Jaime St. James, lead singer of Black 'n Blue, is in a unique position these days. With Black 'n Blue having only minimal success in their initial decade run (1981-1989), Jaime is ready to reintroduce Black 'n Blue to the masses, with a new CD, entitled "Hell Yeah!" Although, there have been a few live, and demo compilations released over the years, "Hell Yeah!" is the first new 'studio' album, to be released by the band in 23 years. In a lot of ways, Black 'n Blue will be a new band for many listeners, as this prospect seems to have Jaime St. James excited, and ready to write a new chapter for Black 'n Blue. As they say, "Old things become new again." This couldn't be truer for "the Saint."
On April 23rd, Jaime spent a good portion of his morning, talking to us here, at RockMusicStar.Com. We discussed his Black 'n Blue past, the new album, his short time in Warrant, and his psychic KISS powers (you'll have to read it to believe it). Jaime is far from a saint (LOL), but genuinely a good guy, from the tainted 80's rock music scene.
RockMusicStar: To start things out, let's go back to the "Nasty Nasty" CD. As great as that record is - I personally rank it up there, as one of the best mid to late 80's albums out there - it seemed to be a downward turning point in the band's career. What happened, or what didn't happen at that point, to really make Black 'n Blue take off, as a successful group?
Jaime St. James: "Nasty Nasty" came out in '87, and was the follow up to "Without Love." I love the "Without Love" record, but it was Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock and the record company, REALLY taking control of us. Trying to get us to become commercial. But "Nasty Nasty" was us saying, "Hey, we want control back." That's why we asked Gene Simmons to be our producer, because we knew he would be on our side. It was kind of us wanting to return to what we want to do. It was a good record. I think a lot of things were done wrong with us. It may have been our fault partially. Maybe the record company's fault as well. We weren't really handled right. Luck just wasn't on our side, for some reason. I think we've done a lot of really good records, and I can't tell you how many times people tell me, "You guys should have been way bigger than you were."
RMS: Did the band ever "officially" break up or just become inactive?
JSJ: We kind of fizzled apart. We released "In Heat" in '88, and then we went on tour. Then we slowly fell apart. We lost our record deal, after doing four albums on Geffen. At that point, it got kind of difficult. We tried to keep going at it, as we were writing songs and working with Gene Simmons still. And Gene Simmons wanted to put us on his label, as at the time he had Simmons Records. We just felt it wasn't working anymore. It was also during a time when we were just coming into the '90's, and our kind of music, was kind of on the 'out.'
I think the first thing that happened was that Tommy (Thayer) just kind of went on his way. And without Tommy, I just kind of went my own way. Slowly, we just kind of fell apart. And we didn't get back together until 10 years later.
RMS: So when the band reunited in 1997 and recorded the concert for the subsequent "One Night Only" CD, was there any real plans for Black 'n Blue to reunite at that point, or was it just for the purpose of recording and releasing that CD?
JSJ: No, there was no plans for us to reunite at that time. We did that show, purposely, to do a live record. That's all we did it for. And in my opinion, it's a great sounding live record. It really wasn't the right time for Black 'n Blue to get back together. In the mid '90's, it really wasn't going to be accepted that well. Bands like us, we all had to ride out the '90's a little bit. Now it's nice to be back and doing things.
RMS: The only time I saw you live, was when you were touring with Ron Keel, around 2000. One thing that really stuck in my mind, was when we were talking after the show, we were talking about KISS. At this point, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were still in the band (for the Farewell Tour), but you had predicted that KISS would continue beyond the Farewell Tour, with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer in the band. Are you psychic? (LOL)
JSJ: I know the guys in KISS pretty well. I've done a lot of stuff with them, and hung around with them. I love Ace. Ace is an awesome guy. I had one of the funnest nights of my life, hanging out with Ace Frehley. We hung out at his place, when he was staying in LA. We went out to the Rainbow. Me and Ace laughed for hours. He's a great dude. But I see the friction between him and Gene & Paul. I just knew what was up. But No, I'm not psychic. (Laughs)
RMS: Well, as you 'predicted,' Tommy Thayer went on to replace Ace in 2002/2003, and at that time, you reunited Black and Blue, and started to write and record "Hell Yeah!" Could you please give us a summary of the chain of events that took place, from you starting to work on "Hell Yeah!" in 2003, up until 2011, when it's finally coming out?
