March 8, 2017 Interview – Brian Jackson of Invidia
It is the unexpected surprises in life that make it all worthwhile. Living proof, seasoned Guitarist Brian Jackson was all set to get to work on the new Skinlab album, but in the process, something magical happened and Invidia was born. What exactly is Invidia? Well, it is the result of creative ideas which soon took shape into a full band consisting of Jackson, In This Moment’s Travis Johnson on lead vocals, former Five Finger Death Punch Bassist Matt Snell, former Skinlab’s Guitarist Marcos Medina, Drummer Darren Badorine, and renounced Metal Producer Logan Mader behind the scenes.
Joining together to create something far different than the previous projects each member was involved with, Invidia are ready to set the Hard Rock world on fire with the release of their debut album, As The Sun Sleeps, on March 31, 2017 via SPV Records. Working hard and rapidly building a following, Invidia could be one of the hottest names on the Hard Rock/Metal scene this year. Recently we caught up with Jackson to talk the story behind Invidia, the process that went into writing songs, picking bandmates, plotting out their plan of attack, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music for quite a while now. Joining up with Skinlab back in 2009 and now through the formation of Invidia, what has this journey been like for you?
Brian Jackson – It has been a long journey (laughs). I have been in music for 20-25 years now. Invidia is amazing, we have been together a little over a year now and it has been great. It has been a positive experience. Everything up until this point has been a learning experience, but I am very happy with the situation we are in right now. I am very pleased with the outcome and the direction this band is going.
CrypticRock.com – That is all very positive to hear. As stated, you became a full-time member of Skinlab back in 2009. What was that experience like?
Brian Jackson – Being in Skinlab was great, I have known those guys for 20 something years now, they are like family to me. When I first got the call to become the guitar player, it was great. I was always a huge fan of the band, it was great playing songs I grew up listening to. It was a positive experience touring and I learned a lot from being in that band. I have been back and forth, in and out of the band over the years. There is always a learning curve on everything. All I can do is keep moving forward.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, you can take something away from everything, and that is positive. Now you have launched your own band called Invidia with In This Moment’s Travis Johnson on vocals, Matt Snell formerly of Five Finger Death Punch on bass, Darren Badorine on drums, and former Skinlab bandmate Marcos Medina on guitar. What brought together this project?
Brian Jackson – This project just started on a fluke, really. The idea of what this band has now become came about when I was still currently in Skinlab. It was about a year ago, we were kind of in a waiting process to start working on a new record. There were ideas we were writing back and forth, but the progression was not going as fast as personally I would like. We were waiting for Logan, our current producer and manager for Invida. Suddenly, the music I was writing personally didn’t feel it was meant for Skinlab at the time. I felt they were kind of going in a direction that wasn’t necessarily a direction I was going. Nothing against those guys, it was just the music I was writing was different. There was just a different home that it was meant to be for it.
I was working on the ideas, Travis had some ideas when he was on a break from In This Moment. We were just kind of screwing around, throwing ideas back and forth online. It just kind of came about and when Logan came back from Europe, I presented it to him. I told him, when you were away we started working on some music. He was anticipating getting into the studio with Skinlab, and they weren’t quite ready, so while he was gone for 4 weeks, it feels like overnight, we started writing music.
We had 3-4 songs put together and we just jumped right in the studio. It was a completely different process than I had done in the past. In the past, we would get a bunch of guys together, get into a garage and jam, start hashing out ideas. This project was done all pretty much through phone calls and emails. Logan said, “Screw it, why don’t you guys just get in the studio.” One day, right after Christmas last year, we just went right in and just built the project pretty much right there in the studio. Logan had a major part and role in guiding this in the direction we didn’t know we were going to go into, it came out great.
The outcome is much better than I ever anticipated. We didn’t even come up with the idea of forming a full band. At first, me and Travis just talked about doing a couple of songs for fun, maybe do a 3 song EP and see what happens. Then Matt Snell got on board, and once he heard the songs, he was blown away. Everyone said let’s get in the studio, everyone flew out to Vegas and we jumped right in. Before you knew it, the record was done and we had a band. It was a much different process than I ever had in the past.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like everything just snowballed and built into something special. The band’s debut album, As The Sun Sleeps, is set for release on March 31st and is really a strong collection of heavy Alternative-styled Metal cuts. You also worked with former Machine Head member, very well respected Metal Producer Logan Mader. What did he bring to the table?
