Jes Farnsworth (Newsted/The Backstabbers)

Jes Farnsworth always wears cool band shirts, that’s a fact… and just another good reason for us to interview him. The guitarist for former METALLICA member Jason NEWSTED’s band has been quite busy this year but he found the time to answer our questions. He tells us about his history, his experience with JETBOY, NEWSTED’s recent European tour and his own band The BACKSTABBERS.

How did you get into music? What were your first records? The first shows you attended?

I got into music at an early age. I was born and raised on the east coast in Connecticut, which I think has alot to do with my strong influence of NYC Punk and RNR since NYC was just a few hours away. As early as I could remember my mom (of all people) would be blasting Ramones, Clash, and Pistols records in our apt. The thing that really got me started was my Uncle who played Bass in my all time favorite band, The Reducers from New London CT. The Reducers were to me everything I love all in one. Their style was attitude driven pub rock / punk / rock n roll with great hooks and melodies. They didn’t have a bad song! It seemed like every weekend from the time I was in a baby stroller on, we’d go catch a Reducers show. The thing that set them apart from every other band was not only did they have tons of great original tunes, but they had an extensive catalog of cool cover tunes by bands like Dr Feelgood and Chris Spedding, to the Clash and Ramones just to name a few. They had 3 records out in the mid 80’s and they never really left the turntable in my house. My dad had a killer record collection and also exposed me to a lot. I think a lot of my Metal influence came from him. Judas Priest, Maiden, UFO, Black Sabbath, AC/DC were in regular rotation on his mix tape in his car growing up and he always had a killer stereo to boot, so it made it that much better! The first big concert my dad took me to was Ozzy on the No More Tours tour 91. This was around the time that I started my own collection as well as got my first guitar, so I think my first few CD’s and Cassettes I ever bought were Ozzy – Diary of a Madman, Metallica – Justice and Black album, Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast, Guns N Roses – Appetite, Kiss – Alive, and a few Hair Metal bands of the time that I don’t wish to name Haha!

We first met in 2010 when you were touring with JETBOY, when did you join them? How did it happen? Was it your first time in Europe then?

I joined Jetboy in early 2010 as they were gearing up for the release of their Off Your Rocker EP. I was vaguely familiar with them at the time. I had the Feel The Shake cassette when I was younger, and I knew Sam Yaffa was once in the band so I was intrigued. I had read they were looking for a rhythm section a few months prior and didn’t think much of it since I’m more of a guitar player by trade, but I told my friend Jesus Mendez (drums) about it. Turns out we had a friend that knew the band and was able to set up an audition for himself and recommended me to come try out on bass. I was hesitant at first, but we learned 4 or 5 tunes and went up to San Francisco and jammed with Billy and Fernie and it went well. A few days later we got the call to join and a few weeks after that we went down to LA and had our first rehearsal as a full band with Mickey Finn. We played a handful of shows with that line-up including a few festivals in the US and then booked the European tour. Mickey was unable to do the tour at the time, so we got a friend of mine DK Revelle to sing. I had been to Europe a few times before on vacation, but this was my first time touring over there. It was a great experience and we had a blast!

How did you get the opportunity to play with NEWSTED? Were you into METALLICA and FLOTSAM & JETSAM as a kid? Playing a song like “Whiplash” in front of METALLICA fans must be something!

JF3I got the opportunity to play with Jason through Jesus Mendez. He and I had already been playing together in several projects for years. He had first met Jason about 15 years ago while doing some local crew work for Metallica. When Jason left Metallica to do Echobrain, he got the gig as the drum tech for the tour. Not long after that the two of them started jamming for fun at Jason’s studio The Chophouse. A few years went by and I got invited to jam as well. The three of us would get together and do some weekend jams a couple times a year for the last 4 or 5 years. Last year Jason was approached to record a few songs and he called on us to be a part of it. It all happened pretty quick, we spent all of September rehearsing and went in the studio in October for about 10 days and laid down 6 tunes. At this point we had no expectations or plans other than to put out an EP. We weren’t sure if we were going to play live or how it would be received by the people. Once word got out,the whole project started building momentum fast and the next thing you know we’ve got a manager, we filmed a video, and we were back in the studio again recording a second batch of tunes. Once the EP was released in January we started talking about playing live. Soon after we got a US club tour and a European Festival tour booked. We added a second guitar player in February, recorded a 3rd batch of tunes to complete a record and started rehearsing for live shows. This was all pretty surreal for me. I definitely grew up listening to Metallica and had a few Flotsam records as well. Jason was always my favorite guy in the band. He had that presence, just pure attitude and energy, he always gave it his all. I always loved when he sang Whiplash with Metallica, so It’s definitely a treat to get to play it with him. It’s always cool to see the crowds reaction when we rip into it.

You’re just back from a European tour with NEWSTED playing many big metal festivals, how was it? Have you met many bands you like on these festivals?

