Wednesday, 8 October 2014

James Stevenson Interview

Back in July I caught up with James in an interview that was going to focus mainly around the International Swingers album and Pledge Music campaign. As the launch of the Pledge was delayed we held back on the interview...until now! 

The Cult stint is turning out to be longer than initially expected, what are the current plans and is it likely to extend beyond The Electric dates?
Hi Rob – well yeah it has done. The Electric 13 dates ended last December – and I’ve been doing all the gigs since then.

Has there been any talk to a follow up to 2012s “Choice Of Weapon” album?
Ian and Billy are working on new material as we speak I believe.

You’ve played some huge dates on this tour so far including the Coachella Festival, what are your stand out moments?
The two nights at The Roundhouse in London were fantastic. But its all good. I love playing with The Cult. Coachella has grown into something much bigger than it was. It sells out before the music line-up is announced – that tells me the music has become secondary which I think is a shame.

You managed to slip in the majority of the recent Chelsea tour baring a couple of dates that conflicted with your Cult commitments, are you likely to be able to appear on the upcoming album and when are the sessions planned to start?
In December. Yes – I’m sure I’ll be on it. I’m going to brighton to do some writing with Gene this weekend! Although most of it’s written already.

How has it been playing with The Rebelles recently?
Well to be honest the last thing I needed was another set going round in my head! But their guitarist couldn’t do two shows so I had to help them out.

Has Elizabeth managed to get any of her Westworld hits into the set yet?
LOL – no not yet.

3 quarters of the Swingers are to be on the new Rebelles single, will you be on the album too and how was recording in Mick Jones’ studio?
Yeah – there seems to be a lot of cross-interaction with all the band’s I’m in – just look at all the connections between Gene Loves Jezebel. The Cult, The Alarm and The Mission! Love working at Mick’s – Mick’s a genuine genius in my opinion – and he loves The Rebelles.

Given their style of reworking punk classics what tracks in your own catalogue do you think would suit that kind of makeover and arrangement?
I think they could do a great version of Living In The Urban UK by Chelsea

The pledge campaign for the debut International Swingers album starts at the beginning of August at one time you seemed opposed to going the crowd funding route, what changed your mind?
Actually we’re a couple of months late – just launching now. Someone said to me you have to view it as pre-sales. The music industry has changed out of all recognition – labels haven’t got the money to fund artists anymore. When I was just out with The Cult I really enjoyed some of the opening bands – then it dawned on me that because of how it’s all gone most people will never have a chance to see or hear those bands – it really is a shame.

You’ve been doing some sessions as and when you can all get together, how are things shaping up and how much more recording needs to be completed?
Quite a lot – everyone’s so busy doing other things all the time – the logistics can be a nightmare! But I feel we’ve got some great songs – can’t wait to get it finished.

Has the track listing been finalised yet and if so will the album include any of the live set and the tracks already previewed on the web site?
There’s quite a few new songs that were never on the site and that we’ve never played live. It’s more or less finalised – but things change all the time as you know – especially with bands.

Can you let us know what sort of rewards are planned for the pledge campaign or are you sworn to secrecy?
You can read all about it right here!

If all goes well what are your expectations for the campaign and what will it allow you to do?
Well really just to get our music out there – the stuff labels used to do in the old days.

Have you discussed stretch targets at all?
Erm – sorry to be ignorant – what are they? (LOL)

Were there any rewards that were suggested that got vetoed for being too outrageous?
No – outrageous is good.

Daniel Ash is offering a bike trip with him as part of his Pledge campaign where the bidder gets to keep his 1992 Heritage Softail HD (admittedly for $45,000!) - are you tempted to part with any of your bikes?

No. That's a lot of money for a Harley!
What’s the proposed date for the albums release?
Probably Jan 2015

Will it be possible to tour to support it and if so when would this likely to be?
Yes we really want to. As long as The Pistols, The Cult and Blondie stay quiet! We’d like to play live more. The Lexington show we did last year in London was one of my favourites.

Has there been any talk about The International Swingers appearing at next years Gathering or is that not something that would interest you?
I’m actually considering doing a James Stevenson set at The Gathering – although I’m very nervous about it. Jules Peters thinks when non-Alarm related bands play at The Gathering the fans don’t really like it – and I think she’s right on that one.

It’s been very quiet on The Alarm front this year so far with Mike out on the very successful “Declaration” tour. Has there been any discussions yet about when the band will come back together to either record or for live dates?
Not really. Looks like The gathering will be the next thing – so that’s a year between gigs! And now Mike’s doing a solo Strength outing too next year. I don’t blame him at all. But when we do some actual Alarm dates – hopefully sometime next year I’m sure because of our absence it will be a big bang.

Lastly with this being another whirlwind year have you had a chance to take in the reaction to your solo debut “Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over”?
Well it’s had amazing reviews. I’m very proud of it – hopefully it’s the beginning of something bigger.

Has it met your expectations and have you any plans to start on a follow up just yet?
Well I’d have liked more around it in the US – but that might be about to happen. There will definitely be another album – hopefully in 2015

Before we go it seems quiet on the Gene Loves Jezabel front currently with Jay & Peter both lining up the second Ugly Buggs release. Any news you can share on what we can expect next?

I thought their Summertime single, and the video, were fantastic. I’m hoping Jay will do my video for Suzi’s Problem from my album that I’m planning. Have you seen the one I did for Go Mister! on Youtube? As far as GLJ who knows. We’ve talked about a new album – and dates. But Jay moves around the world more than anyone I know……

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