It’s hard to believe that local power metal band Jag Panzer is still at it after almost 30 years. According to their website, they’re recording a new album—Scourge of the Light—due out in February of 2011.

Wait, what’s that you say?… You’ve never heard of Jag Panzer?

Whether you like this kind of music or not, you’d think the fact that Jag Panzer is probably the biggest band ever to come out of Colorado Springs in terms of album sales and international fame (see interview below) would earn them some modicum of respect here in the Pikes Peak region. Alas, few have even heard of them.

Here’s hoping that finally changes!

Power metal has had a resurgence in recent years with the popularity of bands like Dragonforce. The sheer virtuosity of the theatrical, often campy, metal laced with “mystical, fantasy-based themes,” and the classically-influenced musicianship alone is hard to deny. Jag Panzer even made an entire concept album—Thane to the Throne— based on Macbeth. If that’s not enough to convince you, well…

Check out this video (featuring Chris Broderick, now guitarist for Megadeth for some hot Pikes Peak power metal action.

And here’s a brief interview with founding guitarist Mark Briody I did in 2001 shortly after the release of their album Mechanized Warfare.

Noel Black: When did you first realize you had a big following in Europe?

Mark Briody: We did our first record when we were high school students in the early ’80s. We went to Harrison. I didn’t even drive then. My mom used to take me to the recording studio. Even back then we started getting letters from Europe. Everything was letter-driven in the underground metal scene back then. People sent fliers for tours. And even back then there was much more interest from Europe. We finally made it over there in 1996. The response was quite a bit better than we get over here.

NB: I’ve heard stories of you guys getting mobbed by women in Germany, huge sell-out crowds …

MB: [Laughter] Not by women! I mean we’re a pretty well-known heavy metal band. We sell about 75,000 copies of our records worldwide, and any kid over there who’s into heavy metal has heard of us. We’re in all the stores and all the magazines. It’s pretty common, for example, if we’re eating at a Burger King over there, to get people coming over asking for guitar picks and autographs. It’s a weird culture shock.

NB: You guys play “traditional” [power] metal. Is that why you have a bigger following in Europe?

MB: Three of us in the band grew up together, and metal back then meant: a really good vocalist, a really good lead guitar player, and sort of mystical, fantasy-based themes. And that started changing in America with bands like Van Halen. Europe didn’t really go that direction. I don’t mind a Van Halen CD now and then, but I can’t motivate myself to write a song about partying at a beach.

NB: Given your success in Europe, did the band ever think about moving there?

MB: Well, we moved to L.A. right out of high school, and it was disastrous. Here in Colorado Springs we do our own thing. There’s no local pressure for us to conform to any sound. People don’t even know who we are here, or what we do. We have complete artistic freedom here.

NB: What is it like to go to Europe and play in front of huge crowds and come back to Colorado Springs?

MB: We jokingly call it Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. You’ve got a tour bus and road crew, stage manager, etc. And it’s a completely different lifestyle while you’re over there. It’s disappointing not to have much of a following here in the States. There’s zero support.

NB: When your first album, Ample Destruction, came out in the mid-’80s, did you guys feel like you had a shot at fame?

MB: We thought we had a real shot in ’83 and ’84. We had a lot of major labels coming out to see us. And then they started saying things like: “We wish you guys looked a little more like Bon Jovi.” That was when we knew we were going to be pretty much underground. I write what I want to write, and play what I want to play. But I don’t have a punk attitude where the music absolutely has to be underground. I mean, if people want to buy it, that’s cool.

Here’s one more video (and you can listen to more songs at their website HERE):


One Response to Nobodies at Home!? Jag Panzer

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    Europe vs. U.S. — weird.


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