Take a quick look at pop culture of today and you won’t deny – the ’80s nostalgia is still in vogue. You can’t help but wonder, what is it about the decade of spandex, MTV and larger-than-life action movies that fascinates even people born after 1990 (including yours truly), including many musicians. That’s the case with Jet Jaguar, a Heavy Metal five-piece based in Cancún, Mexico. As I caught up with the guys almost on the eve of the release of their debut album Endless Nights (out on July the 17th via Pride & Joy Music), we discussed those ’80s vibes in band’s music and image in detail – but that topic was just one of many.
Alexandra Mrozowska: Let’s start then – first of all, I believe the band name is not accidental…
Jet Jaguar: The name Jet Jaguar first came to our minds thanks to a Godzilla videogame, and we thought that it could be a good name for a Heavy Metal band. Plus, the jaguar is a sacred animal for our Mayan ancestors.
AM: Do Jet Jaguar members have any band experience prior to forming the group and if it is so, does it influence your current sound and style in any way?
JJ: We all were in different bands prior to founding Jet Jaguar. Perhaps we took some minor elements from our previous bands, but our major influences come from ’80s bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Scorpions… and more modern bands like Skull Fist and Enforcer.
AM: Jet Jaguar’s debut EP saw the light of day as early as in 2016, yet – it took you four long years to follow up the EP with a full-length album Endless Nights. Why did it take so long?
JJ: In 2017 we had the honor to become the first Hispanic-American band to win the Metal Battle at Wacken Open Air, and thanks to this, we were invited to some of the most important festivals in Mexico. So we focused on growing our fanbase instead, but finally the album is just a couple of weeks away of being released!
AM: Four years are quite a long time when it comes to artistic development. In what respects the new material will be different from the songs included on the 2016 EP?
JJ: We wanted to write songs with memorable choruses, riffs and melodies. The album has a notable Hard Rock influence. We began listening to bands like Ratt, Mötley Crüe and Dokken… So it’s kind of a Heavy Metal/Hard Rock blend.
AM: As Endless Nights is the band’s proper debut, what are your expectations?
JJ: As we said before, we worked really hard these past years touring and building a strong fanbase, so we hope that this first album is well-received and enjoyed by the fans we have gained throughout these years.
AM: Guessing by the album tracklist you’ve already revealed, one similarity between the EP and the new material is that both are bilingual, with songs in English and in Spanish. What’s the reason for that?
JJ: We think it’s important to stay true to your roots. We first tried this formula with the song “Rompiendo el Acero” and it worked. Our Latin American fans really appreciate that we include some songs in our language and it’s something we’d like to continue doing on future albums.
AM: Speaking of the band’s new songs, what were the lyrics and the music on Endless Nights inspired by?
JJ: We thought of the title Endless Nights because of the long nights spent on the road and in the studio. The lyrics were inspired by personal experiences and by films such as the Rocky saga, Blade Runner and The Punisher.
AM: Prior to the album release, you revealed three singles – “Jet Ranger”, “Blinding Lights” and “No Surrender”. Are they representative towards the rest of the album in terms of music?
JJ: Yes, we think that these three songs represent the overall vibe of the album. But you’ll also find a power ballad (“Tormenta”), Speed Metal (“Final Prayers”) and some Power Metal (“10,000 Voices). Since this is our first album we wanted to include a little bit of everything we love, but without compromising the cohesion and the flow of the album.
AM: Why did you decide to release your album via a European label (speaking more precisely, the German label Pride & Joy Music)?
JJ: To be completely honest, we want to continue growing as a band, and since the biggest Metal festivals, booking agencies, labels, etc. are in Europe, we wanted to sign with a European label. Besides, we did not receive any offer from a Mexican label.
AM: The process of making the album included collaboration with a producer Tonio Ruiz, while mix and mastering was delivered by Henrik Udd (Hamerfall, Powerwolf etc,). Why did you decide to work with them and do you find the effects of your collaborative effort satisfying?
JJ: Tonio Ruiz is the guitarist of Coda (one of the most famous Hard Rock bands in Mexico) and we are glad we chose to work with him because these songs really fit his style. And the mixing from Henrik blew us away. He is very professional and has a lot of experience. In the end we were very happy with the result.
AM: Album covers in Hard Rock/Heavy Metal usually depict eagles, dragons or scantily clad ladies. However, the visual side of Endless Nights has this unmistakably ‘80s pop culture vibe to it. Why do you find this particular decade so inspiring?
JJ: The starting point was that we didn’t want something predictable as the cover. And so we decided to use a photograph instead, and make it look like a poster from an ’80s film. It’s weird because we were born during the ’90s but for some reason we just love everything about the ’80s; the music, the movies, the fashion, etc. And so we decided to take that aesthetics for the album, as a tribute for everything we love about that decade.
AM: Your homeland isn’t usually associated with a burgeoning Rock/Metal scene. How popular is this genre where you come from and what’s the current state of the Mexican music industry?
JJ: There were tons of Mexican metal bands in the 80’s, 90’s, but unfortunately the genre never received support from the music industry. Despite the lack of support, there have always been thousands of passionate fans that have kept the spirit alive, and fortunately in recent years there has been an increase in Metal festivals in Mexico. This is important for local bands because we get the chance to showcase our music in front of thousands of fans.
AM: Absolutely! So, which Mexican Rock/Metal bands would you find worth recommending to our readers?
JJ: Please go ahead and listen to AGORA (Progressive Metal), STRIKE MASTER, TULKAS (Thrash Metal), CEMICAN (Folk Metal), LUZBEL and VOLTAX (Heavy Metal). You won’t regret it.
AM: The distance between your homeland of Mexico and mine of Poland is quite significant – well, to say the least! But interestingly enough, your European tour back in 2017 actually included a gig in Warsaw, Poland. What are your memories of that gig and the entire European tour?
JJ: We have great memories from Poland and Europe in general, we made a lot of great friends over there, and honestly it is wonderful and a great opportunity for us to travel around the world playing Heavy Metal.
AM: What do you think is the band’s biggest achievement so far?
JJ: Winning the first place in the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle. It was an honor for us.
AM: I believe the band’s schedule for the next few months would be quite different if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Still, what is Jet Jaguar up to right now and what are your plans as far as the album’s promotion is concerned?
JJ: We are eager to play live and tour like maniacs to promote the album, but we need to have patience and wait, without health there is no music. For now, we are composing new stuff and booking more shows for 2021.
AM: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
JJ: Thank you very much for the interview and your time. It was a pleasure for us!
Check out Jet Jaguar’s “Blinding Lights” video: