Profane James

Tuscaloosa, AL

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Like any true musician will tell you, there are too many influences to cite. I have been a metal head/rock’n’roller since I can remember. My Dad is a drummer / guitarist also; so, I’ve been around these things since childhood. I got my first electric guitar when I was 12, and my Dad had a set of drums; but I didn’t get serious about anything until I was 13 or so. The classic rock of the 60’s & 70s was probably my first influences, whether I realized it or not. Then the 80’s came! For me, it was all glam rock, hard rock, and METAL! I can remember non-stop Motley Crue, Anthrax, Metallica, Ozzy (my first few cassettes). This is the music that made me want to PLAY! Man, I wanted to be just like those assholes - and still do LOL.
When the 90’s came, I discovered Jane’s Addiction. This band really opened up the “song” concept to me. I wasn’t particularly blown away by any one band member - but these guys wrote killer songs! In this same way Nirvana and that whole scene had it’s affect on me. I listened to my fair share of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, etc., but, Soundgarden was probably my favorite from this era. Then 1993 came.
It was in this year that a band from Florida calling themselves CYNIC released their one and only album titled FOCUS. This masterpiece of an album changed my musical life. It was death metal, it was psychedelic, it was technical, it was jazz, it was new age, it was spiritual, it was lyrically original, and MAN that vocoder! It blew my mind. At this point, I gave in to music. I started really focusing on individual musicians, no matter what type of music. Bands like Atheist, Death, Pestilence, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Cynic, were in heavy rotation. Musicians such as Chick Corea, Vic Wooten, Dave Weckl , et al. had their place also.
By 1995, I had heard Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and was a fan of West Coast and East Coast rap. Though there are obvious hip-hop and R&B ground breakers that deserve appreciation, I have always gravitated to the harder gangsta rap. It was in 1995 that I heard the BONE thugs-n-harmony album “East 1999 Eternal.” This album raised the bar for my taste in rap. I have yet to hear anything from the rap/hip-hop world that is as lyrically and melodically original as this album. Dark, spooky beats; the lung collapsing flow of those guys. UNREAL. It was also by this year I had bought my first Enya CD. It was “The Celts.” On the merit of this album, I purchased the back log, as well as the newly released “The Memory Of Trees.”
In 1997, I was fortunate enough to hear the likes of Amber Asylum and Loreena McKennitt (on public radio I believe), and once again, my concept of “songs” and phrasing were shattered. In the case of Amber Asylum, I realized that “brutal” and “heavy” didn’t have to mean distortion guitars and fast double-bass. Talk about a punch in the gut! Loreena McKennitt, on the other hand, was somewhat straightforward celtic, folky stuff. But, for some reason, the hand drumming and this album really shook me. I started researching different hand-drums, tablas, doumbeks, etc. I actually bought a tabla set because of this album. Little did I know at the time that these awesome little drums have been used on so many recordings, commercials, soundtracks. It wasn’t until I started playing (and I use the word “play” very loosely) them, that I was able to pick out their distinct tone. See, I had HEARD them before, but just didn’t know what the hell it was. At the same time, on the other end of the spectrum, I had also heard MESHUGGAH! These frickin’ nut-jobs blew my mind again. Even to this day, they are absolutely original, and absolutely METAL! I was instantly addicted. It’s strange to think of metal putting you in a trance, but the way these guys use polyrhythm, I have found myself wishing that some of the riffs would never end – as if I was on the verge of ONE. Kind of half hyptonized, almost figuring it out. These guys are on another level – OBZEN is coming in March!!! ..m/
With the millennium approaching, 1999 brought me the opportunity to record my first solo demo. I had a computer by then, and was using Cakewalk’s Home Studio 9 to write. After messing around with MIDI Orchestrator for a while, a friend of mine gave me Home Studio 9, and it really opened up a new world of songwriting and arrangement. Damn! With a little imagination, you can tell if something is going to work or not! So, I wrote and I wrote. A friend of mine had already offered to record me for very little money, so I hit him up. It was really a great experience for me. I would bring him a MIDI file of a song on a floppy. I would play guitar, bass, vocals (woah!) and hand-drums with the MIDI, and we would run the MIDI drums through a synth for mixdown. This experience opened up the world of production – the seedy underbelly of music. I loved it. It was so overwhelming, yet so interesting. That demo turned out good, it went above and beyond my expectations. I needed to get it out of my system. It was very much a ripoff of CYNIC, and all those guys. It made me happy though. It was all in good fun.
Fast forward to 2001. This year I got my first multitrack and synth. The Yamaha AW4416, and Alesis QS7. After some wood-shedding and a couple recording books, I really was able to get creative. I could now do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. So I did. It was painstaking. The first few things I did took sooooo long. I was now able to take all the time I wanted to attempt perfection, so I thought. Soon after this I realized that perfection is something that can always be out of reach. Or, it can always be within reach. The question is, what are you trying to perfect? I mean, If you’re tracking, mixing, and mastering yourself; you’re going to be sitting your ass in front a computer or a console for an insane amount of time anyways. As for the songs themselves – whether rap beats, metal, jazz stuff – all seemed to turn out synth driven. Very new-age, and I liked it!
A couple years later I was turned on to Nile’s “Black Seeds Of Vengeance” and then “In Their Darkened Shrines.” These albums, of course, took extremities to the next level. It was lower, deeper, and faster than anything I’d heard before. I already had a 7 string by this time and, man, they were tuned lower than that! This new era of death metal kicked me in the balls, so to speak. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE, REMEMBER WHAT’S IN YOUR BLOOD. So I then recorded an homage, it turns out, to this nut-shot. This was titled “The Trenches” and was completed in 2004.
Since then, I have looked to artists such as Steve Roach, Robert Fripp, Vidna Obmana, etc. Ambient pioneers, and masters of the technology behind it. These artists inspire me on the performance aspect my particular genre of music, as well as (yet again) the whole “what is song structure really” thing. So, here I am. It’s 2008, and I’m finally working on new stuff. Yes, it’s taking a while; but it will be brutal, dark, and worth it!
Also, like any true musician, one is also forever bound to an agonizing and relentless search for something more . . . a type of humility that only musicians can know. Just when you’ve seemed to master a certain scale shape or arpeggio shape, or a certain ambidextrous rhythm; here comes someone on youtube blowing your little shit away. Whadya gonna do.

External Links


  1. Judy Parrott
  2. Scottish Documentary Institute
  4. Bohen Workshop
  5. I Dream Of Wires
  6. Victor Ivanov
  8. StanceWorks
  9. Eric Wareheim
  10. Femme Metal Webzine
  11. Pomp&Clout
  12. EPIX
  13. EvilBrainProd