Posted on May 16 th. 2018
Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Jason: Hello Jett and welcome to Metal To Infinity. I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your very, bust schedule to speak us.
Your band Salem’s Lott has a great theatrical/shock Rock appeal, great sound to what you guys do. The band reminds me of a lot of the bands I grew up on such as Kiss, Motley Crue, Ratt, Pretty Boy Floyd, Marylin Manson. Were you at all influenced by any of the bands I mentioned?
Jett: KISS, Motley Crue and Ratt definitely. The last two, not at all.
Jason: After viewing the band’s music video for Sonic Shock I have to tell you Jett that I became an instant fan because you guys are more than just a band that gets up on stage and plays in their jeans and T-Shirts. Not only is “Sonic Shock” a great song but after viewing the video I had no doubt that you guys must put on one, hell of a theatrical Rock Show and it made me want to purchase the band’s latest release: Mask Of Morality so I could hear the rest of the album! My question to you Jett is when the band was first formed did you know right away that the band was going to have a theatrical look/image?
Jett: Yes, it was an easy decision. All I had to do was look around at all of the contemporary rock artists to realize I wanted to do the exact opposite of everything they were and still are doing both sonically and visually. The whole idea was to come out of the gates flying, with a big “fuck you” pointed at the rock media, bands and industry who’ve been recycling thesame 3 safe niche genres of post-post-grunge, post-post-screamo and post- post-death metal for 25+ years. Simultaneously, the intention is to revivify certain elements of the lost genres of rock that have long since been disparaged and ridiculed.
Jason: I have to ask you Jett once you guys knew that there was going to be a theatrical image/look to the band how long did it take for you to come up with your Character?
Jett: There’s no characters or act involved. The theatrics are simply an extension of each individual members’ personality and an unapologetic expression of power, grandeur and fierce determination. A purposeful contrast to the meek, pretentiously modest and insecure music and image of ‘no image’ bands.
Jason: Being in a band that gets made up much like Kiss back in the day you kind of have a secret persona, I mean do you enjoy getting made up, playing on stage all dolled up and then having the ability to go out in your everyday life and not get recognized?
Jett: That’s definitely one benefit to the aesthetics. However, we’re not at the level of KISS back in the day to fully appreciate the privacy. Not that it would work in the modern day thanks to social media and phone cameras everywhere.
Jason: I must admit that while the band has a great sound that the image/look is something that had an instant appeal to me for the simple fact that it reminded me of many of the bands I grew up. Do you worry ever that people might focus more on the look/image than on the band’s actual music or would you say it’s more of a matter of Salem’s Lott delivering the goods to their fans and giving the fans the best of both world if you will?
Jett: We always knew that would be the case. Ironically, the focus on our image tends to come from detractors and negative media who claim to be ‘all about the music’. The hypocrisy is amusing and predictable. Critics have always attacked visual bands on the premise that their image’s importance outweighs their music. It’s a silly argument not worth deconstructing. Just look up any of your favorite visual bands and you’ll easily find a smug critic, who thinks he’s a lot more original and witty than he actually is, making the stereotypical claim that the band is ‘all about the image’. Conversely, to be fair, the opposite occurs in a minority of our fans and all visual band fans that are at first attracted to the image and are not listening to the depth of the music but that’s not to say that they don’t more deeply after the initial aesthetic attraction.
Jason: I was interested in knowing what’s the story behind your stage name: jett? Did it take you long to come up with the name?
Jett: It’s not a stage name, that’s my real name.
Jason: How did the band come to be named Salem’s Lott?
Jett: The band name is inspired by the Salem witch trials which was particularly interesting for its mass hysteria and mob mentality. Ironically, looking at modern social issues, not much has changed, only the targets.
Jason: How old were you when you first started playing the guitar? Did you take lessons or would you consider yourself to be more of a self-taught player?
Jett: 12 or 13. I studied Classical Guitar and music theory extensively. For electric guitar, I took 2-3 lessons and then just went out on my own.
Jason: Do you remember what was the very, first song you learned to play on the guitar?
Jett: “Stand By Me” Ben E. King
Jason: At the top of the interview I mentioned the music video for “Sonic Shock”. Could you talk a little bit about the video such as where it was shot? Is there a concept behind behind the video? How long did it take to shoot the video?
Jett: It was shot in two different locations. San Pedro and in a studio. Basically, it took 12 hours combined; two different locations on different days. That video is just meant to be pure chaos and really just us seeing how much shit we can blow up and set on fire. I remember we started to draw in a crowd while shooting which was problematic since we couldn’t usemany of the shots because people would get in the shots. Mostly, we just made it a performance video with our own display of random chaotic shit because we didn’t have a budget to hire actors to convey the meaning behind the song.