Europe was amazing! I never really thought I’d get a chance to do something of this magnitude. I remember getting an AC/DC live at Donnington video when I was a kid and thinking holy shit! I wanna play in front of a crowd like that! I’m used to playing small clubs in front of basically no one, so to go from that to this huge stage in front of several thousand people is crazy. The funny thing is, it still makes me more nervous playing in front of a small crowd standing right in your face than when your playing for 10 thousand. It’s almost so surreal that I feel like they aren’t really there. Hellfest in particular was the one show that stands out to me as one of the highlights of the tour as far as crowd size and reaction/participation. It was really cool hanging out backstage at all these shows amongst all these legendary bands. A few cool moments for me was meeting Steve Harris and Adrian Smith from Maiden, Brian May from Queen, Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks, Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy, as well as the guys from Krokus and Accept and hanging with some newer bands like Red Fang and Mastodon.

You are now on the GIGANTOUR in the US with bands like MEGADETH and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. How is it goin’? Are these shows very different from the ones you played at the big European festivals (to you and in general)?

The Gigantour shows are going pretty good. It’s a lot different than Europe however as far as the crowds. There are six bands on the bill and we go on pretty early so you never know what to expect when we hit the stage as far as how many people will be there. Playing early in an amphitheater you get a lot of people scattered about and sometimes it’s tough to win them over. But it doesn’t matter if there are 5 people or 5000, we’re gonna put on the same show and crush ’em. The backstage atmosphere is great. All the bands hang out together and get along fine. I’m having a great time on this tour.

You have your own band The BACKSTABBERS, can you introduce it? Any new release planned?

The Backstabbers have been going for about 4 years now. We are a trio. Myself JF2on Guitar and Lead Vocals, Kevin Thomason on Bass and Vocals, and Wade Krause on Drums. We are heavily influenced by late 70’s early 80’s Punk, Rock n Roll and Powerpop. To keep it exciting we never play the same set twice and always throw in a few covers of whatever we are listening to the most at that particular moment. Kevin and I are always discovering and turning each other on to new and old bands and it’s pretty much what keeps our inspiration and momentum going. There’s not many bands if any in our area playing our style, so when a cool band comes through we usually get on the bill with them. We’ve played some cool shows with bands like Nashville Pussy, The Supersuckers, The Vibrators, The Hangmen, and Peter Case just to name a few. We released our first EP “Full Blast!” last year which you can find on iTunes and our Bandcamp page. We’ve been on a little hiatus since I’ve been busy the last few months with Newsted, but we plan to get back at it when I get a break. We do have several unfinished recordings in the works and a stockpile of original material to choose from so there will definitely be a new release in the near future.

Tell us what these bands mean to you (how you got into them, favourite songs/records, etc.):


As I said in the first question, my parents were always cranking out the first 4 Ramones albums on the turntable growing up. They were infectious, every song was a hit! They pretty much set the standard in my mind of what a good song should be. If I had to pick one favorite album, I’d say “It’s Alive” best represents what they were all about. There is no way I could pick a favorite Ramones tune, they were all classics!


This band to me was just raw and dangerous. Stiv Bators was unpredictable on stage. I just loved the dirty rawness of the first album. If I had to pick a favorite tune I’d go with “What Love Is”


A great band. Michael Monroe is an over the top frontman. I love the energy they put out on stage. We had the chance to open for Michael Monroe with Jetboy a few years back and I was blown away by how great his band was. I would have loved to see Hanoi back in the day. The first album I ever got by them was the live album “All Those Wasted Years” so I’ll have to go with that as my favorite. I love Sami’s bass lines. Some of my favorite tunes are Tragedy, Malibu Beach Nightmare, and Motorvatin.


I’m a huge Tom Petty fan. He is a great writer and The Heartbreakers are some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever seen. Mike Campbell is a big influence on me for his simple melodic memorable leads. They are one of the few remaining great american rock bands and I try to see them as often as I can. This is one band I can’t pick a particular album as a favorite. If I had to pick one tune as an all time favorite, I’d go with “I Need To Know” That song always kicks my ass.


One of the loudest bands I’ve ever seen. Motorhead bridge the gap for me between Punk and Metal. I’m a big fan of the classic lineup with Fast Eddie and Philthy. Once again I’m gonna go with the live album “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” as my favorite. Iron Fist, Overkill, The Chase is Better Than The Catch are among my favorite tunes. We often close the Newsted shows with a 2 song encore of We Are The Roadcrew and Love me Like A Reptile which are really fun to play, and stylistically right up my alley.

Last bands you’ve enjoyed watching live?

I’ve enjoyed seeing quite a few bands in the last few months: Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Red Fang, Accept, Tom Petty, The Buzzcocks, Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse, and The Rolling Stones just to name a few…

Do you have any favourite album at the moment? Any you’ve listened to a lot while travelling from fest to fest?

It’s hard to pick a favorite album. Kind of depends on my mood. I often go to bed with one favorite and wake up with another. I’ve been really into The Replacements lately, and I’m stoked about their upcoming reunion shows. Some albums always in constant rotation for me are the first 2 Iron Maiden records, Ace Frehley’s 78 solo album, Kiss – Rock and Roll Over, the latest album by The Hangmen – East of Western, The first Clash record, Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell, as well as pretty much everything by The Hellacopters and Imperial State Electric.

