j i m i j a m i s o n

i n t e r v i e w

Congratulations on the new album.
Thankyou. Have you heard it yet?

I certainly have. I've heard it and reviewed it and I'm a big fan of it.
Great, it's on your website. I haven't been able to get online for the last 10 or 15 days or so.

It's the lead off review right now so.
Actually my laptop is broken at the moment so I can't get online.

Now going back about 18 months or so I heard a tape of demos for it which were a lot more mellow And obviously a lot more unfinished and at the time I thought it was going to be a fairly mellow pop album but you've really come out fighting with it.
Yeah we changed it a little bit didn't we.

How did the change come around?
Well when you play live you have to rock you know, you have to be energetic, you can't play ballads all the time. So we just decided we wanted to make the songs a little harder instead of soft. Bigger variety.
We always thought we had to follow a certain theme but I don't agree with that anymore. I think the fans deserve a wider variety of music, maybe even a couple of live tracks on the album. So they can see what you sound like live.

Yeah, there is a different sound but it does flow very nicely. Klay Shroedel has done a very good job producing it.
Oh yeah he did great in what was quite a short period of time. He played all the drums on the record. Needless to say he is in the band now (laughs)…

Yeah I saw that on the credits and I thought that's unusual for a drummer to produce an album.
Yeah isn't it. That's a first for me.

I don't think anyone could have guessed it would be 1999 before the new record got released.
Yeah well we weren't even really looking for a record deal all this time, it just kind of happened. We were playing over in Germany and the promoter said why don't you do a record. It had been so long since we thought about recording a record even though we kept writing songs so he gave a tape to USG and they seemed to like it. That's what happened. Actually, I had talked to Magnus at MTM before that. USG were keen so we just went with that.

So it actually took you by surprise then.
Actually yeah. It just kinda fell in our laps and went all right. Let's go.

Were you guy's just content to keep touring then?
Well we'd been touring since Peterik and Sullivan had left the band. Years ago…right after the Too Hot To Sleep tour.
We've been touring as much as we can. I guess it's not really touring, we play two to three shows a week.
Kinda like spot gigs for the last ten years. You have to pay the bills you know.

If you don't mind I'd like to ask about the use of the name. Obviously that's a topic that comes into any debate on the band. There has actually been a couple of vigorous debates over this.
You made the solo album after 'Too Hot To Sleep', under the Jimi Jamison name, at what point did you start touring under the 'Survivor' banner again. Also why did you decide to do it a that point?

Well actually I kept doing it, I was going that even when the solo album was out. I was still going around playing under 'Survivor' featuring me in the U.S in little clubs. After Jim said he didn't want to do it anymore and Sullivan said he wanted to go and produce bands. During the whole time I was out promoting my solo album, I was out promoting 'Survivor' as well. I would even go to radio stations and do acoustic things by myself, as in solo and then do a few Survivor acoustic tracks as well. I had spoken to the Scotty Bros. before and they wanted to keep the 'Survivor' promo thing going too.
Then we started getting a little recognition and Frank, especially Frank, didn't like it too much.
So I let Frank get back in the band for a little while and he played with us down in South America. Things however didn't work out between us and he left.

Yeah, then it got messy there for several years didn't it?
Yeah it did.

In and out of court.
Yes. I don't get mad too much, mad at anyone, but I can't deny they originally had the name but they dropped it and said they didn't want to do it anymore. I said hey guys we could keep doing this, there are still a lot of people out there who want to hear this music and I got email and letters from people who wanted to keep hearing it. I even got letters form kids in hospitals saying the music is what keeps them going and that really touched my heart.
So that was just another reason to add to all the other reasons to keep on with 'Survivor'.

Did it become more difficult to use the name after the original line up got back together minus Jim Peterik?
Well it doesn't really bother me cause I know this bands is as good as theirs. I mean Dave can't even sing more than 15 minutes at a time. When he tries to sing 'The Search is Over' it just doesn't happen you know.

