Jelusick, the band formed around singer and keyboard player Dino Jelusick, have today released their debut album, Follow The Blind Man. MetalTalk’s Taylor Cameron spoke to Dino to find out more about the “debut album that has been waiting for a long time to finally come to life.”
Jelusick – Follow The Blind Man (Deko Entertainment)
Release Date: 29 September 2023
Interview: Taylor Cameron
Listening to the singles released from Follow The Blind Man so far, they demonstrate a wide range of rock genres, each track containing something different and exciting. Did Dino have any albums or bands in particular that he was listening to at the time of creating the album that helped form it sonically?
“That’s a great question,” Dino says. “Reign Of Vultures was written in 2017. I wasn’t really influenced by anyone, which I think is great. Acid Rain, a track that hasn’t been released as a single, was kind of influenced by Black Label Society. Fly High Again has a Kings X meets Korn meets Aerosmith vibe.
“Ballads come very naturally. Some will say The Great Divide sounds like Nevermore, and some will say it sounds like Bon Jovi. People hear different things. Chaos Master was pretty much influenced by Alice In Chains. The ending of the song is kind of Pantera, and the chord progression is kind of Muse in my mind.
“These are the artists that came to my mind when you asked me, but I didn’t really go for any certain influences. I just kept things very honest.”
The fourth single released, The Great Divide, is a power ballad with deep and meaningful lyrics. I ask if writing ballads with personal connections is easier than the hard rock tracks. “I think every song should be a real-life story or experience,” Dino says. “Ballads can often turn out cheesy for the sake of getting a female audience. However, The Great Divide is truly a very honest song.
“Even when we shot the video, the guys from the band started hearing the song and were like ‘Oh shit, these lyrics are very honest.’ I feel the same way writing everything, to be honest. It has to be you. A very cool person from the industry once told me that, and I’ll never forget it. I like writing all different types of songs. I don’t have any preference.”
It has been five years since Animal Drive released Bite, and Dino says that Jelusick is “a totally different story.” Does Dino feel he has grown musically in that time? “Songwriting-wise, it goes in a different direction,” he says. “Production-wise, it’s more organic and I think we all grew.
“It’s a different band. Only me and [guitarist Ivan] Keller carried over from Animal Drive. We have a new bass player [Luka Broderick] and new drummer [Mario Lepoglavec]. They brought in something new. Songwriting is more experimental, and nothing is safe. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
Dino describes Follow The Blind Man as a diverse record. “It has a lot of different subgenres in it,” he says. “The album starts kind of proggy and then develops into more epic ballad kind of stuff. There’s faster, up tempo, hard rock stuff, and the album ends with an acoustic piano ballad.
“There’s a lot of things going on, on the record and I’m happy it’s finally coming out because it was written back in 2019 and it was recorded in 2019. We re-recorded the whole record and fixed some stuff after we finished the court case with Frontiers Records.”
If you liked the singles released so far, then Dino says you are in for a treat. “I think the best stuff on the album is the stuff that hasn’t been released as singles,” he says. “My favourite songs are the ones that are being released when the album is. Hopefully, the people feel the same.”
In 2021, Dino joined the mighty Whitesnake and had the opportunity to tour with them last year. What was that experience like for him getting work with someone like David Coverdale, who is such a legend?
“Actually, I just found out that I’ll be joining another legend in a month or so,” Dino says. “I’ll post about it soon, but I cannot say who that is yet. David is my all-time favourite singer. It was amazing to be a part of his legacy and to be with him on his last tour ever. I’m really blessed to be a part of his life in general. I loved every second of touring with Whitesnake.”
He started performing at a very young age, winning Junior Eurovision at the age of eleven. We asked if starting out so early has had its advantages or disadvantages. “Kids that start early, that I know of, rarely progress and go anywhere,” Dino says. “Being able to do what I do now with this voice is insane. Nobody thought I would be a kid with that voice and that it would turn into this.
“There was a lot of work and commitment and time spent to get to this point. I felt like there was a disadvantage in Croatia because everybody knew me as a kid. It was hard to prove to them that I’m a rock guy, but I don’t really care about that anymore.
“I think I’ve proved everything I had to do. Once you get to a certain point, you gotta keep that level and just keep writing. I think writing is the most important thing. The singing has to be great and consistent, but great writing is the key.
“Comfort zone is the worst thing you can be attached to. You always have to explore. Rebrand your singing and your playing. You always have to rebuild it all over again, but leave the core. Move forward and just keep doing new things, but incorporate what you already know.” To me, this is sound advice. As a photographer, I kind of relate to that on some levels where I experiment with my editing and techniques.
Throughout his career, Dino has had the opportunity to work with a lot of musicians, such as Jeff Scott Soto and George Lynch, among others. Is there anyone he has not had the opportunity to work with yet that he would like to in the future?
“Every time I put out a name, I end up working with that name,” he smiles. “I once said Steve Vai, and I got to play with him while in Whitesnake at GrasPop in 2022. Nuno Bettencourt would be my pick. I love Extreme, I love Nuno very much. I would also love to finally play with [Mike] Portnoy live. Portnoy and I have known each other for a while, and we’ve never gotten to like jam on the same stage. I would love to play with Portnoy.”
Jelusick has played a fair amount of shows throughout Europe this year. Does he have any plans for bringing the band on tour over in North America or among other countries around the world in the future?
“Absolutely, that’s the main goal,” Dino says. “America is the main goal, to be honest with you. Once we break that, you know, the sky’s the limit. Hopefully, first, we’re gonna do the Monsters Of Rock Cruise, and then we can go from there. The problem is working permits. The US has its own rules, so it’s not that easy for bands from Europe to play there.”
Top Five ’80s Desert Island Albums
“Tesla Mechanical Resonance is one. I’ll go with Dio Dream Evil. I’ll go with 1987 from Whitesnake, New Jersey from Bon Jovi, and I’ll take Van Halen OU812.
Jelusick, Follow The Blind Man, is out today. The album can be streamed from here.
Follow the Blind Man is also available on CD and limited-edition vinyl. Order your copy now and get a limited-edition bundle while supplies last. More details are available here.