NEWSTED’s debut album will be out in August. What’s next for the band and yourself?

After this tour wraps I think we are gonna take a little time off and recharge ourselves. We’ve been working pretty hard for a year straight. I do know we will be heading to Australia and possibly Japan in the near future, as well as another trip to Europe. As for me I plan on playing some shows with The Backstabbers and working on a few other projects in the down time.

The Backstabbers “Full Blast!”

Two years ago, I got a BACKSTABBERS demo CD from Jes Reckless (Guit./Vocals) who happened to be playing with JETBOY on their last Euro tour. It was a pleasant surprise so it’s good to hear about the band again with this first official release that includes 7 high-energy punk’n’roll songs.The first one “Get Up N Go” hits hard in a NASHVILLE PUSSY way while the following songs such as “No Time For Nothin'” and “Subpar Superstar” (a very catchy one!) sound more like Scandinavian rock’n’roll (The HELLACOPTERS, GLUECIFER…)
The BACKSTABBERS also add a little rockabilly in “Over This Town” and this mixes well with their style. The record title is not lying to you ; powerful punk rock for hard rock’n’roll lovers is what you’ll get! Moreover, these guys sing “You scratched all my records and you broke my heart” so it would be hard not to love them, right?/Laurent C.

American Heartbreak “You Will Not Be Getting Paid $” (2004)

If you still don’t have a copy of ‘Postcards From Hell’, you’re just missing one of the best rock’n’roll album released by an American band these last years. As we speak, AMERICAN HEARTBREAK are almost ready to offer us their brand new super rock album but, since every fan of the band is dying with impatience, they decided to put out this CD which consists of 5 live songs recorded in France during their last tour, 5 acoustic tracks and a 2003 remix of their debut EP ‘What You Deserve’. The live songs manage to catch the raw side of the band for those who haven’t seen them on a stage yet while the acoustic part -including covers of “Come on, Come On” (CHEAP TRICK) and “Outfit” (STARZ)- shows us a new, quieter, softer side which sometimes reminds me of the TESLA acoustic CD. The addition of the ‘What You Deserve’ EP was a good idea since most fans don’t even know about it. This CD should be released in Europe by People Like You Records so get your hands on it when you see it and, if you don’t know the band yet, this is a very good way to get introduced to them.
/Laurent C.

American Heartbreak (2001)

AMERICAN HEARTBREAK in Europe ? When I’ve heard about that, I immediately emailed a friend who is part of a collective organizing shows to know if we could co-produce the concert together. That was ok, so on the concert day, after a killer show we couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask them a few questions for Veglam zine. It took place in the hotel at 3:00 AM !! Many thanks for being so nice, guys! Don’t miss them when they’ll be back in Europe !

How do you feel about the tour so far ?
Billy : That’s been great. We played almost every night and the crowds and the shows have been great. It’s been some long drives but the shows have been goin’ well.

What’s the main difference between Europe and the United States ?
People get way more into it overhere but it’s hard to compare. In America, people are very reserved.

Michael : there’s not a lot of rock fans, they’re mostly into KORN or LIMP BIZKIT. Some of them are into NO FX and The OFFSPRING.

What kind of bands do you play with there ?
We play with every kind of bands.

Billy : we’ve played with bands like WARRANT to The DICKIES. What is great about our trip over here is that people know our songs, they know the words.

I was about to ask you this question when I saw this German punk guy who knew all of your lyrics tonight…
Yeah ! And it’s been like that on many shows. That’s pretty good. We came this far, not expecting very much but that happened.

Are you gonna tour in Japan ?
Yeah, we plan. Michael and I went over there with our previous bands (JETBOY and EXODUS), it’s a fantasy island (laughs.) It should be fine to play in the clubs there with this band. We have some hardcore fans and a website in Japan. We cross our fingers. We hope to tour Japan with our friends BLACK HALOS.

What bands do you like nowadays ?
Adam : I like SUPERSUCKERS for a long time.

Billy : there’s a lot you know. BACKYARD BABIES, TSAR. But there’s not a lot of rock bands in America , the only one that’s known is maybe BUCKCHERRY. The US “rock” scene is pretty bleak.

Michael : yeah, LIMP BIZKIT…

Billy : and they call that rock’n’roll. We’ve seen that they’re really big over here too.

Michael : in America it’s either LIMP BIZKIT or Britney Spears…

It’s strange because we often see images of American kids looking very rock’n’roll, we thought that it was still big…

Billy : it was, yeah, but now it’s underground. It’s more like a club.

Michael : bands like us are now like punk rock because it’s so underground. The punk rock bands became…whatever, but now we’re the punk rock. What used to be mainstream is now underground.

Billy : punk rock bands such as GREEN DAY, RANCID and even NO FX are huge. They’re like mainstream today.

About Britney Spears, you have a T-shirt with her on it, haven’t you ?
Michael : we love Britney (laughs.)

