10/01/04: Recently, we sat down with James Lomenzo at the Alpine Valley, Wisconsin show. James has recorded and toured with some of the biggest names in rock and it was truly an honor to hang out with him. We got to hear road stories and eat some serious ‘Barbecue Label Society’ BBQ. We also got a little insight into the recording sessions for Hangover Music Volume VI and his work on ‘Pride & Glory’ and ‘Book of Shadows.’ Sit back and enjoy.
World Wide: All right, James, first of all thank you for sitting down with us, this is really cool.
James: It’s always my pleasure to sit down.
WW: So how’s your family doing?
James: They’re doing absolutely wonderful; I just spoke to them the other day. They’ve got a big sleepover going on back at the house, my wife and all of her friends and the kids.
WW: Sounds good, so I recently read that you’re an artist? Is that more of a hobby or something that you’ve always wanted to do on the side?
James: It’s always amused me when people call musicians ‘artists.’ It’s like “Well, I didn’t bring my paint brush….oh Okay, THAT…Okay” But no, actually I’m what you’d call a graphic artist, and the only reason I’m even capable of doing that is because of using computers and programs like Photoshop, and I actually spent a while doing work on the side. A friend of mine asked me while I was dabbling with my computer back in the 80s, he goes “Do you think you could put together an album cover for me?” I said, “Well I don’t know, let me see how you do it”. So it gave me the impetus to start following through the process. (At this point Zakk starts to howl from the back window of the bus) and so eventually, I actually managed to get a grip on the whole process (Laughs all around as Zakk starts his crazy chatter - “Laka laka chaaaaa”) ...and so eventually, it became a profession. Actually, I stopped playing bass for about 5 years after Slash’s Snakepit due to a whole amalgamation of problems, and that’s what I did for a living. I worked for Disney, I worked independently with people, and I did a lot of Photoshop work, and I think – Let me back up one more time, and I started learning how to do that stuff because I was grounded in photography. I took photography courses in high school and then became a photographer.
WW: Some artists, well… artists…
James: (Laughs) The one’s with the paint brushes?
WW: …right, they sell their work, have you ever gone to a gallery and had a show or made what you do available to the public?
James: No, I don’t do that sort of artwork, I do commercial artwork, I have to be commissioned to do a job, and then I can follow it through. So to answer your question, I’m not an artist, I’m a bass player.
WW: Has your daughter continued to follow her art or has she moved on to playing the bass?
James: No she’s totally into art, she could care less about the bass. She really wants to be a cartoonist right now…and a drummer. She wants to play drums. We went to go visit Brian Tichy about 6 months ago and we stopped by his place. She’s always been smitten with him since she was a little thing – he’s got that charm you know, but anyway, he let her sit down at his kit and after that, daddy’s bass guitars may as well be in the fuckin’ attic. At this point, she couldn’t care less.
WW: So welcome back to playing with Zakk…
James: It’s good to be black. (Laughs)
WW: …not all the fans...
James: Oh, back, I’m sorry. (Laughs)
WW: Not all the fans know you two have a history together.
James: We spent a number of years in jail…
WW: How did you originally get to know Zakk?
James: Okay, the short side of the story is, I met Zakk initially at a promotional party for Ozzy Osbourne. I think Ozzy had sold a million records of ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ so he had a party/bash in Manhattan. White Lion had already been on tour for a year, and our publicist called up and said “Come on down and spend some time with the Ozzy thing and shake some hands – and we were trying to get on the tour this year by the way.” So we went around there and had a good time hanging out. Zakk walks into the room and I had seen him in the magazines, it must have been Metal Edge or something like that, and I remember just being taken by how tall he was. So I made some reference to his size and he kinda cocked back and he was ready to hit me like “What the fuck are you talking about?” …So just before he laid me out, and God knows, I’d be an easy target after about 4 or 5 beers at that party, a publicist comes by and throws us all together and says “Quick picture, Okay?” And so we end up just taking this picture with 3 or 4 other guys right next to each other, and we waffled off and so that was it. Flash forward to the Ozzy Osbourne tour – so I guess it all worked out in the end and we just hit it off. We started hanging and drinking beers and talking and we started going out to clubs after the shows and jamming with ! bands and stuff and it just took off from there. We just became friends.
