Lockjaw has played alongside some big names like Type O Negative and Lords of Acid to name just a couple. Medavon joins us for a talk about his latest EP and his unique sound known as 'Hell Rock'.
On April 2nd Milwaukee’s long time “Hell Rock” band, Lockjaw, released their newest EP, Reverent, which includes a cover of the Cars hit “Just what I needed”.
With their latest release, Reverent, Lockjaw are bringing the Hell Rock revolution back into the minds of the masses. Long time Milwaukee Industrial Rock veterans, Lockjaw, led by their charismatic frontman, Medavon DeRaj’e, have returned to the midwest’s Industrial Landscape and are determined to make their presence felt. In dealing with all of the of the challenges and emotions that the year long pandemic brought, Medavon wanted to re-invent the band not only musically, but also lyrically, as he strived to deliver more positive and deeper messages in an effort to combat the previous years darkness and feelings of isolation. To help with this transformation Medavon decided to reach out to well known engineer Ted Jensen (Vast, Mastodon, Evanescence, the Faint) to master the upcoming release. Ted’s mastering highlighted the bands new found 80’s Darkwave meets Industrial sound. The EP boasts not only the aforementioned Cars cover, it also delivers its second single in the lead track “Never Say Never” and the Bauhaus inspired “Keep On Trying”. Plans are underway to shoot videos to supplement the upcoming singles off of the EP.
Lockjaw became a household name throughout the Midwest thanks in part for sharing the stage with national acts including Mudvayne, Type O Negative, Damage Plan, Wednesday 13, Hell Yeah, Prong, KMFDM, Powerman 5000, Mindless Self Indulgence, Lords of Acid and also providing direct support for multiple sold out shows for MARILYN MANSON.
Since starting out in 1998, Lockjaw has released 14 albums to date on Dark Drug records with their previous effort being 2019’s “Drowner”. Lockjaw's "Bored Again" from the CD "Dirty Minds and Smiling Faces"(2004) is featured on the X-Box360 game "Dead Rising".
A political and religious uprising against the system. Abrasive vocals, dark chord progressions and machine gun like electronics define this band's sound. Don’t let their new found positive messaging fool you, their live intensity and their over-the-edge stage show, filled with all the necessary elements of sweat, smoke and unrelenting honesty; will continue to keep its loyal following coming back for more while becoming more accessible to a entirely new generation of dark alternative music fans. Hell Rock for the masses forever and always!
Q. Medavon, you’ve said about wanting to change the band in to a mostly positive vibe and direction musically. Can you tell us how this EP differs from previous EP’s and if you feel this is the direction you will carry on with in future or will the sound perhaps change even further with each release? A. The positive vibe is more related to my lyrical messages and just in general how I want to come across. In the past a great majority of my songs revolved around my ego and inner problems and needing an outlet to release that. Not all but 6 out of 10 songs on an average album. I'm sure I will still go there on a song or two but I'm more about focusing on outwardly themes and the now. Lyrically some things may still come across pretty dark but there is usually a lesson in the lyrics or some ending optimism to make the listener not feel as alone in their plight. But positive energy just vibrates at a higher frequency so when one can tap into that, it not only helps them but everyone and everything they come in contact with.
Q. You describe the band as ‘Hell Rock’ and “A political and religious uprising against the system.” How would you describe Hell rock to those unfamiliar with your music thus far, and what religious and political aspects do you address most, and how? A. Ever since I was a kid I have always been more attracted to music with dark chord progressions or edgy lyrics. Growing up I'd seek out records that had curse words on them cause I was told you aren't suppose to say those things. And I'd listen to songs like that and get all charged and be laughing, singing them all around the house. Later I became more into bands like Motley Crue and WASP who had that super evil dark image. So for me hell rock represents the rebellion of youth, things you aren't suppose to say. Singing about the Devil or hell. Not as often political back then but in more recent times it is hard to avoid. Religious and political institutions have always seemed to be the major forces in trying to control society and ones mind. I don't really sing about religion but have always gone back to it for references that everyone can understand. Like God, Heaven, hell, the soul. Religion is man made. Faith and spirituality come from within. Q. Tell us about the history of the band. Where did it all start, and what inspired you to start making music? A. I started recording 4 track demos in my bedroom when I was a late teen. In 98 I put out my first official album that was much more trip hop inspired then hard edged rock. In 2002 I decided to put a live band together and it became more of an industrial influenced rock band. So many things have inspired me to make music from Elton John and Fleetwood mac to Def Leppard and The Crue. To not feeling like I fit in or enjoyed many other things. To getting heart broken and having mental lapses. In essence Lockjaw is me and my band are different personalities inside my head. I have had many live members over 20 years and a few collaborators. Some longer then others. Q. You’ve shared the stage with some big names, who were your favourites to play alongside and who would you like to play alongside in future? A. Well all the shows opening for Manson introduced Lockjaw to thousands and thousands of more fans then any other shows have. And playing sold out shows is epic to say the least. Unless you are really huge then those opportunities don't come along very often. Opening for Type O Negative was also something that I'll always cherish and was a dream come true. Seeing Peter Steele after getting off stage and him shaking my hand and asking if I had a good time was priceless. I'd love to one day open for NIN or Skinny Puppy. Q. Which songs are you most proud of in this EP?
