So I had the privilege and honor of interviewing three amazing guys with an epic plan. Three minds that came together with an idea that will change and help animals and the music scene. I talked with them about the collaboration, and how it came to be, what they want to see come of this, and how they think it will help both industries.
Who are these men? None other than John Janatsch of The ONE magazine, and one of the most recognizable promoters in Houston, CJ Pierce of Drowning Pool, and Sui Gordon, of television’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees.”
When I asked each of them how the idea came about, they all agreed over late night conversations and coffee.
Each came to know one another at different times, and different ways. When I asked John how he came to knw CJ and Sui, I got a very heartfelt answer.
“CJ Pierce, by bringing him in to Houston, to perform with Drowning Pool, and we became very good friends from bringing him in from the first show,” said Janatsch.
“We took a chance with John, because he said, ‘hey man you wanna come play in my clubs? It’ll be cool!,” said Pierce. “And he is! He’s very cool!”
“We’ve worked together now six or seven times, packed the house every single time, and it’s been great ever since,” Janatsch continued. “The friendship has resulted into me sending new bands over to his studios, and it’s just been a truly great experience.”
“As far as Sui, I met him as a buyer,” said Janatsch. “He was a talent buyer for me back before he even got on the show ‘Pit Bulls and Parolees.’ His first show with me was right here at the BFE Rock Club, and we brought in a huge crowd and had a great show.”
“He got caught up in a little trouble… as the show is named “Pit Bulls and PAROLEES,’ but I stayed by his side while he was in trouble and we remained good friends,” Janatsch explained, adding, “Then he got out and one day calls me up and says ‘Hey I’m starring on this show ‘Pit Bulls and Parolees!’ Told me to flip it on, and there he was! There was my friend Sui, bigger than life! And it’s been 7 years now!”
I asked John, being a promoter, how did he feel that this project would affect local music scenes. And he says, “It won’t affect it. If anything it’s going to help local music. Because my job, what I wanted to do when I came out, was to build up and make the Houston scene bigger than life.”
“To me, Houston scene is one of the best music scenes in the industry,” said Janatsch. “And CJ can tell you, he’s been all over and toured around a lot of cities, and Houston cranks it.”
(CJ chimes in with ‘Hell Yeah’)
“So, tying in with these two, I want to go to different cities, we’re going to do this battle of the bands, we’re wanting to bring those cities to the same levels that I’ve helped do with Houston,” Janatsch said. “Am I credited with all of Houston’s success? No there’s too much talent here from the bands to companies like Reachdown Radio (Joseph Skrappy Cauthron, Tommy D Kat Degato), Punkstar Industries (Khris Harding) and Mightyfish Entertainment (Fishman Thomas and Paul Shadle) to name just a few. This will be a positive impact on all music in general. Twelve cities. We’re going to start off with Houston, San Leon, Waco, Dallas, New Orleans ‚— CJ’s back yard and Sui’s back yard. We’ll name more cities soon. Everybody’s welcome!”
“If I have to be there from noon until two in the morning, then that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to make that type of commitment because we want the local music to be heard on every level, and everyone to have a fair shake in this battle to get their names out and onto this album. We’re looking to tour around June. Once we do all 12 cities, within the year, we’re going to put the album out as fast as we can… as fast as we can get it over to CJ.”
When asked what he would like to see come of this, “I’m looking to accomplish two things. For Sui and the ‘Pit Bulls and Parolees,’ show I want to see them thrive and for them to be able to continue to help animals just like they are now. The other thing is getting locals involved, because there’s so much music, so much talent in every city that needs to be heard and this is the right way to tie in. Because they have the same passion. I have a passion for local music, he (Sui) has a passion for animals, (pointing to CJ) and he has a passion for producing, so when you tie the three together, I think it’s going to send a very positive message across the country.”
Sui said he feels much the same. Having just started a brand new season of one of Animal Planet’s most popular shows, I asked how that was going and how would this project impact the show.
“The season is going great! We have more episodes this year than last year,” Sui said. “I want to say it’s like 28 episodes, which is a lot for a season. Through my work I was able to be on the premier show with Ms. Tia, which is a big deal for me. That just kinda let me know that Ms. Tia loved me, Animal Planet loved me. That I’m not just around, that I’m a part of it all, I’m there. The show, the fans, I’m getting the love and I’m just loving my life right now. I speak for the guys that are in jail, locked up, for whatever reasons, they inspire me to do what I do. I want to get them more involved. Show them you don’t have to do things illegally to get money. I wasted a lot of time trying to be a drug dealer and didn’t use any of my talents. I’m using my talents now, and I don’t associate myself with none of that anymore. Starting to use talents I didn’t even know I had. People saying ‘Man I didn’t know you could do that!’ I didn’t know I could either. I called it working backwards. I’m not working backwards anymore, I’m working forward. I just had to let everything go and start over from scratch. And now I’m building myself back up. John’s had my back, helping me out, my brother George (Uscanga of GSPTV Houston) now we got CJ in the house helping out. The project, I think is going to bring a new angle to the show. The sky is the limit! I say with probably 80 hours of conversations just back and fourth, the idea just kinda rolled out. It really just happened. It had to happen. These Houston locals are just so bad, they just got to be heard, people need to hear these bands! So Mrs. Tia gave me the light, so I wanna pass that light to some of these bands. Raise a lot of noise, raise a lot of money, help out the dogs. I got a feeling we’re gonna find the next hot thing out of this project. I know we’re gonna find something nobody even expected. What do I want to see happen? I want to be able to pay for the sanctuary off this album, myself. Help out some of the bands that haven’t had a chance to shine yet. We’re looking for those bands making noise looking to make it to that next level.” CJ agreed, “Find the hard workers, make them work harder.”
