Interview: Mark Briody (Jag Panzer)

Jag Panzer are a heavy metal band from Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Jag Panzer have been constantly releasing great albums since 1984 and just recently released their latest, ‘The Scourge of the Light.

Mark Briody, the guitar player, recently agreed  to do  an interview with me, so check it out after the jump.

Dose of Metal: First of all, thank you for accepting an interview with Dose Of Metal. Besides releasing ‘The Scourge of the Light,’ what else have you been up to?

Mark Briody: I’ve been swamped doing press right now.  Before that it was filming and editing the video for ‘Burn.’  So I’ve been pretty busy with things related to ‘The Scourge of the Light.’  Some of the other guys are looking into tour options.  We’ve all got a lot on our plates.

DoM: It took you seven years to release ‘The Scourge of the Light.’ What the heck took you guys so long?

MB : The bulk of time was spent contractually tied up with Century Media, who wanted a live album from us.   I don’t mean that in a negative way though.  Century Media were actually very cool to work with.  We never sold a lot of albums with them, so subsequently the live album budget was tiny (3 grand).  We tried for years to produce a live for that, but we couldn’t.  We couldn’t even get one recorded for that amount, much less mix it.  So finally Century Media released us and we hooked up with SPV.

DoM: ‘The Scourge of the Light’ is a fantastic album from start to finish. The only trouble I’m having with this album is deciding my favorite track. I’m loving the melody in ‘The Setting of the Sun,’ but then you have ‘Burn’ that’s an absolute beast of a track with awesome riffing. I also can’t forget the epic closer, ‘The Book Of Kells.’ Please officially name the best song.

MB: Thanks! We always close albums with an epic [track], so I’m partial to those.  But beyond ‘Kells’ I seem to have a different favorite song every week.  ‘Condemned to Fight’ is probably my current favorite.  It was ‘Burn,’ but spending 21 straight hours editing the video has made me a little tired of that song.

DoM: What do you think of the long-time comparison between the current illegal downloading and the tape trading that was so popular in the 1980s? What advice would you have for young metal bands starting out?

MB: I know some guys that treat mp3s like tape trading, meaning they sample the music then buy the real CD if they like it.  I’m the same way.  I think that’s totally cool, that’s a great use of mp3s.  Unfortunately, I think that for every person that does this, there are 2 other people that illegally download the music and never buy anything.  This really hurts the bands.  Bands put a lot of time and effort into recording music.  My advice for young bands starting out is to take a good hard look at how this business works.  If you really want a career as a musician, then you need to look into the income sources (which is t-shirts in today’s market).  It’s unfortunate that it’s become nearly impossible to earn a living by playing music.  Most of the bands I know earn the majority of their income from shirt sales.

DoM: What are you listening to these days?

MB: The same stuff I usually do – Accept, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Skyclad, Angelwitch, etc.  I also like some newer stuff like Grand Magus and While Heaven Wept. But since St Patrick’s Day is approaching, today I’ve been listening to Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and music like that.

DoM: Like most bands, you guys are on popular social network sites like Myspace, Twitter and Facebook, but what I find surprising, is that you’re registered and post on various message boards as well. I think that’s awesome.

MB: I have a lot of fun doing that.  It’s cool talking metal with people,  that’s the best way to find out about new music or bands that I somehow missed.  It also helps me keep people updated on Jag Panzer.  There are a lot of questions and misconceptions about the band (like why is Ample not reissued, why did Scourge take so long, etc).  Me being available on a forum lets me address those questions directly.

DoM: What genre would you fit Jag Panzer into? I’ve heard you guys being called power metal, traditional heavy metal and speed metal (more so in the Ample Destruction days). You guys incorporate everything so it’s a little tricky finding one genre for Jag Panzer.

MB: I call us a traditional metal band in the vein of Maiden and Priest.  We’ve got elements of those bands in us along with our other influences like Deep Purple, Rainbow and UFO.  I don’t mind the other labels though like power metal.  People can call us whatever they like.

