He was ‘Badass “Band” #3’. One of the raddest, most talented performers I have ever seen is drummer, DJ, and songwriter Eli James. Here’s a message from Eli promoting his NEW SOLO EP and read beyond his message to scope the interview I did with him a few months back!!
“The time has come my friends! Eli James’s first solo EP release, “Fashion and a Toy” has a very distinct, different and unique sound with a twist. But what is the twist?
Eli James’s idea in creating this EP was to create a unique Apocalyptic-Electronic-New Wave kind of sound that told a “story”. But in every piece of work, there is a different story. This story is for YOU to decide and help create with your art and imagination. Create a world where you can experience anything that you want..to listen to the music and feel “free” and have fun in your creative imagination.
Eli James wants YOU to be involved in every step of the way. To work together and spread the love. To create music videos, remixes and have a different spin on every piece of work. The story has been started with “Fashion and a Toy”. Now its up to you to finish it.
The colors and canvas have been put in place with the music..and now that you have the tools to create ANYTHING you want. Please make a mark and help create a world and story of imagination with eli james and tell us about it! Lets see what you can come up with.
With Much Love,
“The sky is not the “limit”.. its the “BEGINNING!” ~eli james
When and why did you start playing drums?
I actually found out I wanted to start playing drums when I was three years old. I used to sleep in my dad’s rehearsal spaces and stuff, he was a bass player. I would be there and see his drummer and say, “I wanna do that!” and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. When I was 11 I got my first drum kit, so that’s when I really started concentrating on playing.
Do you play any other instruments?
I dabble in a whole bunch of stuff, a little keyboard, guitar. In High School I did it all though, tuba, trumpet, zylophone, percussion, all that good stuff.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up, how does that differ from now?
I don’t think it differs too much. I actually grew up listening to a whole bunch of different genres. The main ones were actually Metallica, Guns N Roses, Ugly Kid Jo, Green Day, I love all those bands still now. I love anything from IMX to Depeche Mode to Marilyn Manson to Eminem, who is a big inspiration to me as a writer.
Which musicians do you admire and why?
I really look up to quite a few different musicians; it really depends because there is a lot of stage performance and presence and then there’s the technical side of things. A drummer I have always looked up to my dad’s drummer, his name is Doug Marrapodi, and he’s been a humungous inspiration since I was a little kid. Even to now, Travis Barker and Neil Pert drummer wise. Musicianship wise one is DJ ASHBA for writing and his stage presents. He is a really big inspiration to be right now. He ‘s touring with Guns N Roses right now, he’s a good buddy. And also, Amir Derakh, Ryan Shuck and Fu of Julien-K/Dead By Sunrise, and the original ORGY members. The way I write is I like to tell stories with/through music, if you grab a personal track of mine like, ‘The King’s Tale’ off my new EP ‘Fashion and a Toy’, it’s very circus-dance feel but more of an Apocalyptic Electronic future sense of flow and movement.
What sparked the idea for the LED drum kit?
When I was in a different project, called ‘Little Red Radio’, and I used to write and do all that stuff, but I would also work on the shows. A really good buddy of mine, Adam Williams (of “Adam William Presents’ and ‘The Right Light’), well he and I always used to shoot the shit and go over different ways of making our show bigger and better. I thought of the idea of having the drumset glowing somehow or changing color and I thought, ‘How the heck can you do that and what does it have to be made of?’. Well, the internet is huge and I searched out a glow kit or changeable light drum kit and after hours of searching I found a guy that would do it and he already had a concept. I reached out to him and started talking to him. I sent Adam a video of it and the next text I got was, ‘How much?’ and I was like, ‘Fuck are you kidding me?!’ so then I started talking to the owner over at Risen Drums, which is where I got it. So the idea was to take the show to the next level. I am about a show, its entertainment. If you go see your friend’s band play, there is only so much you can go see, and not much will surprise you. Unfortunately, I think nowadays if you go to a lot of shows, really good bands may not know or have the concept of that side of it, or they may not put it in their act. To me, that is a sure getaway to kind of get my name out there.
Do you get nervous before a performance?
I am scared if I don’t. I do get nervous, but I have figured out through the thousands of shows, if I don’t get nervous then it ends up being more or less a half ass show for me. If I get nervous its almost more pressure to be in it, or what am I here for anyway? I mainly get nervous with smaller crowds though.
Describe what it’s like to perform for a crowd.
