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Jack Starr (Guardians Of The Flame)

Interview with Jack Starr from Guardians Of The Flame
by David Kaluza at 11 April 2002, 8:25 PM

Most people will probably have heard of Jack Starr in one way or another. After all, he was one of the founding members of Virgin Steele and afterwards had a couple of excellent albums with Burning Starr as well. The last couple of years it has become rather silent concerning Jack, untill now that is, as he is back with a new band and a lot of plans for the future, but before we delver further into that, we first ask him what exactly went wrong between him and David Defeis during the re-mastering of the first two Virgin Steele albums....

To start off with, there has been a lot of press recently about the debacle between you and David Defeis about the re-mastering of the first two Virgin Steele albums. Can you tell us what exactly was the deal with that and your view/opinion on what has happened ?

What happened as far as far as the re-issues put out by Sanctuary is I did not agree to the reissues and did not want my songs used. As you may know I started Virgin Steele and in the beginning I wrote most of the music, so I told Sanctuary that I did not want these re-issues and in response they said Fine, but we will re-record these songs with David's band that he calls Virgin Steele and that is what they did. The book of burning is not original Virgin Steele music, it is a re-recording done in the year 2001, done by some new musicians that I never even met, except for Edward Pursino, who is a wonderfull guy and plays great guitar. I want to make it very clear that my problem is with Dave Defeis and not with Ed Pursino who is a gentleman and a very dedicated musician (and who, like myself, also likes dogs). There are only three three heavy metal musicians that have played the Les Paul guitar with such mastery, one of them was Rhandy Rhoads, one of the is Eddie Pursino and the other one is of course Jimmy Page who is actually one of the architects of the music we call heavy metal.

Do you think that in the future we might see the release of these re-masters and is there still the possibility of you working together again with David ? Whatever happened to the Sacred demos ?

Yes, one day the masters will come out as they were recorded with the original members, and the label that I record for will do this in the months to come. As far as recording again with David, anything is possible, but of course he would have to treat me with respect and not to try to tell me what notes to play. The Sacred demos will come out on Metal Mayhem records and I don't refer to them by that name. To me they are called the Virgin Steel Reunion, I call them that because everybody that played on that was a member of Virgin Steele except for the drummer, who was a friend of mine and a wonderful drummer, his name is Mike Capuano, and he was one of Ritchie Blackmore's best friends, but that is another story !! The bass player is Rob DeMartino who played on some of the classic Virgin Steele albums. Rob's incredible bass technique can be heard throughout the songs but it is especially notable on the song The Final Days.

What is your opinion on the recently released The Book of Burning. And Virgin Steele after your departure in general ?

The Book Of Burning is a very good record, but is it necessary to redo these old songs ? Dave is a very good songwriter, so why does he not do new songs and make new creative statements, why continue to recreate the past ? Virgin Steele of today is very much dominated by David's musical vision, so it is not really a band, but in answer to your question, some of the songs I like very much and some I don't, but even on the songs I don't like I must say the musicianship is of a very high level.


It seems that after the last Burning Starr release (The Orange Album) things have gotten a little quiet concerning your releases, even though you still did a couple of other things, could you tell us a bit about the following releases, namely Jack Starr - A Minor Disturbance (90), Strider - Strider (91), Oxygen - Oxygen (94) ?

After The Orange Album I did a few more but I had some personal problems and it kept me from being properly focused on my musical career. Regarding the A Minor Disturbance album, this was an instrumental record which had the great bass player Randy Coven. He was recently playing with Yngwie Malmsteen. I am happy to say that I just signed a three CD deal with Frontline Records of Brazil, which is a true metal country and I am honored to have many dedicated fans there, the Url for this record label is http://www.frontlinerock.com.br . As far as Strider is concerned, this was a great record that was poorly recorded in a digital studio. The singer was Mike Tirelli from my band Burning Starr and he did a great job as usual. As for Oxygen, this was a band that I had with a female singer, or should I say that this was a band she had. I spent many years doing this project and I never saw any money or any record deals. It was a bad experience for me and also, the band did not have a permanent drummer, so Bobby Rondinelli of Black Sabbath was hired, he sounded great, but there were problems that even he could not fix. Oxygen was not a Jack Starr project and the style and the songs were not necessarily what I would have done at that time.

