Interview with Jay Berndt

Kilgore is a band that has progressed very far into their career over the last year, by getting signed to Revolution's major department, and touring with many decent metal acts. Their sound is a sort of rock/metal, but unlike anything that has ever been heard. I caught up with singer Jay Berndt behind the scenes of the Ozzfest '98, and held this interview. He was a very levelheaded guy, quite intelligent, and this is obvious just by reading the lyrics to their songs.

Enslain - You guys were named Kilgore Smudge before this album, what happened to that?
Jay - Um, we went through a pretty dramatic progression. For my first album, it was called "Blue Collar Solitude", was with all the original members, which we had founded in 1991, and when they departed from the band, there was a lot of bitterness, and we felt the music had changed so much from when we were Kilgore Smudge, to this new album, that we just decided that Kilgore would cut it to the chase, and just keep it that way.

Enslain - What member changes took place?
Jay - We lost our bass player, and our original guitar player, who was pretty much the chief song writer, and once he left, we basically all took the duties of all individually, you know, coming up with ideas for a collective whole as Kilgore, and just becoming Kilgore writing songs together.

Enslain - How did you get to tour with Fear Factory the first time?
Jay - We met Fear Factory hanging out in New Jersey, at the WSOU festival, and they caught our set, and we caught their set, and we were hanging out in the catering area, just talking, and y'know, they were really nice guys, and we ended up doing a week, maybe a week and a half or so with Fear Factory, you know, we just hit it off really well. They would come up on stage when we played every night and do a Misfits cover with us, and we'd get up on stage with them every night and do an Agnostic Front cover with them. After the tour was over, it was like hey, you know, Burt, why don't you come down and sing on the record with us, and he did, and we had a great time.

Enslain - Is that how you got onto the Slayer/Fear Factory tour as well?
Jay - It was a couple of different reasons, from what I heard through our management company... they'd given the disc to Kerry and Jeff of Slayer, and whatnot, and they really really liked the disc... It's like our manager calls us up, and goes "So, Kerry wanted me to tell you that, you know, he loves the band and can't wait to go on tour with you", and I'm thinking, "Kerry," I'm thinking it's a woman... "Kerry, Kerry, Kerry" then it hits me, I'm like "KERRY KING LIKES OUR BAND! WOW!" so it was like one of those situations. It's just nice that Fear Factory was on it as well, because we are old amigos.

Enslain - At the Ozzfest, did you prefer the 2nd stage or the main one?
Jay - It's different, you know, we're not used to playing to 20,000 people, we're used to playing to a couple of thousand people, and we're used to playing clubs, instead of outdoor festivals and whatnot, and this is a great experience, we're having a wonderful time. For me, it's just like, I like to have the intimacy of being close to a crowd, y'know, and with the second stage, you can feel the people sweating, and just going crazy, ripping each other apart, it's a wonderful feeling. (laughs)

Enslain - What are your personal favorite bands?
Jay - I was kind of brought up on classic rock, so I think the most important band for me when I was growing up was the Beatles. Just as far as their song writing, their recording techniques, and just the phenomenon of the Beatles, they're just a very very huge impact on my life, that's how I learned how to sing, was by doing all the harmonies on all the Beatles records. But as far as other things, I was really influenced by Cream, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, the Jesus Lizard, the Melvins... I'm so in awe that I was like touring with the Melvins because they are like one of my favorite bands in the world. Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Soundgarden, those are some of my favorites.

Enslain - What bands are Kilgore influenced by?
Jay - I think the band really has been influenced by a majority of bands that have good song writing, you know, we're not really into one particular vibe or anything as far as like a trend or a scene or anything like that, we just believe in heavy music that's just 100% from like the head and the heart, that's completely ourselves. I think probably the biggest bands that this band has been influenced by would be Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, maybe a little Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, a little bit of Pantera, and Tool.
-- Lady Enslain

Enslain Magazine