Interview with Solo Artist and FireWall Guitar Mount Innovator
Jessie Von Presley
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Jessie Von Presley first discovered Guns N’ Roses when he was in 5th grade and he made a pact that he was going to move to L.A. and pursue his dream of starting a band on the Sunset Strip. He did just that, and moved to Los Angeles in 2003 and released a solo CD in 2004. In addition to pursuing a career as a solo artist, JVP took his love for music, guitars, and hot rods to create a product for guitarists that is cool, functional, and affordable.
Jessie Von Presley is the owner, designer, and builder behind FireWall Guitar Mounts, a devilishly styled guitar hanger system that puts guitars on display in a colorful frame of flames. Each FireWall Mount is designed to fit a specific guitar’s style and body, turning the guitar into a visually appealing piece of art. Currently JVP has FireWall Guitar Mounts to fit seven different style guitars, and is working on adding additional guitars to his line. See below to learn more about JVP and FireWall Guitar Mounts.
Metal Babe: When did you start FireWall Guitar Mount and how did you first get the idea?
Jessie Von Presley: I officially launched the (FireWall Guitar Mounts) web store at the beginning of this year, but the idea came a year or two prior, as it took a while to perfect the product and handle other aspects of setting up a company. The idea came to me when looking for a broom to clean up my shop. I had left it leaning right in the center of an upright bass’ shell face, an item I had recently picked up to make some sort of wall art out of. Then I adapted this upright bass front, to a guitar wall hanger and it really fit the curves of a Les Paul guitar nicely as it sort of hung behind it, framing the classical curves. Almost immediately, I began designing fire shapes to go behind specific guitars, starting with the Strat, Les Paul, and Flying V guitar styles. Fire was the obvious design choice for me, being a hot rodder and a rocker. I cut them from wood and felt strongly that they had to be upholstered in velvet for color options and to give a plush resting place for guitars, much like the inside of a guitar case.
Metal Babe: How many options are available?
Jessie Von Presley: There are currently seven FireWall designs, one for each of the following guitar styles; Stratocaster, Les Paul, SG, Telecaster, Explorer, Flying V, and Warlock. All of those are available in nine colors of textured velvet, which means 63 FireWalls to choose from.
Metal Babe: Wow! Do you do any custom designs?
Jessie Von Presley: As an artist, if a client were to bring me one of those guitars, the FireWall for it on the site is what I feel is the very best shape to compliment said guitar. When it comes to the type of material, I would highly recommend the client use crushed velvet as it is plush like the inside of a guitar case and there are so many color options, so I would say that all FireWalls are custom designs. There are 63 possible FireWalls to order, considering color options, and not to mention lefty’s. I plan to design FireWalls for additional guitar styles. So, if a customer wants one for a guitar not in the lineup yet, I’ll do that and then add it to the FireWall product line. However, if someone really wanted a FireWall in leather or something I’d consider that as well, but it would be much more expensive. My goal is to give people something cool, functional, and affordable.
Metal Babe: Tell me about your background in music. When did you first start playing guitar and singing?
Jessie Von Presley: I was about 20 years old when I got serious about playing guitar. I went to a few lessons and my instructor thought I wasn’t a guitar prodigy, but had great front man potential and offered me a gig singing in his industrial band. Our first show went horribly, so I continued to write songs, made a three-song demo and came to L.A. in 2003 at age 25. That’s when I got a lot more serious about music, released an album, played a heavy gig schedule, and built a fan base.
Metal Babe: Who are your greatest influences?
Jessie Von Presley: When I was in the 5th grade living in the rural Appalachian Mountains of Pound, VA. my new best friend and I had just discovered Guns n’ Roses as the “Welcome to the Jungle” video had recently validated our lives. We made a pact to get out driver’s licenses, quit school, and drive to L.A. in a badass custom car and start a rock n’ roll band on Sunset Strip. I don’t know what happened to my friend, but I’ve had a hell of a good time. Aside from G N’ R, Marilyn Manson is also an influence. I remember living in N.C .as a power distribution lineman, going to work the next day after his performance of “The Beautiful People” on the Video Music Awards in ’97 and being surprised it was business as usual. I thought the world had changed, but it was just me.
Metal Babe: That’s awesome. Tell me about your solo release, ‘A New Order for the Ages.’
Jessie Von Presley: ‘A New Order for the Ages’ is a twelve-track rock album I released in 2004. It’s a fine piece of work and holds up over time. I’m very proud of that album and I recommend checking it out on iTunes or maybe streaming on another site. It’s not the album I would make today, but half of the songs still make it into our set. My solo work is primarily what I’m known for. Since that album’s release I have put out a handful of singles and recorded enough material for another album, though performing songs regularly can be counter productive to producing more.
