of this venue?
Luke: It’s incredible
Julian: We don’t have anything like this in Australia.
Luke: I never expected to fly nearly thirty hours in a direction away from home, and still feel like I’m at home.
Julian: It’s so big and ominous. The perfect setting for a metal festival.
Luke: There’s always something new to look at here too. Whether it’s looking at a historical aspect. Even just up there, there’s an eagle made out of Jägermeister bottles. They put so much care and detail into it. A lot of other festivals I’ve been to in the past have just been dropped in the middle of a race course or something, and chuck up some screens and sell some t-shirts.
Alan: So what bands have you seen here yourselves?
Julian: Ministry last night, was really good for me. Parkway Drive was fantastic as well.
Alan: Do you happen to know the guys from Parkway Drive? I’m not saying everyone from Australia knows each other…
Julian: They hooked us up for a few shows.
Luke: It is true that there’s only a couple of degrees of separation between people.
Julian: Two of the members of our band had toured with Parkway previously, so we were talking with them about a few shows, and it really helped getting Europe happening for us this time.
Luke: I’ve made the effort to see as many of the bands as I could. Seeing this line-up, 15-year old me had a heart attack, because these are all my favourite bands from so many different genres. I missed out on Shining, which I’m very disappointed about. Aborted have so far been the stand-out act for me. It was just grotesquely extreme, in so many ways.
Julian: The Black Dahlia Murder were great.
Luke: It’s heartening to see these other career musicians taking it in their stride. This is just another Friday for them.
Alan: Tell us about the name “Jack The Stripper”. Where did that come from?
Julian: It’s a nod to a Black Sabbath song.
Luke: The name came along before I joined. Jack the Stripper was a serial killer in the sixties, and his M.O. was similar to Jack the Ripper, except he used to take his victims’ clothing off. As soon as I heard that I thought I loved it, because it’s a really interesting look into the workings of the media machine and the human mind. You take this really extreme and brutal thing to happen, and they give it such an irreverent moniker, like Jack The Stripper, and then people think “Ah, that’s a joke. Everyone laugh at it. Now we don’t feel scared any more”. I like how many different aspects the name captures.
Julian: It’s catchy too. It’s hard to forget.
Luke: I also really like it when people in their 40’s or 50’s come and check us out and look us up on YouTube because they hear our name and associate us with Black Sabbath, and we couldn’t be more different. Reading the comments online about how disappointed they are always makes me laugh.
Julian: It’s a trap!
Alan: Tell us the craziest thing that’s happened to you on tour?
Luke: I pulled down a roof in Taiwan at a festival and it landed on people and they went to hospital. That was pretty extreme. Everyone’s broken bones and stuff. We did a show in the early days and he [Julian] jumped off a PA stack about three or four metres in the air and he broke his ankle, but finished the set. We had an ex-bass player who snapped his leg because he didn’t warm up before the show.
Julian: We’ve learned to warm up, but occasionally there’s still injuries.
Luke: We had one incident where we had a guy on stage in a monkey outfit throwing bananas at the crowd and abusing them. And this other guy came out dressed as a parrot and attacked him. So monkey-man threw the parrot at the crowd. The parrot landed badly and punctured a lung, but didn’t recognise it at first and continued moshing which then exacerbated the issue.
Julian: It’s a good gimmick anyway. It brings people to shows. They like a bit of violence.
Luke: Yeah. It makes it more real.
Alan: Speaking of gimmicks… Last week Ronnie James Dio appeared on stage with Dio Disciples at Wacken as a hologram.
Luke: I think that’s a travesty. I can understand that people loved the man so much that it’s really hard to let go, but it’s like any grieving process. I was grieving Dimebag for years, but I would never go to see a Dimebag hologram.
Julan: To be fair, I don’t think the crowd knew about it in advance. I think it was a big surprise, so they didn’t come to see a hologram.
Luke: It really depends on how it’s marketed. If it’s marketed as a gimmick like it was with Coachella and Tupac, then that’s a travesty. That’s blood from a stone. But if it’s a really intricately created tribute to the musician, that’s a bit more different. If it’s honouring the memory of him at Wacken, then sure, that’s great. I expect them to do that for Lemmy too.
Julian: With enough time and enough respect, maybe it’ll be a respected thing. Let the people decide.
Luke: I wouldn’t want to come back as a hologram. I’d feel like Rimmer from Red Dwarf. I wouldn’t want that, unless it was a gratuitously offensive thing. If you’re going to bring back someone as a hologram, maybe GG Allin would be a good choice, throwing holographic poo at the audience.
Alan: You mentioned your 15-year-old self earlier. If you could give him some advice, what would it be?
Luke: Get here earlier!
Julian: Focus on what makes your band individual, rather than worrying about fitting in, because that’s the most important thing. Make your band interesting. Make people want to come and see us.
Luke: You find your thing. In the early days I’d allow myself to listen to what other people said about art. Saying this isn’t going to be any good, you gotta do “this type” of music. You’ve gotta write dubstep deathcore. And look where that went. Nowhere in particular. Yeah, I’d say just really find the thing that your passionate about and stick at it. And network, and work hard at getting to know people as well. You could have the best album in the world sitting on your computer in your house for all eternity. A lot of musicians have done that. They’ve recorded an album and then never pushed it.
Julian: Being part of a scene is very important. Opportunities to support other bands seems like a pretty obvious thing to say. But a lot of bands will never get out, waiting for the perfect opportunity, to be hand-picked by a manager or something, and it’s never going to happen unless you find your own way.
Alan: And what’s next for Jack The Stripper?
Julian: We’ve got the tour here in Europe, then Japan, and then we’ve got a couple of gigs after that in Australia with Sworn Enemy. And then we may have a few other tours, but we’re waiting to find out about those.
Luke: Largely our focus is on completing the album that we’ve been writing this year. It’s half done so far.
Alan: Do you have an estimate of when that might be released?
Julian: It’ll be March. Maybe June. When we say March, it’s always later.
Luke: We’ll try to bring out something as soon as possible. It’s all still very new. We’re in no particular rush. We haven’t done everything with Raw Nerve yet.
Julian: It was written in 2011, and the longer you work on something, the longer you can tour it. The more work we put into it, the longer we can enjoy it.
Alan: Will we see you touring the UK or Ireland any time soon?
Julian: We have to. Most of us can get UK passports.
Luke: We’ll see after Brexit!
Alan: They won’t be worth anything soon! Get yourselves Irish passports. You probably have ancestors from Ireland anyway.
Julian: Everyone’s half Irish in Australia.
Alan: We need to wrap it up there. Thanks for your time.
Luke: Thanks for having the time to chat!
Interview by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko