Jag Panzer has always been an underrated yet respected band in American heavy metal scene. That attitude seems to extend to guitarist Mark Briody, the band’s driving force for over thirty years despite being somewhat overshadowed in the public eye by their higher profile members. He is an accessible figure, always having interacted openly with Jag Panzer fans over the years and providing many insights into his creative process and thoughts on the band’s legacy. Indy Metal Vault reached out to Briody through email to go a little deeper into the band’s recent reformation, history, and tidbits surrounding their newest effort, The Deviant Chord.
Indy Metal Vault: I’m sure plenty of people have already asked but what was going on with Jag Panzer between The Scourge of the Light and The Deviant Chord? It seemed like there was quite a bit of hearsay and uncertainty in those years.
Mark Briody: We had just run out of ways to move forward. After Scourge of the Light we just kept hitting brick wall after brick wall, we were getting tour offers that would lose a lot of money. It would have been like ‘Hey Guys, we’re hitting the road for a few weeks, we need everyone to kick in $800 each.’ We were already bringing no crew anywhere, no merch people, borrowing amps, etc. We had hit the bottom for cutting expenses. The days of record companies helping to fund things are over.
IMV: Reception seems to be pretty good toward the new material. Where do you think Jag Panzer stands in the American heavy metal scene these days?
MB: We aren’t a big selling band (never were) and we don’t hit any sort of trends at all. But I think the dedicated metal community knows that we put out some quality metal and we put on a good live show.
IMV: The Deviant Chord is the first album to feature Joey Tafolla since 1997’s The Fourth Judgement. What were the circumstances that led to his return to the band and how do things feel compared to earlier experiences?
MB: Oliver from KIT brought the band over a few years ago to play an Ample set. Joey came aboard to do that show and a couple in Greece. They went really well so we decided to pursue more gigs. Those additional gigs went well so the next step was a new album.
IMV: I’ve noticed that The Deviant Chord features the same musicians as The Fourth Judgement and are twenty years apart. Do you think the albums have anything more in common with each other or am I looking too deeply into this?
MB: I personally don’t hear much in common with them, but several other people have told me that they hear a connection. To me, that’s the beauty of music. People hear different things, they take something different from the music compared to another listener. That’s really cool to me.
IMV: Jag Panzer has always had pretty varied songwriting, but I think The Deviant Chord may be your varied album to date. How did the writing process for this album compare to the others that you’ve released in the past?
MB: I try to be varied in my songwriting. I like to give each song it’s own character. For this album we did a ton of demos, much more so then we usually do. I think that contributed to a unique sound.
IMV: The band definitely has its share of classics. What song do you think best represents you and are there any particular tracks that you think may be overlooked?
MB: I appreciate that we have songs that people like and expect live, but for me personally I’ve always had a connection to our lesser known songs. For example, I would pick ‘Legion Immortal’ and ‘All Things Renewed’ as some of our best songs, but I think I’m alone in this opinion. I’m not sure we’ve ever even played them live.
IMV: As a longtime fan, I’ve noticed that you in particular have had a very active internet and social media presence for a long time now. What initially motivated you to do so and how do you think it may have affected the band’s momentum?
MB: When I was a kid I used to move gear and run cables for the local sound company. I didn’t get paid, but I got into every show and met every artist. One that made a big impact was Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry showed up to the gig himself, he was driving a station wagon and he brought him and his guitar. If you wanted a shirt after the gig, you went up to Chuck himself and bought it. It was a packed house, but if you wanted to wait around you could talk to Chuck Berry. I thought that was very cool. He was very much a rock star onstage, but very much a regular (and funny) guy otherwise. I always wanted to have that kind of interaction with people that listen to my music. I didn’t want to be an ‘ivory tower’ rock musician.
IMV: How has the band’s attitude to playing live and touring changed over the years, and who do I talk to about setting up an Indianapolis date?
MB: I don’t think our attitude has changed one bit, but the business around us certainly has. Since day one, we’ve always been willing to do whatever it takes to do a gig. We’ll take the worst flights, sleep on the floor and bring no crew. For Indianapolis, or any gig, contact Dave Tedder at [email protected]