Imagine haunting melodies, powerful rhythms and beautiful vocals all woven together over poignant lyrics. There you have James Perry. We had a chance to speak with him regarding his newest work, where it all came from and where it’s all going. Here is what he had to say.
1. First of all, love your stuff. The fans at HorrorAddicts love it too. The first I notice in your bio is that you have two projects going on: your solo project and an industrial band called Deathline International. What is the story behind both of these projects? How did they come to be?
Thank you! Well, I haven’t been with Deathline from the very beginning, but I can tell you about how I got involved in the band. About 8 years ago they were preparing to do a short tour, but one member was unable to get the time off work, so my friend Eric Gottesman, who was playing guitar and percussion for them at the time, recommended me. Even though it was a short term thing I took it very seriously and worked very hard to learn the songs and do the best I could. And now, 8 years later, I’m still playing with them! And incidentally, the guy I filled in for is actually back in the band. We’ve been working on new material for some time now and we contributed a track to the “Electronic Saviors” compilation on Metropolis Records. Hopefully we’ll have more new stuff out there soon.
As for my solo stuff, well… I enjoy the band dynamic in Deathline and working with a team, but I also like to be able to do my own thing and totally be the boss, you know? And there are certain things I’d like to express on my own, and sides of my musical personality that just don’t make sense with Deathline.
2. Your first solo album was recorded as a National Solo Album Month project, in which an artist totally self-produces an album they wrote in one month. What was that experience like?
Writing and recording an album all by oneself in one month is crazy! At first, I just dinked around in the studio for a few days, but I had to get myself focused pretty quick to get something together in that amount of time. So I set some loose boundaries for the project in terms of subject matter and style, and went for it. It was a great way to write because that time pressure really made me focus and I wrote so much stuff in so short a time. Ultimately, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a great way to write an album, but not the way to record an album, at least not for me. It sounds pretty rushed and raw, and it was. I think it could have turned out a lot better with some more development.
3. Your album “Now You’re Gone” was originally intended as a National Solo Album Month project but then you changed your mind? Why is that and are you glad you didn’t release it that way?
Yeah, originally “Now You’re Gone” was going to be a NaSoAlMo project, and I pretty much had a “finished album” by the end of the month. But I decided that what I was working on was just too good and too important to me to rush. I also decided that while it was very much a James Perry project, I really wanted to get some other people contributing to it. I also ended up writing quite a few more songs after the first month was over, including some of the best stuff on the album like “Dreaming of You” and “Slipping Away Again”.
4. Tell us a little more about “Now You’re Gone.”
“Now You’re Gone” is a 100% autobiographical concept album about the end of a relationship I was in a few years ago. I call it a “concept album” because the entire thing is about the same subject, and I very much meant for it to be listened to in order, beginning to end, even though I’d like to think most of the songs stand on their own. For the most part, it’s written from the perspective of me during the time that the relationship was falling apart and my life was going crazy, except for the last track, which was me looking back. It’s not a “rock opera” and I cringe when people use that term to describe my album because it makes me think of Dennis DeYoung!
5. You worked with many great musicians on that album. What was that like?
I did! It was really wonderful and a lot of fun. I loved being able to be the boss and be a control freak about the whole thing, but also make use of my talented friends to help me do things I either couldn’t do on my own, or that I knew they could do better. And even though I remained fully in charge, I also gave my guests some leeway and sometimes they surprised me with the cool stuff they came up with. It’s also really easy to get tunnel vision when working on things by myself, so an outsider perspective once in awhile really helped things along. It’s good to get a blunt assessment from someone I trust not to bullshit me or think “it’s great” just because they’re so impressed that I can actually write a song.
6. I saw your music video for the song, “Waiting.” Fabulous and congratulations on your first music video! What was that experience like and are you happy with how it turned out?
Thank you! It was really cool. Mareesa Stertz did a fabulous job. I really lucked out. I was hanging out with my friend Corinne after she did her vocal parts on “Waiting” and I casually mentioned that I was interested in getting a music video made, and she happened to know just the person! Mareesa and her crew worked very hard, and it was definitely an interesting, fun experience. At first, I thought of the video as a promotional tool to help get the word out about my music, but as the process went on, I came to see it as a really cool piece of art in its own right that I commissioned and contributed to.
7. What are your musical inspirations?
Again, “Now You’re Gone” is totally autobiographical. It was just something I had to get out. I tend to write about things I’m feeling and things that frustrate me. When I’m happy I don’t write music very much, and especially not lyrics!
8. Who would you compare your sound to, or what other bands would you say are an inspiration to your sound?
My biggest musical inspiration and role model is Devin Townsend. I think he’s just great. He just has such a perfect blend of technical brilliance and passion, progressive songwriting that still ROCKS and is catchy as hell. I finally got to see him live recently and my respect for him as a musician went up that much more. He’s a great artist but also fully realized that ultimately, he’s an entertainer and we go to shows and listen to music to feel something and have a good time, and he fully embraces that.
Some other big influences on my musical development and sound are Depeche Mode, Material Issue, Type O Negative, Jesu, Opeth, the Ramones, the New York Dolls, Gary Numan… I could go on and on!
9. Out of every album you’ve done, what is your favorite if you had to pick?
Definitely “Now You’re Gone”, although I’d like to think I’m capable of doing better. Only time will tell!
10. What’s next for you?
I’ve got a few songs and covers I’d really like to get recorded and release as an EP. Beyond that, it’s hard to say. I’ll have to see how and when inspiration strikes. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I can’t force myself to write, and I just don’t feel like right now is the time. I just might try that National Solo Album Month thing again though, so you never know! I’ve been doing some acoustic shows in support of “Now You’re Gone”, but I’m just in a different place now in my life than I was when I wrote and recorded those songs. I’m “over it”, so to speak.
We here are HorrorAddicts are definitely NOT over it! We will look forward hungrily to what delectable morsels James brings us next.