Rocker has seen the world, stays grounded
Self-described river rat from the Mid-Ohio Valley, Jamie Fletcher, has touched stardom, touring with 80’s hair metal group Britny Fox a few years back, and hanging with the likes of Tattoo Tony and Lita Ford.
But Fletcher is happy these days just making music closer to his home and family. He chatted with Graffiti about paying homage to the genre that made him, remaining loyal to his friends and fans and embracing technology.
Graffiti: You’re a man with a variety of musical outlets; Modern Superstar, Stray Dawgs, even Britny Fox. Are there projects for different genres or styles that you prefer to compartmentalize within specific musical parameters, or can anything go at any given time?
Fletcher: I do have many, each serving its own purpose: Cover music for entertainment, original projects for creativity and writing and recording for myself and others. You are correct about anything can go at any given time. I love to play any genre of music whenever I get the chance.
Graffiti: Taking it back a few years for a moment, I’m curious to know how things came together for you. Including the Britny Fox gig. Starting there, had you worked with anyone else on that level prior to your joining? Were you already working with another band when they came calling? What were the circumstances?
Fletcher: I have been playing and performing since high school, kind of where every kid starts in the garage band, dreaming the big dreams and having the thoughts of making it big. I have performed in different bands since the age of 18-19 years old, each one better than the last, always utilizing stepping stones to improve my talents and abilities. In 2007, I was in a band called N/V when I received a call from a promoter in Columbus, with connections to a large booking agency that was familiar with what I was doing, and made me a proposition: Did I want to front the 80’s glam band Britny Fox? I grew up listening to all of the hair bands of the 80’s – Motley Crue, Cinderella, Poison, Great White, Tesla, and, of course, Britny Fox. My first reaction was to ask, ‘Are you talking about ‘Long Way to Love,’ ‘Girls School,’ ‘Dream On’ Britny Fox?’ The answer was yes. After talking it over with family, friends and current band mates, the answer was absolutely. After an audition with Billy Childs, original bassist for Britny Fox, there I was, just a river rat from the Mid-Ohio Valley, about to embark on the beginning of a life-changing journey.
Graffiti: Are there any certain gigs, festivals, events or bizarre incidents that really stick out in your memory?
Fletcher: There are several shows that will stay with me forever with the different bands that I have been involved with. I believe that after the initial shock of touring with Britny Fox across the United States for about six months, there was a tour put together involving our band, the Bulletboys, and Pretty Boy Floyd to go to Europe and tour for about a month. I was fortunate enough to go overseas and do shows in England, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway among others. I remember flying into London Heathrow Airport in the morning and doing a show that night. We had the next day off, so we got to go explore this beautiful city. We bought a metro pass and started that morning on a double decker bus. I recall walking up to Big Ben, London Bridge, #10 Downing Street (for all you Sherlock Holmes fans) with tears in my eyes, realizing that this was going to be an adventure that I wouldn’t forget.
South Dakota Rock Fest was a great show, where I was fortunate enough to meet and become friends with Lita Ford. Rock the Bayou festival featured Britny Fox and rock legends Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper, Bret Michaels, Queensryche, Twisted Sister, Skid Row, Great White, Ratt, Dokken, Yngwie Malmsteen, Slaughter, Y&T, Dangerous Toys, Bulletboys with Steven Adler, Lynch Mob … all totaled, more than 40 bands played on two stages over four days. I got to meet all of these musicians that I had grown up listening to, not just as a fan, but a fellow performing musician.
One of the other monster moments happened while I was in Modern Superstar. Right after the release of our album ‘Under My Skin’ in 2011, we were playing the main stage at the M3 Festival in Maryland with Whitesnake, Tesla, Kix, Great White, Firehouse and a ton of other bands. After the performance, the interviews, the meet and greets, I was sitting in Tattoo Tony Rodriguez’s bus and heard a voice outside asking where I was. Tony yelled, I came out, and it was our friend Lita Ford, and she wanted a copy of our album. She got one, no problem (laughs). Right after that, I saw Jeff Keith (lead singer for Tesla) at his bus, and thought I would take him a bottle of Tattoo Tony’s Ice Tea. I walked down and said hello and gave him the bottle. He looked at me – I was really trying not to act stupid because I have been a fan of Tesla since 1986 – and said ‘you’re Jamie You did ‘Rockstar’ earlier (meaning ‘We All Die Young’ out of our set), I said yes that was me, and he told me that I rocked that song. Words can’t describe that feeling. That was an honor.
