Interview: Jennifer Batten
by Randy Allar
About the Interview
Despite remaining busy after the completion of the Michael Jackson tour, Jennifer Batten has released her second record, “Momentum”. She has recently spent time on the airwaves of WCSB. Her wit and determination should propel her to new heights in her role as leader of Tribal Rage. The talent and ability of this power trio is nothing short of amazing.
Jennifer spent a few minutes on the Fusion Show on WCSB (Cleveland) to talk live with Randy Allar about her new CD.
Randy Allar: You have your new CD out, Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage.
Jennifer Batten: Yeah! It’s been a long time coming. It was a long process. It’s finally out and I’m real happy with it. And we’re going to start touring it probably in the states and Canada this summer.
Randy Allar: Are you possibly going to be stopping in Cleveland?
Jennifer Batten: I’m gonna go anywhere people will have me.
Randy Allar: We’ll have you in Cleveland.
Jennifer Batten: Okay!
Randy Allar: What are you doing with the new disc? You have a lot of different rhythms, world rhythms on it.
Jennifer Batten: Yeah, well ever since I was in the (Michael) Jackson band, I’ve been touring the planet for the last 10 years and that’s really one of the things that’s turned me on to a lot of different cultures. In fact we just finished the last tour in October in South Africa. I picked up all kinds of records there that you would never find in America in a million years.
Randy Allar: You also have yourself some fine musicians.
Jennifer Batten: Cool, yeah! I’ve been playing with Ricky (Wolking) for quite a while. I was working with him in another band project and we both decided we’d rather just play together and do this kind of music. Glen Sobel has done stuff with Tony MacAlpine. I saw him drumming live one night and combined with Terry Bozio’s recommendation, I thought I’ve got to snag this guy. So I did and it’s been great ever since.
Randy Allar: The quality of the recording is crystal clear. Did you do something different, or use any new technology?
Jennifer Batten: (Laughs) Yeah, I did something very different. I had speaker chords running across my lawn into the bathroom from the garage. That was my sound cabin for about six months. I had to climb over speakers to take a shower. All the guitar and bass was done at my place with just a Mackie 16 board and a couple of ADATs. Recorded everything pretty much dry and added effects at the mix. I did the drums at a bigger studio ’cause I didn’t have the facilities to properly record them here.
Randy Allar: Is your first record, “Above, Below, And Beyond” still available?
Jennifer Batten: It’s available through the fan club, I have a merchandising thing which I will pull up in a second ‘cuz like a moron I don’t have the address memorized. It was on a little label in L.A. Theoretically, it’s not available, but I’m making sure that the people that want it can get it. (Guitar Nine has it here.)
Randy Allar: You were also with the band The Immigrants?
Jennifer Batten: I was with them for several years and decided female singers are psychos, so I decided instrumental music is more fun. I’m going to piss a lot of people off, but hey, that was my experience.
Randy Allar: Were you doing some of the singing?
Jennifer Batten: (Laughs) Yeah, I pissed myself off. No. You don’t want to hear me sing. I can clear a room in two seconds flat. That’s why I play the guitar. That’s my voice.
Randy Allar: What other projects do you have going?
Jennifer Batten: Since I’ve been off the tour, I’ve been on a massive learning curve and I’m sending myself to computer geek school, pouring through these computer manuals learning music writing software.
Randy Allar: Your press kit was sent out with reviews written in other languages.
Jennifer Batten: Most of what I’ve gotten is in other languages because the Jackson tour didn’t play America. The only English press was in England and Ireland. Most of it is in German and French. I sent it out, hope they’re saying good things about me.
Randy Allar: The new disc has 7 cuts. You are not going to receive much air play because the cuts are long.
Jennifer Batten: When we were working the tunes, none of us had any idea how long they were. It’s just these were our little babies we’re producing. It seemed that they needed all the parts we had. Looking back, there’s maybe two sections on the whole record I would cut. We hacked up a couple cuts for radio play, hacked them from eight minutes to five. It’s a project that we all love to do and we’re happy with and we’re just going to throw it out there and see if people will dig it.
Randy Allar: I’m really disappointed that “Momentum” is not a state of the art recording. Instead, it was done in your bathroom. Especially because the disc sounds so good.
Jennifer Batten: (Laughs) Well, I mean we had the gear. ADATs brings digital theoretically into your own bedroom.
Randy Allar: Or into your bathroom.
Jennifer Batten: Wherever you have the space. It’s wonderful because it gave the independent artist a way of having a record done with out waiting for a record deal. Everyone who’s out there has been rejected 10 time over before they ever get a deal. Now the indies have the power. If musicians would wake up before noon, and spend a couple hours on the business, you can really make things happen for yourself.
headline Randy Allar: In your biography you mentioned about acoustic music. Can you explain this?
Jennifer Batten: (Laughs again) Well, I don’t know how long it’s been going on, at least five years. MTV has been doing the unplugged series, and a lot of the stuff I’ve seen is just horrible. I just kinda have an attitude about it. So I had an idea for a song called “Unplug This”, meaning I will unplug for no one. The cut is pretty manic.
Randy Allar: The whole disc is manic.
Jennifer Batten: Well, okay. There’s some very mellow things on there as well.
Randy Allar: Not really.
Jennifer Batten: Manically mellow? What about “Glow”? That will take you somewhere.
Randy Allar: “Glow” has a nice reggae feel to it.
Jennifer Batten: Yeah, in the bridge.
Randy Allar: I didn’t find it to be very mellow.
Jennifer Batten: Okay, I’ll take that. I’ve got a pretty aggressive personality and I drink way too much expresso, so that’s as mellow as it gets.
Randy Allar: Have you decided to do any writing for a new disc?
Jennifer Batten: You know, I haven’t written one note since I finished the disc. The whole time on the Jackson tour was focused on getting press for this record and it was extremely time consuming.. I have plenty of ideas for new stuff but when I get time to actually put it down, I don’t know. But there will be more, I promise.
Randy Allar: How did you first get discovered?
Jennifer Batten: As far as the Jackson thing, I was lucky enough to hear about the audition. I was 1 of 100 that went to the audition. I called and asked for the last possible time to audition so I could stay home and learn his tunes. Then they wanted some funk stuff, so I played clean funk rhythm stuff and I started soloing and I ended with the “Beat It” solo. I get a call a couple of days later and they wanted to know if I could take a year and a half off. I said take me anywhere for any length of time. They wanted to know if I would change my image. I was a geek with brown hair and glasses so they turned me into a freak. Geek to freak. I ended up with this mile high mohawk looking doo for the first part of the tour. It took two and a half hours every night to get me looking like that.
Randy Allar: Are you planning to go back on tour with Jackson in the near future?
Jennifer Batten: No, we just finished a year and a half and I really hope that my music takes off to the point where I don’t have to go out with him again. At the time it was a wonderful opportunity, but at this point, I really want to do my stuff.