WW: Is that how Lynyrd Skynhead came about? From you guys just going out to jam?
James: Absolutely, yeah, Lynyrd Skynhead was an offshoot of that Ozzy Osbourne tour. We hung out and I remember he was doing ‘No More Tears’ and we spent a lot of time hanging out doing stuff like that. And then just as an alter activity, or just an excuse to go out to clubs and drink for free. We put together this thing called Lynyrd Skynhead, which was mostly all of the songs that we loved doing. We mutually admired all these other bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Mountain…all those bands. We just covered anything we could think of.
WW: When you guys were playing with Lynyrd Skynhead did you ever have plans or think that you’d end up getting a deal with Geffen and eventually become Pride & Glory?
James: No, not at all, it was truly just a little vacation for us. Like going bowling with your friends. (Laughs) That’s what we did. So it was like “What are you doing next Friday night? I called up the Coconut Teaser, they’ll have us.” It was like “All right let’s go - pack up your bowling ball and let’s go”,
WW: ‘Pride & Glory’ was released in 1994…
James: Thank you for the memory…Okay
WW: …and you toured the World supporting it. You played the Donnington Festival, Europe, and the US. Why don’t you think the band ended up making a second album?
James: Well, because the truth of the matter is, I think Geffen was changing their structure and they lost interest in following through with where we were at. That’s the bottom line. That’s actually what happened.
WW: That’s a shame.
James: Yeah, without a doubt, I agree.
WW: P&G was probably one of the best three pieces ever, up there with ZZ Top in my opinion
James: Thank you for that. We had a great time making that stuff. I mean that was bowling in a professional studio. We were basically carrying on the concept only we had better material, not better material but different material. You know, we had our own material.
WW: So when you guys went in to record was it more free session jams recorded in a live room?
James: No, we actually - half of that music we worked up back in LA because we needed to do that to play for the record companies to show them what they were paying for - so half of that thing was definitely worked out. I remember we worked on ‘Losing Your Mind’ for a while and maybe ‘Machine Gun Man’. I think we might have practiced that up. I have some videos somewhere of us actually practicing somewhere…
WW: You’ll have to let us get a hold of those.
James: Maybe someday, (laughs) let’s see how the rest of the interview goes. (More laughs)
WW: All right, so you have to have had some memorable Pride & Glory moments on tour.
James: You know what? It’s mostly; I hate to say it’s mostly a blur. I remember being in Norway on a 6 ft tall Scandinavian broad’s shoulders jamming with Zakk as he sat on somebody else’s shoulders. I don’t know. I feel sorry for whoever that was. But I remember us traveling. I mean we did it low budget man; I can’t even believe we’re still alive! We traveled in a Volkswagen van through Europe when we did that Donnington Festival and all that stuff.
WW: (Laughs) A Volkswagen van?
James: Yeah, a Volkswagen van, dude. Not like the old 60’s Microbus, but you know, one of the ones you see out there now.
WW: The Vanagon.
James: The little Vanagon with our bags in the back. I remember I always get a kick out of when we’d get off the stage and there’d be all these tour buses piled up at the festivals we played and there’d be a little white van there at the end with the trailer behind it.
WW: (Laughs) with beer cans spilling out the side.
James: No, we never spilled! (Laughs)
WW: So the song ‘Hate your Guts’ off of ‘Pride & Glory’…
James: I don’t know who it’s about.
WW: Okay, so…
James: I really do, but I’d never tell. (Laughs)
WW: I’ve heard that it was written for Greg D’Angelo, the former White Lion drummer that was with you guys during Lynyrd Skynhead…
James: Never heard of the guy.
WW: Okay…curly hair…
James: (Laughs) Doesn’t ring a bell.
WW: …from Brooklyn…
James: I know Brooklyn…
WW: All right…whatever happened to Greg your former band mate?
James: You mean the guy I’ve never heard of?
James: Oh, I don’t know…he’s faded into the wallpaper and I have not heard from him in forever and that’s probably adequate.
WW: So just out of curiosity, I’ve heard you talk about Vito and Mike, what are your thoughts on the White Lion reunion?
James: Yeah, I was hoping that it would work. Not just for me, I really couldn’t do it because we were already making plans with Zakk to come out here this summer…and speak with you, in fact.
