Back In The Saddle Again: An Interview With Jason 'Gong' Jones
Band Photo: Drowning Pool (?)
Orlando, Florida's AM Conspiracy is led by former Drowning Pool frontman, Jason 'Gong' Jones. He makes no bones about the fact that at this point in his life, he just wants to do what makes himself happy musically. This guy really is one of the rare singing talents that can effortlessly go from a soulful, bluesy-metal range to high-piercing screams that can even make Halford proud. Gong is now taking his music down a new road with a different set of bandmates. Ranging from Layne Staley'esque choruses to being able to growl with any other of metal's elite, the likes of say a Dez Fafara or Randy Blythe. Gong Jones convincingly continues onward in building his impressive rock legacy, more than ready at any point to show all of us another thing or two by pulling the ace card out from one of his tattooed arm sleeves.
Rocket: When did you first realize that you had the ability to sing?
Gong: I had been playing guitar since I was 12. When I was 16, some band had a show and needed a singer... so I did it. I sounded like pure fuckin shit, but it felt natural... so I stuck at it.Rocket: It's funny, man, I was working for Guitar Center, and I bumped into some customer on the floor that started telling me he had a good friend that got the new singing job for Drowning Pool after Dave Williams had sadly passed away. He said your name was Gong Jones and that you were one of the baddest metal singers around that nobody knew of and how stoked he was about it. First, tell me how did you get the nickname 'Gong'?
Gong: I got that from my homie Ming Cheng. He told someone at a market that I was his half brother, so I could use his families credit to buy beer god bless him!!Rocket: Haha... hell yeah. That's classic stuff, bro. How many different bands had you been in before getting the gig with DP?
Gong: I was in countless other bands.Rocket: I know we share a mutual friend in Scott Ueda of Seven Stitches, formerly of Manhole/Tura Satana out of Los Angeles. He and I went to school together at Venice High. He told me in a recent interview that you two were working on a band project right up to the point that you landed in DP. This guy is a talent. What was that experience like working with him?
Gong: Scott was like a brother to me. He's one of those people that you meet and the just become a permanent fixture in your life. We are actually tryin to work on a track together right now for the Welcome To Venice cd.Rocket: That would be the bomb ass shit right there, man. I also know that you once worked at Suicidal Tendencies Tattoo shop in Venice, actually right across the street from my old high school. I know Jason of Strapt there and I was just totally fascinated by this, cause I only started learning about your background right at the time you were breaking out with DP and your first video was released from the Desensitized album. And I was like, "Holy fuck... Gong Jones has been kicking it all along in my stomps." Man, I grew up in Venice. So to hear all of this about you made you more of a legend in my eyes, bro. And I don't say that to many people. I have even bumped into a couple people that you put ink to and observed your work first hand -- and you throw it down, man. What was it like working as a tattoo artist?
Gong: Tattooing has helped me more than you can imagine. I'm actually working at a shop called inkredible ink in Orlando now .Rocket: Damn, I think I might just have to have you do some work on me. Haha. I am not kidding anyone, Gong is not only one of the best metal vocalists on the planet, he's one of the badder tattoo artists around. Man, it's funny how you have expressed to me before in email correspondance on MySpace how much you miss living in Venice, California. I know why that is, because we have both literally experienced the same things, being literally cut from the same fabric. Tell me what it is though that you miss so much about Venice?
Gong: I mostly miss the homies: Clown, Grumpy, Speedy, Pauly B, also bein able to get anything I need with one phone call. I miss my boy Stevo... hell, I just miss it all!Rocket: Once you started your rise with Drowning Pool, I went nuts doing as much research on you as I possibly could, like some damn overzealous teeny bopper or some shit, haha--but it got me to some areas that I needed to get to, so I could better understand you as both a person and an artist. You were homeless for a good bit of time while you were struggling to make it in the music business, if I understand it correctly. I remember reading that you crashed out in rehearsal studios of friends and the such for quite some time. I myself have totally been there and done that, bro. It just speaks volumes to your character and how utterly committed you were on your path to metal glory. Can you tell me more about that struggle and what it meant to you when you were hitting MTV and every national radio station with your very first single? It was a good feeling to just be able to accomplish what you set out to!
