On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, I had the delight of speaking with guitarist Jonathan Montoya of Full Devil Jacket. Not only was he one of the funniest guys I’ve spoken to, but he is also charming, and has an irresistible Southern drawl that could turn just about anyone into a pile of grits. We laughed our way through the entire interview and generally had a good time while we discussed the fun parts of being in a band…
Hi Jonathan, how are you?
JM: Fine. How are you?
Good, excited to be talking to you, especially after seeing the band last time you were here in Hollywood.
JM: Oh, okay – yeah, I remember you. That was a rough show; our singer had a throat problem.
I know. And you guys were really great. We were saying that if the band was that good with their singer sick, they must be amazing at 100%.
JM: Yeah, it rules when we’re 100%.
I can’t wait. So, tell me how it’s going. Where are you right now?
JM: It’s awesome. We’re out here in Orlando, Florida soaking up some sun. I’m out here nude sunbathing.
You are not!
JM: Oh, yes I am!
You’re naked right now?
JM: Well, I got shoes on.
Just shoes, huh?
JM: No, really just socks. I’m gonna get a sunburn everywhere.Thanks for that. You, with your spiky bright red hair, all naked except for socks. That’s quite a visual.
JM: There you go! No, no – don’t picture that!
You should play like that.
JM: Nah, it’s been done too many times. I’ll play in my socks, but they’re gonna be on my feet, not anywhere else.
Well, my next question was going to be “Tell me a story that no one else knows” but I think you just did.
JM: Oh, I’ll tell you another one that no one else knows.
Okay, go ahead.
JM: We recorded a song ‘Vast Black‘ in our underwear. Everyone in the studio had to be in their underwear while we recorded that song.
Are you guys just a bunch of nudists or what?
JM: Well, I am! I’m an exhibitionist. I don’t like clothes.
Phew! Okay, it’s getting hot in here now. We’re doing well.
JM: We’ll do well, trust me. I’m in a good mood, and I love to talk.
So… tell me who designed your website and who came up with the concept?
JM: I gotta give all the props to Island. They came up with the website concept and designed the whole thing. Doug Cohen and Larry Becerra. We’ve gotten a lot of good comments on that. I think it turned out really well.
It did. It’s a great site. What was the last movie you saw?
JM: In the theater? Pitch Black. Me and Kenny from Type O Negative and some crew guys, went to see it. It was pretty good, I guess.
Yeah? What’s it like touring with Type O?
JM: They’re four of the most boring pieces of shit I’ve ever met!
JM: Nah, actually they’re really cool. I’m just their tour entertainment, I guess. They think I’m a comic book character. I’m really animated and they’re all depressed and shit and I walk in the room and they just smile.
They just look at me and they tell me “You’re a goofy motherfucker.”
They’re a good bunch of guys.
JM: Yeah, I’m good friends with all of ’em.
Well, I’m supposed to interview them again when they get back to L.A. with you guys, so I guess I’ll see you then, too.
JM: Oh great. I’ll be there then, and I’m giving Peter a massage while you do the interview.
I’m sure he will appreciate that.
JM: They were on stage one night and I got all dressed up in hockey gear and I was fuckin’ with him, all bitin’ him on the ass and shit. Me and the rest of the guys, we were all playing hockey while Peter was trying to sing and be all serious. They thought it was hilarious.
Well if you can get him to crack a smile, you know you’ve done a good job.
JM: One other night they were trying to do Black No.1 and I was out there in my underwear.
Oh man, you’ve gotta pull some stuff when you come to L.A. then.
That’s the last night of the tour, so don’t let me down.
JM: I already have a plan for them. I’m gonna get out there in a leotard and lead everyone in an aerobics class.
So how long has it been since you’ve been home?
JM: It’s been since the beginning of January.
Do you get homesick?
JM: Well, after a while the road kinda becomes your family. It would be nice to see my family and friends and all, but once you get home, you appreciate that even more.
Has your family been to any of your shows?
JM: You know, my parents have never seen us play. Well, my dad’s been to see us once, but my mom’s never seen us. She can’t hang with the noise and all that. My dad though, he’s down with it. He’s seen us play once and he’s like “Yeah, you guys really rock!”
Wow. Cool. Are they happy about the choice you’ve made career-wise?
JM: Yeah, well at first they were all, “You need to get a real job!” but after they start seeing the paychecks rolling in they don’t mind so much anymore.
Do you miss the small-town audiences now that you’ve been playing to mainly larger crowds?
JM: I don’t miss the small-town crowds, I mean, the more people the better. I miss the small-town vibe of going out and hanging out. I miss the feeling of hanging out with your friends and knowing who really are your friends and who’s not, you know? You get confused sometimes. You want to think someone really cares about you as a person, but you know that all they care about is that you’re in this band. It’s tough sometimes.
