Artist Interview: Brent James & The Contraband

Artist Interview: Brent James & The Contraband

Earlier this year, I was working a show at the Old National Centre. It was in the Egyptian Room, and the opening act was Brent James & The Contraband. I didn’t know why, but I knew I had heard that name before. When they came out on stage, it came to me… I was friends with Brent on Facebook! I took some photos of the band, and sent him a message on Facebook. Before too long, we were chatting and we scheduled an interview. Their live show was so impressive, I forgot who they opened up for. Their look… their sound, everything was top notch. That, and Brent is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. They are always on the road, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Brent James & The Contraband. I love the name too… but don’t worry, I ask him where the name comes from!

It’s a good thing you are in a rock band… because you look like a rock star. What was first, the look or the music?

Definitely the music. I’ve been howling since I came out of the womb!

Tell me a little bit more about Moment Of Silence.

I wrote it while in the shower in Nashville, Tennessee. I was trying to write something that could be uniquely universal.

It looks like you spend a lot of time on the road. Do you ever get bored touring all the time?

The road is where true freedom exists to me. I love it. There’s inspiration literally around every corner.

I saw you a few months ago… do you like playing in the Circle City?

I love Indianapolis. However, anytime I don’t ride the bus with the band in, I get lost. For some reason finding 65 south throws me for many loops. At least I get to stare a something beautiful.

Who writes all of your lyrics?

Mostly me, but have also had some assistance by Skidd Mills, Rune Westberg and Chris Lindsey.

Where are you originally from?

I grew up in a small tourist town called Frankenmuth, Michigan. It’s kinda like Candyland.

You are all over the social networks. Who runs all of those accounts?

I do. I also have assistance from the guys in the band and our management.

What’s the biggest crowd you have ever played for? The smallest?

Close tie between our Super Bowl Village performance this year or The Tall Ships Festival with Alice Cooper.

Do you ever get nervous before going on stage?

No. I’d say more like excited. I feel like a greyhound waiting to be released from its cage in pursuit of the rabbit!

How much time do you spend on your hair every morning?

This did actually make me laugh out loud… (I hate using LOL.) Honestly, zero. I’m a “shake my head out of the shower and go” type of dude.

Glad I could make you laugh! Beer. Wine. Spirits. What’s your poison?

Lovely question. When hanging at home or days off on the road, I’ll do beer. I have many Guinness beers in my fridge. Usually the band has a drink or two on the bus before we go on. I usually have some Kettle One in my glass. We played some shows with the Stone Temple Pilots and Deleo informed me that beer has a lot of yeast in it and dries you up. I did not know this fact.

Who are some of your influences?

Bob Dylan. Tom Waits. Les Paul.

Who came up with the name “The Contraband”?

I believe that was Jay Kott and Matt Hayes. They are the tallest rhythm section in rock and roll I might add.

You guys had a show at the Super Bowl Village. Did you ride the zip line?

Dude… I was pissed I didn’t have time! I wanted to rock that so bad, but that was a very busy day.

You kind of look like Steven Tyler. Has anyone ever told you that?

Constantly. I really don’t see it to be honest. Can you tell me?

Do you ever do solo stuff, or are you always with a band?

Sometimes I do solo stuff. I prefer to have the best band in the world on stage with me though…

You were recently in LA. What were you doing out there?

We were out there for the GRAMMYs and my publisher had a GRAMMY party… and meetings.

Have you ever heard your tunes on the radio?

Yes. It’s the best when you don’t know it’s coming. Moment Of Silence gets serviced April 23rd to Hot AC reporting stations.

The live music scene is pretty big in Nashville. How do you guys pick where to play in Nashville?

Our buddy books 12th & Porter, so we usually play there. The lights are crazy there. We love it.

Let’s say I wanted to book you for a show… where does that process start?

Our Agent at BLA. His name is Anthony. I like to call him Antwon when we email.

There are a lot of great bands out there. Who are some of your favorite acts?

There are so many. My friends band out of Brooklyn is called Bad Wizard. Check them out.  Some pretty heavy stuff… they get down on stage

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

Probably my first one. I first saw the Smashing Pumpkins in 1998. It was in East Lansing, Michigan. It’s when I knew I had to pursue this seriously. It’s gotta happen to somebody right?

I like your song A Little Bit High. BUT… getting high is illegal in the United States. Please explain!

Ask The Contraband. They know a lot about it and are happy to educate anyone on the positive outcome THC has on them. We wrote that with them in mind.

Do you guys have any merchandise? I would love a shirt!

Yes, sir. Our online store is being set up now. In the meantime we have CDs, t-shirts, bracelets, beer koozies, beer pong balls, stickers and more for sale. Soon puppies…

Tell me a little bit more about your relationship with SkiddCo Records.

I signed with SkiddCo Records a few years ago. I’ve admired his work behind the board for a long time. When I was offered my deal with him it was obvious to me. He’s a great producer and a great friend/mentor.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

Probably tripping or something. I wish I had a better horror story, but I’m pretty prepared when I am on stage. If I drink whiskey, I forget words. I don’t do that anymore.

What would you be doing if you were not performing?

Probably managing a band or working as an agent. I know both of those worlds pretty well now.

What’s next for Brent James… what does 2012 have in store for you guys?

A massive radio campaign for Moment Of Silence and a lot of miles on the tires.

When it’s all said and done, and the band is no more… what do you want to be remembered for?

Great song writing. There are a lot of horrible songs out there. May the light shine on the good ones and the electric bill not get paid on the bad.

Thank you so much for taking the time to sit and talk. I know you are a busy guy. In all of the interviews that I have done, I always give the artist the last word. Go.

I want to die a happy man.  I want my family to always see the good in people first. If they’re crappy people they’ll show it at some point early on. I also want them to find amazing things in the simplest of things. The other day I stood next to a tree in my yard for an hour taking pictures of a ladybug on a branch. I enjoyed how the orange shell stood out on the brown branch and the green leaf. If people take the time to do that even for 2 minutes, they’ll enjoy this orbit a lot more.  Never be ordinary. I’ll step down off my box now. I used to be a hippie. I’m not now. Maybe there is still some in me after I read this.

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