WW: Well, thanks.
James: But no, the problem was that Vito wouldn’t do it, and I thought that was going to be really tough because when I played with Dave for the past four years, I ran into a lot of White Lion fans and I was really getting into the notion of doing it. It was really cool to meet them all and they all had the same question. “It’d be great to see White Lion, what about it?” I was always say, “I’d be a part of it, you know if I weren’t playing with Dave and we can get the other guys together”. But the one thing I realized is you really need to have Vito up there with Mike. You know? …And I know Vito just does not want to do it. He doesn’t want to budge on it.
WW: So after P&G came to an end, you went in the studio with …
James: Wait, wait, wait…you’re saying P&G ended?
WW: Uh, no….well they aren’t playing today.
James: Oh sorry. (Laughs) Brainfart, I’ll be right with you…
WW: …so you went in the studio to record ‘Ozzmosis’?
James: Absolutely, we recorded that whole entire album, rehearsed it up - it was a great experience. Worked on the tunes out in Tahoe. Studio called Grammy’s and then recorded the whole thing with the same guys that did “No More Tears” and then Michael Wagener mixed it….and whatever happened to it?
WW: I don’t know.
James: Well let me tell you what happened to it. (Laughs) Okay?
WW: Tell us a little bit of the history.
James: I was sitting in the studio as Michael Wagener (who is a great friend of mine because we used to do all of the White Lion work together)…he was mixing it and I thought it was sounding stunning, you know? And the president of the company, it might have been Epic, walks in to the studio. I was there that very day as he listened to a few tunes. He kinda shook his head and he turned around to someone in the room and said “No, this isn’t it - this isn’t what I’m looking for.” Apparently what he wanted was for it to sound more like the grunge bands that were going on. So, you know, to my horror…not really - but as things turned around they ended up re-recording it using Geezer Butler and Dean Castronovo. They re-recorded the whole thing and I heard the album after it came out and my God, it’s verbatim! But…there is some of my bass playing on there and I was delighted to hear it. There are some harmonic things on there. A lot of the stuff that Geezer did, and this isn’t to besmirch him because he’s my idol, you know, but he’s playing a lot of the stuff I just played. I mean a lot of little turnarounds and stuff that I would do, he just kind of replaced it. I took that as a real compliment that he would even take the time to listen to it and to put the stuff in there.
WW: We had a couple friends that went to Nashville to Michael Wagener’s studio and heard some of the original tracks.
James: Not too bad
WW: I’d like to hear the entire album…
James: I have tapes of the rehearsals, but I can’t let you have those.
course not! (Laughs) Let’s see how the rest of this interview
WW: I think it’ll come as a surprise to some people that not only did you play with Ozzy, so did Brian Tichy.
James: Absolutely. Yeah, he went on tour for a while. All the P&G guys. So what do you think? Should it be P&G staring Ozzy Osbourne at this point?
WW: I think yeah, of course! What are you thoughts on Ozzy’s band consisting of yourself, Zakk, and Brian?
James: I think if we can get some of Ozzy’s dogs from the TV show on there to travel with us it’d probably make a lot more sense to people.
WW: Big steaming piles of shit on the stage.
James: (Laughs) That’s essentially what we’d be chasing after.
WW: So after ‘Ozzmosis’ wrapped up you went back in the studio with Zakk to record ‘Book of Shadows.’
James: Not too soon, no, let me think, after that ‘Ozzmosis’ wrapped up, I think we did P&G after that I’m not sure. I think this chronology could be a little wrong but…
WW: ‘Ozzmosis’ was released in ‘95 and P&G came out in ‘94.
James: But it came out in ‘95, but I think it might have been recorded before that…but that doesn’t seem right. I recorded with Zakk on ‘Book of Shadows’ just after I had finished playing with Slash’s Snakepit.
WW: Now a lot of fans, including myself consider that some of Zakk’s best work.
James: I agree, I couldn’t agree with you more.
WW: What was the recording process like and do you have any insight to the sessions?
