I first heard about Andy James from one of our “senior” columnists who raved about this young talent that would blow my mind!!! Well he has not disappointed thus far in his suggestions so I bought Andy’s latest release and was instantly blown away by the fresh approach to the genre. Needless to say, I bought all 4 of his previous releases after that.
In 2011, I was fortunate enough to meet and spend 4 days with Andy in Amsterdam. “Thick as thieves” they say? Well we became “mates” as Andy would say, and have had quite a few great discussions, thrown back a few beverages and shared some gut-splitting laughs since.
I heard a quote the other day by another really great guitar player (Andy Wood) that said, “Andy James is at the forefront of Metal Guitar playing”.
During a candid conversation with Andy this past week, we discussed several things; one of them being the fact that he does not consider himself a metal guitarist. I have to agree.
Andy James is an insanely well-versed, well-rounded guitar player that plays in the Metal genre. If you can manage to dig up his first solo recording “Machine” (and I strongly suggest you do) you can hear the transitions and blend of many different style elements. Given his many guest appearances on a bevy of well known recordings; his work with Sacred Mother Tongue, his instrumental releases Kaos 7, In the Wake of Chaos and his latest self-titled release, you hear the development of this incredible player and it reaches well past the invisible confines of the metal genre.
Andy’s skill, detail, taste, technique, feel and talent for writing incredible melodies over well laid out rhythms hit hard and smooth at the same time. Each of the tracks really takes you to a different place musically and neither I, nor anyone else that has heard it, can get bored listening to any of the material.
As serious a guitar player as Andy is, he is equally witty, playful and is a hilarious joker who has no time for bullshit. Calls it like he sees it; really no holds barred as you can see in our conversation. The guy leads a very normal and charmed life at the same time.
As we all know, it can be difficult to make a living making music. For Andy, after countless recordings, clinics, demos, Jam Tracks and so on, he is just now starting to make a living.
He has managed after so many years of playing to get companies to take notice and support him, the biggest of which are ESP, EMG and Jam Tracks. He has developed some incredible learning tools for players and is a true inspiration to all players. Our recent conversation via Skype was over 2.5 hours long, so we have edited it into 4 very candid and un-cut parts.
Gear has been a struggle for Andy, as he has to do a fair bit of traveling. He has a good ear for the tones he wants and needs. He has been very comfortable to a point with the Blackstar set up but it was a bulky and not completely spot-on set up for him. He found himself always heading back the Line 6 Bogner set up, but struggled with the size and the fact that there seemed to be no support from the company.
Andy James Discography
While in Amsterdam he plugged into Marcel Coenen’s rig and was blown away by the tone that came from his Laney. Again though, Andy does not quite get what he requires from the new Laney offerings.
In the search for “THE RIG” he recently came across the company Amp Tweaker and has since been hooked on their Metal pedal that offers a boost, well-balanced EQ, effects loop and is optimized for plugging directly into an effects return or flat response power amp.
The pedal has the gain and tone he requires and is portable! So his current set up is very simple, Amp Tweaker, Digital delay, Line Selector and a tuner on a small pedal board that can be easily transported and plugged into virtually any power amp or power amp section of a decent amp. Check out some of that cool Laney tone in these exclusive videos from the Jason Becker Festival rehearsals.
It is a great pleasure to know Andy and be fortunate enough to enjoy his amazing music.