JK Northrup interview May 2007.

JK Northrup - Wired in my Skin from 2007!One of my all time favorite guitarists JK Northrup known from his work King Cobra, Johnny Edwards and Paul Shortino has finally come up with a new solo effort called "Wired in my Skin".
It is his second - his first self-titled album released in 2001. This time he has joined forces with a whole bunch of star lead vocalists such as: Long time associate Johnny Edwards, Kelly Keeling, Terry Ilous, the great Ted Poley and David Zaragoza (CATEGORY 7).
"Wired in my Skin" starts off with a little "show off" - an instrumental track called “Black Moon”. It kindda remind me of Joe Satriani’s “Flying In A Blue Dream”-era. Elegant guitar masturbation with a twist. And that is to say on the two other instrumental tracks, the ripping and aggressive “Mark My Territory” and the more spheric "Metamorphosis". All in all a very diverse and elegant release (se my review-page for more info), which is very promising for the future.
I have had a correspondence with JK himself, and these are the words on some thoughts regarding the past, present and future:

The Interview:

Q: You have just released a new CD under the JK Northrup moniker called "Wired in my Skin" and as far as I can see it got pretty good reviews all over the Internet Community and in several magazines, too - What do you think about that?

JK promo pix. A: I am very happy with the reviews overall! I really didn’t know what to expect. This album is much more diverse than my previous albums, but it is getting better reviews in general than any of my earlier albums. I try to post all the reviews on my website as they come out.

Q: The album "Wired in my Skin" has a very significant “old” expression – a modern sounding album of course, but also with big hooks, big big vocals and a lot of melodic rock songs. Can you describe the work process doing this very elegant new album? How did it start??

JK and Ted Poley at the release party. A: The first song I began writing for this album was “Wired in my Skin”, which represents how I feel these days, positive and aggressive. The lyrics describe how I have once again become very comfortable with who I am, and that nothing, or nobody is going to stand in my way. Songs like “The Road” and “Grind Me Down” lyrically have the same general meaning. I then just simply kept putting songs together as I went along. I literally recorded all of the songs as I was writing them. In other words, the 11 songs that are on the album are the only ones that were written. The instrumentals were fun because I also feel I have grown very much as a guitarist and wanted to express that. I didn’t want to set any boundaries on what I was creating, which I believe makes the album as a whole, much more interesting.

Q: You have joined forces this time around with well known and experienced musicians/vocalists how did you keep the fire burning on the albums with 5-6 singers?

A: That was actually very easy (lol). When I was writing the music I had no particular person or voice in mind. I began talking with all the singers and based on their timeframe I presented the songs that were ready at the time. All 3 songs Terry Ilous sang were some of the first that I had finished putting together, so I had him sing them. I sent two songs to Ted Poley that had no lyrics yet, and he wrote them and flew to my studio and laid down his vocals. I really wanted Johnny Edwards on the album and he agreed to sing the title track “Wired in my Skin”. Getting Kelly Keeling was more difficult. He and I had been talking about him doing a song since the beginning, but he had been touring with the “Trans Siberian Orchestra”. It worked out that he had some time off and I had one more song that needed vocals which was “Big Blue Sky”. I wanted a Beatles type vocal and he was the man!! The song “Cemented Eyes” was sung by David Zaragoza, who is in a local band I am producing here in my hometown of Sacramento. Because each of them are such great singers, they really represented the songs well and helped to make them shine. The drummers, DanZoid and Glenn Hicks are both local to me and did an awesome job. I also want to thank my good friend Ed Balldinger for co-writing some great lyrics with, and for me!! Michael T. Ross also did a great job on piano on “The Road”.

JK Northrup. JK live in Australia 1982.

Q: How do you see the CD's chance on a very complex market of today? To me "Wired in my Skin" is a great album in the melodic genre. I really liked your first albums back with King Kobra – but it seems that you have taken the best of all these prime years and updated the sound and you maturing along the way?

A: Well it probably won’t go platinum (lol), but I have already gotten enough positive feedback and reviews to know that it will, and in fact is selling. Today is very different and you are correct in saying it is becoming a very complex market! Self-promotion and getting the right publicist (thanks Jee!) is very important. Most certainly as I said earlier, the music on this album is who I am currently and I wanted to express it! I have also started my own production company called “Alien Productions” which is doing quite well, and album is also a showcase of what I do as producer/recording engineer.

Q: What are your main influences in music? You have of course been there for a while – and naturally you (both as a member of a band and as a solo artist) being an influence to young bands, too! But who did you listen to when you were 15 (and performed in front of the mirror;-) ?

JK digging up bones! JK with Johnny Edwards 1989.

A: Wow! Being an influence on younger bands is something I never thought about : ) The bands I grew up with are pretty diverse. The Beatles, Deep Purple, Kiss, Ronnie Montrose, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Carol King, James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash etc. The guitarists that really got me going literally at age 15 were Ronnie Montrose, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore and a few other unknowns (ha ha)! Because I am self-taught, I had to pick out the notes they were playing and figure out the scales.

Q: The hard rock genre as well the more melodic genres has suffered from less attention the last 5 years, but I think I can sense a certain optimism nowadays with new record companies, lots of websites, and lots of discussion groups on the Internet - how do you see the genre? And do you think the Internet is a help to promote your genre in general? You started out on a major label and has been on a small one – but this one is independent (and your own) isn’t it?

Bruce Turgon, Billy Thorpe, Frankie Banali and JK.!

A: The melodic and hard rock market has certainly thinned out, but will never go away. I hear a lot of new bands on the radio that are doing very well that are starting to bring back a lot of the hard rock sound! The internet is a big reason for this. It gives all bands of every genre an avenue to reach out to an audience that is no longer captive to what the “major labels” shove down our throats. Being on a big label doesn’t guarantee you anything! I did start my own label “Alien Records” to release this new album, and will be releasing other artist’s albums as well.

Q: Can you give a detailed describtion of the tracks on the album? Do you have a concept or are the tracks fragments from a life in the US of A;-)?

A: 1-“Black Moon” was the second song I recorded. I wanted something that I could challenge myself with as guitarist and have a more modern sound.
2-“Wired in my Skin” (see question #2).
3-“Big Blue Sky” was written about one of favorite places on earth, Montana USA. I go there every year to dig dinosaur bones, which is one of my childhood fantasies come true.
4-“The Road” was lyrically written first by Ed Balldinger for me, and is about my battle with depression a few years ago and how far I have come since. He writes in a beautiful, poetic way, but I changed a few lines to make it work with the song.
5-“Perfect Imperfection” was written to pick things up a bit. I had the title and sent it to Ted. He did a great job writing the lyrics.
6-“Mark My Territory” another instrumental that I wanted to spread my wings a little bit! The title is a theme that I began on my 2004 Afterlife cd with the song “Mark My Words”. My Brother-in-law “Mark” Valentine and I have known each other since we were kids, so I write instrumentals that use his name! This will continue on my next album!!!
7-“Cemented Eyes” is written about how sometimes people will hold a grudge (for whatever reasons) and just can’t seem to move on. I say forgive or forget, let it go.
8-“So Long” was another lyric/poem written by Ed Balldinger that I used and modified to fit the song. It is about transcending from this life to the next.
9-“Metamorphosis” was the only song on the album that I used that I had written previously. I needed that 11th song and wanted it to be upbeat. I love the way it turned out. DanZoid kicked ass on drums!
10-“Gring Me Down” another rocker with the “Don’t try to keep a good man down” theme!
11-“If I were James Taylor (I could finish this song) winner of the longest title and of course the simplest song on the album. Ted wrote all of these very clever lyrics! I wanted a song that even a beginner could play and sing along to.

JK with Paul Skortino 1994.

Q:How about yourself? What are you up to these days? And how about a tour in the future – including Denmark of course!

A: I am currently recording and producing Ted Poley’s new album. What a great talent! I am also playing guitars and bass for him. I just finished mixing and playing on Terry Ilous’s “Best of” album which is coming out soon. There a quite a number of bands, both local and international that I am either mixing, mastering, producing or working with. I have mastered all 3 of Andrew McNeice’s Melodicrock.com albums, and am getting ready to master his 10th anniversary album. One other project I am involved with that will be out by the end of 2007 is Called “W.N.G.C”. It’s a cross between Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix and Tom Waits! Very blues based but with very quirky lyrics and production. It’s not for everyone, but it will be very cool for the more eclectic audience! If I get a chance I would love to get out and tour (even Denmark)! Right now, I’m just a little busy….in a great way : ) Thanks Steen!

JK jamming with Ronnie Montrose 1987.

Q: I hope to see you in Denmark or some place in Europe !?
Thank you very much for your time. I hope that JK Northrup will give it a go in 2007! Good luck with all your projects
Steen E. Pejtersen

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2007