For me, it’s like comparative to having sex. Really, it is very orgasmic, that kind of feeling. The best way to describe it is sometimes you have good shows and sometimes you don’t, sometimes you have good sex, sometimes you don’t so its like the same thing. The adrenaline is really what it is.
How does your creative process typically work?
Basically, if I listen to a track and it hits me to where I think, ‘Fuck I can play that.’ I do it and put my kind of twist on their music. It has to hit my heart really. It says a lot, I play Britney Spears, NIN, Julien-K, Sixx:AM, Depeche Mode, Skillrex, Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, Lady GaGa to Bob Seager and Frank Sinatra. I play a lot of different stuff. My show is ever-growing, you are never going to see the same show twice. Sometimes it will have the same elements, but it will never be the same experience ever. That is the upside of being a drummer DJ that controls his own light show.
What has your greatest opportunity been so far?
WOW! I never really look back, but man, I don’t know. I have been so blessed. I have played on the same stage as The Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO, Pussycat Dolls, Mickey Avalon, Neon Trees, etc. etc. The Sunset Strip Music Festival 2011 was pretty legit too. I met a lot of really cool people. I would say right now, out of everything so far.. the most AMAZING experience was to play with an amazing band called Julien-K on their headlining Europe/UK tour then we jumped on as direct support for MSI on their Europe run. These guys are some of the most amazing artists that i have been lucky enough to have met and played drums for! You would know them mainly as the band “ORGY” (Original members) and they are also the same band known as “Dead By Sunrise” which Chester (of Linkin Park) is the lead singer of that band. I/m also jumping on the road with a band called “Deuce” this December (2012). He was the creator/producer/front man of a band called “Hollywood Undead”. He moved on to do his solo career and has been successful in his own right charting on at #31 on the Active Rock charts.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
This is a hard one because I am always thinking anything is possible. I just grab the bull by the horns and go. You know what, this last tour I did, with a band called Viva City, they are absolutely amazing, I played drums for them and I did my own show. I think within 3 ½ weeks there was over 25 shows, meaning I played 50 shows, plus I was tour managing and I had to drive everywhere because they are from the UK. So I think just making that tour happen was probably the biggest challenge. We decided to change that tour name to ‘Against All Odds’.
Any shows that were specifically memorable from that tour?
All of them really. We did play this place in Alpine, Texas in the middle of nowhere. They don’t get music, electronic music especially, there. After we were done playing everyone starts banging their chairs on the floor and they are like screaming and stuff. We are thinking, ‘What’s going on?!’ and thought we were going ot get mugged and everything. Then the bartender comes and tells us they want more. So from that to a 700 kid show at Texas Tech. The people in Little Rock and Oklahoma are awesome, I have a pretty good following there.
What are you working on now and what can we expect from you the rest of this year? (The EP Eli talks about below is now AVAILIBLE!)
I have a tremendous amount of stuff in the fire right now. Whatever gets finished first is what is going to happen. Timing is the biggest challenge. I am working on a record, and EP right now. The project is called ‘Here I am’ and the EP is called ‘Fashion and a Toy’. That is my own stuff. I am working on it with a good producer friend of mine who is mixing it and putting his flavor to it, it’s very epic. There are a lot of potential drumming gigs you might see me do. This will be my biggest year as a drummer for sure.
If you could change something about the music industry what would it be?
Shadiness. For me, to change anything could be very detrimental. Yes, the industry is known for being a shady hole of non-integrity if you will, but what a lot of musicians don’t take into consideration too is that sometimes that is the way it has to be to get their art where they want it to be. Things are done for certain reasons, or favors. It’s not about the better man, it’s really about whose got dirt on someone else. That is something that a musician can’t focus on or try to. Things happen for a reason, you can’t change these things, your hands are tied behind your back. All you can do is play that game to the best of your ability.
One song you never get tired of.
Right this second, ‘This is Gonna Hurt’ by 6AM.
Best live show you have ever gone to?
Stone Temple Pilots circa 2000 and Guns N Roses is definitely one of the best shows you’ll ever see.
Blazing Saddles or What About Bob.
Anything by Dr. Seuss
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
I like to go bowling and I also like playing ping pong. I played soccer for like 16 years. I was a running back in HS. I like doing all kinds of different sports stuff.
Litter. I fucking hate it. Seriously, its like come on now.
Any other jobs, other than music?
I have pretty much done everything. I used to sell Super Shammies around the country as a pitch man. I have owned construction companies, window washing companies, I don’t like those jobs but they have to get done!