Metal Babe: You don’t seem to play out too often, but when you do, you make it count. Do you have any live performances in the works?
Jessie Von Presley: Thank you for saying so, I’m glad you were able to attend our recent show at the Viper Room.
Metal Babe: Me too. It was a memorable performance and a great night.
Jessie Von Presley: Shows have become an annual affair over the past few years. I think between 2004 and 2007 we were playing around L.A. as often as one to three times a month, and at one point were one of the top drawing bands. By 2009, I began to pursue other interests by quitting standup comedy and cutting music back to hobby status. I’m willing to play shows and don’t mind telling you I take it very serious when I step out on that stage, ready to destroy, but at this point I need a little ass kissing or some money on the table to get me up on that stage to show you what I’ve got. I have no shows on the horizon, but I’m open to offers.
Metal Babe: Why did you decide cut your music back to hobby status?
Jessie Von Presley: I don’t know that I ever really decided to cut playing back to a hobby. I just wanted to keep it fun, and for me less was more. Also, you know that saying that you should celebrate even small victories. I probably went a little overboard with that. There are other factors too… Such as turning 30, (six years ago) which was a cutoff point in my mind when I came here at 25. Then the economic crash of 2008 saw a lot of club attendance fall off. I also wanted to spend more time recording, and have managed to put out a few more singles, but shows just seem to get booked further and further apart.
Metal Babe: That makes sense. You also mentioned doing standup comedy earlier. Tell me about that.
Jessie Von Presley: I got into standup at the promoting of my then bass player, now business partner Ty, who strongly recommended I start writing down some of the things I say in conversation or between songs (which always got a good reaction). I put together five minutes and went to an open mic at The Comedy Store. My brand of shock humor became the talk of the night and I quickly came up with a 40-minute act and gigged around town for a couple years as I was still playing a full schedule with the band. Then one day I stopped being funny. I no longer related to the material, so I stopped.
Metal Babe: I doubt that… But it sounds like it was time for you to move on.
Who do you currently play live shows with?
Jessie Von Presley: The band is whoever I know that’s willing to answer my call after I’ve booked a gig. I surround myself with pro level talent in everything I do, so even though I may not see a band or members for a year, these are pro players that can listen to a CD to learn songs, walk in and nail it in one to two rehearsals, and then go kill it at a show. That’s what I expect from anyone I play with.
JVP is an unapologetic solo project, and while the members are important to me personally and professionally, I set this band up to function with a revolving door. When I moved here I observed what a short shelf life bands had here due to breakups and I didn’t want to put my vision at risk. I’ve had a few guitarists, drummers, and bass players and they all have been awesome and added their own magic to the mix, but everyone knows this is the Jessie Von Presley show.
Metal Babe: It’s good that you figured out exactly what you wanted to do and that you did it. What are you currently working on?
Jessie Von Presley: Right now I’m working to get a mobile FireWall store up and rolling, which will be in tow with my black flamed hot rod, so I can set up shop at various events and let people see what a FireWall looks like in person. I am also working on a few hot rod, classic car, and chopper projects right now.
Metal Babe: What is next for Jessie Von Presley?
Jessie Von Presley: On December 13th I’ll be at the MOONEYES Xmas Party Show & Drag 2014 which takes place at Irwindale Speedway. I’ll be at the FireWall booth all set up with guitars and amps if anyone feels like shredding. I’m also gonna be there with my T Bucket and will take it for some passes down the 8th mile drag strip. I hear this car show is a blast and very rock n’ roll.
Metal Babe: That sounds really fun. I’d love to come by for a ride! Thanks for you time Jessie! I love the FireWall mounts and wish you all the best with your business and you music career. Any final words you want to say to our readers?
Jessie Von Presley: I wanna thank you for including me in your publication and for supporting the L.A. music scene as you have. Also, if anyone local would like to see a FireWall in person, as photos don’t quite do justice, there is a red strat model hanging behind the counter at AMP Rehearsal in NoHo. Cascade and MDM rehearsal studios also have FireWalls on display.
Metal Babe: That’s great! I’ve seen the one at AMP.
Jessie Von Presley: Oh, I have another new development! After long trying to come up with a FireWall floor stand model that I’m happy with, I’ve finally come up with something. For an additional thirty dollars customers will have the option to add a stand so they can take their FireWall off the wall with their guitar, and stand them both on the floor for stage use. Not only do FireWall’s light up a stage, but these stands are more stable than standard guitar stands that hold tilted back guitars by the base. FireWall stands are perfectly vertical and hang by the headstock just as on the wall.
Metal Babe: Very cool. That sound like the perfect addition to your line! Thanks again for your time and the fun interview.