Billy : every guy loves Britney (laughs.) Mike got the idea.

Michael : we have a Traci Lords one too.

Billy : T-shirts are selling good over here. Back home, it doesn’t happen much.

Adam : when we play at home, people in the audience would look at each other to see if their friends like it.

A few hours ago, we talked about the L.A scene…
Adam : rock’n’roll is pretty big in L.A. still.

Billy : yeah, there’s some good rock bands. COYOTE SHIVERS is great.

Adam : Richard Hell.

Michael : TSAR…

Is there still many clubs ?
Billy : in L.A there are, but there’s not too many in San Francisco. Now it’s more a “.com” computer world. But we can drive down to L.A for a day to do a show, this is quite close. The best part is maybe the weather, girls walking down the streets (laughs.)

Adam : but we’d rather concentrate on touring rather than to be the king of one city.

Billy : coming over here is a proof of that. This is the first serious tour that we’ve done and I think this is a place to come back. Build and build up to a bigger level, you know… as well as Japan. BACKYARD BABIES do it quite well. We’ve played with them in America, so… bands like BUCKCHERRY do better because they have big bucks behind them, they’re on a major label.

Michael : yeah, but if this record doesn’t sell, they’ re not gonna be big anymore.

Billy : they were pretty lucky, they had the right people behind them. Hopefully, if this record or the new BACKYARD BABIES does well, this will help out bands like us. One band can open the door for everybody else. It’s just like KORN and LIMP BIZKIT, it’s the same thing. The last thing was NIRVANA and SOUNDGARDEN ans the seattle scene.

Do you think you could be the band opening the door for the others ?
Billy : it would be nice.

Michael : if we guys were on a major label, we might be able to do it.

And what about the media like MTV or the radios ?
Billy : MTV in America is like game shows, you know… it’s pretty pathetic.

Michael : and radios always play the same music…

Billy : America is in a strange state right now with music (laughs.) It’s pretty scary. Now that we have a shithead for president, maybe rock’n’roll will become big again. That’s the only good thing about the idiot (laughs.)

Michael : yeah, people need something to rebel against. So nobody likes George Bush out there, did they like Bill Clinton ?

Yeah, Bush isn’t popular. People had quite a good opinion about Clinton. You should see George Bush on a TV puppet show here, that’s funny.
Billy : (laughs) I would love to see that.

Michael : he looks like the guy from Mad magazine.

Billy : I’m sure that people over here look at America in a very comical way in a sense.

It’s really strange that such a guy came to power…
Michael : We would like to apologize for that (laughs.)

OK. Let’s come back to music. I suppose that The RAMONES had had a big influence on you…How do you feel about Joey Ramone’s death ?
Billy : Yes, they had a big influence on everybody…that’s a sad story, he was just about to turn 50.

Adam : especially in Europe, every one seems to like MOTORHEAD and The RAMONES.

Michael : Joey used to support all the local bands in New York.

Do you think you’ll do a cover song , a tribute or something ?
Michael : there’s so many bands doing tributes… Joey doesn’t need us to do it.

Billy : I mean, if we were asked, I’m sure we would do it.

Adam : we have a DEAD BOYS song that is supposed to come out.

You also told me about a ROSE TATOO tribute ?
Michael : we played me, Billy and the drummer with a different singer.

Adam : it’s available here cause we saw it in Belgium.

They’ll be on tour soon.
Billy : they’ re like one of my favourite bands and I’ve never seen them…

Jetboy “The Glam Years Movie And CD”

The song remains the same. “Feel the shake. Feel the Earth shake.” JETBOY had two major-label record contracts, extravagant wardrobes, winning attitudes, the Hanoi Rocks bass-player, and mostly unremarkable songs. Even so, these Sunset Strip second-stringers from San Francisco have long been due for a reassessment. A few of their boppy, happy-go-lucky, early songs, like “Car Sex” and “Don’t Mess With My Hair” may have shown some bubble-gummy promise, in a Poison, or Enuff Z’Nuff sort of way. Lighthearted, campy, tinny-pop, with cowbell, and mohawks! The problem with pop-metal, is that it often achieved neither. Few bands can really effectively be all things to all people, like Van Halen, and Cheap Trick, were.
JETBOY were, however, a fantastic live band, in some of this ancient footage, vocalist Mickey Finn reminds me alot of the Trash Brat’s Brian Oblivion, in the old days. I would have loved to have attended their club shows–and believe me, so would you. What they may have lacked in songwriting ability, they kinda made up for with chutzpah and personality. It’s 2,008, and there’s nothing with the sparkle of JETBOY. Here’s what I like about those cats-they had lots of style, they wanted to entertain the people, and they really seemed like they sincerely appreciated the perks of Flash-Metal Infamy. They weren’t like those insufferable grunge-ingrates, who forever moaned and bitched about the hardships of stardom. Much of their music still seems lite-weight to me, not alot of substance, but perfectly enjoyable in an Autograph or Poison kinda way.
This DVD is a wonderful time-capsule that really takes you back to an era when music was still magical, as Billy Rowe says in the accompanying documentary. Alot of their pedestrian hair-band rock has aged extremely well, and they’ve been playing shows with American Heartbreak bassist, Michael Butler, ably filling-in for N.Y. Doll, Sami Yaffa. They overcame alot of hard luck and bad breaks, but still come-off as really charming, lovable, and endearingly humble, upbeat dudes. You can’t help but like ’em. I’m so thrilled to own this DVD, cos it helps me more fully appreciate a band I never got to experience, properly, back then. American Heartbreak were one of my favorite bands of the last decade, so they really ended up being the bridge for my revisiting the whole Jetboy saga. I’ve sortof been converted, if nothing else, they were fun.
Listening to ’em all these years later, they make me feel like putting on my old Cathouse t-shirt, and, what? I dunno. Drivin’ fast, or maybe rattin’ my hair? Or maybe just playing “Feel The Shake” really, really LOUD! I was much too hard on Jetboy as a kid, expecting them to be something they clearly were not:Hanoi Rocks, or Lords Of The New Church. Upon more recent investigation, I’ve come to appreciate them like Sour-Patch candy-absolutely no nutritional value, but tasty, fun, colorful, and sweet. (-Anguish Young)

