Exclusive: Johnny Wore Black Premiere “All the Rage,” Featuring Megadeth’s David Ellefson
Johnny Wore Black, the brainchild of British former Royal Marine Commando Jay Coen, have finished work on their debut single, “All the Rage,” and you can now get an exclusive first listen of the song below. The track features a special guest appearance by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. Also contributing to “All the Rage” is Grammy-Award-winning producer David Bottrill (Tool, Staind, Godsmack), who will also be working on the band’s debut album. Check out the song, as well as the video for the track, which was directed by David Newton, read what Coen and Ellefson have to say about “All the Rage,” and let us know what you think in the comments.
REVOLVER Jay, what led you to enlist as a Royal Marine Commando?
JAY COEN I lost my dad when I was 17. And I suppose, to be honest with you, it was kind of my way of just sort of rebelling in a funny way. And even though I suppose the military is not really rebelling but, you know, I sort of felt like I was either gonna go one of two ways. I was either gonna, like, go really off the rails and do the whole drugs thing and just, you know, push myself in that way, or I needed to find a way just to channel my kind of teenage angst and aggression.
What inspired the name Johnny Wore Black?
COEN It’s symbolic of two things to me. First of all, I have a great respect for Johnny Cash, as a storyteller and songwriter, and it just always stuck in my mind where people would talk about how Johnny wore black because he identified with the poor and downtrodden and the less fortunate than himself. And I always liked that as a concept. And the other thing is, like, I suppose, even though my friends call me Jay, Johnny was kind of a family name that my dad called me. And I guess the first time I wore black was when my grandmother bought me a black suit for my dad’s funeral. It seemed to be a name that just conjured up images and emotions for me, so it kind of worked, you know?
How did David come to appear on the track?
COEN In order to kind of pay my bills, I’ve kind of done a few things and I’d trained to be a physical therapist a while back and I was backstage and just, because one of the organizers of Download [Festival in the UK] knew me, I actually got asked to do a treatment on [30 Second to Mars frontman and actor] Jared Leto, and so I was kind of just, like, helping Jared with a neck problem and I think it was just as simple as David walked past and he said “Hey, I need that! Can you help me?” and, you know, yeah, I was pretty much just there to have a good time but I said, “Sure, of course. What’s the problem?” And, you know, we kind of struck up conversation and I sort of gave him a little bit of treatment and I think we just kind of clicked… I hope he would say the same thing. [Laughs] But, you know, we got on well and pretty soon our conversations went into music, and at the time I was recording an album of which this song is a part. And, so yeah, that’s how that connection started.
DAVID ELLEFSON We happened to hook up again this year at the Big Four show at Knebworth. And I really was, quite honestly, not that familiar with his band. And so he came down and gave me backstage chiropractic tune-up so I could be all ready to continue the tour and stuff. And he sent me a track. He said “Hey, I’ve got this track. I’d love for you to, you know, consider playing on it.” And finally I had a week when I was at home and he sent me the track and I opened it up on my computer and I was like, Wow, this is really cool. To me, it kind of harked back to, like, a really cool almost like a Britpop kind of thing, you know, and, it’s like, I kind of like the early Oasis stuff. And so being a fan of that kind of music and that kind of ethereal, trippy guitar playing, it has this kind of haunting loneliness about the sound that really intrigued me. So I pulled a bass out of my closet, I plugged into my computer, and I knocked out a bass track for him. And I basically had it sent over to him all in the course of a cup of coffee in the morning. [Laughs]
Jay, what can you tell me about the themes on the track, “All the Rage”?
COEN There was a an incidence a while back where there was actually a Royal Marine killed and his father wrote a really–how can I put it?–a very well-written piece about his son. And it was his father trying to say, “Well, OK, you know, I’ve lost my son, and I’m proud of my son, and I’ll always be proud of my son, but, you know, what have we gained from his time, from his loss?” you know? There’s been elements of different things that have raised the question for other people, which is how does a soldier in the grave get back what he gave? And yeah, you know, I suppose I’d like people to just think about the fact that service-people are, in a sense, just challenged, really, challenged in just different ways, you know?
David, were the lyrical themes something that encouraged you to appear on the track?
ELLEFSON You know, as soon as I heard, I loved the sound of the music, and then when I heard the lyric, it just gave me shivers, Yeah, I mean, I had no idea quite honestly that Jay was that gifted of an artist to write something like that. And, you know, that lyric just really, really just kind of chilled me to the bone. And, quite honestly, the lyric probably inspired me more than anything to want to be a part of it and put my name on it with Jay. Because Megadeth has done a lot of these kind of things in the past and we certainly have been very public about, you know, just supporting military troops who are defending our freedoms for the betterment of the human race, you know? So we’re always, we’re interested as a group, we’ve always been supportive of that, and just for me personally, this was something that I thought was a good cause to put my name beside as well.
Jay, was there something about David’s playing that you thought would really add to the track?
COEN I think the idea of having David play on the record was I liked the idea of having quite a traditional rock bass mixed in with our kind of ambiance that we have on the record. And a certain amount, of course, of our producer’s influence, which was David Bottrill.
How did David Bottrill come in as producer?
COEN That one came about that I wrote to him, as simple as that. In the last couple of years as I’ve been recording this latest project, I’ve probably become more fascinated by how, I suppose, the great producers seem to be so much the strong foundation between the records I liked. And what I realized was that, in a sense, I now feel that the artist is almost kind of second in line from the producer, you know what I mean? And I’m just fascinated by the way the great producers pull together and turn a song that is potentially good into a great song, into a memorable song.
What can people do to help ex-servicemen and women out?
COEN Just be mindful that their lives carry on once they are out of uniform and that’s often when the most support is needed. The scars can run very deep and don’t heal overnight.