Brent Amaker of Brent Amaker and The Rodeo January 2009

Vicious (V):  First of all, what type of music do you play? County, Bluegrass, etc.

Brent Amaker (B. A.):  We play Country and Western music.

V:  Who does most of the writing of lyrics? Music?

B. A.:  I write all of the lyrics and the Rodeo steps in once the basic song is done and adds the instrumentation. All the songs start with an acoustic guitar and vocal and I write all of the music up to that point.

V:  When writing the lyrics, are you gearing them toward a certain “type” of person (cowboy, punk, etc.)? Maybe a specific “social class”? If so, which one?

B. A.:  I think we speak to people who want to have a good time. Uptight folks won’t enjoy our music. Beyond that, I’m not sure there is any certain type of person we are speaking to.

All of the Rodeo songs are geared toward traditional country music themes. A lot of our own experiences from being on the road end up in the content. It’s amazing the shit that happens when five guys tour the world in matching cowboy outfits. We definitely make a splash when we get on an airplane like that.

V:  Do you think your music speaks to a certain group of people?

B. A.:  Hell, I’m still trying to figure that out. I’d like someone to tell me. I was surprised that Showtime wanted to use one of our songs for Californication. That’s some serious main stream exposure. I’m not sure what it means.

V:  When you’re on stage, in a smaller, more intimate venue, describe the people that you see in the crowd (mainly focusing on physical appearances).

B. A.:  It depends on the continent. In Europe we see a lot of tattoo covered heavy metal dudes and scantily clad women. In Seattle it’s a bunch of indie kids and scene makers. My favorite is when I sing I’m the Man who Writes the Country Hits and women actually whip their shirts off. This happened more than once on our recent US tour.

V:  What is the overall theme of the lyrics? How is this relayed through the music?

B. A.:  On our first two releases I have intentionally kept things dark. Partly because of some shit I was going through and partly because it just works with the type of music we are playing. There are also a lot of songs about drinking and hard livin’. This isn’t anything new, but I think we have our own take on it. The music happens pretty naturally with this type of song. It’s not rocket science.

V:  Do you explain your lyrics to people if ever asked? If no, why not?

B. A.:  I don’t think the lyrics in our songs need a lot of explaining. These are simple songs and the content is pretty straight forward. To the extent there is some room for interpetation, it’s good for people to take there own experiences and fill in the gaps.

V:  How long has B.A.R been a band?

B. A.:  We are in our third year now.

V:  What is the feeling of being on stage playing for an audience?

B. A.:  It’s either the best feeling, or worst depending on the crowd. Most of the time it’s great. Every once in a while you end up in the wrong place and it can get ugly.

V:  If you were stranded on an island, name three cd’s that you could not live without.

Ramones, Leave Home
DEVO, Freedom of Choice
Cheap Trick, Live at Budokan

V:  If you could speak with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

B. A.:  Roy Orbison. He was so fucking cool, and there is no one else who sounds like that.

V:  Who are some of the musicians that inspired you to pursue music?

B. A.:  Too many to mention. In the end most people I know pursue music for the attention it gets you. It’s pretty cool to be on stage with a bunch of people watching. The other stuff it gets you ain’t bad either.

V:  Future plans for B.A.R.? Maybe another tour thru Bozeman Montana? Super bummed I missed ya the first time…

B. A.:  We are working on our 3rd release right now and will record in a month or two. We have a European tour planned for May 2009 and hope to get out in the US again after that.

V:  A good friend of mine was telling me that you have quite the music history. According to her, you were a “grunge god”, playing with big name bands. What’s this about?  How, when, and why did the transition happen from the grunge scene to country?

B. A.:  Yeah, I fronted a rock band called Dorkweed for many years. That band broke up and I was glad to be done with it. Me and some other friends were having drinks one night and talking about how much the Country music scene had gone to shit. We all agreed it would be cool to start a band in the spirit of the country greats, but do it our way with original songs. I didn’t know what would happen with the project, but in the end it was the best thing I had ever done. Never looked back and I’m glad I did it.

V:  So you were already familiar with the country greats. Who introduced you to those cats? And why a rock band first? Why not just dive straight into the country scene?

B. A.:  I grew up in Oklahoma where country radio is bigger than anything else. I pretty much ignored most of it, but the good stuff sunk in. Some of my band mates have even more of a background than me. In the end, it was a good thing that my knowledge wasn’t any broader. It keeps things original. I don’t really intend to be just like anyone else. I just want to write good songs. I try to tell stories and country music is a great format for that.

I don’t think I was ready for country when I was younger. It helps to have some scars. The switch happened at the right time for me.

V:  What was it about “the good stuff” that stuck with you? Do you write lyrics based on personal experiences?

B. A.:  The good stuff?? Simple songs about real life things. About 50% of my material comes from my own experiences and the other half are stories about other people. My band mates will tell you that I like to give advice. There are a lot of lessons in life that you can learn from if you pay attention. Otherwise, we just get stuck in the same cycle over and over again. Either way it’s good material for song writing. In old time country music you can always hear the lyrics and it isn’t hard to figure out what the song is about. I guess that’s what I mean by the good stuff.

So, if country music got into your head they way it did, why didn’t you follow that path? Why choose an entirely different sound? And what do you mean when you said you don’t think you were ready for country when you were younger?

B. A.:  Oh shit, I dunno. It’s not that it’s too personal. Things just kind of evolve however they do. I was kind of a punk rocker when I was young and it was my way of being an individual. Country music didn’t occur to me.

Good country music has good stories. Some young people have enough layers of experience to pull it off well, but most of them are posers. I guess I’m just saying that good stories have to come from some where. Living a few years helps the situation.

V:  So, you were a punk before the country thing! I wondered! The more I talk to country musicians, the more I find out that most of them were way into punk before the switch. Any thoughts or ideas on why or how this going from one end of the spectrum to the opposite end of music happens?

B. A.:  It’s not really opposite. Hank Williams was as much a punk rocker as Henry Rollins. It was just a different time period. Punk Rock is about attitude and it shows its face in many styles of music. Some old country had that attitude in the beginning and some of that eventually evolved into rock. This is why we have heavy metal fans show up at our events in Holland. It’s all the same. People who get the attitude will get the music regardless of their record collection or fashion sense.


Acute Lead Poisoning April 11, 2009

Jay – Bass, Connor – Drums, Jeb – Lead/Rhythm Guitar, Bill – Other Stuff/Scream a lot (singer)

Vicious:  How long have you been a band?

Bill: Going on eight months.

V: What possessed you guys to get this thing going?  Was it kind of a mutual ‘hey let’s start a band’ or…

Bill: Actually, exactly that.  I just walked around the bar and asked them to be in a band.  The rest is pretty much history.

V: So, you guys all knew each other before…

Bill: Yeah.

V: How long have you known each other?  Long time?

Jeb: Years.

Bill: Yeah, years.

V: So, had you guys all been in other bands before this one?

Jay: I played with one other band for a little while.

Connor: This is my first.

Jeb: I was in a couple bands before this one.

Bill: I was in a couple bands before this, but we never played shows.

V: Why not?

Bill: The bands were dumb.

V: Well, ok.  So, what’s your guy’s musical background?  Do you come from musical families, or did you just decide to pick up an instrument and learn it?

Connor: Sticks.

Bill: It was how he grew up, because he’s usually hitting me in the face.

V: Well, I’m sure you deserve it.

Bill: Yeah, I know.

V: So no musical backgrounds?

Jeb: Nope.  I just liked the guitar and picked it up.   Been playing ever since.

Jay: Same with me.

V: How long have you been playing?

Jay: I’ve been playing bass for about eight years.

Jeb: I’ve been playing for twelve.

V: So, I’m studying the phenomena of subcultures that are created by music.  On that note, how do you classify your band?  Metal?  Thrash metal? Heavy?

Jeb: It’s hard to put a label on it.

V: Is it like a combo?

Bill: It’s hard to put a label on it without trying to create some sort of new fresh sub genre that hasn’t been classified that will be in all the music books in ten years, you know?

