New York’s Grimm Jack is considered one of America’s best underdog rock and roll bands. A hard-driving but melodic act, the band has often been compared to Aerosmith and Guns ‘N’ Roses, with a bit of southern bluesy flavor thrown in. With a loyal fan base through touring and radio-friendly songs, their music can be heard worldwide.
The Grimm Jack story began in 1985 with guitarist Jimmie Mack and drummer Dave Leeds, two Long Island rockers who joined forces to create a contemporary rock band with an edge. Original members included vocalist Robin DesForges, guitarist Rich Daly, and bassist Sean O’Neill. The group released their first single “Janet”, on the independent label CYN CITY RECORDS in 1986. The following year brought the release of a five-song EP entitled GO FOR YOUR GUNS, which gained airplay on radio outside the New York metro area.
By 1988, Grimm Jack shifted into full throttle; original vocalist Robin DesForges departed and was replaced by singer Billy Kohout. Bassist Scott Bittner was on board, and the group started gaining national recognition with the release of their next EP, PARTNERS IN CRIME. This recording featured the songs “One Track Mind” and “Shy Boy”, both which gained a steady amount of airplay on various rock radio stations, especially in the south and mid-Atlantic regions. Legendary music publications such as CIRCUS and HIT PARADER gave Grimm Jack’s PARTNERS IN CRIME very positive reviews during 1988, and the group was also featured prominently in numerous regional and local magazines nationwide.
In early 1989, Daly and Bittner chose to part company with Grimm Jack and guitarist Tom Lestat and bassist Paul Vassa were brought into the band. With this lineup in place, Grimm Jack forged ahead to create a respectable reputation based on energetic live performances and high caliber songs that fans still remember today.
The year 1990 marked the release of JAILHOUSE TATTOO, which was Grimm Jack’s most successful recording at that time. The songs “Maybelline” and “Lookin’ For Heaven” earned the quintet more radio airplay and became instant fan favorites. The tour supporting the release of JAILHOUSE TATTOO found the band performing in small towns and large cities alike, cementing their reputation as a first-rate live act.
In 1991 Grimm Jack was chosen by EAST COAST ROCKER magazine as the best eastern US band not signed to a major record label. This action not only created more positive reviews and excellent press for the group but also put them in front of other contenders vying for a major deal. Rather than stand on music already released, Grimm Jack began recording new material to ensure their quest for success as a rock and roll band. After signing a management deal and being within inches of finally grasping an elusive major label contract, the American music scene was thrown into a loop with the introduction of the grunge and alternative sounds. Record companies and radio alike lost interest in bands playing straight-ahead rock and roll, and Grimm Jack’s hard work resulted in memories and a large collection of unreleased songs. The band continued on as a staple on the New York area music scene until the mid-1990’s, never actually calling it quits, but just putting the Grimm Jack name aside.
In 2010, Grimm Jack co-founder Jimmie Mack began working with singer Billy Kohout with the idea of releasing material recorded several years earlier that was never made public. It wasn’t long before Mack and Kohout realized that Grimm Jack wasn’t just about the music, but about the musicians themselves and most importantly, the fans who have kept their music alive. Drummer Dave Leeds and guitarist Tom Lestat were back, with the addition of bassist GG Zen-Garten.
In 2012 the Damned EP was released and the critics responded…”Confirming my suspicions that every long haired band from the ’80s will eventually return…with its Roxx Gang meets Faster Pussycat riffs and whiskey soaked vocals, begs the question — what took these guys so long to return? If Damned is strictly an attempt to get Grimm Jack’s feet wet once again it serves its purpose.” Skid for Sleaze Roxx
In 2015 Grimm Jack releases the Thick As Thieves LP and the critics responded again…”Grimm Jack‘s Thick As Thieves took me by surprise. I didn’t expect it to be so good. In fact, I totally underestimated Grimm Jack as I didn’t expect Thick As Thieves would grow on me so much and turn out to be such a great album.” Olivier for Sleaze Roxx
In late 2016, long time guitarist Tommy Lestat parted company with Grimm Jack. A sad day but the opportunity allowed for new guitar player Joey Masters to step in. Joey spent many years on the L.A. scene and blended in well with Grimm Jack’s music style.
In 2017, The Music Video “Sex Drive” was released and again the critics responded… “Sex Drive” starts off with a cool riff before slowing down to a snail’s pace before kicking right back at an amazing fury.” Olivier for Sleaze Roxx
More music videos are in the works and more shows are being scheduled for 2020. Grimm Jack is also working on a new Studio LP, hoping to have songs available in early 2020.
|1985 to 1986||Janet||Robin DesForges||Jimmie Mack||Rich Daly||Sean O’Neil||Dave Leeds|
|1987||Go For Your Guns||Robin DesForges||Jimmie Mack||Rich Daly||Paul Vaccaro||Dave Leeds|
|1988||Partners In Crime||Billy Kohout||Jimmie Mack||Rich Daly||Scott Bittner||Dave Leeds|
|1989 to 1992||Jailhouse Tattoo||Billy Kohout||Jimmie Mack||Tommy Lestat||Paul Vassa||Dave Leeds|
|1992 to 1994||Tickle Your Fancy||Billy Kohout||Jimmie Mack
|Tommy Lestat||Paul Vassa||Dave Leeds
|2010 to 2016||Damned
Thick As Thieves
|Billy Kohout||Jimmie Mack||Tommy Lestat||GG Zen-Garten||Dave Leeds|
|2017 to 2020||Coming Soon||Billy Kohout||Jimmie Mack||Joey Masters||GG Zen-Garten||Dave Leeds|