Seven Witches - The Witch's Wrath

Interview with Jack Frost

By Joe Who?

The metal underground is a large vast wasteland made up of a lot of different characters. Some examples include; Clowns, Ghouls, Demons, Wizards, but for the sake of this article I'll focus on, Oh, I don't know, let's see - Grim Reapers, No, Zombies, Nah, I got it - I'll go with Witches! Seriously though, and all joking aside, the key word in metal underground is "metal", and when it comes to playing it that way - you know, The Old School, Fist Pumping, Head Banging, Traditional Power Metal way - look no further than guitar shredder Jack Frost.

Not to get out of the context of this article, but the multi-talents of Jack Frost, or pardon the pun, this Jack-Of-All-Trades can't be denied. His list of credentials are very impressive, with production credits, roles in numerous bands, (such as; Savatage, Metalium, and Bronx Casket Company) and not to mention his guitar "wizardry", have made him a force to be reckoned with on the scene.

The band that's in the spotlight here though, is one of his major priorities, his bread and butter if you will, that band being of course - Seven Witches. Formed back in the late ninties, his all-star "super-group" of top notch musicians, and good friends continue to impress with each new album, capturing the essence, and true spirit of "classic" sounding heavy metal.

I had an opportunity to speak with Jack, back in Febuary 2005 after their show in Milwaukee Wisconsin at Vnuks Lounge. Please take note that since this interview was conducted, Seven Witches lineup has changed, and they will have a new release coming out shortly.

This interview documents what can now be dubbed as, "Year Of The Witch" era material...

Wormwood Chronicles: Jack, this is the second Seven Witches album you've collaborated on with James. Did this album go more smoother, now that you've worked together, and know each others abilities better?

Jack Frost: This record went a lot smoother, because on the first record when me and James got together, it was a learning experience, and we were feeling each other out. This is actually the third record we've done together, because I produced and mixed the Distant Thunder record. I knew how he sang, and he knew how I played guitar, it was much more gradual. The first record there was a lot of second guessing each other. This one just went a lot more smoothly, because we knew each other. It's like when you date somebody, you know? The first couple of years, you feel each other out, and then you know. It just got better and better as we got to know each other. It was really smooth, like a babys ass!

WC: You guys have been releasing a new Seven Witches album every year, for the last few releases. Do you usually write a bunch of material in advance and spread it out over albums? or is each new album you do fresh?

JF: I think it's always fresh. I mean I'm always writing, but I think the stuff that goes into witches work is always first up. I write a lot, and the stuff I don't use for witches, I put away, and I'll go back to it later and listen to it. I usually don't write full songs. I'll write some really cool riffs, and I'll keep them forever, that's how we do it. I mean we really don't try to come up with the idea of - "Let's Come Up With New Stuff", from start to finish, but you know, I'll go back, and go - Oh, that's a great riff, let's use that for something else, you know?

WC: So for the writing process of a Seven Witches record, do you and James usually work separately on lyrics for songs? Or do you both collaborate?

JF: I'll come up with a song or an idea, and I'll send James some ideas, and it'll go back and forth. On "Passage To The Other Side", me and Joey (Vera) wrote a lot of stuff, and even on this new record Joey wrote a bunch of stuff with me. We just kept going back and forth, you know? What do you think of this lyric?... What do you think of that?... Hey, this is a cool part, why don't we use this?... Nah, it's not quite there yet. So we bounce off each other non-stop.

You know what man? The day we go into the studio, and we have a song already rehearsed and everything, it never sounds like it did the day we went into the studio. It's complete change and stuff, as you go along. It's really weird, you'll be in the studio, and you just come up with something as you go along.

WC: Releasing a new Seven Witches album every year, was this where the idea came from for the title of your new album - "Year Of The Witch"?

JF: No, we came up with the title "Year Of The Witch", because we were trying to say - We busted our ass for years, and this record is going to be our year. We really tried to put everything we possibly could into this record, so that's how we came up with "Year Of The Witch".

WC: "Metal Asylum" is a great metal anthem on the new album. So were all these bands mentioned in the song an influence on you as a musician?

JF: Oh, My God, yeah man. I mean Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, these are the pioneers everyone forgets. Even Motley Crue and Quiet Riot, growing up those bands were like... I mean the first Motley Crue record, when you first saw them, you were like - Whoa, what's this? Quiet Riot was big on the airwaves forever, Rose Tattoo, all these bands, you know? We did really weird things too, like we don't mention the name of the band, but we mention a song, like "Creeping Death", so you know it's Metallica...

WC: My favorite one was - "Scream For Me Long Beach". (laughing)

JF: Yeah, to me those were the three best; the zeppelin thing, the maiden thing, and the dave one (david lee roth) was just awesome!

WC: You have a song on the new album called - "If You Were God", that was written by Dave Ellefson. (formely of Megadeth) How did this come about? Did you get a hold of him or vice versa? Did you feel his song fit what you were doing with this album?

JF: Me and Dave were friends for awhile, and we were writing back and forth, and he sent me this song he worked on that John Bush (Anthrax, Armored Saint) sang on originally, and I was blown away by it. When the time came to do the record, Dave said - Hey, if you want to use this for witches, I would be honored. We reworked it a little bit, and that's how it came into play. It's a great song.