V: How many shows have you played so far?

Bill: This one will be our fourth.

Jay: This will be my third.

V: So you’re pretty new to the band.

Jay: Yeah, I joined on…

Jeb: This will be our fifth!

V: When you guys play, do you see certain types of people in crowd?  Maybe more so one type of person than another, for instance, do you see cowboys at your shows?

Bill: You know there might have been one in Livingston.  We also had the Hot Topic goth kids, some young kids, and the cowboy, and some parents.  So, we don’t really look for a certain type of person.  Being from around here, we definitely know a lot of the people we see.

Jeb: Our loyal fans.

Bill: Our allegiance of fans. 

V: Do you have a pretty solid fan base?

Bill: The ALP Suckers.  They follow us loyally.  They love us, they just don’t know it yet!

V: Try to do a subliminal message…

Bill: More like reverse psychology.

V: Who does most of the writing of the lyrics?

Bill: Yeah, I pretty much just say the word destiny over and over again.  But I’m the one who wrote the word “destiny” down.  Actually the name of all of our songs… Destiny.

V: Well, pretty much negates the next question!

Bill:  Seriously, I do all the lyrics, or most of them, anyway.

V: Do you use personal life experiences to fuel the lyrics?

Bill: Mostly just  bumper stickers and tabloids.

V: That’s a new one.  Haven’t heard that one before.

Bill: I just take a bunch of bumper stickers and tabloids and throw them in a blender and dump it out, put some words together, and there’s a song.  It’s very “art nuvo”, heading the forefront of blending lyrics.

V: So you’re not trying to reach out to your fans thru the lyrics?

Billy: Some of them are about personal experiences, some are about really sweet Mohawks.  They’re all easily relatable.

V: Therefore, you do feel that connection between your fans and the music.

Billy: We do.  A lot of people like the words that we say, or that I sing on stage, I guess.  Some people will leave and tell me about it later.

V: So what you’re saying is that not everyone is a fan of your style of music…

Jay: That’s just a given.

Bill: Not everyone is a fan of every style, anyway.  I mean, I say I like all types of music, but you can’t get me to listen to Reggae. 

V: Not at all?

Bill: Which is funny, because we’re a Reggae band.

V: Alright. Good to know!  Who writes the music?  Is it a combined effort, or… ?

Bill: It’s everybody.  Even though these guys do all the playing, there’s certain parts where they’ll listen to other people’s instruments and pitch back and forth ideas.

V: So when it comes to creating a new song, it is group effort…

Bill: Yeah, we like everybody to be there.  Because if one person thinks it sucks, then they are going to think that every time they hear it, forever.  Just ask Connor what happened when I wrote some lyrics when he wasn’t around.  That’s why we’re all there.

V: Would you care to expand on that?

Connor: No.

V: Ok! What kind of music did you guys grow up listening to?

Jeb: Thrash metal.

V: Your whole life?

Jeb: Strictly.

V: So that’s ultimately what made you want to get into playing this style?

Jeb: Absolutely.

V: Anyone listen to anything different?

Bill: I listened to a lot of country, 80’s pop, and rap.

V: So what made you want to get into playing this style?

Bill: I don’t know…

V: There is, obviously, something about the music that drew you in…

Bill: It was probably just the transcending over other sub genre’s into naturally more heavier genre’s as I kind of got more familiar with the sound.  I started listening to the really poppy crap, like Korn and Limp Bizcuit.  Then I kind of went over to Cannibal Corpse and DSI for awhile. 

V: What do you guys for see for the future?  Is this something you would like to pursue long term or is it just a side hobby?

Bill: I enjoy it.

Connor: We hope that this is kind of long term, but…

Bill: Yeah, after seeing the better part of a year in a band, now I can say that we are taking baby steps towards our multimillion dollar conglomerate.  The Acute Lead Poisoning brand will soon be putting out, along with our music, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and action figures of all the band members.  And also our mythological beasts we talk about.  It’s going to be huge.

V: I’m guessing you’re the comedian of the group?

