CRIMSON GLORY had the magic. Their debut album is still one of the best in the history of heavy metal to me. The mix between the melancholic vocals of Midnight, twin guitar solos and creative song structures, in combination with the mysteriousness of this band wearing silver masks, makes the album to something really special to me. The solo escapades of the different band members were never my cup of tea, except for guitarist Ben Jackson, who created some beautiful music with PARIAH and later on with his own band, the BEN JACKSON GROUP. When the promotors of Rock Inc. gave me the opportunity to do an interview with this well-talented musician, who switched his guitar to become the frontman in his own band, I didn’t have to think twice. Here’s a short update of the past days with CRIMSON GLORY, the bands inbetween and his more recent endeavour, the BEN JACKSON GROUP. We also try to give you a peak into the future of this sympathetic musician....
What’s the main difference for you between “All Over You” and “Here I Come"?
Ben Jackson: " "Here I Come" was my first solo attempt and my first try at singing. The band was mostly just a studio project, where I played just about everything except the drums. Some of it was classic rock influenced and acoustic driven. "All Over You" was more of a band effort with the result being more heavy metal in style. Adding a second guitarist and female backing vocalist broadened our sound and heightened our direction."
What do you like most, doing lead vocals as you do right now, or playing guitar?
Ben: "I love doing vocals now. It's still kind of new for me compared to how long I've been playing guitar, but I always will love to grab up a guitar and play. I like both jobs."
What are the lyrics about on “All Over You”?
Ben: "The lyrics vary from song to song and cover a wide scope or range. There are songs about personal conviction and self motivation as in "Turn It On" and "Mean Machine". The song "Far And Away" describes the two sides of a musicians life from being at home and touring and the fan connection. There is a lot going on lyrically song to song and change ups in feel and mood."
What’s your favorite song on “All Over You”, and why?
Ben: "I like them all, but one fave is "Mean Machine", because it just feels cool and kicks ass!"
Did you tour after the release of the CD, and do you still play CRIMSON GLORY songs in your live set?
Ben: "We have done a few live dates and are planning some touring in the future. We have done one CRIMSON GLORY song "Masque Of The Red Death". People seem to really love it, when we whip that one out."
I read on your website, that there’s a show coming up with KAMELOT. Are there any bands, you’d like to go on tour with in the (near) future? And are there any plans to do a bigger tour later on?
Ben: "Yes, the show with KAMELOT coming up will be cool! We are planning some tour work at present and we have not determined who we will tour just yet."
Midnight did some background vocals on the recent album “All Over You”. On which songs did he sing and what was it like working with him again?
Ben: "Midnight sang a few of the primary parts trading lines with me on the song "Rock And Roll Heaven" and we kept him around to lend backing vocals to pretty much the whole record, every song."
What do you think about his new solo album “Sakada”, which didn’t always get favorable reviews in the ‘zines here in Europe, by the way?
Ben: "You know, I liked it, because it captures a lot of Midnights emotional quality and mysterious presence that is his gift. Maybe he could have gone a litlle more heavy on the writing direction and fans of his would have liked it more."
Are you working on new material yet with the BEN JACKSON GROUP? After all, the CD is out for about half a year already, and what can people expect from the new songs?
Ben: "More thick guitar riffing and drum pounding melodic metal in your face. The new songs are very interesting, but do not go over the listeners head. They are relatable."
SECTOR 9 disbanded, because you simply didn’t have the time to play in two bands and raise three young children at the same time. Is there any chance, that you will reform this band again, when your children are a little bit older?
Ben: "I'm not sure on that one. I guess, if Wade and Jesse and I were all free and willing, you never know."
What kind of music did you play with SECTOR 9?
Ben: "It began with myself on guitar and singer Wade Black and drummer Jesse Rojas all from the 2000 CRIMSON GLORY lineup. We were just jamming and writing a couple songs together in our spare time that was kind of CRIMSON GLORY-like, I suppose. Then we all just got busy with our earlier commitments and let the project go. We didn't have that many songs and then all of the sudden, it seemed the name SECTOR 9 was getting all of this attention and inquiries, go figure."