Cold Blue Rebels “Blood, Guts, and Rock’n’Roll (-Horror High)”

Many still cringe at the very notion of a super group, mostly due to the still vivid impression made by the legendary figureheads of punk, whilst overthrowing the dead-eyed wanking millionaires of “prog-rock”, some thirty five years ago. Since then, the Lords Of The New Church emerged from the wreckage of the Deadboys/Damned/Sham 69/Barracudas to become, one of the two, most important bands of post-glam/glamour punk. Joe Elliot’s new Ian Hunter covers band, starring various members of the much loved London Quireboys: the Down N Outz, have made some of the freshest sounding, if over-produced, rock’n’roll music I’ve heard, in a long, long time. Michael Monroe’s new band features former Hanoi Rocks, Quireboys, Throbs, Wildhearts, Jetboy, Demolition Twenty Three, NY Dolls, Mad Juana, Willie Deville band, and Danzig alumni. The latest and the potentially, greatest, new band to come stormin’ back from the Hollyweird glitter years, is the Cold Blue Rebels.
You probably haven’t had this much fun, since the Ultras last played English Acid. If you missed teasing your hair a foot high, to look like the guy from Specimen, and slappin’ on the old Day Of The Dead make-up, and tailoring your creepers and scarf to match your tropical cocktail, on the leopard couch, at the red leather bar, that has Pabst on tap, Cold Blue Rebels are bringing gothabilly back with a vengeance, for a whole new generation of corpse painted horror punks. With the stylish cool of Bryan Gregory era Cramps, and the energetic, appetite for destruction of “Walk Among Us” era Misfits, these vintage glamsters have crawled back out of the pre-grunge glamour grave, and can’t seem to distinguish any relevant distinctions between Social Distortion’s “Mommy’s Little Monster” and the NY Dolls “Frankenstein”. Dig? With an old shovel? If you loved Dinah Cancer, Forty Five Grave, Stray Cats, or Heart Throb Mob…
Cold Blue Rebels might be your new Favorite band. Are they goth? Glam? Psychobilly? All this, and more little girl! If they remind you of the Gun Club getting liquored up with Stars From Mars; or Jimmy Reject from Dimestore Haloes (RI.P.) drunkenly, breathing down your neck, to sign his band to a bigger contract, in his coffee stained “Too Fast For Love” t-shirt; or the Joneses making the emo-geeks of My Chemical Romance cry, by opening up the packaging of all their collectible KISS action figures, and giving ’em to the tattooed teenage girls in the front row, it’s probably because these hip cats used to be in some of the swankiest bands to ever lean against the parking meter, in front of the liquor store, across the street, from that sleazy motel, on the Sunset Strip. The Glamour Punks still have one of the most fervent and fanatical cult followings of any unsigned band from the Aqua-Net Age. The Zeros, unremorsefully, stole the color purple from Prince and the Revolution, refusing to give it back, nya, nya. The Zeros were like Hollywood’s fun loving answer to the Ramones-with Joisey accents. San Francisco’s Jetboy taught my generation how to dress, insisting the proto-suicide girls refrain from messin’ with their hair…
Now, in an unusual display of fraternity, and righteous “When You’re a Jet” solidarity, these veteran glitter punks have chosen to fly under no flag, together…Arriving at performances in an old hearse, Mummies-style; with ghoulishly garbed and scantily clad zombified Nancy Sinatras on-stage, they totally recapture the dazzling, old time, spooky-cinematic showmanship of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Alice Cooper, Elvira, and Doctor Creep. Channeling all the well coiffed apparitions of yesteryear, a youthful and revitalized Mickey Finn, is sounding way more at home, and in command of the microphone than ever before, reminding some of Francois from Motorcycle Boy performing ’68 Comeback Elvis covers…Joe Normal heroically slinging fancy hollow body guitars like Link Wray giving private lessons to Brian Setzer; Spazz Draztik and Danny Dangerous effortlessly hammering down the Mystery Train loco-locomotive beat, like the old Sun Records house band, the Cold Blue Rebels have returned from the past, and overcome the rigors of rigor mortis, so all you Martian teenagers of all ages, gorgeous gore gore gals, and star dusted greasers can get all dolled up, again, and have some place to go….”Undead, undead, undead!”
Review by Anguish Young


