It’s Friday everyone, and wow! do I have a great way to get this TGIF rockin’ for you! Author, Selah Janel has given us a really cool look into her new dark/urban fantasy, In The Red, with an interview she conducted with her main character, Jeremiah Kensington (J.K. Asmodeus). You are going to love this!
But before we get to that, I want give you a peek at this awesome book cover.
What kind of a rock star lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere and plays at weddings and funerals? That’s what Jeremiah Kensington is thinking after an unsuccessful bar gig one night. Then Jack Scratch comes into his life, ready to represent him and launch him to stardom. Jack can give him everything: a new band, a new name, a new life, a new look, and new boots…although they aren’t exactly new. They once belonged to The One, a rocker so legendary and so mysterious that it’s urban legend that he used black magic to gain success. But what does Jeremiah care about urban legend? And it’s probably just coincidence that the shoes make him dance better than anyone, even if it doesn’t always feel like he’s controlling his movements. It’s no big deal that he plunges into a world of excess and decadence as soon as he puts the shoes on his feet, right?
But what happens when they refuse to come off?
And now, let’s get to that interview.
J.K. Asmodeus. Love him or loathe him, it’s hard to turn on a radio, walk into a store, get online, or watch T.V without seeing or hearing the name. Those who sing his praises say he’s reviving rock and his critics insist he’s re-packaging the same tricks and gimmicks of a tired genre. His fans don’t care either way – they just want more. They have the flair of the Ziggy Stardust era, the lungs of rabid Beatles fans, and the passion for partying that would put the crowds that glorified eighties metal to shame. Still, who is J.K. Asmodeus? What makes him tick? Is he a true-blue superstar or a cleverly packaged guy taken in hand by Voland Entertainment? Rumors and legends have swirled around him in record time, so I leapt at the chance to try to clear up some of the confusion.
It isn’t easy for a reporter to get access to J.K. Asmodeus or his band, Sons of Pandemonium. His manager, Jack Scratch, must have a clone army because he always seems to be at hand, giving orders and overseeing every possible end of this operation. While Scratch loves to put his brainchild in the spotlight, he’s been pulling back since the notorious press conference two weeks ago in Los Angeles. Thankfully, Scratch allowed me to sit down with J.K. Asmodeus (without the band, at his request) as long as he could hover in the background.
Upon first impression, J.K. Asmodeus is exactly what appears to be on screen and onstage: tall, lean without being fragile, and sharp. He’s kept his hair long and blue so far, though there’s no word on the rumored rock musical Bluebeard he’s claimed to be working on. Always dressed to kill, he’s sporting the same bizarre, asymmetrical pinstripe suit he was photographed in at the press conference. Either he’s hoping for a redo or the rest of his wardrobe was at the cleaners, since he’s known for never wearing the same thing twice – except the infamous boots.
I still can’t decide if the notorious platforms are a very clever story or not. It’s obvious from the way that they’re presented that both Jack Scratch and J.K. Asmodeus want people to believe they’re real. Sure enough, my gaze drops down to the floor as soon as J.K. walks into the room. Still, they look like any old boots from the glam era, or perhaps something from a store that caters to the punk crowd. I can’t deny how glowing red they are, though. They do look like they belong on a superstar’s feet. The more I stare at them, the more I found myself wanting to believe in them, myself. Knee-length and just as bright as they are in the pictures, they should look ridiculous, but they don’t. If anything, they make it hard for a person to look away.
“They’re real,” J.K. murmurs as a greeting and takes a seat in the plush armchair in the corner of his hotel room of the moment. His pale face doesn’t convey any sort of warmth or emotion, but his eyes are wary and track every move I make. He crosses his long legs and his foot jumps to a beat I can’t hear. He doesn’t look miserable, but he doesn’t look with it, either. Perhaps the strain of constantly being on the road has finally gotten to him. After all, Pandemonium’s Burnout is his third album in five years, and he’s been touring and promoting something ever since he exploded onto the music scene.