Brian Jackson – Logan brings everything to the table. Logan brought things out of us as musicians’ individually, especially for myself personally. Logan brought everything to the table to bring this project together. I had no idea, as I said, in the beginning, we had no direction, it was just us having fun with it. He really believed in what we had going on. I am a pretty driven, goal-oriented type person, and Logan knows that about me. He saw the passion I had for what we were doing. He put me in positions that I had never been in the studio.
For instant, vocally, I sing a lot on this record with Travis. There are a lot of vocal harmonies, stuff I never had done in the past. I have always done backup vocals, ones that are more growling and heavy type vocals with Skinlab and other bands I had been in the past. Never was I able to express myself as a singer; the musician that I was deep down inside me that was always there, Logan brought all that out. He brought everything in my opinion, he is like our 5th Beatle. He is the guy that had a vision for what we were doing before we did. He really brought it to light, he really helped direct us and guide us into the right place that I think we needed to be.
To me, I owe the world to Logan as far as this project is concerned. He is a great friend, and since then, he became our manager. As far as I am concerned, he is our producer for life until something else changes. For now right now, I love beginning in the studio with him. I couldn’t imagine writing or working with anyone else right now. He just has a way about him. He is very calm, he has great ideas, he is very open to our ideas, he likes to experiment with a lot of things, and he takes outside the box a little bit. Instead of boxing ourselves in like in some of our past projects we have done, he wanted us to be open to different ideas, and not try to write every song to be the same.
As you said, the record is very diverse in styles. Collectively, we just brought a bunch of styles of music we wanted to hear, we threw it together, and Logan had a major role with that. The outcome was fantastic, I couldn’t be any happier with the way things have turned out and the path we have taken with Logan.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear you have such a strong working relationship with Logan. It is certainly diverse; it has its heaviness, it has its melody, and even some electronic elements. One of the strongest aspects is Travis’ voice. He offers a very strong mix of vocals over each song, it is known prior to joining In This Moment he had tried his hand as a lead vocalist with other acts. That said, what do you think has clicked so well that has worked for everyone involved?
Brian Jackson – Before In This Moment, Travis was a vocalist in a band called Flatline. That is kind of the beginning of where this whole thing came together. He was in Flatline years ago with Matt Snell. They did their thing and had fun. Travis had always had the passion to be a vocalist and he hadn’t done it in a while, he has been a part of In This Moment for 7-8 years now. He had kind of put the vocals on the back burner and when they were on a break in late 2015 for a while.
He was just experimenting with vocal ideas and this all came about when I was on Facebook around 3 AM in the morning, laying on my couch, going through my news feed and I saw Travis had posted a little vocal clip with some drum loops and him just kind of screwing around with a song that is now on the record called “Step Up.” I hadn’t seen Travis in years, we had never worked together in a band. When he was in Flatline, when I began with Skinlab, we were on the same record label together. We had played some shows together, so I was very familiar with his vocal style. I just said, “This is pretty cool what you are doing.” He wrote me back and said he would love to get into vocals again. It was just something he had been messing around with at the time.
I had some guitar riffs and ideas that weren’t really going in the direction that Skinlab was going. I wanted to do something with them and I sent it right to him. I felt his vocal style was where it needed to be. It just matched up and the planets lined up right where they were suppose to. It seemed to naturally flow, and once we got back into the studio, his passions for vocals came back right away. Going back to Logan, he also brought a lot out of Travis, he has always been a more Thrash Metal style vocalist. There are a lot of songs, even with our current single “Feed the Fire,” which is a more active Rock, radio friendly type of song, that is stuff Travis hasn’t done in the past really.
A lot of that stuff just came about with Logan, he brought the best out of all of us and he made us realize who we were as musicians. I think we could all agree there was something in each one of us that we didn’t know was there until we got into the studio with Logan. It just panned out the way it was supposed to. With all our passion for music, this was the home we were looking for the whole time, we just never realized it until it was actually done and recorded.
CrypticRock.com – It worked out well, the end result is a very strong record. Fans of Hard Rock/Alternative Metal styles will really enjoy it once they hear it. You had actually done some tour dates in the latter part of 2016. Can we expect to see some Invidia tour dates in the future?
Brian Jackson – Absolutely, there are definitely going to be tour dates. The record has been completed and recorded for about a year now. Our whole thing in the beginning was once we knew the record we had, we didn’t want to start throwing music out there like a lot of bands do. We felt we had something special on our hands and Logan advised us to hold back on this record and try and shop for a label before we release anything. It took a little bit of time to get the right label with the right offer that we felt was going to work for our needs.