Bill: Nope. Not at all.

V: Do you guys perform outside of Bozeman at all?

Bill: We’ve played a couple shows outside of Bozeman.  We did a house party for a buddy of ours on New Years.  We did it with another band from Livingston who are good friends of ours. We had a good time out there.  We also did a food drive benefit show over in Livingston for fun.

V: Any plans of going on the road?

Jay: Kind of broke right now.

Bill: Yeah, touring requires a certain amount of gear that we just don’t have.  I could try to convince the bank to give us a loan for a trailer that we could take to Wyoming or where ever we want to play, but paying that back would be a pain.  We’re not looking to generate a lot of revenue to spend on a tour.  We’d like to take that money that we make and reinvest it in the band and get some new gear or a rehearsal spaces or whatever we need. We need a bunch of crap that bigger bands have, but we suck because we’re broke.  And that makes us legit.

V: Do you guys have any words of advice to the younger generations if they are thinking about getting into the music thing?

Billy: Find a few good friends and start a band.  That’s a country song.  I think people should listen to that song more. 

V: Any final thoughts?

Bill: Come to our shows and when we have stuff, buy it.

Jack Rainwater of Hard Money Saints April 29, 2009


Vicious:  What type of music do you play? Metal, punk, rock, etc.

Jack:  Rock and roll/revved up rockabilly.

V:  Who does most of the writing of lyrics? Music?

Jack:  Words and music by Jack Rainwater, thus far.

V:  When writing the lyrics, are you gearing them toward a certain “type” of person (punk, metal head, etc.)? Maybe a specific “social class”? If so, which one?

Jack:  We target the working class, hot rodder, gear head culture, but our lyrics address all types of topics.

V:  Do you think your music speaks to a certain group of people?

Jack:  I like to think good art sends an individual message to each person who experiences it, and I hope that at least some of my work does that, as well.

V:  When you’re on stage, in a smaller, more intimate venue, describe the people that you see in the crowd (mainly focusing on physical appearances).

Jack:  Working class, greaser, rockabilly types. Some punk-rockers. Some hillbillies.  We have a diverse group of listeners.

V:  What is the overall theme of the lyrics? How is this relayed through the music?

Jack:  Our music covers the areas of love, relationships, and transportation (not necessarily in that order).  That, and working for a living.  The words relate to the experience of the common man and we hope it’s delivered with a beat that keeps the mood fun and the feet tapping.

V:  Do you explain your lyrics to people if ever asked? If no, why not?

Jack:  I would if asked but they don’t need much explaining.

V:  How long has Hard Money Saints been a band? How long have you, Jack, been involved in music?

Jack:  I’ve been playing guitar since 1977, semi professionally since about ‘84.  I’ve been in metal, alternative (I believe they call it Indie, now… haha) alt country, country, hard rock, and rockabilly bands.  I started writing songs, which we still play, as early as ‘98/’99.  The band has been called Hard Money Saints since about 2003.

V:  What is the feeling of being on stage playing for an audience?

Jack:  It’s where I belong.  I never feel more at home than I do on stage playing my guitar.  It’s what I was meant to do, and I know that. Very few things in life compare to the feeling you get when the band and the audience connect through music.  I’ve said “Sometimes I get to play music.  The rest of the time I wish I was.”

V:  Does the energy produced by a crowd affect your performance? If so, how?

Jack:  Absolutely!  It’s a mutual transferal of energy.  If the audience is enthusiastic, we will be all the more enthusiastic.

V:  If you were stranded on an island, name three cd’s that you could not live without.

Jack:  Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Johnny Cash –  The Sun Years,  and Iron Maiden –  Killers

V:  If you could speak with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Jack:  I cant even begin to pick one musician.  I love Johnny Cash and Elvis, Miles, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa… the list goes on and on.

V:  Who are some of the musicians that inspired you to pursue music?

Jack:  All the old country and rock and roll stars from Buck Owens to Led Zeppelin, The Reverend Horton Heat and The Stray Cats.  All the Cool and Bee Bop era Jazz players, western swing… my influences far exceed my ability to type them!!!

V:  Future plans for HMS? Maybe another tour through Bozeman Montana?

Jack:  We’ll be back but probably not till late summer.

James Hunnicutt June 16, 2009               



Vicious: James Hunnicutt, you are from…

James: WA State, Port Orchard.

V: How long have you been playing music?

James: I started playing guitar when I was 12 years old, so almost 24 years now.

V: How did you get into it?

James: I started playing guitar because of Metallica.

V: But you play Country…

James: I play Country, Jazz, Rockabilly, Metal, Punk… I just love music. I started playing guitar because of the ‘Master of Puppets’ album. I was… I still am a huge metal head, but yeah. That’s why I started playing guitar.

V: So, you obviously listened to Metallica growing up. Who were some of the others? Did you listen to a little of everything?

James: When I was first starting to play, I was pretty rigid. Was really into Metal, almost exclusively. But, I grew up in a house that had a lot of music in it. My mom was a hippie, basically, when she was younger and did a lot of cool 60’s stuff. She was into Jazz and stuff, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and stuff like that. My dad was pretty much into old country and old rock and roll. So I grew up with kind of a mix from psychedelic stuff, hippie music, to Johnny Cash and Elvis and stuff like that. And it’s ironic because I love all that stuff today, and I loved it when I was little. When I first started playing guitar I was rebelling. I wanted everything to be super loud and fast. My parents hated it and that made me love it more.

V: How do you classify the music you play? Is it straight country or more old time?

James: Um, I don’t know. I’ve thought about that because I kind of mix it up. I play some definite country stuff, some originals that are country and I do some Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash. I think it’s kind of a mix of country and folk and blues. All those elements are in there. There’s also some pop elements, too. I like really strong melodies and that probably comes from The Beatles influence, Ramones, The Misfits, stuff like that. I like to think it’s all an influence in one way, shape, or another. Even if I write a song that sounds really country, I might have been listening to death metal that was inspiring that.

V: When you play shows, like last night was a perfect example (referring to a show with The Henchmen and The Peacocks). What are the types of people you see in the crowd? Last night it was just a mish-mosh of everybody. Does it vary from time to time? Does it change depending on who else is on the bill for the night?

James: It can vary a lot. It depends on the type of gig I’m doing, too. A lot of times I’ll play psychobilly shows or rockabilly shows or more country shows. And that mixes up the crowd right there. Other times I do a thing where I’m the hired entertainment for a bar to where it might just be an average crowd that doesn’t listen to what I’m doing. I try to mix it up depending on the crowd that I’m playing to. It can be quite varied, and I enjoy it when it is varied because I try to vary my influences in what I’m doing. I’d like to think that even when I’m playing by myself with an acoustic guitar, that someone who likes old country music will hopefully dig it. If they like pop, they will find something they dig. If they like punk, they’ll hear the Misfits cover and dig that. I definitely am doing what I’m doing and try not to get too far out. I think the songs work well together. I’ve been lucky that way in that I can link up to different crowds, and can usually do ok.

V: Have you been doing the solo thing ever since you got into music or were you in a band when you were young? What possessed the solo career?

James: My first band was in 1987 when I was 13 or 14 and it was a total thrash speed metal kind of thing. I’ve played in tons of metal and punk bands over the years. Somewhere between 25 and 30 bands over the years, mostly playing guitar, but I’ve played drums in a few bands too.

V: All these bands you’ve played in, were they a varied mix of stuff?

James: Some of them. A lot of them were pretty stylized. Like when I played drums in a hardcore punk band, everything was hardcore punk. And the solo thing, I’ve always loved Elvis, old rock and roll, old country. I grew up on it. I used to play it by myself because I liked it. When I first started doing the solo thing was probably, I’m guessing, maybe 12 or 13 years ago. It was just kind of a fluke. Someone happened to have an acoustic guitar, and at the end of the show, someone was like “Hey James. Play some Elvis songs!” I just kind of did it to appease my friends, at first. I was there and it just kind of happened. And the more I would do that, the more I fell in love with doing it. As I got older and wasn’t quite so rigid. I wasn’t just that kid I was talking about earlier with the speed metal punk, everything “fuck you!” I started revisiting the stuff I had grown up on. I love it all. I just love music. I joke with people telling them that I love everything from Doris Day to Deicide, and it’s true. I don’t care what the genre is. If it’s got some feeling, some heart and soul, or the musicianship is good, or a combination, I dig it.  Whether it’s Metallica or N.W.A.  I hope I didn’t go too far…

V: (laughing) It’s ok!