JSJ: It all started with me getting a solo record deal over in England. I had some cash, since I got a deal, and I decided to turn it (what would have been a solo album) into a Black 'n Blue record. The time was right, and thought, "Why am I doing a solo thing, when I should be doing Black 'n Blue?" So I called those guys and they agreed to it. I called Jeff "Woop" Warner and Patrick Young, and said, "Yeah, let's do it." A lot of it had to do with Jeff, because he had a recording studio at the time. So, needless to say, the label was pretty happy that they were going to get a Black 'n Blue record instead.
So we started it, we were working on it, getting things going, then I got the call to join Warrant. I decided that would be something very good for me, so I did it. I just needed to go out and play. I love to play live. I told the guys in Warrant that I was working on a Black 'n Blue record, and told them I could do both things at the same time. They said they didn't care, as long as I showed up for the gigs.
When Jani Lane came back to Warrant, I was freed up again, and really wanted to concentrate on the Black 'n Blue record. Then Jeff lost his studio and we had no place to record. So we had to find a new place to record and some new engineers. It also took a lot of time, since I live in LA, and the other guys, live in Portland. So we were flying everybody back and forth on a limited budget. It was a lot of rough going. But then Frontiers took over, and bought us off our other label. From there, it went really smooth and really great. We're in a great place now, but it took us a long time to get here.
RMS: Speaking of Warrant, did you get a lot of flack from Warrant fans, that the album ("Born Again") sounded more like a Jaime St. James record, as opposed to a Warrant record?
JSJ: Warrant should sound like Jani Lane, and Jani Lane should sing for Warrant. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. If I'm going to do a Warrant record, I'm gonna sing like me. I know there's a lot of people who love the Warrant record, and there's a lot of people who can't stand it. I don't blame people that don't like it. If you wanna hear Warrant, you better go dig out "Cherry Pie" or "Dog Eat Dog," which I think is their best record.
I did my version of it, and at the same time, I really contributed only 30% of my true self to it, because I have to be what THEY want. I think it's a good record. There's a lot of people who like it, and a lot of people who hate it. And if you hate it, BLOW ME! (Laughs)
RMS: It's too bad Tommy Thayer didn't participate on "Hell Yeah!" What's the truth to the rumors that he has something stipulated into his contract that he can't work with you guys?
JSJ: I got to the bottom of that, because I heard the same things. I asked him if that was in his contract (that he couldn't participate in Black 'n Blue), and he goes, "No." Basically his situation in KISS is - "You are our guitarist, that's it. If you wanna do something with anyone else, you have to run it through us." It's not in a contract. It's not like he's going to explode. (Laughs) He's gotta run it by them, and deservingly so. He's their guitarist now, and they've let us play with him 3 or 4 times now. I can't blame him. If he wasn't in KISS, he'd be in Black 'n Blue right now. That's my belief.
RMS: Have you gotten any feedback from Tommy on the new CD?
JSJ: He hasn't heard the finished product. I was over at his house a few times and played him some stuff that was recorded before we mixed, and said, "You guys don't need me. You sound great!"
RMS: Do you have any favorite songs off of "Hell Yeah!?"
JSJ: I think the one that keeps standing out for me is "Target." I love "Target." That thing just kicked my ass because it really suits me. I love "Hail Hail." I especially love the thing I did in the middle, where I sound like Hitler yelling at people.
RMS: Now that you have the CD coming out, are you trying to set up any touring? What are your future plans?
JSJ: Right now, the only thing we have booked is the M3 festival (May 14th) outside of Baltimore, MD. Other than that, we have nothing on the books. We're gonna see what happens. No one really understands what Black 'n Blue is yet, because the album comes out May 17th (May 13th in Europe). We may go to Europe, we may get on a (package) tour, I don't know. I think we need to re-establish ourselves before anything can happen.
For more on Jaime St. James and Black 'n Blue go to www.jaimestjames.com