I remember when I first found out about JETBOY, my friend was showing me a few new albums that he just bought and that LP (“Feel The Shake”) intrigued us from the start, Sam Yaffa (HANOI ROCKS) was in the band and their singer had a crazy platinum blonde mohawk. Remember that in those vinyl days, the cover of a record was really important, not to say decisive… Luckily, the music was as good as the image (which wasn’t always the case in those days)!… Little did I know that I would meet Billy, their guitar player almost 15 years later, that my band would open for his (AMERICAN HEARTBREAK) and so on, but this is another story… JETBOY are back and now you understand that we had to give them some space on this website! Billy Rowe talked to us about the band reunion, the past and what to expect from JETBOY in the future…

When did you guys get the idea of a JETBOY reunion ? What about AMERICAN HEARTBREAK?

The JETBOY reunion came together after the owner of Cleopatra Records approached me at an American Heartbreak show at the Viper Room in Hollywood in early 2005. We went to the bar after our set & he said I’m doing a release party for the Hollywood Rocks Cd box set which Is the audio companion to the book, what would It take to get JETBOY as the featured band ??? I said I don’t know & left it at that. A week or so later Brian e-mailed me asking me again, I never responded. Then he called me & said I really want to have you guys get together and do this. I said ok, I’ll call Mickey & Fernie and see what they say ??? I left them both a message after I hung up with Brian & they both called back with in five minites and said BOOK IT !!! So that was how we got it all rollin’. We did a few more shows after the first big reunion which got an overwhelming response, Everything was really feeling great. The three of us said (Mickey, Fernie & Myself), It’s great to be playing music together again, the response has been awesome, let’s do this and be a band again ! and here we are now with a new Dvd/Cd out, a tour already done & we’ve been playing shows nearly every weekend since the tour ended. We have a lot of Ideas and plans In front of us ! Rocklahoma is definitely a big thing coming up for us In July. As for American Heartbreak … It was time for the band to take a break. We were going & going for nearly ten years. So a break was very much needed, we’ll do something again, just not sure when ????

You just got back from a tour with Stephen Pearcy (RATT), how was it?

The tour with Stephen was excellent ! first tour for JETBOY In 17 years ! we kicked ass out there and the response was great. We can’t wait to get on another tour now & write a new album.

Can you tell us what’s in “The Glam Years” DVD?

The ‘Glam Years Movie & Cd’ Includes a vintage show from 1986 at the Whisky A go-go with our original bass player Todd Crew. The Dvd also has a slide show photo movie with great photos of the band In a chronological order as well as an hour long Interview with each member In 2007 telling ‘The Story of JETBOY’ The audio disc has rare demo tracks In a chronological order along with two newly recorded songs which are ‘Feel The Shake and our rocked up version of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.

What are the main differences between playing a show with JETBOY and AMERICAN HEARTBREAK for you? Is the way you play guitar very different from one band to the other?

Yeah, It is a bit different. With JETBOY my part is playing solid rhythm guitar and a few songs I play open tuning slide guitar. The songs are a bit heavier and more of a big heavy rock sound. I’d say my guitar style with JETBOY Is Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar style) meets Joe Perry (slide guitar style) which are two of my favorite styles to play & really what I feel I do best on guitar. With American Heartbreak I kinda re-invented my style or for better words created a little bit different of a style. The songs with AH are way more poppy & I play more lead guitar, not really solo style leads but more melody leads like Rick Nielsen Cheap Trickish style, which I love as well. At the end It’s all Rock N’ Roll and I just love playing guitar.

Do you think that the recent interest for 80s bands like MOTLEY CRUE or POISON is a good thing for JETBOY, did you see a lot of younger people in the audience during your last tour?

Well, I think so, since JETBOY are a big part of launching that mid to late 80’s glam rock scene. When JETBOY started to play LA In 1985 there were two other bands doing the same thing but In their own way which was Poison & Guns N’ Roses. Now that the band is back together we see us as being very current or I guess the best way to say It is JETBOY is timeless. The songs still stand up today & the the band is playing better than ever. We did see a younger generation on this tour and a lot of people write the band who are In their teens & 20’s ! I think It’s great that this style of music has been passed on and is loved just as It was when It was new by a new generation. My favorite bands to this day are bands that formed in the early 70’s and their still together and doing well, most of them that is.

JETBOY played a lot with the original GUNS N’ ROSES in the past. What are the best memories from those times? Do you still talk to members of the band?

