The Postal Service, The Last Shadow Puppets, Gorillaz. These three iconic bands have something major in common. They were all at one point, side projects or supergroups. The Postal Service, the notable sad electronica-pop venture of Death Cab For Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard. Indie music’s kings, Alex Turner and Miles Kane joined forces to become The Last Shadow Puppets. And possibly one of the most popular “side projects that became almost more iconic than the original band”, Gorillaz, the brainchild of Blur‘s Damon Albarn. If the bands noted here tell you anything, it’s the musical power and status artists can go on to achieve through these often dismissed side projects.
James and the Cold Gun is fresh from the brains of James Biss, and James Joseph, best known for being the bassist of Welsh emo powerhouse band Holding Absence.
Our editor Jen spoke to frontman James Joseph about this new project, the band’s influences, and future tour plans.
Speak Soft Magazine: Hey, James! Firstly, for those reading who don’t already know, you’re currently the bassist of Holding Absence, and James and the Cold Gun is your new solo project. How did it come about?
James Joseph: “I’m a bit of a busy body and since Holding Absence has started to get more serious and our releases are more strategic/planned out, there is a lot of waiting around and lots of the music you hear tends to be stuff that we have recorded months ago. I’ve wanted to do a project that is purely for enjoyment and is a creative-outlet for me where I can create and release music/content whenever I feel like it. I think part of the reason so many people in bands have side-projects is to keep them busy whilst having to wait on things with their main bands. I’ve also always wanted to challenge myself by playing guitar and singing, which I’ve always found difficult!”
SSM: How does JATCG differ lyrically and musically from HA in your opinion?
JJ: “Firstly, I consciously aimed to make JATCG different to HA as I didn’t want either bands to have to compete or for any weird comparisons to be made between the two. I also think JATCG allows me to ‘scratch a different’ itch than HA whilst ensuring that my own personal preferences don’t get in the way of what HA is supposed to be. “
“HA is definitely more emotionally charged and the lyrics are more poetic, however it’s early days for JATCG so it’s pretty hard to comment on lyrics overall. Musically I wanted Cold Gun to feel like a ‘garage-rock band, I want hard hitting drums and loud amps in the face, I want to be able to write a song in a few hours whilst having fun and jamming together, this band makes me feel like I’m 15 again.”
SSM: Maybe I’m alone in this but I immediately picked up Queen of the Stone Age-esque sound in your first single ‘She Moves’, were they an influence?
JJ: “They’re a huge influence yeah, I love how they balance ‘rock and roll’ and ‘punk’ so well. Homme is a god! In some ways, I’ve started looking at ‘older-dudes’ like Josh Homme or Dave Grohl who are still killing it and almost wanting to set myself up with a project that can blossom and grow over the next 10-20 years. Those guys are still making some of their best music after 20 years, which I find super inspiring.”
SSM: How did you find directing the music video? What influenced the visual elements of ‘She Moves’?
JJ: “I actually really enjoyed it! To be honest, it was more a case of what was available to us at the lowest cost. We did the video on £0. It was shot in a friends house, who has an orange paper backdrop and we decided to film purely performance shots in an old-school square format style so that any grain or quality drop would look like it was done on purpose. I’m already thinking ahead to how we can do the next video ourselves and make it more ambitious! It’s all part of the fun.”
SSM: If you had to pick one film or television show to perfectly encapsulate your music and aesthetic, what would it be and why?
JJ: “I’ve not actually seen it… But I think I’d say Twin Peaks! Our music feels slightly old-school with an eerie kind of edge. Plus I love coffee and cherry pie!”
Chloe Davis, via the Holding Absence fan group on Facebook, You Are Everything: Are there any plans to tour with the project in the future or is it a studio-only type thing?
JJ: “We will definitely play live, but we don’t want to rush into anything! We plan on having our ‘live-band’ as a bit of a revolving door of whoever is keen at the time. It’d be really awesome if you recognised our drummers/bassists/extra instrumentalists from their other bands. I feel like it’d kind of add an extra element of excitement to our live shows if you had no idea which drummer would be playing for us live until the night or whatever.”
SSM: Do you have any advice for people starting bands or exploring new musical projects?
JJ: “Make music for YOURSELF, that YOU love and never try and follow trends. If you start a band based on a trend, chances are the trend will have moved on by the time your band actually releases music, plus I can assure you making a song that you genuinely love listening to is the most rewarding feeling. Also, surprise yourself, push yourself out of your comfort zone and just go for it. I want to continue pushing myself with this band, dance moves, makeup, whatever. You got this.”
SSM: And finally, what can we expect from JATCG before the end of the year?
JJ: “I’d like to aim for two more singles plus some acoustic bits and bobs. In fact, I’m going to force myself to work my ass off and just say: WE WILL release two more singles and some acoustic bits and bobs. I also want to be able to play live by January.”
To be the first to hear about new music from James and the Cold Gun, here’s where to find them online:
To help contribute to a new JATCG song: https://jamesandthecoldgun.bigcartel.com/product/black-ringer-tee-pre-order