For CJ, he sees this project from the perspective of an artist and producer. Aside from Drowning Pool, he has other projects, and I asked about Drowning Pool’s new album release.
“In January, ‘Hellelujah!’ IT’S THE MOST WORK I’VE EVER DONE ON ANY RECORD,” CJ said.
“It was a lot of work to get to this record, just business wise, management wise, record label wise… it was all the behind the scenes stuff that you have to battle to get to it. Personal, band issues we had to get passed, which we did. A lot went into this record, more so than anything in my life, so I hope, I know it shines through in these songs, that the Drowning Pool fans and rock fans will enjoy the music. This is the most metal record to date. We wanted to make a metal record. If anyone has anything frustrating going on in their life, this is the way to express it. I think we’re going on the path we probably should have. We went through all these switches, singer changes since the late great Dave Williams, on our path to find the right guy. Jasen Moreno, who’s been in town, in Dallas, came up on the scene with us, he was right in front of our face the whole time. He’s been friends with us, he knew Dave, and now that we have him in the band, we know he is the right choice. It took us 10 years to get to it. So, now that we have it, we’re all on the same page. The record’s frickin HEAVY it’s awesome! Texas metal!”
So I asked how he thought this project would affect his other three, Drowning Pool, As Above/So Below, and The Other La. As well as, what he hopes to see come out of this?
“I’m staying busy. Well, just like what Sui said, about working backwards, except with me, I’m producing bands, on the local level, that’s my focus is just getting local bands, getting that right sound and EP that you need to help you get to the next level. That’s one part that hurts a lot of bands in the beginning, hurt us in the beginning, Drowning Pool as well,. They have a lot of really awful sounding demos, if we’d just had the right guy or someone that actually gave a shit, to work with us, that would have helped out right out of the gate. So, everybody’s doing great. John’s helping out the local scene booking these bands, doing the battle of the bands, Sui’s helping out these bands, for me to get to produce a song for these guys. Use my connections to get it to radio, get it to record labels. I’ve made a lot of connections in my 15 plus years I’ve been doing it, so it’s great for me as well, it’s a way for me to give back. I’ve been fortunate. I got to sell a million plus records, and I’m always eternally grateful. And I love, love fucking rock music, metal. So for me to give back and help out other bands that love it just as much as I do, if not more, it’s just a great opportunity.”
I asked about his love for producing.
“And again, that’s how I got in touch with The Other LA. They played here, at BFE, with John, they went on first when we (Drowning Pool) were here 6-8 months ago. With Drowning Pool what we do is, a lot of bands do like a tour package and they book all the bands, so nobody else can play. We always leave 2-3 open spots for local bands to play with us. I know how important it is as a local band to get on with a national act. So whenever Drowning Pool goes out we always have one or two other support bands and then we always make sure they have local bands play with us. It gives them that opportunity, and because of that, I’ve seen so many great bands, like diamonds in the rough if you will, Other LA being one, and working with AASB, with my brother, another fun project. I’m hoping to find these bands, the ones that have been working hard and just help them, take them to the next level. Give them that right sounding representation of their band. People are going to see you play once or twice, but they’re going to listen to that song a thousand times, so that song has to sound great. And I love doing it.”
Then asked him how the idea came about.
“Early morning coffee talks, man. Being friends with John the last couple of years, meeting Sui as well now. Just the whole cause behind it, the reason behind it. Especially helping out building the shelter for dogs. Animals get so left behind. They’re like people, like the rest of us really. We’re all dog lovers, all animal lovers. Be on the look out for this new compilation coming out, all these details, John’s going have it, Sui’s going have it. I’m going to be producing all these bands at my new Raven’s Nest Studio. On the Drowning Pool front, our new record’s coming out January 22ND, HELLELUJAH!”
HERE ARE THE FIRST DATES FOR “BATTLE FOR THE PITS”
June 3rd: BFE, Houston, TX
June 4th: 18th ST. Pier, San Leon, TX
June 10th: Curtain Club, Dallas, TX
June 11th: Backyard Stage Bar and Grill, Waco, TX
For Booking Sui for appearances or interviews contact info below:
Booking: please contact Evan Michaels: M7 Agency firstname.lastname@example.org
Press Contact: Yvonne Laughlin email email@example.com
Special Note: Sui Gordon will be bringing in Earl from the show for his birthday headliner for both dates Saving Abel
March 25th: Bfe Rock Club
March 26th: 18th St Pier In San Leon
Photos by Angeleye FX / Brandi Holt-Jamison