Scratch mutters something about having to keep an eye on the time and we quickly get down to business.
SJ: So tell us a little about Pandemonium’s Burnout. How’s this album different from your last two?
J.K.: (J.K. pauses for a few moments and I get the feeling he’s trying to ascertain what I’m really asking) It’s a somewhat more sophisticated version of what we’ve done before. Same hard sound, but more grown-up lyrics. We’re not just talking about claiming the world or gettin’ on a girl; this is much more about dealing with life and the consequences.
SJ: So this is the album about J.K. Asmodeus moving on, so to speak?
J.K.: I dunno, is it? People will slant my work however they want.
SJ: It’s just that the title seems a little self-fulfilling. Your band, after all, is Sons of Pandemonium, and there’s been a lot of drama going on with them lately—
J.K.: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. They were brought in for me. I’m the reason they have a paycheck. They’re here to help put my vision into music. People can interpret the album whatever way they want, but we all know what our process is and that it works. The fans like it, the critics may complain, but our albums top the charts. We must be doing something right.
His smile is acidic and just a little predatory. Jack Scratch meanders behind J.K.’s chair, ever the power behind the throne, and seems pleased with his protégé’s answer.
SJ: Oh, there’s no doubt it’s a great album—
J.K: Damn right.
SJ: –but content-wise, you have to admit that you’ve slid more into doom and gloom territory. Is this alluding to anything you’re going through or are you looking to delve more into Hellish territory?
J.K.: People automatically want to associate us with that theme, but the truth is we’ve done a lot that has nothing to do with that sort of thing. Those happen to be the songs that made us popular. What are we supposed to do, not perform In Circle Nine or Looking for Beatrice? Are we not supposed to use Tempt me Down, our biggest hit? It’s a gimmick we do well and it’s open to a lot of interpretation. It isn’t the only stuff we do, though. In fact, we’re talking about veering into different territory next.
S.J.: So there will be a next album?
J.K.: Of course. There’s no reason to go anywhere. The band knows who writes their checks, so why should they be unhappy?
S.J.: You have to admit that there’s been a lot of talk since L.A.—
J.K.: Have you never had a bad day? People get irritated with each other. They fight. They throw around accusations that aren’t true.
S.J.: So you do write your own music. The rumor that the band is paid off to write your material isn’t true?
J.K.: My music is my own. I own it. That’s that.
It’s very obvious from his defiant, sulking posture that I’m not going to get any more from him on that subject.
S.J. There’s been some concern with your lifestyle lately. A lot of people are saying you’re moving awfully fast and you’re doomed to fall apart. All the touring back to back, the partying,–
J.K.: Everyone wants to go off of what they hear from some random guy. What am I supposed to do, not tour? I have to earn a living, don’t I? And so I have fun, so what? Would people even be remotely interested in a guy who just stands around and sings?
S.J.: Well, it has happened before—
J.K.: And what happens to them? They get old and boring. Even theatrical “classic rock” acts, if you want to call them that, use the same old gimmicks they started out with. We may have our shtick, but it changes every tour. We have to keep going, or else people will forget about us. Same with the partying – it puts us at the same level as our fans. Besides, who ever heard of a real rock star that goes home and curls up in bed at eleven at night? What am I supposed to do, drink warm milk and watch a documentary? Like I’d ever get ahead doing that. I work damn hard. I deserve to play just as hard. No one ever gets hurt, so it’s no big deal.
S.J.: There have been stories—
J.K.: You rely a lot on stories, don’t you? Everyone likes to exaggerate.
S.J. Well then. Everyone knows about J.K. Asmodeus, rock star and sinner for the masses. Who’s the man behind the image? What are you really like? Where did you come from?
J.K. seems visibly rattled and even Jack Scratch pauses in his swaggering; it could be the light in the room but even his cigarette smoke seems to freeze in midair.
