Questions and Answers
4 February 2022
He raps but is not a rapper, he produced a few records but is not a producer, he’s
an occasional poet, he fronts several noisy DIY bands, he’s frequently on Turn Up The Volume‘s stereo with his first bang-on singles, he has his solo debut LP/CD coming up
and a PI$$ER album to record, he likes Kraftwerk played by a steel band, he’s not from London, he has an awful memory for movies that he watched, he is all that or not, and more.
He’s James Domestic and this is his new brisk belter called Mañana…
Your artistic resume is pretty extensive, James. What is it you like the most?
“Well, firstly, I’ve never called myself a rapper. I’m not really sure where that came from, though it has been said a few times now! Certainly, I enjoy hip-hop and there is no doubt
a little influence in from proto-rappers like BUTTERBALL, but it kind of ends there.
The poetry is a really occasional thing – I’ve done some spoken word tracks on some of THE DOMESTICS records, and had a couple of bits published, but I’m too immersed in music to do more in that realm right now.
For me, music will always be the thing I love the most; I mean I’m in so many bands and projects right now I can hardly keep up! “Producer” sounds a bit grand, but I think I’m still in the phase like I was for years with not thinking of myself as a musician, of just doing it and seeing what happens. I’ve produced a few records now, and done a few remixes for people, so in time I expect it won’t feel weird to call myself a producer… maybe. I’ve just got into painting too, but I’d struggle to call myself a painter!”
The first single of your upcoming debut LP is a fucktastic rant.
What is FAZE OUT about?
“The title is a hybrid of “phased out”, as in you feel like your relevance to the world is on the wane, like your place in it has become in some way tenuous, and “fazed”, as in being disconcerted by a situation. So, it’s both of those things rolled together really.
I think everyone feels a bit like that sometimes; like the rug’s getting pulled from under you, and you have to reevaluate and adapt to some curveball that life’s thrown at you. Sometimes it feels like life is just a series of curveballs; it’s fucking exhausting. If you
think Faze Out is a fucktastic rant, wait until you hear Bean Counter.”
What or who influenced your decision to go solo and make/record an album?
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’m still very much in all the bands too; THE DOMESTICS are gigging again from March 2022 and will start recording a new album in a couple of months. PI$$ER will hopefully record a new album in late summer. I’ve got new stuff coming out with others like TOKYO LUNGS, DA GROINS… so I’ve not “gone” solo, it’s just another thing on the CV, but one that has been gestating for a couple of years or more.
My taste in music has always been incredibly broad; I just soak up stuff like a sponge really. Punk and hardcore showed me the way, taught me how to get things done, taught me to just get on with it. It made me the man I am today! But much as I love it, sometimes
I want to listen to other things. I occasionally DJ, and that tends to be either soul and funk, or reggae, which I love. Y’know, I listen to electronic stuff, post-punk stuff, psychedelia, krautrock… the list is endless really, and there really isn’t space in the other bands I’m
in for those influences to come through to any great degree.
Repetitive beats and bass, a mix of sprechgesang, sung and shouted vocals, plus some other vocalists to add an extra dimension. Decent lyrics, no limits on instrumentation or rhythms… I just wanted to make a collection of great songs that were all different but had these elements to bind them together to make a cohesive record. I’m not into making one of those records that’s diverse but really jarring; there was a lot of that in the nineties, people just strutting around like fucking peacocks shouting “look what I can do! Aren’t
Sure, I’ve got an ego the same as anyone else, but I’d rather make a great album than show off like a tit, y’know? At heart, it’s still a fucking punk record as far as I’m concerned.”
The album’s title ‘CARRION REPEATING’ sounds smelly.
What’s the story behind it, James?
“For me, it’s about the state of the world, and the UK in particular. You can take it a
number of different ways, I guess. Mostly it’s about history repeating itself and how it’ll carry on repeating and who gets to be the crow and who’s stuck being the carrion; the persistence of that. Who’s the fucker and who’s the fuckee, right?
You could also take it as referring to the potential for change, so like the crow – let’s say he or she’s a prime minister or president or whatever – maybe the carrion eating just gets too much and starts repeating on them, fighting back if you will, even in its rotten state. I like titles to be open to interpretation; I expect others will think of their own.”
Why should the whole wide world buy the LP?
“It really comes down to this: do you want polished turds masquerading as an alternative to the mainstream, made by people on an extended gap year before they get a nice job
at daddy’s firm, or do you want guts, spirit, and a modicum of integrity and intelligence in your music? It’s got bass, it’s full of great songs – I’m not afraid to blow my own trumpet about that. It’s unafraid music, not some corporate second-guessing bullshit with an eye on a demographic, a major deal and a number one album.
If I wanted to do that, I’d have done it by now, but it’s just not in me. Y’know, I’d love to have a big selling album, but I’m not going to censor or neuter what I do to get it or any
of that stuff. Life’s too short.”
What’s a JAMES DOMESTIC gig like?
“There’s no live band for the solo stuff just now. I’m still trying to get my head around how it could be done. It’s a daunting prospect really; every time I think about it and go through the songs I come to the same conclusion: I’m going to need six other people. A seven-piece band just sounds so unwieldy when you’re used to playing and touring as a four-piece. Mentally I have people penciled in for the different roles, and many of them contributed
to the album in some way.
