The Pitch: When did you join the band, and what was it like when you did?
Jud Kite: I joined the band in 2003, right at the CD release of their second album, Roostina. Jeff Holt, the drummer before me, was retiring out of playing and, I stepped in. It was a fill-in position at first, as I was in another band at the time, Johnny Switchblade and the KC Crooners with Jody from Them Damned Young Livers. But I joined full time shortly after. It was pretty much hit-the-ground-running as they had a lot of shows lined up, and I needed to learn fast. But at that time, they had a lot of covers and they were mostly songs I knew growing up.
The Rumblejetts' sound has remained rather steady, even through numerous lineup changes. Is it Jim 'Doyle' Holopter holding it all together?
Doyle has had this band running in one form or another since 1997. I think he too would say that nothing was official as the 'real' Jetts until Roostina was in the works with Jeff and the bass player at the time, Pedro. He is definitely a cornerstone in the band, along with our manager/booking girl Cilla. I'm the second longest tenure in the band going on nine years now. The songs we write do have a consistent feel, and up to Summertime Apples has had more of a traditional rockabilly feel with a rock edge. You are right, we have had some bass players come and go, but with the new addition of 'Chappy' Chad Hasty, we feel we have finally gotten to our full potential. The new record is going to reflect the sound we are maturing too, which is just encompassing rock and roll in general.
The band has a reputation for playing all over the country, and getting some wonderful opening slots. Is it the tightknit nature of the rockabilly and Kustom Kulture scenes that give you guys these opportunities?
It pretty much boils down to that we've been working our ass off these last 10 years to get what we get. We have gotten to know people, and we are always friendly and show respect in the other cities we play. And we do have a really active, energetic set that just doesn't stop. I think that's a good combo that helps us in our endeavors to get some good opportunities.
Your live shows are amazingly energetic. Most rockabilly or roots acts are pretty static, with the three guys just standing there, but you're jumping around and going crazy. Hell, you don't even sit. Is it organic, or did you plan to give the audience something to watch?
Thanks! It's a cardio workout for sure. I started out sitting down for the Jetts, but it only lasted, like, three shows. Doyle wanted to be more like Stray Cats, with Slim Jim being a stand-up drummer. So I started that and never looked back. We do expend a lot of energy while we play, but, man, we are having fun! And when we get dancers or people singing along to our drinking songs, that just ramps it up more!
I actually took on the art duties of our stuff when Cool Down Baby came out, and I used it to parlay into expanding my Killer Kite Productions business. I can cover any aesthetic really, but I find that most clients like the worn look that I have kinda made my signature. I'm not afraid to tackle any project that comes. I love being a designer and solving problems like that.
When we last spoke, you'd mentioned a few screen-prints, but for the most part, it's all digital, correct?
Yeah, most of my stuff is digital. Once I get the room to move around in, I plan to be on the lookout for the screening equipment and do some of my own printing.
Is the artwork for Motor Honey meant to reflect the sound of the CD?
Kinda. I wrote the song Motorhoney, and it's based on the type of chick you would find in Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, or one of the chicks from Grindhouse. We have a wide range of sounds on this new record. Some swing-style, some traditional rockabilly, some straight-up rock. We're expanding the sound a bit.
What's up with this Jesse James beer and bourbon thing with which you guys are affiliated?
That all came about as a fluke really. Doyle loves that Full Throttle show on TruTV. Always talked about it, and we would joke about it onstage. At our photo shoot for the album, I brought a bottle of his whiskey with me to 'take the edge off.' If you haven't had it, it's pretty good. Anyway, as a last-second thing, Jim grabbed the bottle, and we did the shot you see in the poster I designed. We became 'those people' and started posting it around, and the company caught wind about how much promo we do, requesting it be at the bars we play, and some of the places actually serve it full time now. We have some irons in the fire with Jesse James Spirits that could be awesome for this year and next.
Is that why your CD-release show is free? Do you guys get booze from it?
We just want a ton of our friends to come out and have a good time with us. The more the merrier, and if they don't need to pay a cover, maybe they'll help us out and buy the CD instead. There will be some drink specials with his beer and bourbon, but that doesn't reflect on it being free. Just want people to come out.
What are your plans after the CD comes out?
We are headed to Europe in late May for a 20-show tour. After that, we open for the Reverend Horton Heat, Lucero and Mountain Sprout at Crossroads on June 30. From there, maybe try to go north - Detroit, Green Bay, places we haven't hit yet. And start writing our next album, which we already have some ideas laid out for.