'Devil's Town' is the title track from Julian James' third solo album that he plans to release later in 2021.
If you're looking for old-timey music enriched by the blues and best consumed swigging moonshine, welcome to Americana-soaked musings of Australian musician Julian James.
A veteran of the scene – he's performed everywhere from Tasmanian jazz clubs to Byron Bay farmer's markets, major festivals like Gympie Music Muster and Tamworth Country Music Festval to Adelaide jam sessions – James' whiskey-drenched sound is as at home in 2021 as it would have been been blaring out of the wireless in 1921.
After releasing a couple of albums (2017's 'Whiskey And The Devil', 2019's 'Silver Spade'), Julian has spent the better part of the past two years travelling around the country in his tour bus (more on that later) further honing his sound.
His most recent release is the Americana-infused blues-folk romp 'Devil's Town' that harks back to a bygone era of bango-powered colonial folk married to Dust Bowl-era roots music. It's also the title track of Julian's third solo album that he plans to release later in the year.
Ahead of his launch show for 'Devil's Town' (at Star Hotel in Yackandandah, Victoria, on 28 February), Julian sat down for a quick chat about new music, working with Golden Guitar-winning Americana producer Matt Fell and returning to the world of touring.
For those new to Julian James, what's your elevator pitch for your musical style, songs you present to the world? Americana, turn off the blues highway with a country guitar in the back, drinking moonshine.
Tell us about your new single 'Devil's Town'; is there a story behind the making of the song? This single is the title track of the new, unreleased album; it has been a long time in the making, having been in a Chicago blues band for 12 years.
I feel this is the first album that I can really call my sound. It's only taken me 2 albums, 700 shows and 150,000kms to find, which I am very excited to share with you all.
The response you've had to the track has been pretty impressive; you must be buoyed by the reactions you've been receiving? I have been siting on the project for the past year and I'm so glad it's finally out in the world. It is definitely setting some amazing numbers. Blown away would summarise it.
For 'Devil's Town' you worked with Golden Guitar-winning Americana producer Matt Fell (Slim Dusty, Shane Nicholson); what did he bring to the project that made the song sparkle even brighter? Matt was amazing in the studio. This was the first time I had worked with a producer. I was not disappointed; he is a bit of a wizard when it comes to taking a song and expanding on its feeling and meaning. An absolute pleasure to work with.
Did Matt share any studio stories from his career that you can pass along? Nothing I can pass along. What happens in the studio stays in the studio. But if them walls could talk!
You also have a very cool animated video for 'Devil's Town'; who did you collaborate with on that project? You must be pleased with the final result? So chuffed. It was a project that really got me through the worst of lockdown. Working with the boys from Studio Goblin, we had a lot of laughs and so much fun coming up with the stories and characters. I couldn't be happier with the result.
It's been two years since your last studio album; can we expect another longplayer from you in 2021? If so, what can you share with us? I'm coming out swinging this year. I will be dropping two more videos and the album 'Devil Town' this year. 1 March will be the next video, then the album will follow at a later date.
Fingers crossed your launch party for 'Devil's Town' – in Yackandandah – can proceed at the end of the month; what do you have planned for the show? And in general, why should folks plan an adventure to Yackandandah and the surrounding area? Fingers crossed indeed. I have an all-star line-up band with the likes of Pete Denahy (Slim Dusty) and Aron Mclean (The Pigs), also an amazing local drummer. Will be filming and recording the show. Beers are amazing, BBQ is to die for. What more do you want!?
The next six months for Julian James the musician; any other plans aside from releasing new music? I'm hoping to hit the road in April; got a really nice string of festivals that would be amazing if they happen. Then will be living on the road until I don't.
The lure of old-timey music; what draws you into the tones and melodies of blues-folk that wouldn’t sound out of place in 1921? Everything. The rhythms. The lyrics. The simplicity yet so complex sounds. The way it sounds so easy yet impossible to replicate.
On your socials, you've been sharing updates about the renovation work you're doing on a bus; do you plan to make this a touring bus of sorts, to get yourself around the country in the future? Pre-COVID I was living in my van for two years. Now my lovely lady has made the crazy decision to join me on the road. So I had to upgrade the commodities and the size of the living space. We will be moving into the bus and hitting the road full time.
Some fun questions: Which fictional character best describes your personality? That's a tough one, so I did a quiz. So Peter Jason Quill from 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' seems legit.
Last show you binge-watched (and what kept you glued to the screen)? Well, considering the year we've had I can safely say a lot of shows; 'Westworld' and 'American Gods' have been highlights.
What's the one chore you dislike the most? Taking out the compost. I'll do everything else no problems, but I think iI was scarred as a kid.
Do you have any phobias... please explain? Think I have a slight phobia of people pinching my cheeks. I got it from my Italian uncle growing up. Don't know if its a phobia, more it just makes me really mad, haha.