Editor’s Note: A few years back, I remember seeing very funny comedy Don Jamieson on VH1’s “That Metal Show” featuring Jim Florentine and Eddie Trunk and thinking not only he’s a very funny guy, but he is a metal aficionado. On February 21st, Don Jamieson released “Denim and Laughter” with the help of Biff Byford of Saxon himself! Don recently wrapped up emceeing the Monsters of Rock Cruise and also emceed The Masquerade Rock Fest featuring Puddle of Mudd, Fuel and Sponge this past December in New York. He will be on tour with Biff Byford of Saxon coming up. In this interview with Madness To Creation, Don Jamieson discusses “Denim and Laughter”, mental health awareness, and some amazing bands and albums that he loves! Fans can find Don Jamieson at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: You have released “Denim and Laughter” on February 21st via Metal Blade Records! Take us into the release and your comedy which derives from the music that you love!
Don: Thanks for having me first of all and sorry I was late, had a lot going on, the music is sort of an extension of the comedy, I’m just trying not to be the old guy on the stage yelling at the kids, I still have a lot of passion and rage on stage but I certainly don’t want to be the guy wagging my finger to yell “get off my lawn”, but at the same time we live in this bizarre world of political correctness, triggering and hashtags and all of that stuff, I make fun of those things as well, as far as my musical growth, instead of getting more mellow with age, I get more intense with my age, as far as right now, I’ve spent the last five years in death metal, the screams, I just love it. I love the classic bands of course, like Saxon, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, for some reason, the older I get, the more extreme my tastes get, so I’m digging Gatecreeper now.
Madness To Creation: You brought up political correctness, what pisses you off about it?
Don: The thing is, if you took a poll of everybody in a comedy audience and ask “what’s your sensitivity”, everybody would have a different thing, and then I would have nothing to talk about, at some point, you have to say, “listen, we’re all adults, we understand that we’re going to have some laughs over some cocktails, and we’re here to laugh”, that’s the most important thing. It’s for the guy or the girl that works 40 hours a week, they have kids and they don’t get out that much and they come out to a club, they don’t want to be preached to, let’s not give a few f’s already!
Madness To Creation: What advice would you have for aspiring comedians?
Don: Make stuff as personal to you as possible, I do a lot more stories in my act, if you tell a story that is actually personal to you, you can get away with a lot more stuff because you’re putting something into a context, right? If you went on stage and told some of my jokes, people would know immediately and say, “no, that’s Don Jamieson’s joke about Kip Winger or that’s Don Jamieson’s joke about serial killers” or whatever the topic is, if you’re very generic then it’s sort of interchangeable, make it personal and don’t have an ego about your material, if it gets a laugh it stays in the act, if it doesn’t then it stays as a scrap of paper on your desk, you might get back to it later, maybe not.
Madness To Creation: What was the writing process like for you for “Denim and Laughter”?
Don: It’s a writing process of a couple of years of writing material and honing it on stage. For me, all of my comedy albums have the packaging tied into it that’s rock related, with one being Thin Lizzy’s “Alive and Dangerous” and I had “Hell Bent for Laughter”, which is Judas Priest’s “Hell Bent For Leather”, and now this is “Denim and Laughter”, which is “Denim and Leather” by Saxon, so incorporating a little bit of that into the creative process, if people don’t get the reference, it’s fine, they can still enjoy the album. For the rock people in my crowd, it just gives it another level of humor, where they say, “oh, he’s doing a parody of this album or that album”, as far as the material, I like to connect with those that just like comedy in my audience with those that like rock in my audience, so that’s important to me. And the setting is important, I did this in an illegal speakeasy club in Los Angeles, which was great, I could’ve done it in a comedy club or in a theater, but I was like, “I want to get this vibe going where it’s like we’d be raided by the cops at any moment”, I figured it would be a good ending to my album as I get dragged out in handcuffs.
Madness To Creation: What would you be arrested for?
Don: This was an actual illegal club, they were charging admission, selling liquor and everything, but Los Angeles County doesn’t know anything about it, we didn’t let the audience know until the morning of the performances because we couldn’t let the cat out of the bag and risk getting shut down, so that added an extra layer of danger into the night.
Madness To Creation: Take us into the gig where you’re thinking, “I want to make people laugh for a living”.
Don: I’m still trying to find that moment! *laughs* That’s the thing with comedy, you never wake up and say, “that’s it, I’ve mastered it”, I mean Jerry Seinfeld still goes out and performs, Chris Rock still goes out and performs and goes into the small clubs and works on the material, it’s always an ongoing process, with this album, you’re never like, “I’ve totally got this down I totally know what I’m doing”, then you go to start writing new material, and you go, “no, this stuff is better”, it’s a never-ending cycle, at the end of the day, when I have enough for a record, I put it out and that’s it, those are the jokes for the album that represent that point in time, and then it’s time to move on to the next chapter, whatever that is and to figure out what other band’s work I’m going to steal.
Madness To Creation: Fun question for you, you’re stranded on a deserted island and you can only have five albums with you, which albums would you have?
