James Azreal – Guitar, vocals
Dan Boehne – Guitar, vocals
Erick Koenig – Bass, backing vocals
Jon Stern – Drums, backing vocals
On the eve of their US tour [known as The Rock N’ Roll Circus 2004 Tour], I met up with Court Jester prior to their gig and was able to sit down with them and find out, who Court Jester is and what makes them tick.
DK: When did Court Jester form? and how did it come about?
JA: Court Jester formed in 1998 and it was Erick and myself jamming for about six months while we looked for other members to complete the band. We quickly found members, but have had a lot of turn over throughout the years in vocals and drums. The most recent addition to CJ is Jon, who joined us in November of last year.
DK: Where did the name Court Jester come from?
EK: Court Jester was originally a name from a high school band I jammed with. They broke up a long time prior to James and my getting together so we adopted it
DK: In starting out, what have been some of the highlights of your career (i.e. interesting stories)?
CJ: Playing at Sidetracked in Lemont, IL. At this show, we actually went on stage after Enuff Z’Nuff, around 2:30am and played all the way through till 4am. During the show, a chick from the audience got up on stage and danced around topless. It wasn’t until she started taking more clothes off that security removed her from the stage. But it was a kick-ass show and a great crowd and we loved every minute of it.
DK: How would you classify your music?
CJ: Whiskey Rock
DK: What is the average age of the band?
DB: Real Rock ‘N Roll doesn’t know age limits, look at Velvet Revolver, heck The Stones…rock is ageless man [laughs]
JS: What he said! [laugh]
DK: What are your immediate goals for the remainder of the year?
JA/DB: Right now, we’re focusing on this tour, hitting the big cities and setting more shows up in between.
DK: James Miller (keyboardist on CD), is he not able to tour with you? or is he strictly a studio musician?
DB: Strictly, studio
JA: We tried out another keyboardist but she had gotten pregnant…
EK: I didn’t do it!
JA: … so she had to leave.
DK: Where did you make your CD?
JA: Cellar Studios in Dixon, IL
DK: Do you feel that listeners will get a full representation
of Court Jester by listening to your CD or does the live experience make more of a difference?
DB: No way. With the CD, it is polished, clean and perfect and the live experience is much more raw and powerful. There is an energy you get from a live show that you cannot package into CD no matter how hard you try. Court Jester is a show.
We’re a total spectacle. That’s why the tour is called “Court Jester’s Rock N’ Roll Circus.”
DK: How long did it take you to put the CD together?
JA: About 2 years…
DB: 6 months into recording, we found that we didn’t feel it represented us so we made a
sacrifice and erased all our work and started fresh.
JA: Plus we went through seven singers throughout that time
DK: Are there any plans for a new CD?
JA: Yes, around August or September
DK: Are there any statements in your songs that you’re trying to make?
CJ: Have a FUCKING good time!
DK: The models, how did you decide to introduce them into the band?
EK: We like women A LOT
DB: Sex sells
JA: Everyone digs sexy chicks!
DK: What sets you apart from any other band?
JA/DB: Everything we do is over the top, ten-fold of what any other band would do. When we shot our video, we didn’t just use a camcorder and put it out there. We went and hired a production company to capture it the best possible way. It took two days of
shooting and was well worth it.
DK: Will you be sharing the tour with any other band?
JA: Yes, Happenin’ Harry & The Haptones – as we are tonight…great show he puts on!; Superna, who’s also playing tonight; Reeves Gabrels – David Bowie’s guitarist; Spiders & Snakes…and many others.
DK: How did you land this tour that you’re about to embark upon?
JA: Originally we were to tour with a national act along the east coast but things didn’t go as planned, so we put our own tour together and did it ourselves.
DK: Inspirations for your music, what inspires each of you musically?
EK: Naked chicks!
JA: Pretty much everything, but in particular Gene Simmons and Dana Strum – not musically perse, but they have taught me a lot about this business of music we’re in, and they’re excellent showmen.
DB: Yeah, Kiss was a big inspiration as I was growing up and still is. When I saw them years later when they got back to wearing their makeup, I was like a kid again it was great!
JA: We’re mostly inspired by the fans honestly. They want to have a good time, and we want to give it them. Here we are, let’s party!!!!
DK: On your website, you’ve got a section for CJ Racing, can you tell me more about it?
JA: That’s Erick’s thing
DK: Yeah, you’ve got pictures of cars being demolished…
EK: I like fixing cars… with a sledgehammer!
JA: It’s out at Sycamore Speedway
EK: It’s great, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted to do behind the wheel but couldn’t and here you can
JA: Yeah, like speeding 55mph into a wall or another car and not worrying about the insurance!
DK: Give me a day in the life of Court Jester.
EK: Wake up at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, drink beer…
JA: Jack Daniels on my corn flakes
DB: No, really we take every day seriously, besides our day jobs, we get out there and get our flyers out to people and hang out with them. Even at our shows, we don’t just play the show and disappear, we’ll hang out and drink with everyone, we love it.
JA: It’s all about the people, tonight, I just talked to some fans that came from Kenosha just to see us, it was great to see them!
JS: …and I just heard that a few fans from around the Chicago area will be at a couple of our shows in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Now that’s when you know your promoting efforts have worked.
DK: James, according to your bio, you work for a radio station, what radio station do you work for?
JA: I pretty much stopped doing radio to devote more time to the band but I did work at
several radio stations throughout the Chicago land area over the
DK: Your bio also mentions that your an ordained minister, really?
JA: (laughs) Yes, I am an officially ordained minister through the Universal Life Church and am available for hire!
DB: We’d like to do a wedding on stage some time…make it a huge spectacle
DK: Did any of you belong to any other band prior to starting in Court Jester?
EK: Nothing meaningful, just the high school
bands and garage bands thereafter
JS: yeah, nothing major…nothing like Court Jester.
DK: What words of wisdom would you pass along to a band just starting out?
EK: Don’t sleep and drive
JA: Don’t wait for success to come to you, it’s gotta be earned through blood, sweat, and whiskey! Nothing is ever just given to you, and if you think it will be, well….
EK: …and don’t date any girl named Jenny!
DK: I would like to thank you for taking this time to talk with the Chicago Music Guide and are there any final words you’d like to share with your fans and your new fans in the cities you’ll be playing in the next couple months?
JA: We can’t wait to see you!
DK: Oh yes, one bonus question here for you…
If Jon Bon Jovi was walking down the street, what would you say to him?
JA: I’d finally get him a copy of the “GINA” CD [laugh]
EK: I want your wife
DB: Actually, I would just simply talk to him
JA: Yes, I think most musicians just want to be treated the same. Our position on this maybe a bit different, but there is a line you cross when you’re in the industry.
You’re not “fanboy” anymore, you’re no different then they are…one of my first interviews ever in radio was with Motorhead and I was pretty nervous standing backstage, not sure where to go who to find to get the interview started. Out of nowhere, Mikkey Dee comes up to me and offers me something to drink. He had no idea who I was or why I was there. It was just really cool and odd at the same time cause here’s Motorhead, the baddest of the badboys in rock, and I’m being treated like an old friend they’ve known since childhood and welcoming me into their home.
DK: Cool. Well once again, I want to thank you all for your time and we at the Chicago Music Guide wish you well and hope your tour will be successful for you!
Dennis M. Kelly
Chicago Music Guide
Photos © 2004 by: Dennis M. Kelly