Interview: Ian James
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
At a super young age music was my entertainment from my parents record collection. They always had an album spinning or the FM dial was on in the car, and they were frequent concert-goers. I had couple of uncles who played drums in bands which was inspiring, but when my teenage neighbor got an electric guitar for her birthday, I knew then that all I wanted out of life is music. Not sure what I would be doing if it wasn’t for music, I’d like to think writing or some other art form would occupy my time.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Promoting other musicians, especially solo bedroom artists who have day jobs but are really passionate about their musical hobbies and may not have the time to dedicate to it full time. There are an amazing amount of talented people who want to be heard and should be. Seeing their successes, no matter how big or small is exciting, especially if I had a role in it. Hearing others ideas always sparks creativity in me, because as a solo artist I only have myself for input on a song or album, where as groups who write together, have more ideas to work with from everything to writing and performing a song but also mixing and producing. A solo artist is usually on their own.
How long has your band been around?
I’ve been releasing albums since 2005
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I’m from Lowell MA, I’m not sure that my locale has influenced it directly but I do love the amount of great talent and creativity in this area., There is a great scene with a lot of acceptance and openness here which is appreciated,
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Ian James is kinda common I guess, there are several other musicians working under this name which becomes confusing for fans, but I find a lot of security in this name and I have grown it to where I believe I’m the most well known “Ian James” who is making music.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I’ll never forget my first show in 1991 when I was 14 years old. I played my Highschool talent show.. I walked onto the stage in front of 500 people, dressed head to toe in hippie clothes from the 60’s, Tie Die poncho, home made jeans that my mom stitched, black suede knee high fringed moccasins, and a head band like Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. I jammed a medley of three riffs is was working on, and watching as the people in the front row covered their ears from the loud volume. I ended with a version of the Star-Spangled Banner capped off by playing a portion of it with my teeth. Never since have I had that much confidence and command on stage, it’s a dragon I chase til this day.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
The Middle East in Cambridge MA was a bucket list venue that I’ve played a couple times as bass player in the band Chanticlear. Other places like Jaques Cabaret, The Abbey Lounge, Opus in Salem MA, The Midway Café in JP. The Firehouse in Providence. In the 90’s I was super close to playing CBGB’s before they closed down. That would have been epic.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Hmmm. A mixed lineup of genres for sure… Ian James, The Elovaters, The Meters, and Tommy Guerrero
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Do what it is that you love regardless of how popular it is at the time… styles change, what’s hot today might not be tomorrow so don’t follow trends, set them. Be who you want to be and be proud of yourself. Competition for audiences is fierce and there ups and downs along the journey don’t focus too much on either of them, stay grounded and balanced.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
As someone who tries not live with regrets this is a tough one, but I’d say practice more, noodle more keep that guitar in your hands at all times and don’t let yourself be distracted.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“It’s not Everyday” from my 2013 album Human Casualty album. It’s about making the most of the time with the people we love, because one day they’ll or we’ll be gone.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“Take Me Home”
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I typically write songs from the ground up with no preconceived ideas. Drums first then bass… then I’ll have an idea where I want to go with the rest of the song.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Hope but also nostalgia and pain. Things we all feel.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
No its just me, if I start arguing with myself, lock me up please.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
This new album Peregrination is my big focus right now, but more tracks are already underway in the studio and hopefully some more collaborations down the road.