Obviously with Travis being in In This Moment, and their crazy schedule, there are a little scheduling conflicts. At the end of the day, we have a very open line of communication. The In This Moment camp has been very supportive of what we are doing. There are going to be many tour dates. Actually, we have been getting tour offers left and right, we are just hashing out the details. We expect quite a bit of touring. I know In This Moment has a tour in April going into May. I also believe, probably toward the later part of the summer, you will be hearing of Travis doing a little bit of double duty. We have spoken to the In This Moment camp about Travis out there doing stuff with them and vocals for us as well to keep the momentum flowing. We are ready to go, we are very excited about the release of the record. Obviously with any record, you have to tour behind it and we are going to make it work. There will be plenty of dates out there soon.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent. You are right, touring for a record is vitale. You have momentum going with a strong album, you do not want to kill that momentum and not tour.
Brian Jackson – Absolutely. In the beginning, before we had the full lineup that we have today with Travis, myself, Darren, Matt, and Marcos, we had a lot of high profile guitarists and drummers auditioning. The more it progressed, the more we realized we didn’t want too many people in too many different situations because we knew we wanted to tour. If you have everyone currently in touring bands, it is kind of hard to line everyone up, so we steered away from that. Travis being in In This Moment is one thing, but we wanted to try and keep our schedules going as things progressed. The last tour we did, we decided we need to go out there and get our feet wet, we need to feel what it feels like to be on the road together.
Other than writing this record in the studio, we really needed to know what it was like being a band. Going back to the roots of how a band usually starts, in a garage or jam room, that is really not something we ever did. We just started going into studios and writing songs. We had to go out there and feel what it was like and the tour was great, we learned a lot about each other as people. The positive feedback we got from the songs live, the crowd reactions were amazing. We were pleasantly surprised, and even though this band has a few names people are familiar with, at the end of the day, it is a new band and we want to present ourselves as that band.
Our last night of our tour, which ended in Sacramento on November 20th, was a sold out show. It was surreal, it seemed so many people knew about the band without our record even being out, without a song even being released. We thought it was amazing and we have to keep this going. We are really excited about hitting the road again. We feel very comfortable as a unit, we are like brothers, we are family. If we can sleep on a bus for 5-6 weeks without killing each other, something must be going right. It worked out well and I am just excited to see what this year has to offer for us.
With the single being released, we are getting a lot more momentum with the record. When this record drops, I am excited to see how people perceive this record. A lot of the press plays on that Matt was in Five Finger Death Punch and Travis a part of In This Moment, a lot of people are expecting to hear that. Recently, someone wrote on our Facebook page after hearing the song “Feed the Fire” that he was expecting something more brutal. I said, “I can appreciate that, but at the end of the day, we weren’t trying to be Skinlab, we weren’t trying to be In This Moment, we weren’t trying to be Five Finger Death Punch, we just want to be us.” We welcome everyone’s opinions, but I think people are going to be very pleasantly surprised of what direction the record is going to go.
The record has a little something for everyone, we have Thrash Metal type songs, we have the big chorus, we have the Industrial side of us, even the Rap Rock songs. We were just having fun with it and I think people will be surprised when they dig into the record that there is a lot more to offer than they probably think.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, this record does have something for everyone. You mentioned about hitting the road, in years past, we had Mayhem Festival. That would have been a perfect landing spot for a band like Invida to get more exposure. We do not have that anymore, where do you think Hard Rock/Metal bands go for those type of summer festivals?
Brian Jackson – I don’t really know. How many festivals do we have? We have the obvious ones everywhere, but as far as touring festivals, I would love to see Mayhem Festival come back. It was great for so many bands that got discovered on the second and third stages. Some of the bigger festivals are more catered to bigger bands that are well known. I think somehow, some way, they need to do something.
I would like to see the Knotfest become more of a touring festival, I think it has a lot of potential. I think all of us as musicians miss the Mayhem Festival. I think it would be good to see that again. It gives a lot of exposure to a lot of bands that people normally wouldn’t have heard of. It brings in so many different styles of Metal and Rock. I think it is important to the scene to try and rebuild that again. Hopefully it will happen again.
CrypticRock.com – No question, hopefully something new will arise. It was a good ten year run for Mayhem Festival. Before that, there was Ozzfest. Something new will hopefully come along. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror/Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of the genres, what are some of your all-time favorites?
Brian Jackson – I love Horror movies. I am pretty much a fan of anything that is good; if it is a good movie, I am digging it. The Sci-Fi stuff, I love stuff like Star Wars, I grew up with all that stuff. I like a little bit of everything. I like stuff like The Shining (1980), stuff like that which is creepy and dark. The Shining would be on the top of my list.