What are the future plans for the BEN JACKSON GROUP?
Ben: "We would love to record a follow up to 2005's "All Over You" project and everyone is still on board to do so at this point. It is hard these days to stay afloat in the music business, when things are so costly. Metal bands do not earn that much. At least many do not."
What do you think of the metal scene of today. If I speak for myself, I see a lot of bands for which attitude and image is much more important than musical quality. Can you agree with this statement, being a REAL musician (at least in my vision)?
Ben: "You will alway see those image bands out there and the more serious musicians bands are out there too. The metal scene is still alive as far as I'm concered. There are many bands still delivering and fans still hungry for music."
In the bonus tracks “Cage Around My Heart” and “It’s You, Love” I hear some STEVIE NICKS like female vocals. Who is this female singer, and is she a only guest vocalist or a ‘possible’ permanent member of the band?
Ben: "She is Rose Sexton and is a permanent member of our band now. She adds variety and dimention to our sound and has come a long way with the band."
I liked these acoustic bonus tracks a lot. I hear some fascination for FLEETWOOD MAC, especially in the song “It’s Your Love”. Am I right here, or is this just my imagination?
Ben: "I never thought about FLEETWOOD MAC, when creating these songs. Now that you mention it, I am a fan of their music and enjoy them a lot."
When I listen to “All Over You”, I hear a wide scope of influences that range from FOREIGNER to ALICE COOPER to SAVATAGE. Which bands can we see as a real influence to you, and can you also tell us to which bands you listen nowadays?
Ben: "Well, the three that you just mentioned are for sure part of my influence list and a pretty close reference to the style of "All Over You". I have been influenced by just about every artist in the classic or hard rock genre. I love BAD COMPANY, AEROSMITH, LED ZEPPELIN, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, SCORPIONS, JUDAS PRIEST, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, PAT TRAVERS, THIN LIZZY, ALICE COOPER, THE WHO, Joe Walsh (THE EAGLES). It just goes on and on. One of the newer bands I like of the last year is SHINEDOWN. I don't really keep up on what's new or current."
The first CRIMSON GLORY album is really untouchable for me. Every note on this album is perfect. It captures the highest standard imaginable in heavy metal music. I visited many of your shows, when you came to Holland with CRIMSON GLORY. For example the live performance at Countdown Café for Veronica radio. This really blew me away! Afterwards, there was the Aardschok day in Arnhem (really awesome and ultraloud show) with LEATHERWOLF, HOUSE OF LORDS, QUEENSRYCHE, and in Germany the Metal Hammer Festival with OZZY, DORO, QUEENSRYCHE etc. in Dortmund, to name but a few. As a big fan of this early CRIMSON GLORY material, I am still hoping that one day you will release some video footage or live material (on CD) from this period. Is there a chance this will ever happen, or is this just wishful thinking?
Ben: "Wow, now you're bringing back memories for me! I remember every one of those dates and can picture the places in my mind! I think, that there is a good chance that some video footage will be released containing this era."
Wade Black recently joined LEATHERWOLF as their new singer. Can you give us a brief update of the musical careers of your other CRIMSON GLORY collegues nowadays, besides Midnight and yourself of course?
Ben: "Guitarist Jon Drenning works as a concert promoter and record producer here in Florida and is still very close to the music scene. Jon along with Jeff Lords are planning a new CRIMSON GLORY studio record for sometime next year to include Midnight, myself and hopefully as many original players, that will participate."
I can imagine that you guys get many offers for a CRIMSON GLORY reunion. Which date can I put in my agenda for a possible reunion, or will this reunion never happen?
Ben: "I am unable to promise any date right now, but as you can see it looks pretty promising to see something happen again with the band."
Do you want to add somtehing to this interview, maybe we forgot to mention something that is essential enough to be added here?
Ben: "Well, I think you covered the essentials and I had a good time with the interview! Many thanks for supporting us!"
The last words in this interview are for you, Ben....
Ben: "To all the fans through the years, you kick ass!! I will keep bringing original music your way!"
Interview by: Toine van Poorten (October 2005)
Official website: http://www.benjacksongroup.com