James: I talk a lot, so you gotta keep me on track. Anyway, the solo thing. I first started doing the solo thing just a little bit here and there. I just started doing it more and more and I’ve enjoyed it more as time has gone by. At first I was incredibly nervous to do it by myself. It’s tougher when it’s just you up there. A band can be a support group. You have each other, even if it’s a shitty night. You can play for each other and survive. When you’re by yourself, it can be terrifying. If people aren’t digging it, it can be a long night. But the more I’ve done it, I’ve fallen in love with it. Especially in recent years. I’ve just started touring with in the last year doing my solo thing and I’m amazed at how accessible it can be. If you’re playing at a venue, even if you’re playing by yourself, if you’re playing something that has a country feel, or old rock and roll feel, or blues feel, and you mix it up like that, chances are there is going to be someone in the crowd who will appreciate it. And even if they don’t like the style of it… my big thing is that if you put your heart and soul into it, you can’t go wrong. If you’re honest with it and true about it, it’s real. Even if people don’t like it or people want to hear punk rock, they’re more likely to appreciate it. I know I vibe on that when I’m watching a band. I don’t care how good they are. Usually you can tell who is sincere about it and who isn’t. You can tell the bands that are just going through the motions or if they are really feeling it because they love it. I do it because I love it. It’s my life. My passion. I totally put my heart and soul, everything, blood sweat and tears, into it when I do it. And I think people can usually vibe on that.

V: I noticed last night, some of your lyrics are pretty intense. Does that come from personal experiences?

James: Most of it. Whether it’s from a direct personal life experience, which a lot of it is. It’s very autobiographical, since it’s my life.

V: Does that scare you to put it all out there? You’re telling thousands of people your life story. Doesn’t that scare you a little?

James: I think, initially, it did. It took me awhile to get to this point. I think I’m more personal, and real, and a better songwriter now than I was when I was younger, because I let it all hang out that way. Now, I don’t know how else to do it. There’s no other way. It has to be real. I can’t just sit down… I can do that and have done it in the past, just to sit down and write a song about cars or about a girl who is imaginary. It comes off contrived. I have to have my heart behind it. It has to hit me, or come from me on some personal level or else I don’t enjoy performing it.

(Interjection from, and after being mooned by, Darren of Section 08 Productions)

James: So, I guess I’m playing tonight.

V: Awesome! Get to see you again! So, I know you currently play with The Revolvers from Seattle and I know you just joined up with Wayne Hancock, which is awesome. How did that come about?

James: My buddy, Dean Giles, who plays upright bass in The Revolvers, he really got it going. He got to know Wayne’s wife, Gina, through doing booking, and found out that Wayne needed a guitar player and Dean recommended me and told me “hey man you should do this”. My initial reaction was like “Yeah, right”, you know, he’s gonna’ get some bad ass guy from Texas or something. Somebody that’s well known and really good would jump at this because it’s a really cool opportunity. So, I didn’t really think I had a chance. I don’t know if Gina got a hold of me, or if I emailed her, but they had heard my stuff online and really liked what they heard and wanted to hear a little bit more. Because my music on the Myspace, it’s stripped down, three chords. It’s not really flashy guitar, which is basically what I do when I do my solo thing. They wanted to hear me do some flashy picking and play what a lead guitar player would play. So, my brother filmed me, just playing guitar, 10 or 15 minutes, just goofing around, and made a little three or four minute long Youtube clip of me playing some guitar. I did some jazzier stuff, some old school hillbilly jazzy kind of stuff, and did a little Django Reinhardt stuff, a little gypsy jazz, just to kind of show what I could do that might work for what Wayne’s doing and be tasteful. And Joe Buck, also, recommended me. When Joe (Buck) called me about it, that’s when I knew it was serious, because I know they know each other, and have toured together. And after I put the clip up, Gina emailed me saying that I had the job, which my head is still spinning. It’s a big deal and it happened so quickly. It was a week of talking, then all of a sudden, boom! A week later I flew down to Austin, TX. A week ago, today actually, I just got back to WA from the tour.