Gong: It was kind of a blur. I guess the most rewarding part of it was being able to be like, "Fuck you. I told you I could do this!"Rocket: I need to say that I personally felt that Desensitized was through and through the best metal album released in 2004. Your vocal range goes from the gutteral Philip Anselmo-growl to the spiritual cry of Layne Staley. My favorite song off the album is Cast Me Aside. I just love the lyrics and how you speak to the hanger-ons and people who weren't there for you before your sudden fame and now they wanted a piece of it and you're like, 'Kiss my damn ass!" I love that about you, bro. What the hell was it like those first few months when all hell broke loose for you and the new incarnation of DP?
Gong: You get a rash of calls from people you haven't heard from in 10-12 years who are suddenly wanting to kick it again. I was like "Where the fuck were you?" You know... that whole shit of everyone loves you when you're on top kinda thing.Rocket: Oh, totally. Okay, turning the page, you are obviously now in the new band, AM Conspiracy, based out of Florida. After you split from DP I was thinking, "Oh, man... this cannot be it for Gong Jones. He's coming back to the metal scene one way or another." How did you go about getting into this new band so quickly?
Gong: I was already recording with this band before I quit DP. This is what I want to do. After Dime passed I really thought about what I was doin. It was no secret that I didn't get along with the DP guys. Life is too short to not be happy, so I started my own fuckin band with people I actually like and can trust playin the kind of music I wanna play.Rocket: That's a full metal attitude right there. Ha! Gong says it like he means it. Love it! I have been following all the demo tracks AM Conspiracy has released on MySpace music. What is the song Absence all about?
Gong: It's really a deep one. It was the first song I wrote with the band. I don't really want to say what its about , because I feel it would cheapen its meaning.Rocket: Cool. Damn, that's some heavy shit in and of itself. Ha! You're right, not everyone needs to know what's going on in your head. Some of it needs to remain private. I respect that, bro. Okay, well let's get more upbeat. I love getting laughs in my interviews and keeping it real. What is the most hilarious 'moment gone wrong' on stage for you ever?
Gong: Dude, I have busted my ass so many times it just seems normal.Rocket: Haha... no, scratch the last one. That was the most heavy metal thing I've ever heard. Haha. Dude, you are the man. So who are the metal bands that have made the biggest impression on you?
I would say the most bizarre moment was lookin down and realizing some chick had thrown a used trampon on stage. I made some comment about how it looks like her cycle is almost over and after the show she came up and handed me a wrapped tampon with her phone number on it, sayin her cycle was over and to call her.
Gong: Sabbath, Pantera, Deftones, Tool, Clutch... just to name a few .Rocket: AM Conspiracy is still un-signed at this point. I have to think that with your status that you are being looked at closely my the key majors and the top indie labels. Have you guys got a full album of material ready to record?
Gong: We're recording our own record right now.Rocket: Now it's been over a year since Dimebag was murdered on stage. Can you share some of your feelings on the situation. Do you recall when you heard the news?
Gong: I was in Colorado. We were supposed to play a show with them. Two days after, I got a call from one of our techs tellin me that it happened about 5 minutes after it did and I told him to fuck off cause I thought he was full of shit, much to my dismay he wasn't. Dime was the coolest rock star I ever met... period. It was an honor to have known him. It's not too often you get to meet one of your idols, much less hang with them on a regular basis.Rocket: AM Conspiracy has a ton of fans already in a very short period on MySpace, so I know you guys are gonna make it big, bro. You're too damn talented to let anyone or anything hold you back from climbing the ladder again. Why don't you leave us with some words of thanks for all of your fans and supporters.
Gong: We are a real band, playin real fuckin music. If you like it ,great , we appreciate it. If not, eat a dick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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