An Interview with Jim Gillete

(ex-Vocalist of US Glam Band Nitro & even Tuff)

and Husband/Manager of Rock Singer, Lita Ford via e-mail on 27th July by Glenn Milligan

Who influenced you as a singer and how especially since you have a 4 octave range?
My range has been as high as 6 octaves... I was a freak with 1 goal “ got to be the highest”… All I did was practice – I drove everyone around me nuts!
My influences were my inner demons! I wanted to sing higher than anyone, hold notes longer than anyone, etc... I looked at it like vocal gymnastics.
At one time I could sing 2 part harmonies - 3rd, 5th, or an octave - at the same time!
Looking back I was a bit confused!
OK – I was a LOT confussed…
Ah hahahahaha

Did you have any formal training and if so when and where and for how long?
I studied opera just long enough to be dangerous to myself and others!
I was the most annoying Mo Fo ever! Screaming night and day!
What a pain in the ass I was!!!! Some people say I still am!

Whats all this about you shattering glasses and such like - what inspired you to do stuff like that?
I was tracking vocals on ‘Proud to be Loud’ and a wine glass shattered in the control room! It happened by accident so I had to do it again and again and again... I'm weird like that!

How did you firstly become the original vocalist in Tuff before Stevie Rachelle took over?
My friend Michael was the drummer and he got me in the band. When I started Jim Gillette’s Metal power I wanted to showcase my voice more than I was able to in Tuff. When I quit I was still rehearsing at the same place they were. They brought Stevie in and I liked him. Stevie and I have always been on good terms. He's a great guy and fit in with them real good. I know it’s not as fun to hear that we got along but it’s the truth! I actually spoke with Stevie about a week ago.

What were your fave gigs in the Tuff period and why do they stand out?
A show at the country Club when we first arrived in LA. We had about 10 people there and afterwards a guy called Todd a fag. Todd told me so I politely asked this guy to apologize to Todd and he refused. He then tried to sucker punch me and it didn't work out very well for him!
There were a few hundred people that saw the fight - about 290 more than saw the show!
Our next show was at the Troubadour = it was packed! And who said ass kicking doesn’t pay?

What let to forming the band Nitro and what were the highlights with regard to gigs, recording and releasing the album etc etc?
It was a vehicle to turn music into the Olympics! All I cared about was being the highest.
I was 19 years old and out of my mind. I look back at Nitro now and am very proud of what we did - but it still makes me cringe a bit!!!
ah hahahahahaha
We were an acquired taste to say the least!!!

Who did you base the band on? Any particular artists or was it what you were all into at the time or other reasons?
Nitro was my band. I got Mike and that was it. It was my vision – not sure why I’m admitting that!!!!
Let’s blame it on youth and temporary insanity!

What were your favorite songs you used to perform in the Nitro Days and why?
‘Freight Train’ was my favorite because it did very well on MTV's Headbangers Ball. Everybody knew that song and it was kind of our trademark.

Why did the band finish?
I got sick of it.
Who wouldn’t have?!?!?!?!
Ah hahahahaha

What were your thoughts when the 'Proud To be Loud' album was reissued?
No thoughts. My friend Stevie Rachelle called me and asked if he could put it out. I said sure. I like what he's done for 80's music. He’s great guy man – Mucho props to him….

What led to you meeting Lita Ford and as the rest we say is history come to be?
We met by chance and got married 2 weeks later! We've been married for over 15 years now! We're soul mates. She's my life and I'm hers. I wouldn’t know what to do without her!

How is for you having your wife up on stafe now when you used to be the frontman in a band? Is that why you can't resist getting on stage at times with her?
I love seeing her on stage! I'm her biggest fan. I actually sing backgrounds on all the songs now and sing a few duets. I love being on stage with her. I'd never do it without her though - so much more fun with her!

What gigs so far have stood out to you?
We've had a bunch of awesome shows. They just keep getting better. We were living on a deserted Caribbean island for years. Neither one of us was really doing much musically so it's been a work out getting back up to top form. Lita's there now and the band is killing!

How was the Ricochet one in Forty Myers as I thought the whole band were awesome?
If you think it was awesome I won't argue! It was good but not one of our better shows. I'm anxious for you to see another one! We’re kicking ass now!

