Interview with Cody James
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Hello! I'd just like to start by saying thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk with you today. I had a natural gravitation towards music. My family has stories of me standing in front of the speakers in my childhood home and head-banging to anything that came out. This is before my memory really started forming. At 5 or 6 I discovered my first musical heroes; The Doors, Nirvana, and Kiss. From then on, I was going to be a 'rock star'. I got my first guitar as a gift from my father on Christmas Day, 1996. I was seven years old. It was the first guitar I had ever seen and it was the only thing I cared about. If I had not gotten into music? That's a thought I have never had. Honestly, I don't know. Probably some monotonous day job doing anything.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I'm not playing music I like to be enjoying my life in any way I can. I love being in nature. I really like being in the forest and just soaking it all in. I love to hang with my wife and kids, we go all over the place and do fun things. I really like to meditate, exercise, and stretch. I thing doing all of these things clears my mind and keeps me grounded. My artist brain is naturally wild and crazy, with no urge for structure, and it's easy to bounce around and eventually end up burning out. Keeping my mind clear, flexible, and strong is the best way to keep my artist mentality in check and as efficient as possible. Otherwise I end up with too much noise in my mind and I struggle to focus.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I'm from Oshkosh, WI. I think it has influenced my music in that it's made me want to not fit in with what our local culture promotes. Wisconsin is the beer and cheese state, so you can imagine how that seeps into the subconscious of the general population. I quit drinking in 2020 for personal reasons, which goes directly against one of the biggest proponents of working class midwestern life. I've always sort of been out of step with the natural way of life here. My music is pop/rock with heavy influences of jazz and blues, while some of the biggest genres here are bluegrass and country. I have no problem with how people want to live - but clearly, I'm not one to just go along with what's happening because 'thats what we do'.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
It's my name! Cody James. James is my middle name. It means a lot to me !
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I'll always remember my very first show when I was 14. It was my first band, we were a punk band and we were doing all covers. I was singing and playing bass. I was nervous to sing in front of people, but also nervous because I was going to be swearing in front of my parents for the first time, haha! The final show of my previous band was pretty crazy. We were one of the biggest bands to ever come out of my town. We had toured the country and put two records out. Our final show was in July of 2019, and it was a doozy. There club was jam packed. We drove this cool black van around, and someone made a paper mache copy which was getting thrown everywhere and hitting us in the face as were playing. People were jumping off the stage. It was insane.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I really like playing the Uncommon Ground venues in Chicago, they're very intimate and sound amazing. I had a great time at Mr Small's in Pittsburgh last time I was there. Barley Street in Omaha was cool, but unfortunately is now gone. It'd be cool to play at 7th Street in Minneapolis or Planet Ant in Detroit.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I'd honestly probably just want my friends on the bill so we could hang out, haha! Aside from that, it'd be cool to play with Jordan Mackampa and then let's have John Mayer headline.
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?
Keep going. Never stop. Just keep doing it and keep working at it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Have fun, enjoy your life. Do your best every day.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Right now, it's probably 'Everything In Me'. That song came out of a really hard period of my life and it's all about going within to find out who you are. That's something I still do every day. I'm really proud of the song, and production, and the release as a whole.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I really like playing "Come Down For Air", "Tear The Sky" and "Fade Away". I always get lost the most in those songs and they have great energy. Since I don't have that much music released at this point, I get a lot of people asking me to play my cover of "Come Together" by The Beatles. It's a great way to close the set!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Since it's all me right now, I'm the one doing everything. Literally, everything. Usually when I'm coming up with something it's a new guitar part or maybe a vocal melody that I'll start building off of. Sometimes it's like the song is complete and was just waiting for me to sing it, others it can take a little more coercing. I like to write a little every single day. I find that keeps creative juices flowing and keeps me hovering in that mode. That also allows me to go through and piece things together that I had written on separate occasions. It's really all about consistency.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My biggest message is we are capable of anything. We are capable of creating our own problems, we are capable of solving our own problems. I often encourage listeners to try to level themselves up in life. It can be anything. Breaking down internal walls that we all build around ourselves. Rising up above adversity. I just want people to feel good.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I have disagreements with myself all the time and I'm not sure any of them ever really get resolved 😹. In all honesty, I try not to get too hung up on things. It's so easy to get caught in a perfectionist mindset or to be indecisive, but the best course is to just make a decision and move on. Disagreements or perfectionism can be a form of procrastination.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My main plans include writing, recording, and releasing new music and touring! I'm releasing this next single on September 30th, called "Everything In Me" with The Animal Farm which is now up for presave! After that, we have plans for a few more singles throughout the next few months. Before the year is up, I'll have live shows in Nashville, Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, and everywhere else in between!