Er, OK! You are the only person in the band with a connection to 'Survivor' do you feel comfortable recording under the name 'Survivor'?
Yes as a matter of fact I do. It was a whole different band when I got it, 'Survivor; with Dave was pretty much a new band as far as I'm concerned.
We kept the same sound but it was different. It had a little bit more soul to it. You know the other guys didn't really treat me too well when I was in the band, I don't know if that was on purpose or accidental or what but I helped write a bunch of songs that I didn't get credit for. There was quite a bit of money involved and I really feel like I deserve to do it. I think they should do what they're gonna do and they should let me. Whatever happens, happens.

Actually that was something I was going to ask you about was on the single and on the album credits here have been changed to read your name first.
Was that a pre meditated thing?

Yeah I did that on purpose.

Burning Heart and Rebel Son even?
Well I probably shouldn't have done for the Rebel Son! But because Jim actually started that song but I came up with the original idea for the other song and got jamming and wrote some lyrics first. I'm not sure exactly what Frank did. As far as the basic song idea and the track it was my idea.

That's a great tune by the way…
Actually I got 2 songs from one track. I also wrote a song with Joe Walsh called 'All Of A Sudden'. If you listen to that you'll see the similarity.
So I got a double bonus out of that one idea.

Do you think there is a positive or negative impact on getting a record deal with the 'Survivor' name? Was it a condition of the deal to get the name on there?
No, as a matter of fact. The record company for sure wanted to use the name but we were more than willing to go under my name. As far as the Japan part, the company Apex they were more than willing to go under my name. I know it helps to get a record deal using the name but it's hard to tell.

I have a personal opinion on the album where I think that because of the line up and the individual sound you've actually created, which sounds fantastic - but it might have been a good idea just to go under your name of a new name all together. I think the material is strong enough to develop a new name.
You know I thought about that too. I wasn't sure what to do so I was taking suggestions from everybody. So in the end we just went for what we did. I wasn't sure if my name was strong enough to carry it or not.
I have no ego anymore. Not after the problems with my solo album!

Yeah, Scotty went under not long after it was released, didn't they?
Yeah not having my solo album promoted was a pretty hard blow but still we're hanging in there and giving it the best shot we can.

What about the fan reaction to the name debate?
I have heard mostly good, especially when people come and hear the band.

Yeah, I actually thought the live tracks were a little unnecessary, I thought the new material stood up very strongly on its own.
I thought maybe a live track on the CD would be extra bonus to see how the band sounds live.

Well I must say they are good raw version.
Actually this band is a lot more energetic than the old band. This band has a lot more excitement going on.

I am a big fan of the track Rebel Heart. And it sounds like there is a different singer on Burning Heart?
Yeah that's Jack, our bass player. He sings really high. He had nothing else to sing so I let him come in and sing the high parts on this. He's not with us now but we decided to leave him on the record. He was with the band a long time and deserves to be on there.

I should go through some of the album now.
Cry Tough is a great track, great intro. I really like the melodic tone of the voice in this track.
That song was written by Cal Curtis and it was originally was supposed to be on my solo album.
I've always liked to song.

Who is Kenny Mims? I've noticed he has several tracks on the album?
He's a songwriting partner in Nashville. He's a great songwriter, having written with some of the greatest songwriters. Everybody from Kenny Rogers, to alternative rock. Whenever he and I get together it's just magic.

Well Run From The Thunder sure isn't Country.
Yeah I love that song. Kinda like Cobra running in to Survivor.

Actually the Cobra stuff has been in high demand. Hard to find these days.
Yeah, Wow. I think it has been re-released on CD.

I have just seen a few posts on my trading board asking for it.

Yeah I had to buy one myself, cost like 30 bucks!

I like the reworking of I'm Always Here.
We put it on there so people would say I've hear that somewhere before. To get everyone's attention, a little interest.

I'm Always Here hasn't really been on anything other than the Baywatch soundtrack to date. I like the piano work on it especially.
Like the Bruce Hornsby kinda feel, the inspiration there. Every chance I got I went to his shows. I got to know him pretty well. Like everyone else, I'm like a fan.

That's good to see. There are a few people I talk to, that seem withdrawn from the whole scene, other than what they are doing.
Whether they say they are fans of someone or not I guarantee they are.
Otherwise how did they learn the music and how to play? Where did their influences come from?

Cool. The track Empires - you turned it into a duet. Nice move…
That wasn't planned. We were in the studio and Klay said I wonder what that would be like with someone singing along with you. So Lisa Frazier was called who is like the backing singer for Boz Scaggs and George Michael and we called her in and experimented. Everyone thought it was great so that was it. It's a first for Survivor actually. I wasn't sure at first.

So how old is that tune?
We wrote that during the Too Hot Too Sleep album.

First Day of Love catches you by surprise on the album. It begins mellow and then the loud guitars really kick you.
It would wake you up wouldn't it?! In fact I played that for Jim Peterik a few years ago and he said that's the best song you've got that. It's a great song to play live. See I don't think the old Survivor back then had a big male audience. I think originally because we didn't play the songs hard enough or something. I want to get the male audience liking the songs.

I'm a huge fan of Tom Cochrane and I nearly fell off my chair when you started playing Calling America. Originally I only had a blank disc without the track listing.
USG played us that track initially. When we listened to the track we noticed how it really catches your attention. I'm a big fan of Tom's too. So we thought hey it would be an honor to do it.

It came out really well. Did you sing it in an octave lower?
Yeah exactly. You know this is going to sound crazy but I'm still confused as to what the song is about. Obviously it's about someone that settles in a new country but Tom told us it was about a hockey game! Haha Maybe he was pulling my leg.
It's great isn't we do the song but don't know what it's about.

I did an interview with him actually and asked him about a couple of my favourite songs and I got about 10-minute answers on each one. It was great.
He can talk. He's brilliant.

So what now with the record? Have you toured with these songs yet?
No not yet we start the tour in Dec, around the 22nd in Germany. We'll play all over, France, Spain, and Italy.

One place I really want to tour is Australia. So bad. I talked to the Little River Band and they said it was really hard to get a gig. There's not enough money in it to make a living.
I'd love to come I've never been.

So are you going to play the states?
Well no. We don't have a release here yet. We are negotiating that at the moment with a couple of different labels. I don't know what the status is. I'm sure we will get a deal. We need to go with the label most into it.
It doesn't matter to me if it's a giant label or not it's the people that believe in us that I won't to go with.

I know there was another court case recently where does that leave you with the name at this stage
Yeah the trademark thing in Japan.

It's still pending.
Yeah it's a long process. It's pretty complicated.

Would that hold up a release in the states?
No it has nothing to do with the U.S. You know I never even thought about filing it in Japan. It was my agent although I was mad when he did it. Then he convinced me I was just as much a part of Survivor as the rest of the guys were.

So do you ever see a situation where all you guys might work together again?
I don't want to rule anything out. I don't want to get into the mud-slinging thing. Things get cloudy and you can't see through it. So as long as you keep it clean there is always a chance of something like that happening. As for right now I can't see it.

The fans would like to see that one-day.

Everything laid to rest.
Well the only way that would work is if Jim Peterik came into the band really. For me that is the only way it would work.

I've actually spoken to Jim and I got on very well with him, I like the guy a lot.
I like the guy too, I don't know if he likes me but…I tried to contact Jim. I don't know what sort of reaction I would get. I have a lot of respect for him and it would hurt my feelings. Yeah I love that guy, I have ultimate respect for him.

Anything else I can add for you?
Well I think we covered the most important stuff, the stuff people want to know anyway. About the name and all that!
Well s far as the name goes, I think nearly everybody knows what's going on don't they,

I think by now they do!
Well thanks.

My pleasure, talk to you soon.
Thanks mate, keep in touch.