When JETBOY first started to play In Hollywood In 1985, we re-connected with Izzy & Axl who Fernie & I met when we made trips to LA looking for a singer in early 1983. They were still doing Hollywood Rose at the time. Once we had JETBOY going we made another trip to LA and ran Into Axl at the Troubadour and he handed me a flyer & said here’s the new band Izzy & I have going, let’s book some shows together ! and that’s where JETBOY & G N’ R started to do shows together & hang out a lot. Around the same time we meet Poison, and by mid 1985 we were all swapping shows with each other, they would support JETBOY In SF & we would support them In LA until all of us were headlining the clubs. Those were some of the best times, It’s when there were no labels & we were just living the life playing shows. Some of the stand out gigs from that time were when JETBOY supported acts like Johnny Thunders, The Toy Dolls, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, The Cherry Bombs etc ….. As for staying In touch ?? Well, I think most people know what happened to our relationship with G N’R !! which seems to be repeating Itself after reading the Slash biography ! I keep In touch with Rikki Rockett, and I also hang out with Mick Cripps a lot. We see some of the other bands In LA, well everyone who is still playing music from that era that is.

Do you think that JETBOY and GUNS N’ROSES shared a lot of common influences, maybe more street rock’n’roll than most L.A bands at the time? It always seems like JETBOY was the right band at the wrong time and that it could have been bigger…

Yeah I do, It’s why we were so tight through the early years. We both had that punk rock/street edge which most bands playing our style of Rock N’ Roll did not have. As for JETBOY being the right band at the wrong time, It was definitely a timing thing, If our album had come out on Elektra Records In 1987 right after G N’ R’s Appetite JETBOY would have been huge ! I’m sure of that. The funny thing Is, now our history & all that bad timing stuff is working to our advantage, sure seems to be.

Of course, the saddest part is probably when JETBOY’s original bass player Todd Crew died from overdose. Then Sam Yaffa (HANOI ROCKS) joined the band, how did this happen? Did he move to San Francisco?

This is a very sad story and also a very touchy subject. Todd was let go from the band after quite a few warnings, It was an easy job at this point which was to play Rock N’ Roll at our best, look good and show up to a few meetings here & there. The last shot we gave was trying to get the G N’ R guys to help us interview Todd and get him help, they said Todd’s fine you guys just don’t know how to party ??? Unfortunately, Todd took the partying a bit far and at the end he could not handle it & died. Before we let Todd go our management had the one question to ask, If you guys could have any bass player out there who would It be ??? Hanoi Rocks being the group all us bands looked up to at the time of course Sami Yaffa was our first choice. Our manager knew someone at Warner Bros. over In Sweden where Sami was living at the time & when he got word about JETBOY Interested in seeing if he would want to join the band he went for It. At this time the band was now living In Hollywood early 1987, we had a meeting with Todd and let him go, then Sam was in and I gotta say it felt so good to be a gang again. Six months later Todd was In New York hanging out with Slash, they scored some heroin and Todd Overdosed and Slash freaked out and left, very fucked up story which is still suspect knowing Slash got away with no repercussions ??

Do you think rockers really changed their attitude towards drugs? Do you think that most of them are more responsible now?… It seems like it can be used as a way to publicize artists (Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty…) again.

Drugs will always be around, they always have been. Through all the years of Rock N’ Roll and way, way before. There seems to be someone from each generation that’s falls for it… Some people learn and move on from it and some don’t… If you are any kind of artist whether It be a musician, actor or model, If you get caught with drugs It’s gonna be all over the press because people love reading about it !!

What did you do after JETBOY stopped?

After the band was dropped in 1990 we moved back home to San Francisco, we tried to keep It going but it was clearly time to move on. The Seattle scene took over & it was a good thing because the whole Hollywood glam rock scene became a joke, Spinal Tap nailed It perfect. Now after 15 or more years this style of music from the 80’s is big again along with a new generation of fans, It’s a great thing to see and be a part of again. The cool thing is some of these bands still sound 80’s ….. But JETBOY still sounds just like a good Rock N’ Roll band !

Didn’t you tell me that you also toured with Chris Isaac as a guitar player?

Yes I did ! from 1996 through 1999. It was a BLAST working with Chris and his band ! great guys. I did some touring with them & I also was the tech In the studio for the album Speak Of The Devil !!

As a guitar player, you opened for many bands with your own ones. What would be the dream band for you to open for?

Yeah, JETBOY opened for a lot of cool bands like Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, Motley Crue, The Lords Of The New Church, Kix and so on ….. But for me and the rest of the guys, CHEAP TRICK was the ultimate band to share a stage with hands down !!

Can you tell us a bit about Rock N’Roll relics?

Rock N’ Roll Relics Is my custom guitar company, I basically build Telecaster & Stratocaster guitars and make them look as If they had been played on for 40 years ! beat up, rusty & just overall cool looking like you see Keith Richards or Joe Perry play, not a bad thing to do for work.

Any chance to see JETBOY in Europe?

Yes !!! JETBOY plan to tour Europe, hopefully this year !!??