After 94 I have not a lot of info about what you have been doing, could you please tell us a bit about the period between 94 and now ? What have you been doing all that time ? Have you been active in the music scene ? Toured/ played with other bands ? Did any other musical projects ?

To be honest I have not done much since 1994 and i was disgusted with the music business, until 1997 when I got back with Dave for the reunion project. This was the second time I reunited with Dave, the first time was in 1991 when we started a band called Smokestack Lightning, this was a great band and the style of music was a mix of heavy metal and the blues. The big surprise was that on bass guitar we had the original bass player of Foghat, who were one of the biggest groups of the 70's, we stayed together for about a year and we recorded a live album that will be coming out next year on Metal Mayhem Records .

What do you think caused the fact that while the name Jack Starr is well known throughout the metal scene, you never managed to make it big time like some other bands /musicians ? A lousy management or pr ?

I don't know why I'm not more known, but sometimes it is for the better. I think that if I had big fame in the 80's I might have abused it and today I would be dead. Now of course i am more stable and I think I could handle it better.

Will there ever be decent re-masters of the Burning Starr releases ? Is there any material left from that band such as bonus / live tracks which could be used for this ? I know that there are some re-releases available, but have you ever considered taking this entirely in your own hands ?

Yes, there will be more re-issues of Burning Starr and the label Fronline Records will be putting out 3 of the early CD's. Also I must say that the No Turning Back re-issue on Sentinel Steel records is great and the packaging is awesome, I recommend it to anyone who is curious about Jack Starr or to anyone who is a fan. Also Metal Mayhem did a great job with Blaze Of Glory and Rock The American Way.

There has also been talk about a release called I Stand Alone which would've been supposedly released in January 2002, what is the deal with that ? I seem to be unable to find anything about it on the net or otherwise.

As far as I Stand Alone is concerned, I am still recording this and it will come out next year. I am going to California to work in a studio there with Bill Lawrence from the band D'Allen. He is a great drummer and producer and we will be collaborating on some tracks in his studio.

Out of curiosity, do you keep up to date with the current metal scene and what are your opinions on that ? Are there any bands that specifically have your attention or you enjoy ?

Of course I keep up to date on the metal scene and there are some bands that I like very much like Hammerfall, Rhapsody and Blind Guardian, also I like the guitar sound of Axel Rudi Pell, it reminds me of me, so how could I not like it, haha !!

On to more pleasant things, word has it that you have started work on a new album. Can you tell us a little bit about the members of the band, who are (as it seems) members of the original Virgin Steele line-up and how it comes that you guys are working together again ?

The new band has the original bass player of Virgin Steele, Joe O'Reilley and the original drummer Joey Avayzian. It is an honor to play with these musicians again and after all these years we still kick ass together like we did in the old days, the only difference is that now we are much better musicians.


How will this new band be called (Guardians of the Flame ), and what can we expect musically speaking. Have there already been songs written/ recorded or not ?

The new band will be exactly like the old band Virgin Steele, it will be a time warp, and yes, we have new songs recorded.

 When can we expect this album to be released and are there any touring plans ?

There are no definite plans yet to release this album, but it will happen !! Jack is back and that is a fact !! I have killed the demons that were upsetting my life and now I am free to devote myself to music !!

What can we expect to hear when the band will perform live ? Will there also be songs from your previous bands like Burning Starr or Virgin Steele ?

When we play live we will play songs from every album that I ever recorded, except for Rock The American Way, and sometimes we also play Virgin Steele songs that I wrote like Burn The Sun.

Finally, whatever happened to your homepage ? Http://www.jackstarr.com is not working anymore, will there be a new one soon or not ?

My homepage is no more because the host of the page went out of business and he did not have a back-up CD of the web site, so a new one will go up. We are working on that and soon there will be a new one and this time we will back-up the site on a disc.

Are there any final words you would like to say to your fans and our readers ?

In closing I would like to thank the readers of Metal Temple for their devotion to heavy metal and to all my metal brothers & sisters, STAY HEAVY, STAY LOUD AND STAY PROUD !!



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