You just have to be a good judge of character, I guess.
JM: Yeah, and if you’re not already, you will be! If you get shit on enough times…
Yeah, I’m sure you learn fast! Does it feel like an overnight thing? Like all of a sudden you were shoved out into the spotlight? Or was it more gradual for you?
JM: It was totally overwhelming. It was one big overwhelming experience. We started this whole trip about a year ago, maybe in February we did a show in Nashville, and since then it’s been one overwhelming experience after another. We’ve reached so many milestones. I’m so proud of what we’ve already accomplished; I can’t even imagine what’s next. Of course I want to get a Hell of a lot bigger, but I can’t even picture having this happen every other day. There’s constantly something new and exciting, bigger and better. Hopefully, Ill continue to feel that way about it all.
What bands did you listen to when you were a little kid?
JM: Uhhh.. Motley Crue? I’m like the youngest guy in the band, so I was like 6 or 7 listening to Motley Crue.
How old are you?
JM: I’m 21. And, actually when I listened to Pantera, it was all over.
I’m with you there.
JM: If I were meet Dimebag, I’d probably shit myself. To me, he’s like immortal. He’s like a God. He influenced me so much. He has no idea what he’s done for me.
JM: It’s an honor enough to just be on the same soundtrack, let alone the chance to meet him someday. (The Heavy Metal FAKK II Soundtrack features new songs by both Pantera and Full Devil Jacket among others.)
Well, supposedly I’m set to interview Pantera, so maybe wehen I speak to them I’ll mention that you are a big fan. Maybe I’ll bring one of your CDs with me and get it to them.
JM: Awesome! Would you do that?! That would be awesome! Thank you very much! Yeah! Mention our name over and over and over again! I’ll get down on both knees and thank you myself.
Then I’ll do my best! So, tell me who is responsible for the lyrical content on the CD?
JM: The lyrical content would have to belong to Josh. He writes all the lyrics and the band writes all the music. We all equally do our thing and everybody contributes to the music, but we leave the words up to Josh.
Does he read music or is he more of a poet?
JM: Mostly a poet. I mean, he’s just got a gift for words, you know, and that’s very evident in his songs. A lot of people write generic lyrics or they’re trying to reach too deep into something, or get too philosophical but he just lives and writes what comes out. You really get feeling out of it, but it’s also easy to understand and people can relate to it. That guy’s got a gift that a lot of people don’t have.
So, he writes from a more auto-biographical standpoint as opposed to fictional?
JM: Yeah, it’s auto-biographical. A lot of experiences he’s had, you know, over the years, growing up, stuff like that. He’s only a year older than me so me and him kind of grew up together. But he’s been through a lot more than me.
He’s been through a lot at an early age.
JM: It’s just where you grew up and who you grow up around. I was lucky enough to not grow up around a lot of shitheads. He wasn’t as fortunate.
Do you write on the road or have you been?
JM: Not so much. We still have a van and it’s hard enough to sleep. But we do jam once in a while on our acoustic guitars. We jam as much as we can.
Do you keep a journal or take home videos while you’re touring?
JM: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah. We’ve got stuff that Pantera can’t even top.
Really? I wanna see!
JM: Oh no, you don’t. We’ve got some good shit. Literally some shit.
What do you mean?
JM: I’ll tell you, but you’ll get grossed out!
JM: All right. This guy, a friend of ours – and nobody in the band or the crew – he decided he was gonna play a joke on us one night when everybody went to sleep. So he grabbed a video camera and proceeded to film himself taking a shit on the toilet. Up close! It was so gross. He just stuck the camera right up there and filmed the whole thing. So he gathers us around and he’s like, “Check out this lesbian porno I got.” And of course, I’m all about it and then there’s this butt! It was totally, horribly disgusting. It would totally ruin your appetite.
Ok, well – how do I possibly wrap this up now? What do you want on your tombstone?
JM: Here lies a person that died the same way he was born.
JM: I just don’t ever want success or fame to change me into something I’m not right now. That’s my ultimate goal in this whole thing. To progress, to become a better person, and a better musician; without all that bullshit of being arrogant and cocky, and forgetting about who really matters. Just a positive vibe at all times. None of that negative bullshit – I hate that. Stay pure.
JM: Hell yeah! And tell Pantera the South will rise again! You tell ’em.
No problem, Jonathan.
Special thanks to Karen Wiessen at Island/Def Jam for introducing me to some really cool friends in Full Devil Jacket. And if you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to catch them on April 19th at the Palladium on the ROAD RAGE tour. You can also visit the very cool Full Devil Jacket website at www.fulldeviljacket.com.