13th Annual Alt. Country Album Nominee
10th Annual Alt. Country Album Winner
10th Annual Americana Album Nominee
[mp3player width=170 height=140 border=1 config=multiplesongconfig.xml file=http://www.independentmusicawards.com/ima/ima_wordpress/wp-content/fmp-jw-files/playlists/PossessedbyPaulJames.xml]
Record Label: Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
HOME BASE: Immokalee FL, Austin TX
GENRE: Song Writer, Roots/Folk, Punk
CATEGORY ENTERED: Alt. Country, Americana
WORK SUBMITTED: Feed the Family
LABEL: Hillgrass Bluebilly Records
INFLUENCES: The majority of the artists I’ve been lucky to play with: Frank Turner, T Model Ford, Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry, Tom V. etc. The industry names would be Bukowski, Cohen, Waits, Cash, Lynn, Havens, etc.
WHAT’S THE MEANING OF YOUR BAND NAME? Possessed by Paul James is the combination of Paul Wert my late grandfather, and James, my father, presently living in SW Florida. The intent is to say we encompass more than ourselves and this can be seen in all areas of music from writing to composition.
DESCRIBE YOUR NOMINATED WORK: Feed the Family brings about a new process of recording, namely with other musicians for a change. The intention was never to play alone, so when other pickers are available it’s nuthen but fun! The concept of the songs and themes of course surround family and providing for family. I think there’s also a bit of Texas influence more so with this album than others in the past. Personally I tend to think the writing is coming full circle more and more with each album, the hope now is to keep them coming as opposed to waiting 2 years in between recording.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SUBMIT THIS WORK TO THE IMA’S? I was fortunate enough in having a great label rep. and producers (Keith Mallette & Ryan Tackett) following up with the submissions.
DID YOU USE ANY UNUSUAL EFFECTS OR INSTRUMENTS IN THIS RECORDING? No, not really, with the exception of recording in New Orleans along side a canal via a field recording for the film The Folk Singer. You can hear the waves rushing in and a slight chime coming from a floating buoy.
WERE THERE ANY HAPPY ACCIDENTS WHILE IN STUDIO, OR DID EVERYTHING GO AS PLANNED? Accidents galore. It wouldn’t be a PPJ album or show for that matter if accidents didn’t surface…ha ha.
DID FANS HELP FUND THIS PROJECT? Oh yes, we actually had a chunk of the recordings done pro-bono by two fans in S. Austin that were training in sound engineering. Without their efforts we wouldn’t have an album.
WHO’S SITTING IN YOUR AUDIENCE? We have a strong variety. We have the folkies, the punks, the song writers, some metal heads, bluegrass/americana crowd etc. I think the reason for this is the tone of writing, the instrumentation and the style of performance. We tend to write about the ‘grays’ and ‘darker’ tones of life but try to push the rejoicing of the brokenness so to speak. But we also throw in fiddle, banjo, guit. and a bit of rhythmic stomp. Lastly the means of the performance can become so ‘wild’, for the lack of a better word, it adds a needed twist to the predictable. I sincerely like all of these elements as it remains creative and most importantly FUN during the process of performing.
WHAT MAKES YOUR FANS YOUR UNIQUE? I think their honesty. And that could be because our songs tend to thrive on honesty. It’s that sincerity which pushes the shows feel I think. Yes it is raw and sometimes unbridled, thus our fans open themselves up even more in sharing their own convictions and struggles.
ARE THERE ANY SONGS YOU WISH YOU WROTE? I guess we’ll find that out with the upcoming albums..ha ha.
WHAT ARTISTS ARE YOU LISTENING TO THAT SURPRISE YOUR FANS? I like hip-hop a good bit and the underground. But honestly the music I listen to the most is what’s being performed at the shows. That’s where you find some really great talent and production. It’s always better to look under the ‘rock’ to find the ‘gold’. If it’s been hanging out on the line for a while it’s not always the freshest ya know.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM SHOW LINE-UP? Hmmmmm..right now? Hmmmm I’d say Trampled by Turtles, Iceland is Melting, PPJ, Chuck Ragan & friends and Frank Turner.
WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE ON THE ROAD? WHAT-A-BURGER all day, everyday.
ANY CLOSE CALLS OR MISHAPS WHILE ON TOUR? Oh yes that comes hand in hand. You learn through yer mistakes and you capitalize on the hilarious…ha.
DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS BEFORE YOU GO ON STAGE? Get a little ‘juice’ in ya, maybe a few push ups and some stretching as ya gotta let the music take ya where it’s goin. I used to paint my fingernails..ha ha..then realized that I look like a goon with pink/black fingernails..ha.
SHOULD MUSIC BE FREE? That depends on the context. On the street busking, sharing with yer friends etc. yes yes yes. But if it becomes the means of provision then I gotta say no. It is a service and of course the plumber, the teacher and the nurse need to receive an income, as does the musician.
HOW HAS DIGITAL AFFECTED YOUR CAREER? All the better in my opinion. I think what we’re experiencing now is this wonderful opp. to hear such a varied and international make up of music. No longer do we always need backing, funding etc. to expose others to our music, to our art form. Granted I’ve heard that the waters, so to speak, get muddled with such saturation but I like it. The more the better as it is after all … art.
ARE DIGITAL SINGLES VS. FULL ALBUMS THE FUTURE OF MUSIC? I don’t know about that. I enjoy the albums but it’s also very nice as a consumer to pick and choice with my purchasing. As I’m a little old school we’re still trying to figure out when to press cassette tape and even 8-Track for promotional albums. Keeping in mind that LP’s are always the first to go via the merch. table. So old school might be the wave..ha.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS… “a cruel and shallow money trench, along plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” – Hunter S. Thompson
I remember first reading that quote back in Austin, TX while getting turned onto Brautigan and other such writers. Now I do think there are some truths to this quote, but as an independent musician it allows us much more freedom to pick and choose what we want to be associated with. I feel lucky by being able to experience these independent labels like SYA Records (Italy), Voodoo Rhythm Records (Swiss) and now with Hillgrass Bluebilly Records in Austin. By going this route you build your music career on the friendships and relationships you develop and in our situation these are all fan based, meaning every label has started out as an artist/fan context.
I think that is the beauty of today’s independent musician and label. With the digital aspect of distribution, video, booking etc. we can benefit from regional and international contacts without signing our souls away. We can benefit from the concepts of less is more in terms of scheduling and production. The key in all of this is to say that music does not need to be ‘a dog from hell’, but instead it becomes more communal and opportunistic, thus changing the very structures of the industry. And I think the fans pick up on that as well. The underground, the LP’s, the screen printed Zines, the pirate radio and pod cast, the blog etc. All of these contribute to the personal connection, the intimate connection of sharing your art. I love that man.