Their Finest Hour

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Wisconsin’s Jungle Rot have been toiling in the US death metal scene for over 20 years now. But the last few years, since the band signed to Victory Records in 2011, has seen a second coming of the long running act. The three albums for the label (2011’s Kill on Command, 2013’s Terror Regime and this year’s Order Shall Prevail), sees the band at the very top of their game, aging like a fine wine.

A wine made of piss’n’vinegar that is; the band continues to deliver angry themes of war, social and politically charged diatribes, all wrapped up in the band’s no nonsense, no frills, no bullshit death metal. A throwback style of death metal, mind you, that’s powerful, simple and brutal. No sweeps, no Protools, just thick grooves and pummeling blasts. A nod to a simpler time if you will. Bassist James Genenz has been with the tribe since 2005 and has seen the band’s ups and downs, willing to answer a few question for me about ‘the rot…..
So here you are album number 8. It took you almost 10 years to release your first 4 albums, but you guys have cranked out 3 albums on the last 4. What has spurned this productivity?
James: Just an overall tightness and bond between the three of us, having worked together now for over ten years. I believe we just have it down to how we like it now and it’s a situation that is very conducive to our creativity and output.
These last three have been on Victory Records, a home town label. However there are lots of rumors about Tony and the label. It seems like you guys are doing just fine? How long is this deal for?
James: The Victory staff has been nothing but great to us. We feel like a priority there. Things get done. It’s nice actually and everyone there works very hard. Every label is in business to make money, not help their buddies get famous. Tony just handles his battles a little more personally because he really does only sign bands he truly cares about. We’ve had a great relationship with the label and I believe we are going to do at least one more album with them, if not more.
Certainly a better fit than Napalm Records right? That must have been odd considering their roster now?
James: Napalm Records was an odd label for us. They tried though, they did their best with us. They really never got a foothold in America but they did good for our name in Europe.
The cover and the title seem to suggest a parable of current post Ferguson/Baltimore times and the fear of police and a police state. How do you guys feel about the current state of affairs regarding the police and such?
James: I’ve pretty much lost all faith. I don’t think anything can be “fixed”. It’s beyond repair. Pretty much what the lyrics suggest. Haha!
The video for “Paralyzed Prey” is pretty cool! How do you decide what song do to a video for? Is that predetermined when writing songs?
James: The director Dustin Smith just had a vision with the song. The lyrics are essentially about a hunter who has the tables turned and he becomes the hunted. So it definitely fit in with the theme on the song. That was a blast to make. I actually directed my own death scene, haha! When determining which songs to do the videos for it really comes down to Tony but I know he asks his staff for their favorite songs from the album and he’ll decide in the end which get made.

So With Dave Matrise being the founder and lone original member, he automatically got to play the hunter in the video right?
James: Pretty much. Dave has probably wanted to kill one or more of us at some point in time, so we gave him the opportunity to blow off a little steam! Plus, Dave is a pretty avid sportsman in the real world too, so it just worked.
With Dave being the lone original member, is Jungle Rot his baby and you guys play along or does he give you and the other members some creative input?
James: I mean, its definitely his baby, but the three of us have been a team since we came together 11 years ago. Dave pushed the band hard before me and Geoff came aboard but never seemed to have to right guys with him. He couldn’t tour a lot because guys would flake out on him. When Geoff and myself  joined and we saw that we worked good together it naturally lit a spark under his ass to push the band once again. Now the three of us are equal members and all have a say in the creative process and individual jobs to do within the band.
You have been a member since 2005. Were you a a fan of the band’s three albums before you joined? How do you think the band has grown since you joined? 
James: I actually played guitar on a couple tours in 2004 so it’s been a tad longer but either way, yes I used to play in another band from the area called Fleshgrind and we were label mates with Jungle Rot in the early days of Pulverizer Records.  I filled in a few times in 2004 for Jungle Rot and then Fleshgrind dissolved in 2005 and I took on Jungle Rot full time. Like I said earlier, the band has grown a lot since I’ve joined because Dave finally had the team he was looking for to push the band to the next level.
So,except for Kill on Command and Terror regime, you have had a different drummer- are you the spinal tap of death metal- whats the deal? Kenosha not a hot bed for death metal drummers?
James: We just work better this way. The three of us have worked our asses off to get the band to the level it is, however miniscule it may be. We trust each other, we know we are on the same team. We’re happy with our arrangement and we have some talented guys to pick from when we need them! Basically we don’t have nor ever will have a permanent drummer. We’ve come to that conclusion.
 You did a cover songs on What Horrors Await and Terror Regime, was there discussion about a cover for this album?
James: We actually did record a cover song during the recording sessions, but it’s going to be used for something else. Something special, and I shouldn’t give it away. It’s an old school number that I doubt anyone would have guessed we would cover.
It seems like Kill on Command was almost a rebirth of Jungle Rot after toiling for many years. The metal was better, the label was stable and so was the line-up, other than the drummer. Would you agree?
James: Yes landing the Victory deal and having Tony eager and ready to back us was another kick in the ass we needed. We felt we needed to step it up a bit and I believe we accomplished that.
The knock against Jungle Rot has been similar to the likes of Six Feet Under etc… that you guys have no creativity or are a one trick pony. I’m guessing you guys don’t care and we aren’t going to see a proggy, arpeggio filled Jungle Rot album any time soon?
James: Don’t fool yourself. Jungle Rot does what it does. Why would we change that? But if you think for one second that we can’t play anything more challenging or something because we do Jungle Rot, then you’re sadly mistaken. Jungle Rot has a sound, a style and we honor that. Sure I can sweep appegios, hell, Geoff can play flawless Chopin on the piano. But what does that have to do with Jungle Rot? If you like the band, you don’t want us to change too much. If you don’t like the band, well then fuck off.
Being tagged a ‘war metal band’ is a double edged sword. Luckily there’s no shortage of lyrical material. Do you see Jungle Rot ever branching out of real world stuff and war?
James: Into like what? Space core? I just write lyrics about whats pissing me off at the time and what I’m surrounded with. I have written lyrics based on more fantasy and revolving around horror movies and such, and we still crank out the occasional black humor song. But yeah, real world horrors aren’t going away and they are good fuel for my fire.
Whats next for you guys? Tour I assume? Then crank out another album next year?
James: We just got off the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival tour with Slayer and King Diamond and had a blast out there doing that. Met some really great people and got the name out there to an audience that may have never seen us. In September we are going to Mexico for a few days and we’re trying to line something up for the US in October. In the meantime, we will definitely be working on some new material and hopefully it won’t be two years before the next album! Keep in touch on social media! Cheers!


  1. Commented by: Mars

    Fellow Wisconsinites. I should give them a fair listen. I’ve only seen them once live.

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