If it strikes anyone odd that Jackyl, who year after year has rattled the walls of the Star Plaza Theatre, should come to the region and choose to play a night club rather than the Plaza, it's because the band wanted to -- make that needed to -- get its ya-yas out as fast as possible.
"We've been locked up in the studio recording for a long time. One day, we just called our agent and told him to line up a handful of live dates fast. We were goin' a little stir crazy," explained Jackyl frontman Jesse James Dupree. "We had cabin fever. We needed to get out and stretch our musical legs."
After landing in "The Guiness Book of World Records" during the summer of 1998 by playing 100 concerts in 50 days in 27 states, Jackyl needed a long break. "I don't ever want to hear a band whine about exhaustion until they do what we did that summer," he said.
When the group decided to refocus their collective sites on Jackyl, two founding members -- bassist Tom Bettini and guitarist Jimmy Stiff -- decided to pass.
Former Brother Kane bassist, Roman Glick, now anchors the groove with drummer Chris Worley. Worley's brother Jeff Worley, once second guitarist in the band, now handles all guitar duties.
"I'm not going to comment on the situation, except to ask people to come hear the band with open ears and tell me if we haven't stepped up to the next level," he said.
Because this current minitour was an impulse action, the band eschewed venues like Star Plaza in favor of midsize clubs. "We just needed to get out, road test new songs and sweat a little," said Dupree. "These are intimate shows."
While fans attending the "road testing shows" can expect to hear all the old Jackyl songs, they also will be a captive audience whose job is to help Dupree whittle down the 30-plus songs written and recorded for the next album (tentatively titled "Hell's Jukebox") to a workable dozen.
"Well be swapping out new songs from show to show," said Dupree, including, "Kill the Sunshine," "Give the Devil His Due" and "Overflow of Love," three expected to make it to the finished album.
Jackyl never has worried about writing radio hits, but rather songs that come alive on stage. "Radio has never been too open to what we do," said Dupree, who credits nonstop touring for the band's continued success.
"Trends come and go in music, and were still here as loud and obnoxious as ever."
Armed with Southern-fried boogie tunes, Atlanta's Jackyl became instant successor to the raunch 'n' roll throne of '70s icons Black Oak Arkansas when it burst on the national scene with its self-titled 1992 debut on Geffen Records and landed a one-two punch with the AOR radio singles, "The Lumberjack" and "Down On Me."
"This is our 20th anniversary," said Dupree, who for the forthcoming album once again has teamed with AC/DC's Brian Johnson. The two indelible vocalists wrote and recorded "Locked & Loaded" for Jackyl's 1997 album, "Cut the Crap!"
Their label, Epic Records, laid off 45 marketing employees the week "Cut the Crap" shipped and another hefty downsizing took place shortly thereafter. That album, perhaps Jackyl's finest ever, fell between the cracks without the proper marketing push.
Returning to Geffen Records for 1998's "Choice Cuts," they enjoyed a radio hit with their cover of Grand Funk's "American Band." That label then fell victim to the merger mania that hit the industry.
"The record industry is just a big sloppy mess these days. It's like musical chairs. We don't have a label at the moment, but we're not worried," Dupree said. "For the sake of making sure this album absolutely represents who we are, we're takin' our time and we're doing this album ourselves. Then well find a home for it. There's lots of irons in the fire."
Fans should expect the album in stores by early August. Dates are lining up for the band through fall, including a headline slot at Harley-Davidson's annual Bike Week in Sturgis, S.D.
Dupree hopes Jackyl's performance at Sturgis will end on a DVD.
"It's not locked down yet, but it looks good," he said. "Rockin ... with a million wild and crazy bikers. Could there be a better show to tape?"
E-mail Tom Lounges at firstname.lastname@example.org.