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I got the chance to pick James's brain about his current world tour that at the minimal level will be a eighteen month run that luckily his several years in the army prepared him for. He walked me through the four records that he has put out thus far in his career and even gave me a few reasons why Boston is just so special to him. I'll be checking out his live set tomorrow night in Boston with another recent interview we've done, Oh Honey. Hope to see you there!
To start soft, the three things you must have with you while on the road to survive?
Three things I must have? I need my band! To play with me on stage. That's what I'm going to be bringing for the Boston show!
Yeah, there's about five of us on stage. The other things I need? Well, we're on the "Moon Landing" world tour and we started in Shanghai on New Year's Eve. The production that we are taking around the world reflects that (the title of the album). In our arena shows, we have lunary modules on the stage. With the most incredible lights and lasers. A show that goes with the concept of the album. House of Blues is quite a bit of a smaller event. The Boston show will be about the music. I think production wise for that, we'll bring our flight suits so that's the equipment that we'll be bringing.
Like you said, you've been doing these huge arena shows and tomorrow is a bit smaller of a venue in Boston. Maybe how has the tour been so far and maybe what are you most looking forward to tomorrow?
Well I think what's amazing about this tour is the length of time we're playing. In Europe and the Uk and Canada. Of course coming to the states, what I'm looking forward to is actually that they're much smaller shows. That for me as a musician is really exciting because I can actually see the audience rather then look out and just see darkness. Just have that spotlight in my face. At a venue like House of Blues, I can really see what's going on and it will be much more intense as a result. So that's something that I'm really looking forward to.
I suppose the third thing I'd need on tour to survive that you had asked me is my tour bus because it's my home at the moment and it will be for many months.
Perfect, very needed! Then I know your new album "Moon Landing", your fourth album, only came out in October. It had been a while between records. How do you think it's been going over so far in your eyes?
Well, I suppose. My first album was just an innocent album that I put out and wasn't thinking about anything but the music. Then I had a song on it that exploded and it took me to the mainstream. The response to it was great but I wasn't enjoying it very much. So my second album is called "All The Lost Souls" and it was quite a dark unhappy album as a result. You could tell that by the title alone. For my third album, when I was embracing it and I was enjoying it and writing songs for my World Tour. Writing songs to fill the arenas that I was playing in. The album is called "Some Kind of Trouble" and it was great, great fun but I was definitely writing it with an audience in mind. I thought perhaps for this fourth album instead of writing it with an audience in mind, I'd write more personal songs. Not treating it as a job. Not treating it as being a pop star but treating myself as musician I started out being. So I took a trip back to where I was on this album. I went back to find the producer who recorded my first album, Tom Rothrock . From ten years ago. I went to Los Angeles, found him and he's the man who made this new album "Moon Landing" with me. I suppose what's funny is that because we haven't thought about trying to please the audience. We haven't thought about making it to suit these shows or fit the world tour, I think people can hear that it's more genuine. People connect with it more.
Then I know on Facebook, that "Moon Landing" is possibly the last record you'll make. It may just be a light hearted remark that you wrote but are there certain things that you want to happen during this tour for you to make a new album?
Do you know what? I spent a year making this album. A year locked away in a studio. That journey of making it with Tom and now I'm heading out on a tour which is at least eighteen months long. At this stage. Who knows what I'm going to do afterwards.
How do you prepare for such a lengthy tour, like maybe mentally?
Well I suppose you prepare for a tour by doing the army for six years beforehand (laughs).
Then I was reading your Twitter. I know that you call out the people who maybe try to diss you on twitter. How do you think that helps you as an artist? Like your image?
I don't really know how it helps me. You know with what people think of me. What I do know is I enjoy it. You know because Twitter is this amazing thing for like amusement stuff but the moment you start taking it a serious platform for people's opinions I think it gets its' meaning clouded. I saw people taking their opinions so seriously and my record label they want me to be on it. If they didn't, I probably wouldn't be on it. So what I'm doing is I'm just kind of laughing at the fact that some people think that their opinions hurt. Often thinking it's important. It's not important so I'm just messing around for fun. I don't know what it does for anyone else but I know that for me it's something I find doing entertaining.
Perfect then I wanted to ask you, obviously you're been doing this for so long. The first album for you came out ten years ago. Maybe advice to people just starting, maybe even your openers Oh Honey who are on their first true large room tour.
I mean it's been great fun having Oh Honey out. This is their first kind of tour. I think having been in the job for awhile, I understand kind of the ups and the downs of going to different places and different cities and different countries. We've just been up in Canada playing the Bell Centre in Montreal and The Coliseum in Quebec City and now it's time to come down to the US and playing in much, much smaller rooms. The change in size, the change in audience, the change in energy, the change in character from city to city. It's what keeps it going really because getting up on stage and playing the same songs every night is tiring. Boston has it's own character and is a really exciting place for us to come to. So that's probably what I'm looking forward to most. It's where I recorded my single off this album. The song called "Bonfire Heart". I wrote and recorded it with Ryan Tedder who is the lead singer of OneRepublic. We recorded it in Boston!
Then to end it off, I wanted to ask you the first concert that you yourself can remember going to?
The first concert I ever went to, I think it was probably an Elton John concert actually. I haven't really been to that many concerts. Really didn't have the time or the money to go to many concerts. I went to that Elton John concert very early on when my management picked me up because that management firm is owned by Elton John. He's a great supporter of music. They picked me up and supported me and even after that, I found myself touring with him as his support act for Europe, through the UK and to South America.