A. This may be my first album that I am completely satisfied with each song and how they worked together as a whole. Normally at least one or two songs on an album have had questionable tones or executions to myself. But this one turned out much different. My fav is probably The Cars cover of Just What I Needed. It was my first collaboration with Scotty Damned(Creepy Little Things) who is gonna be playing with Lockjaw live at some point down the road. It is way more satisfying when you can create something with someone and you hit that point of blissful creation that you didn't know you were gonna hit. The title track reverent is also a fav. musically it is unlike any other Lockjaw song before it and the music formed out of just testing my new recording equipment. Often the unexpected can turn out the best.
Q. What difficulties with Covid have you had in putting this album together? A. I don't think this album would of been possible without Covid. I was working 5 jobs and hardly had enough money coming in to stay a float and was usually stressed out to the maximum. Then Covid came and all my jobs stopped. I was pretty introverted before hand so the lack of socializing didn't matter much for most of it. But it gave me lots of time to create and work on music. For about 3 months I was working on these songs for 8 hours or more a day. I just wouldn't of had that type of time if life hadn't changed. Plus the stimulus checks enabled me to get a new computer so I could make albums again.
Q. Is there a favourite funny or important moment story that you tell people about Lockjaw that you can tell us too?
A. A more recent important and favourite thing was when Ty Elam of the nu metal band, Videodrone, agreed to collaborate on a song with me. Him and his band were a huge influence on the early incarnation of Lockjaw and someone I never imagined I'd become friends with let alone do a song with. He is one of the most unique vocalists and has always inspired me. We have it almost finished but the pandemic and relocations have slowed things. But either way a success to me.
Q. What artists are you listening to most right now? A. I love the NIN/Trent Reznor soundscape albums such as GhostsV, Gone Girl, The Vietnam War. I can listen to those all day. Massive Attack, Tricky. Lots of classic rock like The Cars and ELO, 70's Aerosmith. King Buffalo, Gods and Punks. Q. What life lessons has being in music taught you over the years, and what would you change about the scene if you could? A. To always follow your intuition whether it is on a song part or a path you are taking with your music as a whole. Always believe 100% in what you do and eventually the universe will present opportunities. Then it is your choice on what you do with them. The most important part is connecting with others and sharing vibrations. Especially in collaborations and just playing with friends and people you love or respect. Q. Anything you’d like to say to your fans? I appreciate and love everyone that has given myself and Lockjaw a chance over the years and in the now. From supporting at shows to listening to the music. To telling their friends or just telling me I rock when I'm having moments of self doubt. It helps define my purpose and makes me a better person. And thank you so much for the interview.
Thank you for your time Medavon
As the EP opens, I'm instantly taken back to the gritty, grunge fuelled 90's. 'Never Say Never' is one of those tracks that would grace a film right as it's builds the tension up before an action scene.
'Mocking Bird' has a bass and guitar twang that fills a rockabilly turned industrial sound I didn't know I had been missing.
'Keep On Trying' definitely shows the Gothic roots inspiration and the Bauhaus feel is fairly clear.
Atmospheric and heavy, these tracks drip like decadent honey.
The title track 'Reverent' has a rather upbeat to it and reminds me of The Clash and The Cure with the instruments, but Marilyn Manson with the vocals. It's a really enjoyable song that has a lot of style and class packed in to it. It's probably the best track to introduce yourself to the band with if you're new to them.
'Just what I needed' is a song easy to connect with, it has a rather personal feel to the lyrics and a memorable set of riffs that bring in a touch of old school guitar solo rock which your really don't hear in industrial so the mixing of styles is impressive. The keyboard when it comes in brings an even more light hearted and easy going mentality to the track that rounds it all off with a smile on your face.
Finally 'Charged By Death' finishes up the EP in an amalgamation of all the previous songs with its darker edges mixed with upbeat sections, and deep guitar riffs.
Never Say Never
Keep On Trying
Just What I Needed
Charged By Death
A rather interesting take on Industrial and rock that has a lot of nostalgia value. This EP mixes up the genre in a rather different and fresh way whilst still remaining quite true to classic inspirations and the sounds of strong bands in decades past. These two factors make this EP from Lockjaw a rather interesting and enjoyable listen that is dripping with signature American style. Although not my kind of music, it's not hard to see why this band has supported / toured with some incredibly big names in the alternative music business and will no doubt continue to do so.
Dance factor: 5/10
Re-play value: 6/10
Overall score: 6.2 / 10
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