Former OZZY OSBOURNE/BADLANDS and current RED DRAGON CARTEL guitarist Jake E. Lee has spoken in more detail about RED DRAGON CARTEL's infamous debut live show a year ago at West Hollywood's Whisky A Go Go, which was widely panned due to with singer Darren James Smith's out-of-tune vocal delivery and seemingly inebriated state.
During a December 1 appearance on Eddie Trunk's "Trunk Nation" show on SiriusXM's Hair Nation, Lee said: "It was a god-awful performance, it really was. Anything that could go wrong, other than somebody throwing up on stage or my pants falling down, pretty much went wrong. Yes, if you saw that show and you're basing… 'Cause there was a lot of people not only mad at Darren, but mad at me. Like, what was I thinking? 'How could you select him to be the singer?' And obviously it wasn't based on that performance, 'cause I hadn't seen that performance yet."
He continued: "I've been around for a long time — I know a good singer when I see one — and it almost made me more determined to prove to everybody that I did still kind of know what I was doing. 'Cause [Darren] is an awesome singer; he is a great singer."
According to Lee, he didn't have to pull Darren aside and have a talk with the singer about what improvements needed to be made for future performances. "He knew," Jake explained. "Nobody knew better than him that he had screwed up big time, and I didn't need to say anything. He knew what he did wrong, and he fixed it."
One of the reasons RED DRAGON CARTEL's debut gig made such a splash on the Internet is the advent of YouTube, which has made it possible for the entire world to see a band's bad live performances virtually within hours of the concerts taking place.
"In the old days, you could have a bad show and make up for it," Jake said. "Now, you have a bad show and they don't even necessarily acknowledge that you had some good ones. I mean, we're kind of in that situation now. 'Cause we just did the Whisky again, and it was a great show. It was a really, really… I give it a 9. I rate all my shows from 0… well, no… 1 to 10. [Darren] knew he had something to prove, and it was a great show. There's not even a whisper of it on the Internet."
Lee's former BADLANDS bandmate Greg Chaisson, who recently joined RED DRAGON CARTEL as the replacement for Ron Mancuso, added: "When I did the [RED DRAGON CARTEL] show [filling in for Ron] in March in Tempe, [Jake] had called me, and to be perfectly honest, I wanted to see how good Darren was, because I had only heard about the one show, and [Jake] was saying that he's a good singer, Jonas [Fairley] is a good drummer. I wanted to see it for myself, and when I did the show with them, I was really impressed with both of them. Darren was right on top of it. I was, like, 'Holy crap. This guy really is good.' And the thing is, he's gotta cover all these different singers and make it believable. And the other part of it, and I don't think it's easy, is all the naysayers that say he isn't the guy. To take that kind of abuse who probably wouldn't know a good singer from a bad one, just because everyone gets to be [American music journalist] Lester Bangs now — they can write on there and pretend they're a critic — he takes it well and it doesn't seem to bother him. He comes back every show. He's a really, really good singer."
Chaisson and Jake E. Lee were half of the short-lived BADLANDS, which also featured current KISS drummer Eric Singer and the late singer Ray Gillen (who also had a brief stint in BLACK SABBATH). After the first BADLANDS album, Singer was replaced by Jeff Martin. The group lasted from 1988 to 1993 and released two albums, "Badlands" (1989) and "Voodoo Highway" (1991) before Gillen left and was replaced by John West. Ray's death in 1993 effectively ended any hopes of a BADLANDS reunion. The album "Dusk", consisting of BADLANDS demo recordings from 1992-1993, was released in 1998.
RED DRAGON CARTEL's self-titled debut album sold around 5,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 69 on The Billboard 200 chart. Released on January 28 via Frontiers Records, the CD was recorded at Las Vegas' The Hideout Recording Studio — owned and operated by Kevin Churko (OZZY OSBOURNE, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, IN THIS MOMENT) — and was produced by R. Bernard Mann (a.k.a. Ronnie Mancuso) and Jake E. Lee, and executive-produced, mixed and mastered by Churko.
West Hollywood, California (November 22, 2014):
New York City (December 2, 2014):