V: How was the tour?

James: It was awesome! It was a lot of fun, but it was also terrifying. I went into it really green. I know some of Wayne’s songs, but not a lot of the material. And was only able to get a hold of one album before I flew down. So, I was going into it not knowing nine out of ten songs we played. So that was nerve wracking. It’s fun, but, you know. Doing that with my buddies, it’s one thing to wing stuff. But playing with Wayne Hancock in front of a decent sized crowd, and everybody knows the songs, and wants to hear the songs, and I don’t know the songs… it was terrifying at times and I definitely had the dear in the headlights look a lot, but it was a ton of fun. Wayne’s a great guy. Huck Johnson, upright bass player, is an awesome guy. Bob Hoffnar, the new steal player, they’re all great guys, talented guys, so it’s an honor to play with them.

V: That’s awesome! So, how did The Revolvers thing start? If you were digging the solo thing… which came first, the chicken or the egg?

James: I was doing my solo thing before The Revolvers started, and The Revolvers started, actually I guess, as a result of me doing the solo thing and different bands that I’ve played in. I played in a band called ‘The Hatchet Wounds’ at the time. I was an all girls psychobilly band, surf rock, really cool band. I was the drummer. We used to say I was the ugly girl on the drums. We used to play with Hard Money Saints, a lot. I got to know Dean, who was playing in a band called ‘Ludwig’s Van’ and we’d play shows together and we all really got along well. And I had done my solo thing before the shows and they had seen my do my solo thing, too, and we talked like “man, maybe we should do this as a band”. And it materialized that way. Think The Revolvers started about three years ago and Dean’s the one who really got that going. Once again, buddy Dean. He’s the go-getter. At first it was just James Hunnicutt… I can’t remember what we called it, if it was just James Hunnicutt, but we had a band. And I was like “well, it should be called something”, but I didn’t know what to call it, because I had never been in a band that was like ‘Me and the some things’. Dean came up with the revolvers name, because, basically, it was a revolving line up. There were a number of guys from different bands that would sit in with us. Some nights it would be a three piece, some nights a five piece. A lot of different people have played. If you look at The Revolvers page on Myspace, it lists the people that have sat in with us. Joe Buck actually sat in with us. He played drums with us once when the other guy couldn’t make it, which it was just kick ass. And he was just like he is, too. We’d get done playing an Eddie Cochran song and he’d be like “fuck yeah, mother fuckers!”. So, it was a lot of fun! And I like the name ‘The Revolvers’, too, because it’s a revolving line up, so it worked that way, plus revolvers, like pistols, which fits the country/rockabilly thing we’re doing. Dean came up with the name and I was like “yeah, that’s cool!”. So, that’s how that worked.

V: When did music become your job? At what point were you able to say “I’m done working 8-5. This is my life”.

James: I think I knew that a long time ago, but when I actually took the plunge and left my job… I had a really good job, working in a government ship yard in WA state, and I was making decent money, benefits, and just a real secure job. It was about two years ago.

V: So, you’re fairly new to this.