WC: Did he write that back in the Megadeth days?

JF: Yeah, it was something he was doing durning the Megadeth days.

WC: So the song didn't really fit Megadeth at all...

JF: I think it would have. It definitely has a Megadeth feel to it, but I guess Dave (Mustaine) is the main song writer. In Seven Witches, it's open, anyone can write, anyone can bring in anything they want.

WC: Was there any plans for Dave to play on the album, after Joey left?

JF: He offered it to us, but once Dennis (Hayes) did the Overkill tour, (Overkill / Seven Witches - European Tour) we kind of knew we found the guy, you know? Let's get one thing straight, Joey never really left. He's still one of my best friends in the world, and when he got offered the Anthrax gig, he called me up and told me. You know what man? Bottom line is, I would have killed him if he didn't take the gig. I mean he's my friend, we'll always work together in the future. He'll probably come back and produce some stuff for me, or probably play on my solo record. I'm proud of him, I'm glad for him, because he's a real friend.

WC: Well, I guess you pretty much summed up my next question, which was going to be - Will Joey still be part of the team on future albums?

JF: For sure. Yeah, he'll definately bring some stuff to the table.

WC: What's the story behind the song - "Jacob"? Is this the sequel to the song "Johnny", from your previous album - "Passage To The Other Side"?

JF: No, No "Jacob" is a whole new concept. It's about a gentleman that wakes up in the night with this recurring dream. There's a little boy in a cemetery, and he dosen't understand why he has the sleepless nights, and he dosen't understand why he's so tortured all the time. As time goes on in the story, you learn that Jacob is the guardian angel, and he (the gentleman) realizes that he's Jacob as a boy. His youthfulness is trying to bring him into the afterworld, because he needs his rest finally, after breaking loose from a guy in purgatory. If you notice at the end of the story, he wakes up, and we never let you know if it was true or a dream.

WC: Here's a question I thought I'd ask, being that were here in Milwaukee. Last year you guys played the Milwaukee Metalfest, and you got your set cut short. A few weeks later, I read that Jack Koshick (Promoter Of MMF) shorted you guys money. Did that issue ever get settled?

JF: Nope, he never paid me.

WC: How much does he owe you?

JF: Only a thousand dollars. You know what dude? We came here, we busted our ass, and we played a great show. You know what? We saved it, I don't care what anybody says, I'm not like that, but we kicked ass that night. The bands he had on it, were all these kids paying all sorts of money to play. We went on before The Misfits, and we did a sick job for him. We were supposed to play an hour, but only got to play twenty minutes. I hope that he gets to read this. I hope that he has enough respect for a band like us, and finally pays us the money. I'm telling you right now, I hear he's going to put on another Milwaukee Metalfest, I will show up at the show with the police on that day. I just want what's rightly owed to this band, that's all I ask for.

WC: I was there, that whole fest was so unorganized it was ridiculous. I think almost every band that played had their set cut short. I remember James actually giving Koshick props, and saying he's been keeping metal alive for eighteen years, and that these things happen. He was real professional about it, and Koshick still can't even pay you guys? What a messed up situation.

JF: Oh, yeah.

WC: Did you read Jack's side of the story?

JF: No. Did he admit that he didn't pay us?

WC: If I remember right, I think it was more of a threatening thing by him. He said something like - Oh, he's full of shit, I know where he lives, I'm going to send someone to Jersey to kick his ass...

JF: He said that...

WC: Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I wish I would have printed it out. This was last year when I read it...

JF: Well, I have a bounced check, that shows that he never paid me...

WC: That's what I heard...

JF: I kept it, just to prove a point. So he's gonna send someone down to Jersey to kick my ass? Isn't that funny? First he says he paid me, then he turns around and says it's bullshit and he's going to send someone down to Jersey to kick my ass. That's double talking.

WC: Here's a question I thought I'd ask you, being that you're a guitar player. I was wondering if you could share any stories, memories, or thoughts of Dimebag Darrell. Did you ever get a chance to meet him?

JF: Oh, My God, many times. Just the most amazing guy, wow, what a player for the fans. Many years ago, probably around "Cowboys From Hell", that era, we played a place called The Basement, in Dallas, and he came to the show, and he was real cool to us. I also met him years and years after that at different various things. When I got the Savatage gig, he was really happy for me, and then I saw him - I hate to say it - two months before he passed away...

WC: I saw him two weeks, before he passed away...

JF: Uh-Huh, and I saw him in New Jersey, when he was on tour. They (Damageplan) opened up for Disturbed, and when they were done playing, I was walking by and he goes - Hey you, get your ass over here, you're going to do a shot with me. I don't drink a lot, but he made me do a shot, and he gave me the biggest hug and everything, and it was like...

WC: He was a very down to earth person...

JF: Not only that, he didn't forget the people that were cool with him. He goes - How you doin' man? Still kicking ass huh? He was just awesome.

WC: Thanks for your time Jack. Do you have any last words for your fans out there?

JF: As usual, I thank them, they have always been so amazing. All these years, they never let me down. What can I say? They are always there for you, they are great people, and I thank them very much.

Seven Witches' Official Website

Jack Frost's Website