Jason: What do you remember most about Salem’s Lott very, first professional gig?
Jett: I try not to remember it.
Jason: I know that the band is based out of Hollywood, CA. Has the band had the opportunity to tour much outside of its local area?
Jett: Other than Rocklahoma, no. I don’t think touring is a viable source of exposure for independent bands. The market is completely different and the audience is online. It doesn’t make sense to tour unless there is strong demand. Nowadays, most people won’t show up to an event unless they get 12 Facebook invites, with 15 of their fb ‘friends’ going and a celebrity guest appearance. Times have changed and a smart independent band goes to where the audience is and doesn’t get hung up on old formulas.
Jason: How happy are you with the way people have reacted to the band so far?
Jett: It could always be better. It would be more interesting if modern rock fans weren’t so divided and buried underground in their own dying niche sub genres. Rock music used to be simply Hard Rock and/or Heavy Metal and deeply resonated within the culture. (Almost) Nobody gave a shit what you looked like, as long as you had a damn good riff and an even better song.
Currently, you have a million different, boring sub-genres catering to smaller and smaller audiences with very little crossover pushed to polarizing extremes. Rock/metal fans think being underground is virtuous by its nature but that’s just a coward’s philosophy stemming from resentment towards success and a fear of the responsibility that comes with large influence. Of course, when things become too big they become corrupt, stagnant and fake, but when you become too small the exact same thing happens in addition to being bitter and weak. The genre has devolved from a thriving united empire into a bunch of divided, bickering, savage tribes.
Jason: I have to ask you Jett how long does it take you to get made up and in your costume before going on stage?
Jett: Depends. With the hair: 1.5 hours. Without it: 30-45 min.
Jason: I understand that Salem’s Lott formed it’s own label in order to release the band’s music. How happy have you been with releasing the band’s music independently VS. seeking out a label?
Jett: Despite all the bullshit you hear, releasing music independently sucks. Less exposure, no access to bigger package tours, media won’t write about you, larger sites and magazines won’t feature you, and you have to take care of all the logistics, press and business aspects 100% on your own. If you’re lucky and bigger media writes about you, for a band like us, it’s usually spun in a sarcastic manner made to make the band look stupid. Unfortunately, Rock fans regurgitate and mimic the popular opinions spewed by rock media like a script. On the positive end, you have 100% control of your own art.
Jason: Like I said Salem’s Lott has a great Rock image/sound, you guys make great music videos but talk a little bit about the live show you guys put on. I mean I’d imagine it must be quite the Rock Show!
Jett: We always change it up live. Sometimes it’s a samurai sword cutting through pig intestines being thrown on the audience or a chainsaw and a cow tongue or a machete and smoke bombs: whatever fits our fancy and pulls the audience out of their anesthetized way of consuming art. If it disgusts you or inspires you, that’s all that matters. Boredom is not tolerated and you’ll become our target if we catch you being lame.
Jason: As far as Guitar Players go I was curious who were the players who had the greatest influence on you when you were growing up?
Jett: Warren Demartini, Vinnie Moore, George Lynch, Segovia, Agustín Barrios, etc…
Jason: Is there an album in your collection Jett that you can point to and say that’s the album, that’s the band that played a major role in me doing what I’m doing today?
Jett: Too many to list, it would be a disservice to only name one.
Jason: What would you say has been the one thing you’ve enjoyed most about being in Salem’s Lott?
Jett: That I do what I want 100% my way, have fun doing it and learn/grow from the music I/we write.
Jason: Is there anything left that you’d like to say to all the Salem’s Lott fans out there? Thanks again Jett, You Rock my friend!
Jett: If you want to see bands like us continue and thrive you have to put your money where your mouth is. Pre-order the album, digitally, physically, both. It’s not about the money; it’s important for independent bands to get on the iTunes charts, billboard, amazon etc… This is what labels are looking at and good sales are the only way for an independent band to take it to the next level and get noticed for being monetarily viable.
Don’t be fooled by the bullshit, independent and underground bands go nowhere unless they eventually get signed; the industry has long since been monopolized. Your pre-order is not just a purchase, it’s a vote that says “I want badass rock music again”, “I want culturally relevant Rockstars that have a pair of balls” instead of rap and pop dominating the culture and boring roadie-rock embarrassingly representing the whole rock genre as front-runners of a rightfully ignored genre… Jett – Los Angeles, CA