JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR
Interview with Jack Starr
By Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
Jack Starr’s Burning Starr is the band formed by guitarist Jack Starr after he left Virgin Steele. Here I had the opportunity to question him on all things Burning Starr and music in general.
Hi, I’m Dawn King from Ever Metal. I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and I hope you are all well?
Thanks Dawn, I am happy to talk to you and the readers of Ever Metal , I am doing good and feeling great about the new album
For those who don’t know much about you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and about the band?
My band is called Burning Starr and I started the band in 1986. Our first album was called ‘Rock The American Way’, prior to that I did a solo album with Rhett Forester called ‘Out Of The Darkness’ and before that from 1981 to 1984 I was in a band I founded called Virgin Steele
You have been described as US Power Metal. Would you say this is an accurate description of the music you play?
Yes I really think it is an accurate description in fact sometimes, because of my history with Virgin Steele, I have been described as one of the founders of Power Metal and certainly in 1981 the ranks of people playing power metal were very thin as this music was just starting out
I have read you being described a “one of the unsung heroes of heavy metal” How would you react to this?
I think it’s true at least from the financial stand point lol, I see some musicians who came out at the same time as me like for instance Metallica who have done incredibly well and live like royalty while I am still struggling a bit, and when Metallica came out we were on some of the same labels like for instance the British label Music for Nations we appeared on a half dozen compilation albums together so yes in comparison I am pretty “unsung” but to tell the truth I do have fans all over the world (just not as many lol) and all of my many albums have been reissued sometimes 2 and 3 times thru out the years so I really can’t complain!
You were one of the founding members of Virgin Steele. Was it difficult to escape that name to branch out on your own?
It really was and it has been just recently that I am seeing more articles and posts about me that don’t mention Virgin Steele, so I think that it has taken time but finally I am being recognized for Jack Starr and Burning Starr after all this is our eighth studio album and we have been together for over thirty years no. Initially it was not hard to branch out on my own, as soon as I left Virgin Steele I got a very big record deal with the biggest independent record label in America called Passport who had big acts on their label like Leslie West, Wendy O Williams, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones (that one really impressed me at the time), I was on the same label as one of the Stones!! But as time went by I started playing a more epic style of music which was better received in Europe and my focus starting shifting to Europe and new metal markets like Germany where our albums started coming out with regularity!
Apart from your own bands, you have participated in many different projects e.g. Devil Childe, Phantom Lord, Thrasher and Strider. Does this mean you have an open mind where music is concerned?
I really do have an open mind when it comes to music, I like to quote Beethoven who said “the only rule in music is that it has to sound good” and for me that means that any music is cool if it sounds good including Middle Eastern, Blues, Folk ,Jazz and lots of classical too!
The current line-up features you, Todd Michael Hall on vocals, Ned Meloni on bass and Kenny “Rhino” Earl on drums. How did the four of you come together?
We came together when I signed a record with Magic Circle Music, the label that was founded by Joey DeMaio the bass player for Manowar, he actually helped us find Todd Michael Hall and introduced us to ‘Rhino’ who was a former drummer of Manowar. I had contact with Joey back in the eighties when my band Virgin Steele did shows with them since both bands were considered stylistically similar. So I would have to say that Joey did the introductions and we all got along great and decided to stick together.
It has been eight years since your previous release as Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, the album “Land Of The Dead” What were you working on in that time?
It really was more like close to six years but it did feel very long.Iin that time I was also playing blues and doing local shows, it was difficult because Todd also joined RiotV and ‘Rhino’ was doing gigs with Ross the Boss and Ned was raising small children and learning how to use Pro Tools so everyone had their plates full, also we are really recording 2 albums and on the vinyl it is a double album ,we had to leave off some tracks on the cd but there is over 80 minutes of music not counting our remake of ‘Children Of The Storm’ the first song Virgin Steele recorded and also we did go to Europe and do festivals a couple times too in that timespan!
How do you think your music is received in the UK and are there any plans for a tour over here?
To tell you the truth I didn’t think we had very many fans in the UK but lately that has been changing and I really think that anyone who is into Saxon or Maiden would probably like our new album ‘Stand Your Ground’, without sounding cocky I think the playing and songwriting is on that level but to clarify what I am saying, we were not influenced by those band but since I am pretty much the same age as those guys I can say that we share a lot of the same influences and so if there are any similarities it is because of that reason more than anything else!
“Stand Your Ground” is an album full of 12 cracking tracks. Which is your favourite from the album and why?
That is really a difficult question because we tried very hard to not have any filler on the album and our producer Bart Gabriel was very adamant that we should only have the best of our songs and so we threw out a lot of songs that didn’t make the cut and what was left was the best of at least 20 songs, but that said, I would have to say that the title track “Stand Your Ground ” is my personal favourite, I am really happy with my solos on that track and I am also amazed at how great our bass player Ned Meloni played and of course the harmonies that Todd Micheal Hall came up with can only be described as delicious,(it reminds me of the great Freddy Mercury ) and there is nothing I can say about ‘Rhino’’s drumming that has not already been said but let me just sum it up that for me ‘Rhino’ is without a doubt one of the top ten drummers in metal!
We are just coming to the end of the festival season. Which would be your favourite festival to play and why?
I would love to play the Sweden Rock festival, it is something I always wanted to do and I was a little jealous a few years back when a friend of mine Mike Favata who is the drummer for Thor told me about how much he loved playing that festival, so yes it would be cool for me to play that festival and it would also mean that two old friends and classmates from Long Beach High School, New York would have played the same festival
Heavy metal and the rock n roll lifestyle kind of go hand on hand. What is the most “rock n roll” thing you have ever done?
Well really I am quite boring, so there is no driving cars into swimming pools or running naked in the lobby of hotels for me but I love reading about other people doing crazy things lol!
So what’s next on the horizon for Jack Starr’s Burning Starr?
The next thing for us is to make this record do well and climb up a few rungs on the ladder of rock success and go back to Europe and play and meet more fans and raise a glass or two
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks Dawn, the only thing I can add is that life goes by quick and I would recommend we all step out of our comfort zone and meet new people and experience new things like maybe the new Burning Starr album!
Metal On, and Keep the Metal Burning
Jack Starr Florida, 2017
Find out more about Jack Starr and his band Burning Starr using the following social media links:
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities