Mastering Their Metal
CoC interviews Jag Panzer
by: Adrian Bromley
Jag Panzer are lucky. Very lucky. While the band has been around for fifteen years, they could have easily written off their careers back in 1993 when their promising but ill-received effort _Dissident Alliance_ failed to ignite metal fans.

The band kept on demo-ing material through the next few years and eventually got the interest of Century Media, who signed them up. In 1997, they released the crushing and hypnotic _The Fourth Judgment_ to rave reviews and just a mere eleven months later the band serves up another heaping dose of progressively-charged metal in the form of _The Age of Mastery_. Powerful? Yes. Revamped, regrouped and in control, Jag Panzer is on the prowl again.

"Man... it has been a busy last few months for us," starts guitarist Mark Briody over the phone from his home state Colorado. "Making records. Touring. Interviews. It's all been good."

But it hasn't always been this good, especially a few years back. Right? "Yeah. It was a total surprise for us to get back into the groove with the record [_The Fourth Judgment_] and signing to Century Media. We had to start from square one again, but that was fine with us. We started gaining fans again and things just seemed right to make this an important thing in our lives once again. I was surprised on the whole effect that this record had. I was quite pleased."

"Having such a strong release and support, that carried over into the making of _The Age of Mastery_. We were gung-ho about doing another record. I thought that, by doing a record so rapidly after the success of _The Fourth Judgment_, that there would be a backlash to us, but it was actually the opposite. We did really well out of the starting gate in Europe. Making records so back to back was something new to us, as people had known us to be a band to make and put out records several years apart. This record has done really well for us and that is great. Both records have done well when they came out. This record has done a bit better than the last one in response, though I could care less about which gets more recognition, as I like both equally."

And the reasoning for a new record in just eleven months? Was it rushed? "I don't think so at all. It seemed like the right time to follow up the success of _The Fourth Judgment_. Had we not been a band that had been playing together for so long, it might have turned up bad. But it didn't. We felt very comfortable doing the record quickly -- not to say I would want to do another record every eleven months, but it's a learning experience and a fun one at that."

"Doing this record was such a blast for us. Before we went into the studio, we all talked about doing whatever the hell we wanted on this record. Everyone was going to do whatever they wanted to do and add it to the record," quips Briody. "If Harry wanted to scream his head off on any other song, that'd be cool. Our drummer wanted to do a fast double-bass tone. We went ahead and did so. We improvised a lot on this record and it ended up with a strong, fun vibe."

About the success in the last few years, he states: "We are just starting to see how good of a band we really are. While on tour, we were totally in sync with one another. We worked well, better than we have over the last few years. We all had this amazing attitude from the get-go and knowing just how much fun it was to be in a band. That really transcended into this record." He adds: "Things have changed for the band over the years in terms of our musical preferences, but our general focus has been all along the same lines for each band member. We know what we want to do. It's all very simple, because we all get along so well."

The band -- guitarist Chris Broderick, drummer Rikard Stjernquist, bassist John Tetley and singer Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin -- have no qualms about being perceived as an old school-style band (i.e., veterans), but live large in the notion that they are as good as any other band out there nowadays. "I can't really see us being an old band. Our stuff is new and fresh. It's not stagnant. Our music is very pleasant and in charge. We're not doing the whole "retro-revival" thing. We're playing music the way we see fit to do so."

"Our music has a lot of elements in it," explains Briody. "We have elements of progressive metal, speed and a bit of that '80s sound happening. It's great to be able to do that and make it sound so good. So many bands out there nowadays try to incorporate a style into their music and sometimes it seems contrived. If they do it for artistic reasons, it's OK because they want a part of it, but if they do it to just fit in, then I have a problem with it. We've never tried to tail coat any other style or sound. We're always about doing our own thing and dabbling into other areas if we seem fit to do so."

After so many years, how does the band stay focused to do this? "Playing music together comes so naturally for us. Even though we had years of not having a record deal, or no fan mail coming in, or no singer [Conklin had left the band], we still jammed a couple of times a week. We did this regardless of not seeing much success. It was about just hanging out and playing guitar and jamming for us all. It was just fun. I still do have fun. I wanted to do this ever since we had our first band in high school and were able to play "God of Thunder" by Kiss the whole way through. That was when I knew this was our calling -- to be a full-time band."

One thing that runs deep for Briody is fan contact. His love for talking to fans is a big deal for him. It's all about being accessible to your fans, he notes. "I love doing press and having fans read about us. It's a good way for them to know what we are all about. I also do a lot of correspondence with our fans over the Internet. It's great to be able to talk to them and answer all of their questions. I like going on news groups and chat channels under the moniker of Jag Panzer and just talking to fans about our music and metal music in general. It's a great way of exposure for your band and to just be able to see and hear how people feel about music in general."

(article submitted 19/11/1998)


CHATS
10/19/2001 A Bromley Jag Panzer: Unstoppable Progressive Metal Machine
8/12/2000 A Bromley Jag Panzer: Staging a New Sound
ALBUMS
8/12/2000 A Bromley 8 Jag Panzer - Thane to the Throne
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