Black ‘n Blue Vocalist Jaime St. James – The full in bloom Legacy Interview
Black n Blue Vocalist
Jaime St. James
full in bloom: Can you give us a little history on how Black ‘n Blue formed and how & when you guys made your move to LA?
Jaime: We formed in the fall of 1981. Tommy (Thayer) and I put the band together. We were in a band called Movie Star for a few years before BNB and I was the drummer. It was a pop band and the two of us wanted to follow our hearts and do a heavier project. We moved to L.A. in 1982 and were signed to Geffen in 1983.
full in bloom: Wasn’t “Chains Around Heaven” on a Metal Massacre album? How did that come about?
Jaime: Yes. We sent our demo to Brian Slagel (Metal Blade) and he liked it.
full in bloom: You also recorded a demo with Don Dokken and Michael Wagener. What was it like working with those guys?
Jaime: Working with Michael Wagener was great. He made the demo sound killer. Don was great with me and working with vocal melodies. He also took the demo to Kalodner at Geffen so he gets a lot of credit for that.
full in bloom: What songs appeared on that recording?
Jaime: Hold On To 18, Violent Kid, Sign In Blood and Wicked Bitch.
full in bloom: How long after arriving to LA, does it take for you guys to get signed?
Jaime: About a year.
full in bloom: Didn’t the band live in an apartment together? What was that experience like?
Jaime: We had a house just off Sunset Blvd. Not far from the Rainbow, Roxy and the Whisky. The Band and our crew all lived there. We had no food but our manager owned a pizza place so we ate pizza for a year. We went out every night and drank for free because we were packing in the crowds at the clubs.
full in bloom: Describe a typical DAY IN THE LIFE OF Jaime St. James during this time. From the time you woke up, to the time you went to bed.
Jaime: Wake up, go down and get some pizza, come home work on songs with Tommy, go to rehearsal, go to get some more pizza, go out drink and party and probably get laid.
full in bloom: Any cool memories stand out from the day you signed your record contract?
Jaime: Yeah, we got signed after a show at the Troubadour by John Kalodner and he has a huge beard. I hugged him when he said welcome to Geffen and my earring came off in his beard and it hung there like a Christmas ornament. Also the next night I threw a beer through the Troubadour window out to Santa Monica Blvd. I don’t know why?? Just excited I guess.
full in bloom: Did you almost sign with any other labels? Why did you choose Geffen?
Jaime: Other labels wanted us. I think Atlantic or Epic was one, but Geffen was supposed to be the best label back then.
full in bloom: How does the band decide on using Dieter Dierks to produce your first album?
Jaime: We liked the way the Scorpions sounded. The Blackout album was the one that sold us on him.
full in bloom: What was it like working with him?
Jaime: Very cool. It was an early digital recording. They do it different now but he did a great job. Some of the tunes seem a little stiff compared how they were live but it was our first time doing a record.
full in bloom: Are there any moments that stand out from those recording sessions?
Jaime: Most people don’t know that the bass intro to Hold On To 18 has me plucking a grand piano string with a guitar pick. That’s why it sounds like that.
full in bloom: Where was it recorded? Do you remember the budget? How long did it take?
Jaime: It was recorded in Germany at Dierks studio. We spent $300,000 dollars and it took 3 months. It would be different today with all the new technology.
full in bloom: I actually loved the production on this album, even though I think most would say Without Love is the best produced. What did you guys do differently with Dieter, if anything, than you did with other producers? What made it sound different?
Jaime: I think it was just the way Dieter recorded, and the digital 3M 2 inch tape machines he used.
full in bloom: What do you remember about writing “Hold on to 18?”
Jaime: We wrote that song while we were still living in Portland Oregon. Tommy had the music all figured out and I came in and wrote the melodies and lyrics.
full in bloom: You guys toured with Aerosmith to support that album. It was right before they got sober, right?
Jaime: Well yes, they were not at all sober. Tyler had all the lyrics taped to the stage and he would walk off behind the PA and not come out. They had to put a crew guy on each side to push him back out. Some nights they would carry him off stage. One night he mumbled to me that I wear too much make up while the crew were dragging him to the dressing room. He was fucking great.
full in bloom: How long does the Aerosmith tour last? What was that experience like for you?
Jaime: I think about 3 months or so. It was our first big tour so we loved it. It was Aerosmith for God’s sake.
full in bloom: I’m amazed that the self-titled record did not go gold or platinum. You guys were being played on MTV constantly. Why did you only do one video?
Jaime: Our wonderful label didn’t want to do another. They didn’t see it through. They were great at first but they would always fizzle out.
full in bloom: Any idea how many copies have sold of the first album?
Jaime: I have no idea at this point. I don’t think they ever told us how many it really sold.
full in bloom: Did you tour with any other bands for that album? Anything stand out?
