The Rescue Rooms archives: 2014

Red Dragon Cartel, Red Dragon Cartel Live At Rescue Rooms

  • Saturday 7th June 2014
  • Supported by: TBC




For nearly twenty years, everybody in rock 'n' roll wondered where Jake E. Lee was.

That's mainly because his impact never dwindled. Every time "Bark at the Moon" came up in discussion, the question undoubtedly popped up as well. However, like an animal waiting for the perfect moment to pounce, Jake never stopped writing music. The right time happened in late 2011, when the shredder kept serendipitously crossing paths with long-time friend, notable session guitarist, and Beggars & Thieves bassist Ronnie Mancuso. Lee would eat at Mancuso's Las Vegas restaurant occasionally, and one day, Mancuso posed a different question.

"I asked Jake to appear in a music video Beggars & Thieves was doing called 'We Come Undone'," he remembers. "I was shocked he agreed. When it premiered, there was this outpouring of love for him. Everybody wanted new music. That's when the idea of playing together was born."

Mancuso also shares Hideout studios with producer Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne], and the proverbial wheels began turning. Mancuso proposed that the two start a "project" produced by them and executive produced by Churko. Luckily, Lee had hundreds of riffs and ideas already recorded. The duo immediately went to work constructing the framework of the album. Around the same time, Mancuso created a Facebook page titled "Jake E. Lee Needs a Lead Singer and Drummer". After one post, they received thousands of entries. Two Canadian musicians, singer D.J. Smith and drummer Jonas Fairley, instantly stood out.

"They're very unique," says Mancuso. "Both of them added their stamp to the record. As we kept going, it became more and more of a band."

They chose the name Red Dragon Cartel as a nod to Lee's Japanese heritage and the "gang" mentality of a unit who would die for each other. These four musicians also cultivated a focused, fresh, and fiery hard rock sound that embraced the lead guitarist's classic style, while emitting a new kind of spark on their self-titled debut for Frontiers Records.

"It's not like we stopped listening to music for the past two decades," chuckles Mancuso. "Those modern influences certainly pop up. At the same time, there are some inimitable elements to Jake's playing. You know it's him. Kevin and his son Kane were very meticulous in helping us harness that. It's modern without trying to be modern."

The first song released from the album, "Feeder," tears through the 21st century with a flurry of guitar fireworks, Tom Peterson's 12-string bass, pummelling percussion from Five Finger Death Punch skins man Jeremy Spencer, and vocals courtesy of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander.

"That was a template for the whole album," Mancuso goes on. "Lyrically, it's about people who suck the blood out of you. Whether it's in a relationship or business, it's about those people who take the positive energy out of you."

Meanwhile, on "Big Mouth", In This Moment singer Maria Brink delivers an impressive vocal spot, complimented by duelling solos from Lee and her band mate Chris Howorth.

Mancuso says, "I found this progression Jake wrote that I really liked. It was interesting and intriguing. Jake's pedal started disintegrating during the solo, and we recorded that. It's different than anything I've ever heard, and Maria brought something very special to it."

The same could be said for the hard-hitting "Deceived" as well as the entrancing album closer, "Exquisite Tenderness", which is the first song that Lee ever composed as a child. Also on the record, luminaries such as Rex Brown [ex-Pantera, Kill Devil Hill], Paul Di'Anno [ex-Iron Maiden], and Scott Reeder [ex-Kyuss] also make guest appearances, expanding the impact even more. It all solidifies this record as a true event for metal and hard rock fans everywhere.

"This is a complete album," concludes Mancuso. "I want people to come away with a whole album they can enjoy from start-to-finish without shutting it off. I hope they're still doing that ten years from now like the classic albums we all grew up on and everybody would dream of from a group of guys like this." 

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