James: That was great, it was the typical thing. Zakk was in there with virtually nothing at all (laughs) except a drummer and a producer and a bunch of guitars. He gave me a call, and I was thrilled to show up. I showed up and he just started strumming some songs in the studio. I sat in the room with him and ‘Heaven and Hell’ I think, was the first song we did. We sat there and that was knocked out, the rhythm part was knocked out in about an hour and a half. That was how we did a lot of stuff. That’s how Zakk does it. That’s how we did the Pride & Glory stuff and that’s how we do it to this day.
WW: Once ‘Book of Shadows’ was completed, how did you and Zakk part ways? I know you remained friends but what happened?
James: I was getting stuck in a lot of lawsuits, stupidity, and stuff like that, so I was doing my own little struggle there…I kind of lost interest in a lot of things. So I guess I just slipped out the back door at that point.
WW: So you ended up playing with Brian again, in Slash’s Snakepit.
James: Brian called me up because, um…who was playing? Oh, it was Mike Inez, and he had just joined Alice in Chains at that moment.
WW: What a small little world.
James: Little an incestuous bunch we are, right? And, yeah, so he called me up and he said, “You’ve got a week can you learn 30 songs?” I said “I definitely can’t learn 30 songs, but give me the week.” (Laughs)
WW: So how was it playing with another guitar hero? Slash is well…Slash!
James: Totally different than playing with Zakk - because for me, Zakk is an intuitive guy to play with. I understand his music completely. I always have. Slash comes from all angles he plays in all directions and I wouldn’t say it was a challenge, but it was definitely different, because he likes to break things down into a lot of riffs. So you stay on your toes with Slash, but I had a great time. He’s a really great guy. Tichy and I stayed on with him for about a year working up all kinds of things.
WW: After Snakepit, you went on to play with David Lee Roth,
James: Not so soon, not so fast…
WW: There was the five year break…
James: There was a five year gap, yeah, and that’s where I started doing the graphic artwork and all of that stuff.
WW: Then you moved on to David Lee Roth. There’s a great interview with you on www.tormentedvhfans.com. It really covers a lot of that part of your career. Whose bass parts were harder to learn - Michael Anthony’s or Billy Sheehan’s?
James: You know what? For me it was…it’s not a question of harder, it’s a question of remembering what to do. I think it was more of Mike’s and that may sound surprising to you.
James: Yeah, because when I was learning how to play bass I was just getting my chops together and playing the clubs back in the 70’s. Van Halen came along and we’d play “You Really Got Me”, that’s really an old Kinks song so we kind of knew it anyway right? But all the other stuff that was coming down, I loved listening to it. But I hated when they’d ask me to learn one because I hated tuning the guitar down. You know I never had to do that. (Laughs) “Oh, geez, I’m learning all these songs and now, that one comes up, all right, tune it down.” So I never really bothered getting into it. ! But the Billy Sheehan stuff, when that came around, I was intrigued by his playing. So I really kind of, on my own, not having a gig to play to…I don’t know what was it 1984? When “Eat’em and Smile” came out, I woodshedded on that stuff myself anyway so I was kinda halfway into it already. Because it was more upfront, it was more obvious. It’s actually always been harder for me to go behind…like…Judas Priest, Okay? Not very hard bass parts. Ian’s a great guy, and a really great bass player, a really solid bass player. But for me to pick out the really low notes, that’s always been harder for me than to pick out the higher melodic stuff. Like Paul McCartney’s stuff, I can always hear.
WW: So recently, I know you talked about this with Jason, (Genung from WW ed.) but when David cut his forehead open at the Philly show last year, what were you thinking?
James: Actually, you know what, I realized he had done something, but I didn’t know how bad it would be. So as soon as we finish the set, he’s got blood just flying down his brow. …and I don’t even think he had realized what he had done. So I said “Dude, your forehead is really going at it” and he said “Yeah, I know, I think I slipped over there.” (Laughs)
WW: He’s cool even when he’s bleeding from his forehead.
James: (Laughs) He really was! Yeah, he really was! So we got on the bus and we applied some stuff and some cold towels and compresses on it. Looked at it for a little while, and it was obvious that he needed stitches. So all right, we have to find a hospital. We start heading out to find a hospital and I remember looking at him going “Dude, you have an option here right now. You could be like the cool kinda, Tom Beringer guy. Start roughing shit up. Totally change your image…” He kinda liked that for a minute or two, then said… “Well, let’s just drive on to the hospital.” (Laughs)
WW: That made one of VH1’s top 100 Metal Moments
James: You know in four years …for Christ’s sake, four years he spins those goddamned things every night and never man, never in a million years did I suspect that he’d clip himself that way. It was one of those things. I think we were just getting run down on that tour anyway come to think of it.