Jaime: We did some shows with Dio and Whitesnake. Also Night Ranger.
full in bloom: How did the decision come about to use Bruce Fairbairn as a producer on Without Love?
Jaime: We decided on our own to use him. We thought a heavier version of what he was doing with Loverboy at the time would make for a good sound. Geffen agreed and so we sent him some demos and he went for it.
full in bloom: What was it like working with him? What sets him apart from other producers?
Jaime: He was a great coordinator. He would bring in guys like Jim Vallance or the dude from Toto to help out. He had a good ear for a strong song or what a song needed to make it work.
full in bloom: Wasn’t Bob Rock his assistant at the time? Didn’t he engineer the record?
Jaime: Bob Rock was our engineer. Mike Fraser was the assistant.
full in bloom: What was it like working with Bob Rock?
Jaime: Bob was huge in making the record sound as well as it does. It was kind of a dream team when you look back on it.
full in bloom: Are there any brilliant moments that stand out from those recording sessions?
Jaime: The whole damn thing was brilliant in my opinion. Totally underrated record.
full in bloom: Where was it recorded? What was the budget?
Jaime: It was recorded at Little Mountain studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Again we spent around $300,000.
full in bloom: Who did you guys tour with to support that record?
Jaime: KISS, the Asylum tour.
full in bloom: Why do you think that album didn’t sell huge numbers?
Jaime: I really don’t know. I believe the songs were there. Geffen once again were great in the beginning but they chose to bail on it rather than push it.
full in bloom: Didn’t Bon Jovi decide to use Bruce Fairbairn on Slippery When Wet after hearing Without Love?
Jaime: Yes, that’s what Jon and Richie told me one night at the Rainbow.
full in bloom: How does the band decide on using Gene Simmons as a producer for your next release, Nasty Nasty. Other than the fact you grew up loving KISS, was there any other reason?
Jaime: We wanted a producer that would be on our side and not the labels. This would allow us to rock the way WE wanted to. In the end we did “I’ll Be There For You” for a movie sound track and Geffen put it on the record. It was a good song but it was out of place. Geffen told us if we did not put it on the record, they would do nothing to promote it. They got their way in the end.
full in bloom: Are there any cool Gene Simmons memories that stand out?
Jaime: I asked Peter Criss to come down and sing on a song and he hadn’t seen Gene in years. They talked for hours about the old days and it was fun to see them together again (thank you very much).
full in bloom: Did you ever imagine that Tommy Thayer would one day be dressing up as Ace Frehley and playing in KISS? How did you first hear about it?
Jaime: When we were younger I would have never guessed it but he was working for them for years and I saw it coming. I can’t remember when he told me. We lived together for a while so maybe he told me then.
full in bloom: Your final album on Geffen was In Heat. What was that status of the band at that time? Did you know it would be your last album on Geffen if it didn’t hit?
Jaime: Yes we knew that. Gene offered Geffen a boatload of money to buy us off the label and put us on Simmons Records because he knew they were not going to get behind it. They wouldn’t do it. They did no promotion and just let us die out there.
full in bloom: Are there any cool memories that stand out from those recording sessions?
Jaime: There were some great songs that came about for that record. “The Snake”, “Live It Up.”
full in bloom: Any idea what the budget for that record was? Where did you record it?
Jaime: We did it in LA at Rumbo studio. I don’t remember how much we spent.
full in bloom: Why did Tommy decide to leave the band?
Jaime: Frustration, I presume.
full in bloom: During the ’90s you had a KISS tribute band called Cold Gin. How did that come about and who else was in the band?
Jaime: Well I was Peter. Tommy was Gene (just kidding) I mean Ace. We had 2 Genes, first was Chris McLearnon and Spiro Papadatos replaced him when Chris joined Saigon Kick. Anthony White was Paul.
full in bloom: Did you guys play a lot of gigs?
Jaime: We toured America and Japan. It was fun but we knew it would not be a permanent thing.
full in bloom: Jaime St. James is transported back to the year 1983 and were instructed that you had to do two things differently this time around. What would they be?
Jaime: I would have taken the Ozzy tour that we turned down so we could use Dieter Dierks, and I would sign to one of the other labels that wanted us.
-THE FAST 5-
full in bloom: What is your most disgusting habit?
Jaime: Nothing I do is disgusting.
full in bloom: What is the most feminine thing you do?
Jaime: The hair products.
full in bloom: If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?
Jaime: Do you guys need a singer?
full in bloom: Greatest Rock band of all time?
Jaime: It’s a tie, The Beatles and AC/DC
full in bloom: What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?
Jaime: Since this took three separate days to finish that’s tough to answer. Writing a song or making popcorn would be the truth depending on the day. Rock on brothers and sisters!