A gig with THE DOMESTICS is loud, sweaty, and intense – more often than not with bodies flying about the place. I imagine a solo gig to perhaps not be quite as full-on as that as the tempos are nowhere near as high, and the sounds nowhere near as relentless. It’d be great to do it though. Easier on my voice too.”
You’re also involved with a band called BOTCHED TOE. What is it about?
“Very occasionally I’m not the one to start a project and just get asked to join. BOTCHED TOE is one of those projects. Dan from HAEST and KNIFE CLUB asked if I fancied doing a band with him and James Baughurst who he was in MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS with.
He sent me some music and it was obvious I could do what needed to be done. Got Marcus in – who I’m also in HAZARD PROFILE with – on drums and smashed out ten songs, which ended up being the A False Glimmer Of Hope album. I’m really pleased with it.
It’s hardcore but not as fast as most of my hardcore bands, more riffy and spacious. Still sounds fucking feral though, which is what you want from a hardcore record innit. It’s up for pre-order now from Kibou Records in the UK, Amok Records in Germany, and some other places too – just google it.
Ah, the name… well that was Dan’s idea. It’s a line Danny DeVito says in an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I’d never seen it, but he sent me a clip. DeVito seems like a cool fella so it’s fine by me.”
Your advice to young upstarting bands/artists?
“The best bits of advice I can give – and shit, I’ve made plenty of mistakes! – is never
pay to play, and never think that one person’s advice on anything is in any way definitive. That includes mine. But I will reiterate: never pay to play.”
How’s life in London post-BREXIT, James?
“I think what you’ve done here is made the mistake of thinking I come from London because of my accent. That said, all my family are originally from Bethnal Green and Hackney, but my parents had moved out to Hertfordshire by the time I was born.
Then for some reason I can never quite fathom, almost all of them upped sticks and moved to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, where I grew up. I do have that London-Essex accent though because half of Clacton-on-Sea originates from London. I guess London is much the same as anywhere else post-Brexit. Same as Essex and same as Suffolk, where I live now. Same shit, different postcode.”
How is it possible that professional liar and lockdown
party animal BORIS JOHNSON is still in charge?
“It’s astonishing really innit. And people are still defending him! I swear Johnson could fuck a dog and murder a child on the steps of number ten and still people would defend him. Every week reasonably intelligent people become more and more incredulous and still it goes on and on. Who would you replace him with though out of that shit shower?
All the top jobs have been dished out to the Johnson sycophants, all of them fucking useless but loyal, to a point. When you see him next to any other leader it looks like some fucking pissed up lunatic has gatecrashed. What with him and Brexit it’s no wonder we’re the biggest joke on the world stage. Not so funny if you’re in it though.
Which movie would you choose to visualize your music?
I have a terrible memory for films. I can watch one on a Thursday, and really enjoy it, and by Friday I can’t even remember what I watched. Other things just kind of crowd it out. I suppose I could try to be cool and say some kind of cinema verité or La Nouvelle Vague or whatever, but in all honesty, any kind of comedy of errors, where the rug is constantly pulled from under the characters would be way more appropriate.
Nah, I’m going to say Train to Busan, just because it’s one I can remember.”
Suppose you were asked to rewrite and put new music to the British Royal Anthem ‘God Save The Queen’, no restrictions whatsoever, what would be the outcome in sound and vision?
“If you listen to the official recording it starts with a massive rising snare roll, just like ‘War’ by Edwin Starr, so I’d be happy just to replace it with that. But if I was to do it, I’d give it a massive reggae bassline, some Latin percussion, horn section, a hip-hop beat, and a load of horrible guitar feedback at the end. That would actually be far more relevant, and reflective of the country it’s supposed to aurally represent, than the current version.”
The best track and album you’ve heard in 2021?
“I always find these questions impossible to answer. I listen to so much stuff in so many genres. Ok, today’s answer… favourite single is ‘Come Back with a Warrant’ by SCHIZOS. Favourite album… I’m going to say ‘Pan Machine’ by the EBONY STEEL BAND. It’s an album of KRAFTWERK
covers done with steel drums and I’m playing it a lot this week.
Ask me next week and I’ll pick something entirely different, I’m sure.”
Name three things you absolutely want to see happen in 2022?
“I really want to get the PI$$ER album recorded. I finished writing and demoing
it before the ‘Carved Up for Yuks’ remix album came out, but then lockdown happened, and Bri relocated, and Charlie’s in Sweden… it’s complicated, but we’ll get there.
Secondly, I want to see Johnson properly held to account. And not just him but his cronies who’ve aided and abetted him. This is literally the most corrupt – and unapologetically so – UK government I, and I think anyone, will have ever seen. They don’t give a fuck and they don’t care that you know they don’t give a fuck. We should string the fuckers up but
y’know what us Brits are like.
Thirdly, I’d like to see the record get into people’s ears and do well. I guess I’m quite “known” in certain niche circles, but beyond that; zero. Half the problem with putting out a record these days isn’t making a record that can have some appeal, it’s getting it heard by the people that would like it in the first place amongst all the other stuff that’s out there; that’s the challenge, and I’m not a natural salesman, I’m not out schmoozing and blowing smoke up the right people’s arses. I just want to make music and get it out there, make some fun videos, and generally be creative and enjoy life. It’s not much to ask, is it?”
Thank you, James, for taking the time for this interview.
Have a great 2022 and a successful debut album.
Let’s go out with another funky punky single…