WW: So how did Zakk approach you about doing ‘Hangover Music Vol. VI’?
James: You know, as fate would intervene, I talked to Zakk on the phone a few times over the years. We really hadn’t spent much time hanging out together. He’s been on the road more than I have and so we’d occasionally call each other up and he actually used to say “What do you think about a Pride & Glory reunion?” And I’d always say “Oh, yeah, we’ve got to do that. Maybe we’ll just go to The Whiskey and start it,” but we couldn’t schedule, we could never get it together timing wise. I started looking for a house last year. Actually, more than a year ago…a couple years ago and the prices went up in LA, and I was really looking for something I could afford, so it turned out to be the last truck stop out of town where we live. So I found this house, put a bid on it, and as luck would have it, we get it. So we move in and it turns out that I’m a mile and a half down the road from him. I mean directly, which out there is no big shake. So I called him up and I said “Listen, I just finished putting up a fence to keep the Chihuahua from getting out. What are you doing?” (Laughs) He goes “Drinking a beer.” I said, “You got two?” He said, “Yeah.” So he came down and we started just hanging out. Two days later, he stops by my door and Craig’s in the car and Timmy’s in the car. He comes up with a beer and I’ve got my corn flakes, eating them out front. And he’s like “Why don’t you come down to the studio today?” I said “All right, cool, what are we doing?” He goes, “An album.”
WW: Awesome, and you were like ‘Sure why not?’
James: Exactly, it was that easy.
WW: Had he ever asked you before now to come out or was it just a scheduling issue…
James: No, he knew. I spoke to him recently about that and he said, “I knew you were busy with Dave” and stuff like that. You know, and he already has a surplus of great bass players. He calls it “Mt. Bassmore”. Mike Inez, Robert Trujillo, JD and yours truly. John DeServio to me is the MVP on Hangover Music, if anybody’s listened to it yet, check him out.
WW: We just saw JD at the Holmdel show…
James: I have a challenge for him, actually. We’re going to Camden, NJ in five days. I already called him up, and this is what I said to him. I said “JD, here you go - Five days. Camden, NJ. The song is Stillborn F#. Black Buzzard bass. You’re onstage, I’m singing, you’re playing. You’ve been served.” …and then I hung up on him.
WW: Let’s see if he steps up!
James: I know! Let’s see what happens!
WW: I’ll be at that show…
James: …so will I.
WW: So what’s with the beard?
James: The one on my face? I’ve had this! I’ve had, Okay, I’ve had like a short beard, since I joined Dave’s band. And I just started liking it. My wife was getting into it and my kid, she’s liking it - she gets used to stuff, she doesn’t like change. So I grew it for a while and I was about to shave it off and she goes “NO! You can’t!” So I said “All right, fine, let’s see what happens.” So while I was traveling along with Dave after about year two. I started noticing something. I started noticing that all the people that he really likes to hang with are midgets, 350 lb. Hawaiian guys…you know there’s all sorts of characters. So I started thinking, this is the perfect thing, I can do what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be that guy in the John Lennon band. In the Plastic Ono Band - the guy with the long beard, the dashiki…
WW: Almost the John Kalodner of bass…
James: Yeah, it’s the same thing. So I thought this was the perfect venue for me to do this. So I just started growing it. It was really funny because one day the bus driver comes up to me, I was getting a little shaggy and he goes “So what are you gonna do? Let that thing flourish?” (Laughs) So as soon as he said that I was like “YES! - I’m going to let it flourish!” At that point I hadn’t moved to my house, I hadn’t even talked to Zakk about being one of these Black Label guys.
WW: So what do you see in the future for James Lomenzo and Black Label?
James: Well, aside from a rather long jail term? (Laughs) You know hopefully, and we’re all shooting in the same direction. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep moving this thing on to where it’s going. I mean, I see the fan base out there growing, and it’s startling, man. All the Chapters - it’s really exciting. We come here to the shows and do all the tent signings and stuff like that, it’s truly amazing to see how many people are really into the whole background of the band and starting their own Chapters… I would love to see this succeed, and I would love to see Zakk succeed. God knows he’s been banging his head against the wall for long enough now.
WW: If anybody deserves it…
James: Yeah, if I can be here to help him, I definitely will, that’s for sure.
WW: So let’s talk about your touring rig with BLS, you’re using the Ashdown power amps?
James: I don’t use amplifiers at all. (Laughs) No, you’re absolutely right. What I have for BLS…I’ve got the same rig I used on Dave’s tour, which I love. It’s a bunch of power amps. We’ve got about 3000 watts of Ashdown power amps and one of their John Entwistle preamps. Which is exactly the same as all their other preamps, except his signature is on there. So I turn into a little girl when I see shit like that. That must be so much better! Right? (Laughs) I’m actually like the guy at the bar when it comes to Entwistle… “I’ll have whatever he’s having”. You’ll notice the basses, the preamp. (Laughs). So Zakk’s got this mega deal with Marshall and they made him up these 4 x 12 bass cabinets years ago and so he said “You know what? I’ve got to put that stuff up there.” …And I don’t mind, I love Marshall’s right? But I play Ashdown. So I called up Mark Gooday over at the company, and I said to him, I said “I got a dilemma here. I want to use your amps, but I’ve got to make a compromise. I’m not really going to be able to stick them where I want. So what I could use is a couple of 15s because I usually use 8 x10s. But I need them ported, and I need to cross them over to take up the slack on these 12s.” And being the gentleman he is, he had them out and ready within a month. So that’s what I’m using up there and it’s a great sound man. Yeah, as long as I’m playing through those amps I can make it all work.
WW: We took some pictures of your pedal board and your cabinets at the last show…
James: You’re very sneaky.
WW: We got them at the last show…
James: You’re very, very sneaky. (Smiles)
WW: We also got some pictures of the Buzzards. This is the year of the Buzzard…
James: You’re lucky you didn’t get your eye put out!
WW: You used the Buzzards with Pride & Glory…
James: I got an old Buzzard in…’92 maybe it was…I don’t remember, geez. Anyway, go on ask your question.
WW: Was in a conscious effort to bring them back and do you still have the original that you played with in the 90s?
James: I still have it! I just sent it home, I just sent him flying home. I brought the old one out with me but the new ones sound so much bigger and fatter, you know? And now that we have two guitars it’s actually a better sound to have - just a little more girth to it. But the other one has this great honkin’ midrange thing that it does. It’s like; it’s just like another guitar, more than a bass. So, yeah, I still have the original one; I’ll always have that. It’s been glued together about three or four times, but that one sounds great.
WW: How did you first get into that bass? Was it the affinity with Entwistle?
James: Well no it wasn’t really so much the affinity with Entwistle, as much as my desire to really piss off my guitar player. It’s a true story.
WW: Do tell.
James: So it’s about 87 or 86, again I’m really bad with the exact years. White Lion goes to Germany and that’s where Warwick is. And so you know, they were trying to send out some guitars for new artists who were selling records to get them up on stage and stuff. So my Road Manager says “There’s a guitar waiting for you up on your bed.” ….And I said “You know I’m not cheap.” (Laughs) So anyway, I go up and there’s this wooden case, and I open it up and it’s one of the Dolphin basses. Anybody who knows the Warwick basses knows it has a very extreme rhombus shape. It’s like that weird geometric shape and it has a big, long strap horn and all that. So you know, I was amused by it and I thought it was not ugly, but not really what I would want to play. But I took it out of the case and I started playing it and it played really well so I was intrigued. So I brought it up on the stage and it was just like “I love this bass!” You know for it’s construction and the way it sounded and all that. So after a while you know, I talked to the Warwick people and they made me my own Dolphin. I played that for a number of years with White Lion. Well towards the last year of the band I think what happened was we were trying to retool our image I suppose, and my guitar player, whoever that may have been… (Laughs) …was saying “We need to get more traditional instruments, okay?” (Laughs) …and he was really - he was offended by this big red rhombus shape around my neck.
WW: He was playing a Steinberger! He had the headless…
James: …but he had stopped using them, he started getting Stratocasters, so he was trying …in all fairness. But you’re right, at first he was playing those dreadful guitars and so he started playing these Fender’s right? And so he starts with “you have to get like a Fender or something.” So I told him “I’ve had Fenders, this is much better than any Fender I could afford right now. This goes on for a short while. Not to long after that and for a variety of reasons, Greg and I had found the exit door and gotten out of the band.
WW: Greg Who?
James: I don’t remember. But just before we left, I remember I had this package of Rotosound strings and on the back of it was a picture of John Entwistle with this really ugly bass. And I remember that it was the Warwick Company. They make this thing. It was wooden, and it had all kinds of angles to it and stuff. So I called up the rep and I said “Dude, you gotta get me one, just as a loaner, send the thing out to me. I just want to pull it out of the case and piss Vito off, all right?” So two weeks later we’re out of the band and it never showed up. A month later the thing comes to my door. And like, it’s a giant box and I open the thing up and I looked at it and I go “That’s just ugly!” (Laughs) So I picked it up and I started jamming on it, you know? I fell in love with that fuckin’ thing, more so even than the Dolphin. This thing sounded more like the old Alembic basses that I used to really like to play, I couldn’t put it down. And everywhere I went I’d bring it to jams and everyone would be appalled but you know the thing, the whole look of it got… it got prettier to me as I moved along…and it actually hangs on me really good, as big as it is.
WW: Like an ugly girl with a great personality
James: Exactly! So anyway, some win, some lose, I feel like I won anyway. So when they started making these things last year again, I put a call in and said “I gotta have a fresh horse man c’mon.”
WW: Fingers or picks?
James: Both. Yeah, I like’em both. Mostly with fingers though. I prefer to play with my fingers.
WW: So this is where I turn to Metal Sludge for some help and I give you a list of names…
James: Can they be of any help?
WW: I love them…
James: I don’t like them! I don’t like them at all!! Someone brought it to my attention that they seem to think that I’m not “endowed”.
WW: To me it’s all pretty funny.
actually amused by it myself…
WW: Give the following bass players a rating of 1-10. One being the worst and ten being the best.
James: Okay, this can get me into so much trouble, let’s see what happens.
WW: What could happen? All right, Gene Simmons.
James: I’m going to give Gene Simmons a 10. Okay? Now I’m going to tell you why.
James: Listen to the bass stuff on Detroit Rock City, loose as a goose but beautiful baby!
WW: I agree I personally love Gene for a lot of reasons.
James: I’ve got no problems man!
WW: John Entwistle.
James: John Entwistle, is there more than 10? I give him a posthumous 10.6.
WW: What about your favorite Entwistle bass line?
James: I don’t know, you know, uh, let me think. I mean I like some of the simpler stuff that he did, surprisingly. Oh no, no, just put on ‘Live at Leeds,’ everything on that is perfect. Perfect. Young Man Blues, I love that.
WW: My favorite is ‘The Real Me.’
James: You know what? That’s obvious! And he plays his ass off, but when I listen to him play on ‘Live at Leeds’ to me, that’s the essence of the guy.
WW: Dana Strum.
James: Dana Strum, I don’t know anything about this guy! I know that he produces people and what band was he in?
WW: Slaughter and Vinnie Vincent Invasion if you go further back…
James: I think he’s probably a good bass player, I don’t know. I’ll give him a 5 for being a probably good bass player.
WW: Mike Inez.
James: I think Mike is great. I’m going to give Mike a solid…he’s part of BLS, he gets a 10!
WW: Then that goes for the next guy Robert Trujillo.
James: No, no he gets a 1! (Laughs) Just because I’m jealous! He’s so good.
WW: I saw you working on your Spider Dance - you might be able to pull it off at this show…
James: I was actually just trying to pick up some change that I dropped.
WW: Nikki Sixx.
James: Nikki Sixx – Nikki’s no Robert Trujillo either, welcome to the club, I’ll give him the same 1 (and it’s not because I’m jealous).
James: Sting, you know what? I hate to throw around 10s…I’m going to give him a 9 because he’s always putting his bass down and picking up the guitar.
WW: He’s Tantric.
James: Well that’s annoying, let’s give him an 8!
WW: Right on, all right James, thank you for sitting down with us
WW: It’s been a real pleasure.
James: It’s been my pleasure, let’s go get some chow!