James: Yeah. As far as doing the full time musician thing and trying making a living at it, it’s definitely a newer thing. I think it was the beginning of July 2007 when I left my job, and I had worked there about eight or nine years and had put a decent amount into retirement. So, it was kind of a scary thing…

V: It must have been one of the scariest moments…

James: My parents weren’t happy. They were like “What are you doing?! You’ve got this job and you’re going to leave it?!”. But it kind of got to the point where I had hurt myself a couple times on the job and messed up my knee. Ended up having to have knee surgery twice. I was in the injured workers program there and was kind of thinking about and realized that I didn’t want to be back out doing what I had done to get hurt. I’m just going to hurt myself again. I don’t like my job. Never liked any job I’ve had. Music is my life and it’s been my life ever since I started playing. I was a balanced kid. I got good grades, was into art, sports, everything. Once I started playing guitar all that went away. Music just completely took over. So, it’s been my calling and my passion ever since I started doing it. And I thought about it and was like you know… you love this, it’s who you are. You’re living two lives right now, because at the time I was playing between 100 and 150 shows a year and working a full time job, pulling overtime. There were days where I wouldn’t sleep. I would play shows and be on 12 hour shifts and not sleep at all. Without the benefit of any substances, I was living like a zombie. And it was like I was living two lives at once. And so I thought about all that and realized that I was living two lives at once, burning the candle at both ends to a ridiculous level. Something’s gotta give and it sure as hell isn’t going to be the music. What are you waiting for? You’re still relatively young, I was 33 when I left, and you’re as good as you’re probably ever going to be, you’re at the top of your game as a musician/singer, you’re playing a lot, what are you waiting for? So, it was a no-brainer. I had to do this. And the last two years have been the best years of my life.

V: Really?!

James: Oh yeah! I’ve gone on, don’t know how many tours, maybe six, seven, eight tours.  I’ve seen a good chunk of the country.  I’ve made some amazing friends.  Like being in Bozeman, I’ve got some really great friends here.  And if you don’t do that, you don’t get to meet those people. Touring is like, the ultimate. I get to do what I love in a different town every night. It’s the coolest thing in the world.

V: So, what would you say to the younger generation if they wanted to pursue music? Any advice?

James: Just to be true to yourself. Follow your heart. Do what you love & do it because you love it. Don’t do it because you think it’s going to be popular or because someone else tells you to do it this way… Music is really selfish at its core. Like, I mean, I love the effect, like the sharing and the response I get from people and when people enjoy my music. But at the end of the day, I play the songs I play because I love them. I’m not trying to appease an audience. Or that’s not my goal, to reach the audience. That’s the coolest side effect of it. When I’m lucky, that comes. If I can touch people, that’s the ultimate reward for what I do. But ultimately, I do what I do because I love it. Because it comes from my heart and I write these songs because they’re real. They are who I am. And to me, that’s the greatest thing you can do as an artist or musician. You have to be true to yourself. Find what you love and do what you love and put all of yourself into that. Put your heart and soul into it. Don’t hold back. Don’t try and be what you think the next big thing is going to be. I believe that artists who do that are miserable. It’s like a soulless business if you’re into that. It’s like a dog and pony show. If you’re doing something that your heart isn’t totally into, how really satisfying or rewarding can that be? I’m rewarded every night because I get to do what I love and I love what I do. Whether there’s hundreds of people there, or two people there, if I make good money or if I’m broke. At the end of the day, I do it because I love it and it’s cool. I guess that’s a long-winded answer, but it would be to do it because you love it and do what you love. Don’t try and be this or try and be that. Stay true to yourself and go with it. And don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do it. That feeds my fire if someone tells me that this won’t work or you can’t do that. Fuck you! I can. I am doing it, and I will continue to do it! Be true and persevere. Don’t let setbacks set you back. Don’t have false pretenses about touring because touring is rough when you start. A lot of bands, the first tour will break them.

V: Really?

James: I’ve seen it a lot! I have friends that have done it. You play around your home town and you become a home town hero and you play a lot and maybe you were successful. People know who you are, you’re making good money. You’re popular. You’ve got a good fan base. You’re doing really well. And then you go out on the road and you’re thinking it’s going to be that way and it’s not. It’s going to be rough. You’re going to play places where nobody knows you. They might not even care. It will be very disheartening if you have that false sense of what it’s going to be like.

V: So, don’t do it for the fame?

James: Definitely not! Don’t do it for the fame or recognition or the money or the sex and the drugs. Even if that is there, it’s not going to make you a happy person. You’re going to be miserable or die of an overdose or of a disease or whatever.