How is it shaping up with Dennis, PJ and Buckethead - what's stood out so far?
The band is phenomenal! We rehearsed 2 days with the new band and the first show was better than any of the shows with the previous guys.
Not sure how we worked that but I'm not complaining! Bumblefoot is amazing! He brought in his drummer – who is obviously a beast = you aren’t Bumble’s drummer if you aren’t a beast, and we found PJ through a mutual friend. We're very happy with the line up now.

What have been the bad things and good things about recent gigs?
The only bad thing is the traveling! AGH - airport security is fun isn't it?!?!?! The good has outweighed the bad though big time! We don't have to do this... If it weren’t fun - we'd be on our island!
It's very cool to be in a position that you're making music and playing concerts because you want to - not because you have to!
The kids have learned a lot – been like a big field trip!
Very cool all the way around.

How was the show in Chicago that found its way onto Youtube (well Kiss Me Deadly did)?
Chicago was great! Warrant opened up for us and so did Adler's Appetite. Everyone was very cool.
Only bad part of the show was the rain….

How was it putting Lita's comeback album together and what was it like for you doing backup vocals as opposed to front vocals?
It was great! I sing all over the album – if it isn’t Lita singing it’s me... We have a few duets on it and my backgrounds aren't really back!
I love the way we go back and forth and go in and out with each other....
When you hear it you'll know what I mean. My part of this album was writing, producing, engineering the vox and lead guitars, and of course vocals. I'm more proud of this album than any album I've ever been involved in.
Lita’s singing and playing is amazing! It's extremely heavy and even more sexual….
Most of the songs are about our love life.
What Mom and Dad do after the kids go to sleep…

What hobbies and interests do you have outside music and what do you enjoy about them?
I do Jiu Jitsu and boxing. I would have been either a pro boxer or a mixed martial artist if I hadn't done music. I actually almost started fighting again a few years ago. I decided to put the time into our kids though. They'll be much better than I ever could have been. They’ve been training for 6 years already!
Rocco is our youngest and we've got video of him doing triangle chokes and arm bars at 2 years old! James is 12 and he's a beast! He's beat a few men in grappling matches. They both teach Jiu Jitsu. They’re trained in boxing by Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. Gee - Dad isn't proud is he!?!?!?!
AH HAHAHA I love my family!!!
Family rules!

What do you like or dislike about being management?
Never really thought of it that way. I'm just half of a team with my wife.
I do part and she does part. We compliment each other....
She was behind me for years - hell about 13 years! I was developing an island and she was taking care of the kids, the house, me, and everything else! All I did was make money - she held it all together for us. She's the most amazing woman I've ever known. I never even dreamed of a woman half as good as her!

What about getting Nitro back together again as so many bands have been reforming in the last few years? How were the meet ups?
Nah. Only band I'll ever be involved with is my wife's.
We do everything together - the whole family.
All for 1 and 1 for all.
If I go somewhere so do Lita and the boys. If Lita goes somewhere we all go too.
If you get 1 Gillette you get us all!

What is your part of New York like for the Rock/Metal Scene?
We don't live in New York.... Just says that on the Myspace page cause I couldn't figure out how to skip that part! ooops!

What are you most proud of as an artist or being part of the business in other ways?
I'm most proud of being a part of a killer family that I helped create.
I'll do whatever needs to be done in the business. Need management - I'm there, background vocals - no problem, Security - woooo hooooo I'm your man!
Whatever it takes to keep it all going. Lita's the same way - she can do anything! I watch her transform into a doctor when the kids are sick, she's an incredible cook, an amazing house keeper, she's a great book keeper - ok maybe not great but a hell of a lot better than me! We both do what needs to be done even if it isn't pretty or fun or glamorous. We aren't afraid to get our hands dirty.
Living on an island that resembles Gilligan’s Island does that for you!

What would you like to say to any Nitro fans out there who might be reading?
You guys are great! It still amazes me that after 20 years since the release of OFR I'm still signing autographs! Nitro fans are incredible - thanks for the support and encouragement all these years. There will never be another Nitro but I'm still here!
You haven't heard the last of me - sorry!!!
Ah hahahahaha
Seriously though, love your family, friends, etc like there’s no tomorrow.
Treat every single day like it’s the last time you’ll ever see them….
It could be!

God bless

Cheers Jim!