Don: That’s sort of like asking, “what’s your top five bands” and when I think about that, I think about “what bands do I have the most albums in my collection”, immediately I’m thinking having a Black Sabbath album on there, for me Savatage, Saxon would be in my top five, you can’t go wrong with “Denim and Leather” but they’ve put out some great new ones as well, AC/DC would be in there, I wouldn’t be stranded somewhere without some AC/DC, they can play those same three chords a million different ways and it sounds phenomenal no matter what way they do it, Thin Lizzy would have to be in there for me, no doubt about it, I’ll take the “Bad Reputation” album in there, Motorhead, “Ace of Spades” is a classic, their album “Motorizer” it’s more of a modern album, but it has the best quality in terms of songwriting, production, it would either be “Motorizer” or “1916”. Those are my five!
Madness To Creation: What’s one band on your radar that mainstream media might not know about yet, but they’ll blow up in a year or two?
Don: Besides the death metal bands that I was mentioning earlier, there are some great young bands out there that I think are fantastic, I love the band The East Side Gamblers, it’s based on Tony Higbee, who is the guitar player and they’re out of the east side of Nashville, they’re just high energy straight ahead rock-n-roll, I would love to get them out on the road, they’re just such a good band that must be heard. I love another band out of Orange County, California called Them Evils, I toured with them, it was myself, them and Pop Evil all together, three guys, retro-sounding, kind of have a 70’s vibe, they’re great performers, they have an EP out that people can check out, then I would say Crobot, I’ve been with those guys since the beginning, they knock it out of the park with their album “MOTHERBRAIN”, for me those are the three young hungry bands that are invading us right now, God Bless!
Madness To Creation: Check out The Jab as well, they’re opening for Crobot, they have such a strong bluesy vibe!
Don: I will, thanks man!
Madness To Creation: Music definitely helps with mental health, here at Madness To Creation we discuss mental health awareness in terms of normalizing mental health conversations, what helps you get through in case you’re struggling or what advice do you have for our readers and listeners about it?
Don: For me, doing standup for 20 years and being a part of the rock scene and all that, whenever you can sort of do it and give back at the same time, that definitely makes things a little bit more special. For me, doing standup is a great outlet for my mental health because I get to go on stage and delve for 45 minutes and I kind of feel better afterwards. For other people that don’t have the kind of outlet that I do, I would say seek out professional help, there’s some great people on the scene that regularly put out on social media links to that kind of stuff, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage is great with stuff like that, both guys that have been down that road, if you need help and if you’re a rocker, don’t be ashamed to go get help and when all else fails, if you need to get into a moshpit and let off some steam, if that’ll get you to the next day, then go for it.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add in regards to “Denim and Laughter”?
Don: I’m just really proud that it’s done with Metal Blade Records, they’ve been great supporters of mine to put out comedy albums on this legendary metal label and becoming good friends with Brian Slagel with that label and those bands that have been such a solid part of my life from being a teenager on, so I’m just super psyched to be in the family and supporting me with “Denim and Laughter”, I’m excited for everybody to hear it.
Madness To Creation: Thank you so much for your time Don!
Don: Thank you man I’ll take all the support I can get, go check out the bands that we talked about! I appreciate you and your patience.
And there you have it! Check out Don Jamieson with Biff Byford(Saxon) on the “School of Hard Knocks” this spring! Those European dates are with Biff Byford. Check out other gigs as well:
Fri. 3/20- The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey (w/Throne of Exile)
Sat. 3/28- Dingbatz in Clifton, New Jersey(w/Pale Horse)
Fri. 4/17- Gateshead Sage 2 in Gateshead, United Kingdom
Sat. 4/18- Birmingham Town Hall in Birmingham, United Kingdom
Mon. 4/20- Glasgow St. Luke’s in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Tue. 4/21- Leeds City Varieties in Leeds, United Kingdom
Wed. 4/22- Bath Komedia in Bath, United Kingdom
Fri. 4/24- Liverpool Arts Club in Liverpool, United Kingdom
Sat. 4/25- Aberdare Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare, United Kingdom
Mon. 4/27- Milton Keynes Stables in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Tue. 4/28- London Islington Academy Hall in London, United Kingdom
Wed. 4/29- Brighton Old Market in Brighton, United Kingdom
Fri. 5/1- 013 in Tillburg, Netherlands
Sat. 5/2- Turock in Essen, Germany
Sun. 5/3- The Casino in Sint Niklaas, Belgium
Tue. 5/5- Gruenspan in Hamburg, Germany
Wed. 5/6- Rosenhof in Osnabruck, Germany
Fri. 5/8- Kulturbolaget in Malmo, Sweden
Sat. 5/9- N3 Stagebox in Trollhattan, Sweden
Sun. 5/10- Nalen in Stockholm, Sweden
Tue. 5/12- Passionkirche in Berlin, Germany
Wed. 5/13- Technikum in Munich, Germany
Thu. 5/14- Dynamo in Zurich, Switzerland
Fri. 5/15- Le Forum in Vaureal, France
Check out “Denim and Laughter” below: