An Interview with
Guitarist of DC4, Odin & Armoured Saint
that took place at The Cat Club, West Hollywood on 7th November, 2010.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: How did Odin come to be?
Jeff: That came together... well actually the 1st band I joined was in 7th Grade and Odin kinda evolved from that band. I joined a band, my brother joined and then we got rid of the bass player and we got Erin Sampson to play bass and we changed singers and we got Randy O in the band and it just kinda evolved from the 1st band I joined. Then we had a couple of names and it became 'ODIN' and so it pretty much evolved from the 1st band I ever joined.
Glenn: And who and what was ODIN?
Jeff: ODIN was a Viking God. That's who the Vikings worship. But we didn't know at the time - we just liked the way it sounded.
Glenn: What were your favourite songs that you played in 'ODIN'?
Jeff: Well I pretty much like everything we did that was on our 1st E.P. Probably my favourite one to play was always 'Solar Eye' and 'Modern Day King' that was on our 2nd album. But pretty much anything off the 1st E.P. I love playing.
Glenn: My favourite one was 'Little Gypsy' (and I sing that main chorus bit).
Jeff: Oh yeah, that was fun too. Yeah that was later on.
Glenn: What would you say the main influences of the band were at the time?
Jeff: I think we were infulenced by Van Halen and you know, it's all the Heavy Metal bands of that period.
Glenn: What were your 1st gigs like that you played as 'ODIN' and where were they?
Jeff: Well we did your backyard parties at 1st and then we got on the club scene but actually funnily enough the 1st real gig that we did like in Hollywood was as a support band for Armoured Saint. So that was a pretty memorable gig and that's why we became friends with those guys and of course I ended up in that band. The 1st gig, it actually started off pretty good. I mean, once we got the band together and got our songs together and started playing in Hollywood it caught on pretty quick and we got popular pretty fast.
Glenn: What was your male to female ratio for your fanbase - what did you have the most of?
Jeff: It was probabluy about 50/50 but there was a lot of girls. There was a lot of girls - maybe more girls.
Glenn: What hightlights from the ODIN times that you've never talked about could you talk about right now?
Jeff: Probably recording our 1st album was a pretty exciting time and the 1st time we ever sold out a club on our own whwn we became a headline act. That'd be the highlights of it and just all the shows back then. All of them after that we sold out everyone we played so every show was exciting. I would say the highlight would be a certain period of time which would probably have been like 1984 to 1986 was pretty cool. It was pretty great.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite songs you played in the set and why were they the favourites for you and also from the audiences point of view as well?
Jeff: Well 'Shining Love' was always a fun one play because it was a popular song and everybody really loved that song and I would probably say, 'The Writer' because that was our opening song and everybody was waiting for that song to start with the intro and everything. So those were really the two favourites based on audience reaction.
Glenn: What changed ODIN into DC4 - was it the change in the industry and what were you doing in between those times?
Jeff: Well I actually joined Armoured Saint straight outta ODIN. I'd actually joined Armoured Saint before ODIN broke up before ODIN did its last gig. So I joined Armoured Saint and Armoured Saint disbanded because of course John Bush joined Anthrax and then after that I put a band together very briefly called 'Bird Of Prey' with my brother Sean on drums from ODIN and we got this singer and bass player, Carl Michaels and Paul Fulges, singer and bass player.
I did that for a while but it really wasn't where we wanted to go musically, me and my brother and I started writing songs at home and I just started singing the songs because I was writing licks and I played 'em for my brother and we just kinda wanted to go more where.. you know more that direction. I think the singer wanted to be more like Whitesnake or something like that. We didn't wanna be that - we wanted to kinda grow musically.So we broke that band up and that's when we started - it was actually called 'Human Nature' at 1st and found a guitar player and decided to just sing myself because I didn't wanna look for a singer.
Glenn: Because of the ego and that of frontman and stuff?
Jeff: Yeah. So I ended getting a friend of mine that I knew - Highland Church on guitar and then we brought my brother Matt in to play Bass for DC4.
Glenn: When I heard the DC4 album, I felt it harked back to the old times and also had the times of new as well. 'Explode' is a really good album.
Jeff: Oh thanks a lot man. Yeah. You know we did an album with that line-up with Highland Church and Highland departed and we were down for a while and of course about a year and a half later I met Rowan Robertson and I knew who he was and asked what he was doing. We were on a mission to get him in the band and fortunately it was just a great meeting. We wanted the same thing he wanted and we proceeded make 'Explode' - it went pretty quick after he joined the band.
Glenn: What took the UK press to grab onto you guys before I reviewed the album about a year before them?
Jeff: Well we had to work it for a while. We are mixing our new album right now and I think that we got that one out and it's time to put this one out. More people are aware of the band now so I thinkhopefully the word will get spread a bit quicker this time around.
Glenn: So what things can we expect of DC4 in the future and from the new album?
Jeff: Well the new album is a little bit heavier. A lot of guitar and just a real powerful album. It's similar to 'Explode' in that the sound of the band hasn't changed but I think it's a really good progression in terms of performance. It's not 'Explode' Number 2 - it's different. It's still us.
Glenn: So how do you fit everything in with DC4 and also Armoured Saint?
Jeff: Well Armoured Saint doesn't work that much. So we just did that album 'La Rasa' of course - did that last March with Armoured Saint and I got the call and got sent the songs and went in and did the album and you just gotta cram the hours in the day and get it all done. I walked straight out of finishing that album to going into pre-production with DC4 for our album but DC4 is what I work on all the time. Armoured Saint is something that comes up something. So I'm not doing full-time both bands. Armoured Saint works when it works but DC4 is my band.
Glenn: So when John Bush is doing whatever else he is doing...
Jeff: Well everybody's busy. Joey Vera is very busy as well. And you know with Armoured Saint, they've been around for a very, very long time and doesn't wanna go out and do shows unless it makes sense for us to do shows. Nobody wants to go out... you know we don't wanna play somewhere in the middle of America to 50 people. We'd rather go to Europe and play the festivals and do something like that - it makes sense.
Glenn: Yeah you played a show at the Corporation and you had it filmed if I remember right?
Glenn: How was that?
Jeff: Oh it was great. There were plenty of people.
Glenn: That's awesome that.
Jeff: Yeah. In Germany we headlined a festival.
Glenn: What were your favourite songs that you played in Armoured Saint?
Jeff: Oh I like playing a lot of songs with Armoured Saint. I like playing a lot of the old ones that existed from before I was in the band.'Stricken By Fate' was a real favourite of mine to play. 'Nervous Man' which we got on the 'Symbol Of Salvation' which was the 1st album I did with Armoured Saint, 'Tribal Dance' is always a great one to play and 'Last Train Home'; the song 'Symbol Of Salvation' and off the new album a real fun song to play is 'La Raza' - that's a real fun song to play and 'Left Hook'.
Glenn: What makes them stand out to the rest of the songs on the album?
Jeff: For me it's just the ones that have a particular groove - that Armoured Saint sound.
Glenn: That pure Heavy Metal sound that Armoured Saint are famous for?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean I love playing all the songs but the stand outs will probably be the ones.
Glenn: Makes sense. So what are you looking forward to in the future with regard to Jeff Duncan, DC4, Armoured Saint and ODIN?
Jeff: Well ODIN is always a mystery. Whether ODIN plays again or not is always up in the air. The last time ODIN played was at Rocklahoma back in 2007 and that could have very well been our last gig, I don't know. We've been talking in a little bit doing an LA show. ODIN could play again, we'll see but nothing planned for that and Armoured Saint will probably do some stuff overseas next Summer (2011) I think and DC4, we just wanna get this album finished and out and finally take DC4 on the road. We've never really toured.
Glenn: No you haven't - you've never been to Europe.
Jeff: So we've never toured, so we wanna focus on that. My focus right now is just getting DC4 on the road in 2011. That's when the new album will come out in 2011.
Glenn: What label are you with? Are you still self-published?
Jeff: Yeah, we are doing it ourselves. We've got some irons in the fire - we'll see what pans out. But we have a goal, we have a mission to do what we wanna do with DC4 so we'll do it.
Glenn: So that's where we are at right now?
Jeff: That's what's going on right now. Yeah.
Glenn: Sounds good. What would you say you like about living in LA and playing in LA - what really stands out to you about being here?
Jeff: Well it's a hard question to ask me because I was born here so it's just home to me. Times have changed here. It used to be the place where Rock 'n' Roll happens - it was the place to be and that scene has died out immensely and if anything it's more difficult for bands to do shows in Los Angeles now particularly with 'Pay To Play' and things like that. But you know, I really just don't thing along those lines anymore. I think more Internationally, Nationally, you know, because LA just isn't what it used to be.
Glenn: Yeah bands come from elsewhere to LA and have all that pay to play and think they will make a name for themselves because they have been here.
Jeff: Yeah, it's like all the hippies back in the 60's up in San Francisco you know - it's not happening - it's the same kinda thing. The Heavy Metal scene isn't happening here anymore. It's a time that they came and a time that went and those of us that are still doing it are making records and really moving on from this because really you have no choice. There's just nothing going on so it's really just about making records and getting the record out and thinking on a larger scale than just one town.
Glenn: And you still enjoy what you are doing?
Jeff: Yeah that's it.
Glenn: What are you proud of so far in your career as a musician?
Jeff: Oh you know, I would just say that I've been able to make records and I've been able to see partsof the world that I wouldn't have been able to see otherwise had I not become a musician. I feel real fortunate because I'm not... you know there's better players than me who have never had the opportunity to experience some of the things I have experienced. So it's just an overall gratitude thing. I'm real lucky that I've been able to make records and there's been people who've believed in what I'm doing or what the band I'm doing is up to you to invest in it or put time into it. You know, it's just a real fortunate thing and I don't take it for granted and I've always been real greatful for that.
Glenn: So when you talk about things you were real fortunate to see, what would you say have been the hightlights of that?
Jeff: Well I remember walking along the acropolis up in Greece and one of the 1st civilisations ever and just being blown away that I was actually standing there. Just merely because I played guitar. I had a lot of gratitude for that - I'm just a guitar player, why am I standing here? Because I play guitar? It just seems kinda silly to me, you know, but I was real grateful for that. Of course you know, being able to play in front of a lot of people. I remember back in '91, Armoured Saint did a European Tour with Scorpions and they riding the wave of their 'Wings Of Change'.
Glenn: Yeah the second or 3rd like peak of that band?
Jeff: Yeah, so it was all sold out arenas and you know, we were playing to sold out arenas everynight. It was something else - it was something I had always dreamed of doing and I got to do it.
Glenn: Did you get to play in the Scorpions through James Kottack living in LA?
Jeff: Well he wasn't in the band then.
Jeff: It was still Herman Rarebell.
Glenn: Got ya.
Jeff: No that came about because we were managed by Q-Prime at the time and we just got offered the tour - we had good people working for us. That's kinda how that happened.
Glenn: Awesome. So what would you say you would like to leave as your legacy - what would like to have been known for in your career?
Jeff: Well as far as anything I would probably say as far as my own legacy, I think I would just as, as far as I go, be thought of as somebody who never stopped. If I can inspire anybody, you gotta stick with whatever it is you love to do. I've been in ups and downs in being a musician and doing what I love to do. It's up and down and it's rough and sometimes it can be, 'Oh what the hell am I doing?" but I just keep on going.
Glenn: What would you say are your hobbies and interests outside the band?
Jeff: Well when I'm not doing my band stuff I'm writing songs anyway because I'm a real Beatles freak and I love that kinda pop so I write songs like that and record them at home. So other than that I like sittinmg around and drinking coffee and having cigarettes with my friends. (Laughs) You know it's really kinda what I do. It's not too exciting. The occasional girl might come along who's company I might enjoy.
Glenn: Yeah - Rock 'N' Roll.
Jeff: Rock 'N' Roll.
Thanks Again Jeff and Happenin' Harry as well at The Cat Club, Hollywood