We speak to James White from ‘James White & The Wild Fire’ about what’s it’s like forming a band during lockdown, reaching the top of the Amazon charts and bringing together the band’s differing musical tastes.
HC: You guys formed the band in 2020, how did it come about as it couldn’t have been easy?
James: We started piecing the band together in 2019, this line-up didn’t have Ed in it so we had a few shows together pre-first lockdown. It was only when lockdown was lifted in Summer 2020 that Ed got on board, we had a reshuffle and the band as we know it came to be! It has been an awful lot of waiting around after a short start and a large stall caused by the pandemic. It has really just kinda banged and boomed since May time when we were unleashed into the big wide world!
HC: Tell me who does what in the band?
James: Well you have the Queen of Bass, Brooke Bond on double bass. She hails from Des Moines, Iowa, and we’ve made it clear to America that they can’t have her back now! We have Lee Dorrington playing cajon, we have Ed Goldsmith on the 5-string banjo and finally you have me as the songwriter, guitarist and vocalist.
HC: Do you all have similar musical tastes/influences?
James: We all come from very different walks of life with very different histories. The fact we all play together, when you think about where we have all come from, is quite mad. Ed loves his Bluegrass, Brooke is so versatile and plays everything from Jazz to Classical to Rock and Blues. Lee can play anything. I myself listened to Classic Rock, 80s Rock, Hair Metal and Indie when I was younger and now I am fully baptised in the world of Country, Bluegrass and Americana.
HC: Where did the name come from….although I can guess the first part…..?
James: You know, I wasn’t keen on having my own name as part of the name of the band! I am aware I am quite a loud and out-there person but this band isn’t about me. We toyed with different names for ages, I guess the Wild Fire part just seemed kinda rough, ready and “Americana”.
HC: Everyone is musically talented so do you guys play other instruments?
James: You mean everyone ELSE is musically talented! Brooke plays the ukulele, I wouldn’t put it passed her to be able to play anything with strings on it. Ed plays the mandolin and the guitar… a bit. Lee plays the drums as his primary instrument. I started learning the harmonica, piano and the violin during lockdown but I wouldn’t ever say I can play them to a level which is respectable yet. I did play the flute when I was younger.
HC: What are the ‘rules’ of being in James White & The Wild Fire?
James: The first rule of James White & The Wild Fire is: You must always talk about James White & The Wild Fire… until Instagram locks your account for spamming, anyway…
Honestly, there are no rules. One thing for sure is we are all in this together. We just wanna make music and have fun! Life is too short to put a leash on things like this – at least in my opinion!
HC: What’s your song writing process? Who does what, or is it a collaborative process?
James: I write the lyrics, melody or whatever, Ed complains that it isn’t in G or is in some awful timing like 5/8, then I get bullied about not writing one in 4/4 and G. In all seriousness, I write something, take it to them if it survives my process of whether I like it or not (usually 9 out of 10 don’t pass), then the band get a horrendous voice message of whatever hot mess I have put together and we take it from there in rehearsal. And like a series of top mechanics, they turn it into something respectable.
HC: Do your creative mind-sets differ and how do you handle it between you?
James: Lee and Brooke are so laid back that they just go with the flow which does really help. Ed is the one who will tear my work to shreds. I have a cry, realise he is right, and then we push on in a better direction. It is a good mix – you need someone to tell you when something isn’t good enough and Ed does that. It is what takes the music to the next level. Brooke and Lee’s talent alone draws in incredible ideas that elevate the songs. Geniuses, the lot of them. We never argue when it comes to making music. Except for Ed… Ed argues.
HC: Your debut EP ‘Making Tracks’ reached Number One on both the Folk & Country Album charts on Amazon – what was that like, when you found out?
James: Well on the first day of pre-order it was in the 70s position for Country. I was like “that is so cool!” The next day I woke up and I couldn’t see it so I thought “Oh, we must have fallen out of the chart, but that’s cool..” So I had a browse to see what was number one and saw we were number two in the Country chart. I just stared at it, refreshed the page about ten times thinking this was some sort of prank or that my coffee had been laced with something. But nope – number two! So I shared it with the band and we were all gobsmacked. Then Ed came back being like “Mate you do realise it is number one in the Folk chart?!” Which obviously I didn’t, so I was floored once again! About thirty minutes later we were top in both and it stayed that way for some time.
HC: Being formed last year you must still be full of excitement and energy, what are your general plans for the year ahead? What do you want to achieve as a band?
James: We have a few headline shows to announce shortly on top of the one at the Hunter Club in Bury St Edmunds. I’m excited to bring the band to my home county of Suffolk. After that a few more shows but I have been writing a lot recently, so a run of singles or an EP most probably early 2022 is the plan, we are weighting up whether to release a live album from Saffron Hall as we have everything in place. We shall see!
HC: James is quite a charismatic frontman – are the rest of you cool with that, or will we hear a few more voices coming forwards?
James: I’ll leave that to Ed to comment on!
Ed: I’m quite happy leaving it up to James to woo the audience. I’m usually way too busy tuning in between songs anyway. That being said, if I need to knock him down a peg or two in front of a crowd, I can usually find the time…
In all honesty though, James is a great frontman, and his personality really helps make every show special.
HC: If you could choose any singer/musician to join the band for one gig, who would it be?
James: For me? Tyler Childers and Billy Strings. No brainer for me! But I am sure Ed will choose any other frontman who can write in a respectable timing and in a key he likes. I’d be booted out in five seconds.
Ed: I don’t think I’d replace James with another frontman, as such… maybe a metronome…?
HC: What are your fondest musical memories?
James: I started playing music as listening to music was my sanctuary from my early teens when I was first diagnosed with depression at fourteen so it is really hard to pick something when I feel I owe my life to it. But I’d probably say the Tyler show at Rough Trade.
HC: Who is the hot head of the band? And who keeps everyone calm?
James: I’d say Ed is the hot head, I’d say Lee is the one who keeps everyone calm.
Name one of your favourite uplifting songs that always cheers you up.
James: Girls Club by Marc Rebillet. No contest!
HC: When is your next gig?
James: Friday 13 August at the Hunter Club, Bury St Edmunds!
HC: What can we promote/highlight? List your links to socials:
- Instagram = https://www.instagram.com/jameswhiteandthewildfire/
- Facebook = https://www.facebook.com/JamesWhiteAndTheWildFire
- Twitter = https://twitter.com/jwhitewildfire
- Spotify = https://open.spotify.com/artist/1Uooyzgy4IgTwOUvOQZLVY?si=BXLW-wYhSoe9Zm3QACenXw&dl_branch=1
- Apple Music = https://music.apple.com/gb/artist/james-white-the-wild-fire/1565788501
- Deezer = https://www.deezer.com/artist/131749412/radio?autoplay=true