Musician J.D. King Discusses His New Album “Moon Gardens”

Musician, Songwriter, Producer and Artist J.D. King has just released a new album titled “Moon Gardens”. Painstakingly recorded over three years on reel to reel analog equipment the album showcases Kings multitude of talents while being backed by an impressive stable of musicians all acting as intricate pieces within this audiophiles dream. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with King recently about the creation of the album, his decision to use only analog equipment and his plans for performing this material live.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the work that went into “Moon Gardens”?

J.D. King: After I had come off of the Olms project I was doing with Pete Yorne I started really getting in to the use of analog equipment. I wanted to make a 60’s style record the way they did back then. I was studying how album like the Beatles “Revolver” was made and albums like that. We did all the recording via analog and mixed it on tape as I wanted everything to sound just as it would as if it were recorded in the 60’s. I was meditating around eight hours a day and during that time I came up with all these song concepts. I had a good amount of vintage gear to start but then I acquired some more and found a few engineers who could mix on tape in the style that I was going for. We mixed everything live so that was another challenge we were working with as someone basically had to be turning knobs as we were performing. On the song “The Wooden Man” there is a panning part where the engineer was working the panning effect while I was turning some other knobs. With this record I wanted everything to come from the best place it possibly could. Every ingredient had to be the very top. From the musicians, the gear and the performances themselves I wanted the best.

AL: What was it about the 60’s era of recording that captured your interest?

JDK: I am a huge record fan. Even before all this quarantine stuff I would sit with a stack of records and just listen to music all day. I would even listen to some stuff on reel to reel. I never got a good feeling from digitally recorded music. It is less biological to me. I enjoy hearing over tones in music which is something generally missing from digitally recorded music. Honestly I think engineering from those eras was so much better and the standards were much higher.

AL: Working with older equipment did you run into any issues?

JDK: Sometimes we would have gear go down and it wouldn’t just be a simple fix like going to the store and getting a new one. Some of the gear we were using was from as far back as the 1930’s. When a pre-amp or something would go down during the middle of a session we would have to stop and take the time to find someone who was skilled in working on that type of equipment. This did cause some challenges from time to time.

 AL: You worked on this album for three years. Did the writing process take up a majority of that time or was it more from the high level of production you were going for?

JDK: I would generally get my group of session’s guys together once a month to jam and record. The rest of the time I was learning and experimenting with the engineering process as well as writing. I was working basically non-stop. I was wearing a lot of different hats and just had to figure all that stuff out. I think for the most part the time between the two was pretty equal. There were a lot of new things with this record both musically and technically. I wanted to expand and try some new things.

AL: At what point in time did you decide that the record was completed?

JDK: I think right around when I had twelve or thirteen songs. I felt things were rounded out and was happy with what I had. I think when people listen this in an album format it is going to really click. I am an album rock fan and I think that’s was I was able to do with this.

AL: Being that you play quite a few instruments how did you decide which ones you would play and on which tracks?

JDK: I would put the bones of each track down first. From there we would start rehearsing it and bringing the track to life. While doing that I would hear these things that I wanted to add as did the guys I was playing with. Stuff tends to happen in the studio while you are working.

AL: Did you find your creative process changed at all over the course of this record?

JDK: Things stayed pretty much the same for me as they always have been. If you listen to my first record I had a pretty big hand in the production of that record even though it was my first one. Every band I was playing in I always had this ear towards production. Pete (Yorn) is the same way. I learned a lot from him. We tried to work very fast over the course of this record. I have to give to those guys in the sixties as they had to bring their A games. You didn’t want to miss a take as you were recording directly to tape which was expensive. We had a couple tape issues which caused us to have to scrap a couple really good takes. I learned my lesson from that.

AL: With the current pandemic changing a lot of the way things are being done what are your plans to help get this music out to the public given the traditional in-person/live element of music is indefinitely on hold?

JDK: I am kind of lucky in that I learned so much about performing in a studio during this record. It was something you had to do. Having a background in photography I know about lighting and all those things as well so production comes simple for me. Being essentially a one man production crew I can throw up a few cameras and lights and I am set to go. I did a lot of painting over the winter so I can throw those up in the background as well and showcase a lot of my different talents. You can see a lot of what I have going on through my Instagram @mrjdking

Interview with Black Label Society’s John “JD” DeServio

John “JD” DeServio is the bass player for the heavy metal group Black Label Society. The band is currently on the Epitaph tour which is also featuring Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy. Media Mikes had a chance recently to talk with JD about the tour and what the band has in store for the rest of 2011 and into 2012.

Adam Lawton: How did you originally get involved with Black Label Society?
John DeServio: I had known Zakk before he joined Ozzy Osbourne. We have been brothers for a long time and we were always jamming and hanging out. I came in back on the “Pride and Glory” tour which was with Aerosmith were we got to tour Japan. That was just amazing. Zakk put Black Label Society together in 1998 and he asked me to do it. I was there until 2000. I had decided to split and do my own music for a bit. I was playing in wedding bands and doing whatever to make money but I just really wanted to make my own music and get better at playing. I also played with Richie Kotzen for about 6 months prior to rejoining Black Label Society.

AL: What were your initial thoughts when it was announced you would be touring with Judas Priest?
JD: It was awesome! We were totally blown away. I grew up listening to those guys and I never thought I would be getting the chance to play with them every night.

AL: How have the shows been thus far?
JD: The shows have been great and everything has been really good. We play an hour a night and the fans have been awesome. This tour has exposed us to some new fans which is always good for us.

AL: have there been any highlights of the tour so far?
JD: I think every day has been a highlight. Being on stage and getting to listen to Judas Priest has been pretty cool.

AL: What can you tell us about the Black Label Society Christmas EP?
JD: The EP has a few Christmas songs played by Zakk and I think it’s a cool idea. We just love to play and Zakk did something similar to this on our last EP which had “The First Noel” on it. This EP has a full Christmas motif to it.

AL: What can you tell us about the upcoming tour with G N’ R?
JD: That will be coming up right after our run with Judas Priest ends. The shows are going to be mostly arenas which are always a lot of fun.

AL: What do you think your greatest musical accomplishment has been thus far?
JD: Tour all this time with Zakk has been an accomplishment in itself. (Laughs) It’s all been great. When I was younger I had the chance to play Madison Square Garden which for me growing up in that area was a big deal. I was playing with Vinnie Moore back then and we opened two nights for Rush. There have been so many great things that have happened over the years.

AL: Is there any place that you haven’t played yet that you want to get to?
JD: I would love to make it over to Israel and the holy land. I have had friends go over there and play who have said it was an experience they couldn’t explain. I think Egypt would be really great as well. China would be another place that I would like to play as well

AL: What other projects do you guys have coming up this year and into 2012?
JD: I have a few bass clinics scheduled for this year. I generally try and schedule those during every tour we do. I went to Berkley College of Music where I learned a bunch of stuff outside of just Heavy Metal. It’s cool for me to get to show off on some other types of music. Hopefully the clinics will open up some ears and inspire a few people. On this run of clinic I have been doing some stuff with Thin Lizzy’s bassist Marco Mendoza and our new drummer Chad Saliga who used to play for Breaking Benjamin. Those guys have been playing along with me so it’s been great. My band Cycle of Pain who released an album back in 2009 is currently writing a new album and we hope to get that out as well.