DoM: Which country do you think has the most dedicated metal fan base?

MB: I haven’t been to South America, so I won’t mention them (their huge concerts there look amazing).  One could make a case that the U.S. has a very dedicated fan base.  It’s a small fan base, but those in the scene tend to be very supportive of the bands.  Greece and Germany have long been hallmarks in the metal scene. Canada is cool too, I love playing up there.

DoM: I’m going to list you seven guitar players. Feel free to give your opinion on them:

Wolf Hoffmann

MB: The most underrated guitarist in metal.  He’s the closest player to Randy Rhoads we’ve had since Rhoads died.  His solo to ‘Love Child’ is one of the best solos ever recorded.

Scott Ian

MB: Ian is one of a handful of guys that put rhythm guitar playing on the map.  I’m not a big Anthrax fan, but he’s done a lot to advance metal rhythm guitar.

Chris Broderick

MB: Easily one of the best guitarists on the planet.  His technique is mind boggling.  He can literally play anything that anyone else can.  He’s a really nice guy too.

Jon Schaffer

MB: Jon’s a beast on the guitar.  I’ve seen the press portray him as a jerk, which I completely disagree with.  Jon’s a straight-up honest guy.  I like Jon, both as a musician and as a friend.

Kirk Hammett

MB: I’ve gotten in arguments with people over the years about Kirk Hammett.  Calling him ‘one of the greatest guitarists in metal’ is a bit silly, he isn’t one of the greatest.  But on the flipside, he certainly doesn’t suck by any means.  He gets the job done.  Metallica is one of the biggest bands in the world and he’s a major part of that.

Tony Iommi

MB: The best songwriter in metal.  Iommi is brilliant.  He’s also got a very unique style that no one else can seem to duplicate.  Listen to cover versions of Sabbath songs, people get close but the feel isn’t quite there.

Brad Delson

MB: I had to look up the name because I wasn’t familiar with him.  I’ve heard Linkin Park a few times and decided they aren’t for me.  So I can’t really comment on his playing.

DoM: Jag Panzer had been part of the Century Media family since Harry rejoined the band, but you recently decided to sign with SPV. What made you decide that SPV was the right label for you in 2011?

MB : We were looking for a label to fund, distribute and promote our music, but otherwise leave us alone.  We wanted a company with a ‘hands off’ approach, but one that could still do some good promotion.  Which actually had several offers from labels (which was cool) but SPV seemed like the best fit.

DoM: What is your opinion of the whole Charlie Sheen mess?

MB : Sheen needs help.  He’s a talented guy, I’ve enjoyed some of his movies and shows.  But his recent interviews seem so wacky and bizarre.  I don’t know what’s up with him.  I hope he gets things work out.

DoM: You guys haven’t scheduled a tour yet for your new album. Any idea when you will hit the road?

MB : We’re looking into touring options now.  The new album has opened a few more doors for us.  We’ve got some good offers on the table, so we’re looking into them and trying to determine what the best fit is for us.

DoM: Which albums or songs would you recommend to someone who isn’t familiar with Jag Panzer? ‘Thane to the Throne’ was the album that started it for me, but I’m not sure if that’s the album I’d start a newbie off with.

MB: I think the new album ‘The Scourge of the Light’ would be a great place to start, I think it’s a very good representation of our music.  But beyond that, I’d suggest ‘Mechanized Warfare’.  ‘Thane to the Throne’ is my favorite, but I don’t think I’d recommend a concept album for someone to sample the band.  As far as individual songs, anything off the new album is cool.  Beyond that, I’d recommend ‘The Mission’ from ‘Casting the Stones’, I love that song.

DoM: Thanks again for the interview, anything you’d like to say to our readers?

MB: Thank you.  And thanks for everyone that listens to Jag Panzer.  We have a small but dedicated following, and I really appreciate that.

To purchase ‘The Scourge of the Light’, click here

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