Interview with James of Burnt Offerings
BURNT OFFERINGS is a straight ahead metal act from Spokane, Washington that just newly formed in August, 2005. This is a group of friends who are working tirelessly to put themselves on the musical map and to continue getting a tighter sound and band identity for everyone to embrace. It's one of the favorite parts of my job is to scout out young acts like this - amid the more seasoned, label attached bands - because guys like this just flatout remind you why heavy metal music is such a great world to be in: honor, friendship and diehard commitment to the music genre itself, by any means necessary. I got some Q&A in with their highly spirited lead guitar player, James.
Rocket: So are you originally from Bethlaham, Washington, brother?
James: Haha... you mean, Methlaham?
Rocket: Oh, so they got themselves a crank dealer or 'two hundred' out in them parts, eh? Haha. Just like every other goddamn city in the states. God bless The United States and methamphetamines! Haha. Just a little joke there. I don't need complaints pouring in from my ten year old readers parents telling my editor they want my ass in a sling!
James: I was born in Yakima and transplanted to Spokane. Been all over the fucking place from my Navy days though.
Rocket: Semper Fi, Do Or Die. The five weeks I spent in Marine boot camp did one thing for me mainly, it made me realize how kick ass the Navy service dudes get fed while us 'grunts in training' would literally get pig slop thrown to us after five AM five mile humps! Haha. So when did you first start playing electric guitar, dude?
James: My first introduction was at fifteen, but I didn't start playing consistently until I was eighteen. I borrowed my neighbors guitar for a month... I guess he forgot about it.
Rocket: Either that or just dealt with the fact that you pretty much jacked him!
James: Yeah, man... I practiced on his Fender for hours until I got one of my own for a graduation present.
Rocket: Did you ever take any formal lessons?
James: No I didn't. I was driven on my own and practiced daily about five hours a day for the first year. I had already played Jazz and shit from school band and could read tabs so it wasn't hard for me mentally. But physically it's by far the most challenging instrument I've tried... and I can play a few.
Rocket: Skin flute doesn't count, James.
James: It doesn't? Haha.
Rocket: Haha. Yeah, and man, let me say right here and now that it's one thing to try and strum a few Elvis chords on a twenty dollar acoustic guitar with nylon strings. But what people don't realize is that playing an actual electric and those sharp edged steel strings with your fingers, making sure through constant repetition that you press down hard enough to ring the notes out properly against the hard wood fretboard, is pretty much the equivalent to... well, running your fleshy hand across a cheese grater until it starts to turn pink and then shoot blood from the rock n roll wounds you've now acquired. Haha. Who are some of your biggest playing influences? Past or present.
James: I guess my biggest ones are Randy Rhoads, Dino Cazares, Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, Kerry King and Dimebag. I haven't recorded any solos yet, I play all sorts of stuff live so what we have shown on the net isn't anything about what I can do. In fact, Psycho is the only thing I've recorded with the band so far. We're going to fix that soon.
Rocket: What kind of guitars are you playing live and in the studio?
James: I play on a Jackson Randy Rhoads with a set of EMG's in em'. It sounds fucking killer. I'm going to get a 24 volt set up at some point.. Kerry King has got that shit down. I have a kick ass guitar tech here in town and he's set my stuff up exactly the way I like it. He also sells some special home made cords that are way better than Monster Cable... and that's my little secret.
Rocket: Cool. What kind of amp rig?
James: I started out with a Marshall but I blew the fucker up at Hempfest.
Rocket: Well, at least we know you were high when it happened! Haha.
James: Dave was using a Behringer and I wasn't sold on getting that at first and tried out just about everything and came back to it and bought the V-Ampire and the Ultra Cab set up. I use the FCB 1010 control board and I think it's just as good if not better than the Line 6 shit and it's half the price!!
Rocket; Yeah, everyone goes ape balls for Line 6.
James: The castors on the Ultra cab suck... but it sounds fucking awesome. Our sound is matched up now and it's kicking faces in live.
Rocket: Man, I can't believe it's been two years plus now since Dimebag was killed and taken away from the extended metal family. Can you tell us how his death affected you personally and what kind of inspiration is he still for you and your playing today?
James: When I first heard the news break I couldn't believe it. I owned just about everything that Pantera put out and have been a huge fan of his since I first heard em' in 93'. His riffs are some of the most difficult to learn cuz they're so intricate. I respected him highly for his creativity especially....we lost a true god of metal there. He's playing with Randy Rhoads, Jimi, and Stevie Ray now...so I'm sure he's a happy guy.
Rocket: Getcha pull on that! Let's have some fun with the next one, brother. What's the funniest damn thing that's ever happened to you while performing on the stage?
James: This is a toss up from getting head butted by Jay and his craziness... or times when Randy stomps on my cords and unplugs me. I swear he tries to sabotage me the fucker!! We get lost in the moments plenty of times.
Rocket: It was a great year for metal in 2006. What album was your personal favorite?
James: Metal is definitely coming back with a vengeance. I loved Fear Factory's Transgression... that fucker absolutely slays!!! Funny story about that is Christian was working on the girl I'm with now. Haha!
Rocket: That abum came out in 2005, slappy doo. Haha. And I am putting it out there right now that if Dino and Burton don't bury the goddamn hatchet and record Demanufacture 2... I'm going to pretty much say the mighty FF are just dead in the water moving forward. I saw the original lineup simply crush Sunset Strip's House Of Blues a ways back. One of the baddest light shows too while they performed in such a small club, bro. But they were unstoppable back in those days. And they were all real cool to kick it with too before the show. True story, me and my bro showed up at 'will call' way early on the day of the show to pickup our tickets and we look over at the driveway and see these longhairs taking band equipment out of some old Ford truck and then realized it was actually Burton C Bell and the gang. Needless to say, me and my brother strolled right up to them and start high-fiving with no words mentioned, just shared gutteral grunts of heavy metal brotherhood. Haha. Now is Burnt Offerings planning on formally releasing a debut EP or LP in 2007?
James: I wish we had immediate plans for our debut album. We have been so busy setting up national acts here in town that we've put everything on the back burner. We need to. I'm sure that it'll happen... but I can't tell you anything for sure on this one.
Rocket: There's plenty of time. Who are some of the other upcoming local acts around you that have made a solid impression?
James: There is a shit ton of talent in this little town of ours.
Rocket: Dude, 'shit ton'... I gotta write that one down. Haha. Too epic!
James: Concrete Grip is a bad ass band here. The longest running group is probably Takeover... they used to be called Five Foot Thick. It's little known that George Lynch calls this place his home town... and Myles Kennedy is from here too. There's a ton of talent.
Rocket: And of course James and Burnt Offerings. So what are some of the upcoming shows for this band?
James: Well, we're playing with Slaughter this Friday.
Rocket: That's too much to handle, man. I think if I ever actually went to see a Slaughter show, I'd have to ask Mark Slaughter to autograph my bare ass! Haha. For me, I dunno, I never liked that band really... but it's plain awesome to hear that old 80's acts like that still get out and throw the music down, you know? I mean that. They may have to do the comb-over thing now and can't wear the fluorescent leather chaps any longer...haha... but truly, it just boils down to the fact that being a real rocker is absolutely timeless. Seriously, as much as Dubrow gets on my nerves with his girl man antics, that's what I truly love to see... is Quiet Riot still going out and making some goddamn 'Noise' for the metal cause.
James: Yeah, and we're doing some smaller shows in Spokane with the local scene and then we've got a show with Metal Church on Feb 23, Iron Maidens on Saint Pattys, Firehouse in April (friday the 13th)..Warrant is after that in May. Booked out for a few months and I'm sure that's not it!!
Rocket: Listen up, I had a lot of fun doing this interview. Thanks very much for taking the time out to do this with me, brother man. Good luck with it all here in 2007. Give a shoutout to your biggest supporters.
James: I gotta give it up to my girlfriend Dez....
Rocket: Well, you better...
James: No, Rocket... seriously, man. She's absolutely amazing.
Rocket: I know. Haha!!
James: And to all the fans out there, like Demi and her friends down in Australia spreading the metal for us. And my guitar student Cierra for keeping me disciplined. I think I've learned more than she has!! And to you Rocket and The Metal Den... I've been aboard with you since I joined the space.
Rocket: Right on, I appreciate you as a person, James. You're always in a good mood and ready to get excited about something new in life and metal music specifically. Believe it or not as much of a pissed off asshole as I can come off most the time, that's the kind of person I like to associate with.
James: Well, thanks for helping us along on the metal mission!! SPREAD THE METAL!!!
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