Since releasing their 2014 debut album, Baby LA, Steven James and the Jaded have been working non-stop. Touring all over Texas, they are building a solid fan base while breaking into the Top 40 on the charts with their debut single, "Weak In The Knees." In anticipation of their new single and upcoming album, frontman Steven James took the time to talk about his rock roots, "Texas Girls," and more.
You have been pursuing music since you were quite young, in various bands, before finally fronting your own.
I grew up in Houston and started playing guitar when I was twelve. At thirteen, my parents were driving me around and chaperoning me while I was playing gigs in clubs. Throughout college and beyond, I played in a lot of rock bands. I spent eight or nine years playing in Austin while I also had a day job as a newspaper reporter. About two years ago I was in a rock band that was getting popular and about to be on the radio, when – and I know this is a familiar story – the guys went separate ways and the band fell apart. That was the fourth time that happened to me, so I just decided to go solo under my own name because I knew that I would never quit myself. And when I did that, things started taking off.
Being that you were in rock bands before, what made you embrace a more southern side when you decided to go solo?
Growing up, my Dad always listened to the Stones, Willie Nelson, and other classic artists. The first southern sound I heard was Wilco in high school - and they just blew my mind. Then I started listening to Ryan Adams and worked my way backward to artists like Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The record I cut in 2014, Baby LA, featured a little more of my Texas Country side, but with a southern rock lean like the Kings of Leon or The Black Keys….and the response was fantastic.
People certainly embraced it as the single from that record, "Weak In The Knees," climbed the Texas charts, which is pretty special for a debut single.
Oh yeah, it was amazing! I just wanted the song to get into the Top 100, but it kept inching up there, first Top 80, then Top 60 and I was like, “Whoa, how far can we take this?!” It finally peaked at #37 in February of this year which was just so cool. It was great to know that there were like eighty radio stations all over Texas playing that song and people were really liking it.
We just released our new single, “Texas Girls,” from our upcoming album, to iTunes a week ago and in another week, it should be sent to radio. I have my fingers crossed it does really well!
“Texas Girls” is a really up-tempo song that’s like an ode to….
Texas girls! It’s kind of tongue in cheek, but it’s also a tribute to Texas girls. When I was in my twenties, a lot of my friends moved to LA to “make it” and often I would kick myself like, “Why aren’t you there?” I thought if I wanted to make it, I had to move to LA, but the older I got the more I realized that you could do whatever you wanted wherever you are because there are great things happening in every city. I wrote “Texas Girls” because I wanted to give Texas girls their own anthem. We recorded it last Fall and when “Weak in The Knees” fell off the charts, we were ready with this one.
We played it out when we opened for Rich [O’Toole] who is a high school friend, and people from radio were telling us “That’s the song.” It’s amazing to get that kind of reaction right away.
I can believe it!
You mentioned that "Texas Girls" will be on your upcoming album, On The Run, due this summer. What can you tell us about it?
The record is complete; Dylan Ely, who has worked with Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, and Backstreet Boys and is currently on tour with Justin Bieber, produced this record for us. I worked with him on some of my rock albums, so it was good to circle back to him on this one.
When we recorded Baby LA, we intentionally stripped it down; I wanted a sound where I could play the songs solo and acoustic or with a full band, which I didn’t even have at the time. Now, I’ve got a band and I have people asking to come play or sing with me. With On The Run, we had the freedom, and confidence, to add to the sound and make it bigger. I think it sounds great and am really excited for people to hear it.
And people will be hearing it as you guys play all over Texas and Nashville and LA as well.
My best friend Evan Gamble who helped Rich write his latest single lives there and I go out and we do a couple shows every year. Rich lives in Nashville now and I get out there a few times a year as well. I love those cities so much. There is so much music and so much history. In LA you have the Rainbow Room where people like Guns n Roses played and in Nashville there’s Broadway and the Ryman. They’re just two of my favorite cities to play and hang out in.
Will you be going out on a radio tour to support the single?
The radio insanity will pick up in a week or two; I'll be living out of hotel rooms and getting up at 6am to stop in at some stations and play some songs. I may go out with my buddy Jake Ward who is also a Corpus boy and just hit number one a few weeks ago with “Take My Hand.” We’ll be all over Texas.
Sounds like it is going to get busy.
Is there anything else you may want to add?
I just really want to say thank you to the entire Texas scene, the fans, the deejays and club owners. This really is a tiny community and they have all embraced me with open arms. When I was in rock bands, people thought that everyone who sang country wore cowboy hats and sang with a twang. There is that, but it’s such a diverse scene and it is so cool to be accepted. I appreciate everyone’s support and “Texas Girls” is a way to represent our home state and say thank you. I’m really excited to get it out there.
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