Sam Yaffa

Is there anyone out here who wouldn’t enjoy collecting some thoughts of one of the most talented and enigmatic bass player on earth? We humbly did it, but also with a bit of pride. Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. Sam Yaffa…

When did you start playing music? Could you have ever imagined in your craziest dreams that you’d have such a long and brilliant career?

I started around 14 when I got my first bass.Played till my fingers bled and joined a bunch bands…thats kinda what I’ve done ever since.I’m lucky to have been able to make a living out of something I truly love.Also grateful for all the incredible musicians that I’ve had a chance to work with and consider as friends.

You played some gigs with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan between 1985 and 1986, what memories do you have of these times? You probably thought about those days when you got asked to join NEW YORK DOLLS?

Yea, playing w Johnny&Jerry was a good,messed up fun, got to do most of LAMF and a bunch Dolls w them, great memories.

You also recorded two wongs with SMACK, right? How was this experience? Were you close to the guys? Do you think this band should have become bigger?

We were drinking buddies in LA, some of the guys I’d known since teens,it was fun fucked up time in Hollywood, didn’t take it too serious.Smack was great.

What about the JETBOY days? How did you decide to join the band?

Nothing better to do, stuck in a snowstorm in Stockholm, my girlfriend had left and I was broke.Got a phone call from California, rest is history..

You created MAD JUANA in Spain, how did you get the idea of starting this band that sounds quite different from your other/previous bands?

I was sick and tired of doin the same old ,same old + after Demolition 23 breaking up I was demoralized, needed a change.Spain and jumping into something totally different cured my ills and opened my head and heart to other kinds of music, healed me.

From the outside, MAD JUANA looks like a big family. How would you define the way the band is working together and the spirit of the band?

Thats what it is, its a family thing where everyone does it for the love of the music, I really wish I had more time to dedicate to it, its frustrating sometimes.

You and your wife share a passion for music, which of you both decides what to listen to on the stereo at home once you’re back from tour?

We are not together as a couple anymore but continue to make music together and remain friends,so,I don’t have that problem no mo.

I read that you played with hardcore band MURPHY’S LAW for year? It must have been a different experience too.

Half a year, a violent,fast and beautiful experience, I loved playing w them.Punk,Ska,Reggae,R’n’R Ah!

There’s not much information about your days in the BLACKHEARTS and in VASQUEZ with Richard Bacchus? Can you tell us a bit about these experiences?

I played w Joan Jett for almost 2 years and loved the experience, she is incredible.We toured,toured,toured and then we toured again.Thommy Price the drummer was an old friend who hooked me up w Joan,she IS the hardest working lady in show biz, all respect. Vasquez w Ricky was a neighborhood thing.Rick and I lived on the same street, would go to the bar, book a gig, have a drink(s) play some R’n’R and then have some more drinks.I love Mr Ricky Bacchus.

You’ve been living in the USA for long now. Do you miss Europe sometimes? If so, for which reasons mainly?

I miss Europe a lot, thankfully I get to tour there a lot.I’ve had my heart in NYC for 2 decades now, I love the place.Would love to get a place in Europe as well next year.

You seem like a nice and pleasing person, did you ever think about playing annoying arrogant rockstar?

Heh,seen enough of those idiots, not pretty…

Here’s a question that probably won’t be an easy one. Imagine you can form a band with any members you have played with over the years. What would be the ideal line-up?

A big Band Of Massive proportions,5 guitarists,4 drummers, 1 Bass Player, 4 vocalists, add some horns, accordions and violins.

Sylvain,McCoy,Thunders,Suicide,Ginger,Nolan,Ferrer,Razzle,Scabies,Me,Monroe,Johansen,Bators,Karmen,Danny Ray,Frank London,Nico Camargo,Marni Rice,Zach Broch,Jone Takamaki….

Thats a band….

Some people (including us at Veglam!) think that 1980-1985 HANOI ROCKS was one of the best bands ever on earth. Don’t you somtimes think that you should have deserved more recognition? Why didn’t you?

Too Much Too Soon, ahead of time by 6 years….

What are the main differences between 70s NEW YORK DOLLS and today’s ones musicwise?

Its not as ruff anymore, Thunders and Nolan had a VERY individual style of playing that can not be duplicated.Band sound is ALWAYS about chemistry between the players

Can you tell us in a few words what these bands mean to you?:

Pelle Miljoona:

Oy My first love

Fallen Angels:

A lovely one night stand

Jerusalem Slim:

ugh, wish that broad had never entered my life

Alison Gordy’s band:

My big city woman

Demolition 23:

will kick you in the face,my 3rd love

According to you, what are the main qualities of a good bass player?


You’re now in the new Michael Monroe band, how was the reunion? Your first practice session together?

I love Michael,Have always loved him and will continue to love him.It sounds like home

You’ve got people like Antonin Artaud and Noam Chomsky on your MySpace top friends. What kind of books do you usually like to read? Are you reading any these days?

Yea, been on a big Bukowski kick, read all the time, all kinds of books.

What does an elegant hat wearing person like you think about Syl Sylvain’s homemade hats? Does he sometimes make some for you?

He owes one that rat bastard!