Gibson rocker Jack Andrad of Uncrowned is no stranger to fame. Despite their name, Uncrowned is taking over the rock world. Their self-proclaimed “Modern Edge Rock” has won them the 2004 Hard Rock Café “A Shot at Cabo Wabo” Battle of the Bands, and also landed them an instrument (Jack’s Gibson) in HRC’s permanent memorabilia collection – the second ever unsigned band to have that honor.
With their upcoming album release, Simple Sick Device (April 26-Atomik Records), as well as a full U.S. tour (with a few dates in Mexico and Japan), Uncrowned was deemed by CMJ and Dick Clark during the 2003 “American Music Awards” as one of the 10 hottest unsigned bands in the country. Uncrowned’s first video single, “You Deny,” was produced by the famed www.MotleyMotionFilms.com Fran Strine (Sevendust, 3 Doors Down, Ill Nino, Slipknot), while their “Queen of New York” single was featured as the opening song for the Emmy award-winning “Inside the NBA” on TNT.
Magazines across the country like Creative Loafing, Coast Night Life Observer, Playgrounds Magazine, Music Incider Magazine and I ate Your Microphone (UK) are keeping close tabs on Uncrowned, as they have already begun their six week round of tour “warm-up” dates (March 18-April 30).
Here, guitarist Jack Andrad spills about the million-dollar deal, Judas Priest, and getting sick all over Chad Kroger.
CG: How did you first get into guitar?
JA: When I was about 12 or 13 years old I started listening to rock music, and then I started paying close attention to the music itself and I thought playing guitar would be cool. I started played guitar to enjoy it and then it turned into a career.
CG: How did you make it into a career?
JA: I started writing songs and decided to start playing was when I was about 13. I graduated from high school and went straight into music. And after that was just…decided. I’ve been in a handful of bands. I met (the lead singer) when I was jamming with this one band and he was jamming with his band and we saw each other’s bands. I loved the way he sang and he loved the way I played. So we kept in touch and when it was time to actually form a band, I gave him a call and he was ready to go.
CG: Who are your biggest musical influences?
JA: When I was six years old, this is so weird, my cousin bought a Judas Priest record. And he played it, and at the beginning I wanted to be cool like him, and I liked it because he liked it. But after listening to it over and over I became a Judas Priest fan. That’s my all time favorite band. When I was 12 or 13 I saw their Painkiller tour and it changed my life, literally. I couldn’t believe it at first. They were awesome and I just remember going ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe these guys are so awesome.’ And after that I thought, ‘I want to be like that guy.’
CG: Tell me about your guitar that’s part of the Hard Rock Café collection.
JA: We’re only the second unsigned band to ever have an instrument inducted into one of their collections. They take the serial number and after you give it to them, it becomes theirs. I wanted to give them one of my guitars that I actually play. Sometimes you look up on the Hard Rock Café wall and see some guitar signed by so and so, and you’re like, ‘I know they don’t play that one.’ So I wanted to give them one of my actual Les Pauls.
CG: Tell me about your Les Pauls.
JA: I have two Classics, a Premium Plus and two Standards - one black, one goldtop. Before I had two Studios, one I gave to Hard Rock, and one which for the rest of my life I will regret selling. And the guitar that makes me the happiest right now is the goldtop because it was my first free guitar. I was blown away when I got it. I told Gibson I wanted a goldtop Les Paul and Gibson was like, ‘Yep, we got one for ya.’ And to me, and to millions of people, a Gibson endorsement is just the million dollar deal – the Holy Grail.
CG: Which Gibson is best for live performances?
JA: I actually play all four guitars live. I take five guitars with me on the road and I take those four and play them at every show. We have different tunings and then I have a backup. I believe guitars are meant to be played. My baby, the first one to go out of rotation, is a ‘96 Classic Premium Honey Burst, as soon as I get enough guitars. It plays great and it sounds great and I beat it up so much that the bridge is actually sinking. And I play heavy gauge strings and with heavy picks too.
CG: Which Gibson is best for studio recording?
JA: What I do in the studio, which I really recommend for people, I always track one track with the Honey Burst Les Paul and then I switch amps and guitars for the other tracking. It gives it all more depth and a feel of sound that’s much different. I usually use the black Standard for that, but we’re in the studio right now writing for the new record, even though we have a record coming out soon. And I’m gonna use the goldtop this go around.
CG: What is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
JA: We live by the rock rule. We’re sort of the second coming of the first rock bands. We’re sort of a modern Motley Crue. We just wanna go out there, rock, drink with the best. Just do all the crazy stuff everybody wishes they did. One of the most painful things I’ve done, when we were playing in Mexico, Chad Kroger from Nickelback and I were chugging beers and we chugged about 12 beers apiece, one after the other in a span of 20 minutes. And after that I asked him what his record was, and he said 15. He’s a big dude. And 15 minutes after that I was in the back of the Cabo Wabo club, just outside passed out, on my back, done. The next day, I couldn’t believe how bad I felt. I was just cursing him. It was the worst hangover of my life. The best part about the story is we were in the Green Room at Cabo and we ran out of beer so we go downstairs and ask the bartender for beer. And then I look up and go I don’t feel so good. Chad goes don’t worry dude I’ll take care of you. He walks me to a trashcan and sticks his fingers down my throat and makes me puke. That’s the kinda stuff we go out of town and we just go crazy. We play all over the country and we just drink like crazy and do crazy stuff and people remember us for putting on a good show and drinking everybody under the table.
Backstage at Cabo with Chad Kroger
Getting crazy at Cabo
CG: Tell me about your upcoming album.
JA: Simple Sick Device and it’ll be in stores April 26th, and we have a non-exclusive deal with a label out of L.A. called Atomik Records. It’s sort of a concept album, we decided to make it straight from beginning to end - just nonstop music from beginning to end. Its 53 minutes of song. We mixed in different aspects, like for the interludes we took samples from our own songs and made them into appropriate interludes between songs.
CG: What would you say is your ultimate challenge in your career?
JA: So far, it’s been to find the right record label. We’ve had offers from main labels, but they’re the kind of offers that make you go, ‘Hhmm….I don’t know if I want to be in debt a million dollars before I’ve sold one record.’ That’s the biggest challenge. We’re holding out for the perfect person and if you knock on enough doors you’ll find the right person. It’s kind of like finding a girlfriend. Somebody has to fall in love with the music. I don’t believe in the hype deal, which is whenever there’s blood in the water all the sharks come along and bite. It has to be that way because that’s really the beginning of the real career.
CG: What is your ultimate goal?
JA: My ultimate goal… I wanna tour the world, a Grammy wouldn’t suck, and an appearance on SNL would be okay, too. Oh, and was I supposed to say world peace?