Graffiti: You’ve also been active in at least two other bands: Modern Superstar and Stray Dawg. Modern Superstar also has Ryche Green, who has played with the Bulletboys in the past. How did you guys meet up? Tell me how that whole project developed and evolved.
Fletcher: I met Ryche while on tour in Europe. He was the drummer for Bulletboys at the time. We hit it off, figured out that we actually only lived about an hour or so apart from each other at the time, and decided that after the tour was over and things slowed down, that when we got back home, we would get ahold of each other and stay in touch. In 2010, I got a call from Ryche, and one of my best friends, Bill Carpenter, asking me to meet them at Denny’s in Cambridge, Ohio. Out of that conversation, essentially Modern Superstar was born. Modern Superstar was an ‘all-star’ band, eventually including two members of the Bulletboys and myself from Britny Fox. A definite jump start to a new original band. After settling into a lineup, promotion started. We recorded our album ‘Under My Skin’ in Little Rock, Arkansas with Ty Sims in about four days and released it in May 2011. The album was a mix of different music, anthems and ballads to see where we were wanting to go.
We had a running joke with Robert Mason of Warrant at the time because they had just dropped the ‘Rockaholic’ album. When theirs started outselling ours, we would buy the drinks whenever we ran into each other, but as long as ours outsold theirs, they had to buy the drinks (laughs).
Graffiti: How did the opportunity arise to work with Tattoo Tony, the world renowned tattoo artist?
Fletcher: We had formed a relationship with our brother Tony Rodriguez, not only on a professional level, but more of a personal bond. We started the ‘Rockin’ Ink Tour,’ promoting our album and Tattoo Tony’s Hard Ice Tea. Tony would join us on the road and do tattoos at the shows and join us on stage for a couple of songs during the night. It was always a blast. Tony is one of the most authentic, caring and real people you would ever want to meet. His charity, Under My Skin for Life Foundation, is a not-for-profit organization providing help and support to all in need. I am proud to be a part of anything that he does, and call him a true brother.
Graffiti: When did that period in your career end? Was it amicable, mutual?
Fletcher: I stopped touring about four years back. It was just time for me to come home. It was great meeting all of the fans and being in different places and playing for all of the different people, and I still do a show here and there out of town, but as far as living between a bus and a hotel room for extended amounts of time, that part is over for me. I have great kids, family and the best friends right here at home, and enjoy playing music and being in my own bed at night.
Graffiti: What do you think you learned about the insanity that is the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle from that experience? Was is a positive experience or did it leave you leery and vigilant?
Fletcher: I think that it has done both. Everything for the better. You live and learn how to deal with the good and the bad. Enjoy things when they are going well, and overcome the obstacles that may show up in your path as you travel thru the journey. I have seen both. Respect and consideration from those that you might not think that it would come from, and being taken advantage of from those you would never expect it from.
Graffiti: What are you doing at this point in time? I know it can be hard in this ever-changing environment with things like the Internet and digital downloads. What can we expect to see and hear from you in the foreseeable future?
Fletcher: Right now, I am enjoying doing what I want to do. I have shows with my band Stray Dawg, guest appearances with other friends’ bands when they need me to fill in, and acoustic shows where I try to play such a variety of music that I can go from a bike rally to a personal party to the VFW or a homecoming show. There are a couple of labels that I have contact with and I am currently working on original music for an upcoming solo album with some very special guests. I don’t have any plans of going back out on the road. I can do most everything from home with the digital age. That’s what makes it a lot different then say 20 years ago. Digital media, social media, and worldwide marketing have changed the game in a big way.
Graffiti: Any regrets?
Fletcher: I would say none, but I haven’t gotten that private island yet that I’ve been looking for, and my fiance won’t let me get a helicopter to fly around in … yet.