J.K.: I don’t understand why people are so concerned about that. (He’s right. He doesn’t look angry like he did at the press conference when similar questions crept up. He looks miffed, confused, and somewhat flustered.) I don’t understand why people want to put me with another name, some name I’ve never heard of! I don’t know who this Jeremiah Kensington person is that everyone keeps asking me about. Same with Clarksville. It’s a cheap blow for a small town to try to get their name in the papers on my hard work.
S.J.: So you had nothing to do with any of that before you were J.K. Asmodeus?
For just a moment, he seems lost, almost childlike. There’s something in J.K.’s eyes that’s very tired and a little fragile. And then it’s gone, hidden by the sudden lift of his chin and a cavalier smile.
J.K.: I wasn’t anything before J.K. Asmodeus. I’ve always been this way. Ask the band, ask Jack, ask anyone. Everything’s always been as it is right now.
I know better than to touch this one, too. Asmodeus’ adherence to the present is as legendary as his decadence.
S.J.: Talking about Mr. Scratch, it seems that Voland Entertainment has done a lot for you, even though there are many industry greats that question the company’s methods.
J.K.: What’s to question? Jack gets results. What I need, he provides. It’s the best decision I ever made.
S.J.: Better than your new marriage? Congratulations, by the way.
J.K.: Yeah, thanks. It is what it is. Andrea and I are meant for each other. She’s the type of woman I should be seen with and I feed her need to be close to the spotlight. It’s a perfect combination….
S.J.: Except for displays like a couple of weeks ago?
J.K.: Something like that. She’ll learn. She’s like a lot of fans; she craves attention and she can get it through me.
S.J.: You’re very candid about it. That doesn’t bother you?
J.K.: (He shrugs, and has that tired look in his eyes again.) I’m used to it. Everyone wants something.
I find my gaze drifting over him. It’s so surreal to finally see him in the flesh, and yet I can’t rightly describe his features or even keep my eyes on his. Even as I take notes I find my gaze pulled lower, towards the floor.
J.K.: Go ahead, you can ask. Everyone does.
S.J.: Well…there’s a lot of talk about the boots. You always wear them—
J.K.: People wouldn’t know me without them.
S.J.: I don’t know about that…but they are recognizable. They can’t be easy to wear all the time.
J.K. manages a tight smile and shifts his weight, and for a moment I swear he was hiding a wince or trying not to shout when a foot drags idly against the floor
J.K.: It takes some getting used to, I’ll give you that.
I’ve heard some outrageous claims about the boots, though just as notorious is the fact that J.K. is extremely possessive of them. Sure enough, even when I stare too long he tries to draw his legs under the chair, though the look on his face is almost pure pain.
S.J.: So were they really worn by The One, like you claim? Is it just a story?
J.K.: I leave that up to people to decide for themselves. One thing’s for sure, though. They need me as much as I rely on them. They may just be a pair of boots given to me by Jack, they may be a legend of their own…it doesn’t matter. What matters is that people will remember me and that I’ll be topping the charts and raising hell for a long time to come.
He gets up and snaps his fingers at Jack, who follows with an easy smile and a shrug, half-heartedly apologizing for our time being cut short. I can’t help but think about J.K.’s hollow eyes as he headed out the door. He tried to cover it, and he is very sharp, almost vicious onstage. And yet…there’s another part of him, something almost resigned to something he can’t control. Maybe fame’s getting to him, maybe he’s just worn out, but I hope for his sake that his last pronouncement is true. What bothers me further is that I still can’t quite remember what he looks like until I check the photographs that were taken that day. The first thing that leaps into my mind when I think of J.K. Asmodeus are two knee-length, platformed, glowing red boots.
What an awesome interview, S.J.! Thank you so much for letting us dive into J.K.’s world!
And for those of you that want to dive even deeper, In The Red, here are all the places you can go to get it:
Now that you’ve had a great look at the book, I just know you’ll want to find out more about Selah, so take a peek and stalk her out! And don’t forget to check out her blog tour going on right now. You can find out the details HERE.
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane. She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’ and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
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What do you think? Leave a comment or question for Selah. I know she’d love to hear from you!
Have a great weekend everyone!