Jim on the record and his new music
K&M: Fans are very excited to hear about your plans to release a new record. At this stage, what kind of direction do you see the new record taking musically?
Jim: Well, I can tell you that is much more light hearted in ways than my last record. A lot of the tracks are fun - even danceable. Much more funky and soulful.
K&M: Stemming from the previous question about the direction of the new record, what artists are you listening to now to help put you in the headspace to write? Do you find that helpful?
Jim: Michael Jackson - Prince - Tears For Fears - 80's pop
K&M: When you are writing songs do you usually have a personal meaning or inspiration behind them?
Jim: Most of the time, my songs come from a place of experience. Some writers write about fictional characters, and although there are elements of that, I tend to write from a more personal approach.
K&M: Many artists when writing new music from time to time find themselves dead locked on the direction of a song. How do you overcome “writers block?”
Jim: I never really get that. Or, I should say I never call it that. If I am stuck, I walk away and come back to it later. Or maybe I will ask a friend or someone outside of the song to listen and give me their thoughts - sometimes even a word or a comparison to another song will get you back on track - or take you to another place - where you didn't even think to go looking.
K&M: You recently conducted a seminar at Berklee School of Music with Steve Fekete and Steve Ferlazzo, the review of the forum discussion was extremely enjoyable to read. With your experience in the music industry do you feel you’ll consider more speaking engagements in the future?
Jim: If someone asked me, sure. I know that when I was starting out, I was thirsty for knowledge of musicians in real world situations.
Jim on The Best Damn Tour
K&M: You are Musical Director for Avril Lavigne. What does this role entail? Any different from your previous Musical Director role? (Michelle Branch)
Jim: Every job is different. Sometimes your job is to give opinions - and sometimes your job is to shut up. It's all very Complicated - hehehehehe - I had to throw it in there somewhere.
K&M: The European shows seem less choreographed (for one – you don’t wear a tie! :cP) Seriously, Avril seems edgier. They are more like concerts than shows. Is this observation correct? After all we have only YouTube videos to judge.
Jim: They are pretty similar. I just kept getting the tie caught in my guitar, so I ditched it. The fans are pretty great and we have had some amazing crowds. It is natural for any performer to feed off of the energy of the crowd. Maybe that is translated in the videos?
K&M: Is being on the road in Europe different than being on the road in North America?
Jim: Yeah. There are some obvious differences. The communication with back home is more difficult. Plus you are dealing with language and cultural differences from country to country. The food is different - and the landscape as well - but in ways it is exactly the same.
K&M: In a recent interview you said “How can you not deliver?” referring to the passion of the fans, regardless that you are performing same songs in same order every night. So that’s a given. But are there shows that stand out in your memory? Not necessarily with Avril only.
Jim: That's a good question. Usually the shows that stand out are when loved ones are in the audience. Or the venue is particularly special. Opening night with Paul Stanley at the Tabernacle in Atlanta was pretty cool. And we recently did a show with Avril in Dublin where Larry Mullen Jr. (drummer for U2) was in the crowd - he brought his daughter. I met him before the show and he was a total class act. U2 are one of my favorite bands in the world, plus I am Irish. That was pretty great to play a show knowing he was there to see it.
K&M: Tell us something about “He Wasn’t” How did it come about? Is it hard to play? Do you have fun?
Jim: I'm assuming you're referring to the intro of "He Wasn't". That was just something that morphed over time. I would always start it - then Avril started getting the crowd to react - and it turned into a thing. What is cool about that, is that it is different every night. I have to watch her like a hawk because I never know when she is putting her arms up or down.
K&M: What do you enjoy the most about touring with Avril?
Jim: Last year, I enjoyed the TV shows. Coming from being on Rock Star for 2 years, I got used to being on TV. Last year gave me the chance to be on several shows that I was never able to perform on before - SNL and Letterman were the two standouts. And we ended up doing Letterman twice.
K&M: The road can get quite gruelling at times and can be difficult on the immune system. How do you stay so healthy while on tour? Any particular fitness regiment or choice of foods that work best for you?
Jim: Starbucks and sleep. Those are the two best things. I try to eat well - but sometimes it is hard. I really like Peanut M&M's.
K&M: During the show an interlude is performed of Linkin Park’s song “Faint” (very cool by the way!) Just wonder how the idea developed to perform this song?
Jim: Avril wanted us to do something musically to give her a chance to breathe and change clothes. She picked the song and we worked it into something that would be cool for the band, and also something that the dancers could rock out to.
General (fun) questions
K&M: You’ve mentioned in a past interview you’re a huge movie fan. What was the last movie you saw?
Jim: In the theatre - The last two were Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Iron Man. LOVED Iron Man. On the bus, we watch a movie almost every night - too many to mention.
K&M: If you could travel back in history and visit any time period or certain event when or where would you go to?
Jim: 70's and 80's - but without the mall hair.......