Jackyl's Jesse James Dupree, Renaissance Man

SoundSpike, July 26th, 2010

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It would be so easy to hate Jesse James Dupree. The frontman for southern rock band Jackyl comes off as an unrepentant shit-kicker with a penchant for abrasively loud motorcycles, titty bars and "the dirty dirty," his second favorite saying.

He's like a shiny red flag to the angry bull of liberal sensibilities, particularly when he does things like, oh, compare the weight of a stripper's breast to his entire body, as he did in a recent interview for Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles.

It would also be easy to dismiss him as an ignorant hick with a gimmick. See: his signature chainsaw, as made famous in Jackyl's big hit, "The Lumberjack," and his number one saying, the staggeringly simplistic "Puh-Pow!!" (Double exclamation marks mandatory). But when you take into consideration the myriad of Dupree's business dealings, it becomes slightly more difficult to sustain that stance.

Dupree's multimedia company Mighty Loud is the driving force behind TruTV's wildly popular "Full Throttle Saloon," the reality television show about the "world's largest biker bar" in Sturgis, SD. Dupree's credits also include creating and exec-producing MTV's "Two-a-Day" series, providing branding and marketing for Zippo Lighters, Crunk Energy Drink and Budweiser, and overseeing production on various record labels, such as 1720 Entertainment, New West Records and Ironworks Music, the label founded by Kiefer Sutherland and Jude Cole.

Dupree is articulate and polite on the phone, peppering his observations about "the need to create the next multimedia business model that has a centralized source" with frequent "Yes, Ma'am"s this and "Thank you, Ma'am"s that. Upon closer inspection, Jesse James Dupree is looking a bit more like an industry wolf in redneck clothing.

"I live about three different lives," Dupree admits. "I open my mouth and automatically I sound like cornbread, so for me to tell you how much I love sushi, you might think I'm stretching it a little bit."

Dupree is also well aware of the image he's created with Jackyl, his "one-dimensional, kick in the crotch, man shot out of a cannon, rock 'n' roll band." And he stands behind Jackyl in all its outrageous glory: "We've tapped into real America out there, the people that bust their knuckles for 40 or 50 or more hours a week, and when it comes time to jam, they want to do it loud, proud and honest."

But Dupree says his workingman persona is grounded in truth. "I've poured concrete for a living ... my hands cracked and bleeding from the sulfur in the concrete or driving nails or whatever," he notes. "I wake up every day and think, 'I'm a lucky bastard.'"

Not one to gather dust, Dupree is currently out on the road playing gigs in support of Jackyl's latest set, and will of course make a command appearance at biker-rally heaven, the Full Throttle Saloon. This latest album, "When Moonshine and Dynamite Collide," was recorded at Dupree's backyard studio near Atlanta, and is described at the Jackyl website as sounding very much like the band's eponymous debut album -- "Just one notch louder." Dupree adds that he and the band did their best to "capture the most organic-sounding record. I mean, it sounds like Jackyl. It best exemplifies the way we sound live: the tones, the energy, the vibe."

That vibe might best be encapsulated by Dupree's own explanation of why he started playing lead chainsaw in the first place. "What's a more definitive instrument for rock 'n' roll? It's loud, it's abrasive, it's aggressive, it's destructive, and it's skanky," he says.

So, yeah, you could write off Dupree and his arguably loathsome good-ol'-boys-gone-wild scene ... but it might just be a lot more fun to grab a cold one and hang on for the ride instead.

-- Melissa Henderson