James Evans
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James Evans

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1979 | SELF

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 1979
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"JIMMY RAE GETS IN TUNE AS JAMES EVANS SETS THE TONE"

Get ready to learn more about a musician who lives, breathes and thrives for the guitar. James Evans is a Canadian artist who writes his own music and even works with other local acts in Canada. His new group instrumental album ‘ZepOcean’ has some excellent guitar riffs and solos you just have to hear for yourself. Evans also has another record out titled ‘Transform’ that is a solo effort and just like ‘ZepOcean’ Rock is at the core of it all. When James is in the zone he feels like he’s “totally connected to the Universe”. Tune in as James Evans and his trusty guitar set the entire tone for all you Skope readers out there.

Jimmy Rae: I know that guitar is your thing because you’ve been playing since you’re five years old. But my question is what sparked your interest to pick up a guitar at such a young age? Going off of that, what has kept the passion, fire & drive alive after all these years?

James Evans: I wonder the same thing Jimmy, well when I was 4 going on 5, I saw my Uncle strumming a guitar and I remember walking right over to him while he was playing and just tuned in to the tone of the strings being played off the neck, the bridge and his pick. It was amazing. I think he was playing Gibson ES335 acoustically. I picked up on all those colors of tones and felt the pressure of sound being eluded from the guitar. I had to touch the strings to see what that felt like on my fingers and how that tone could absorb into me. Later that year my Uncle would let me strum chords on his Gibson. Ever since I keep chasing that moment, electric or acoustic from almost any type of guitar. Another thing, being involved in different genres has helped to also keep me fueled for different sounds and textures of tones from guitars.

Jimmy Rae: With the major success of video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, what is your take on these titles? Does it hurt the image of a real guitarist at all or does it help its cause? I guess I should I ask if you are a fan yourself and if so are you pretty good?

James Evans: To be honest, I don’t like these types of games, so no not a fan as it only builds interest around the mighty corporate profit margins. If someone came out with instructional (uncharted promotions, indie) type of games that could be incorporated into Live Broadcast (TV or Internet) for an artistic presence, I think it would help develop skilled, unique and versatile artists today. Mind you it is entertainment and the audience has a right to enjoy at their leisure.

Jimmy Rae: I saw that you are from Canada and I have to say that there has been a lot of talent coming from there recently especially with the Independent music scene. What is it about Canada that seems to be emerging as an Indie circuit mecca?

James Evans: LOL, I think it’s because we are so spread apart up here (41% of the total land mass of North America) population-wise that we need better ways of communicating, so we use music to get people’s attention and connect spiritually. Well, let me try to remember what Rich Chycki pointed out one day while mixing, the per capita balance in Canada for the music industry sector, including artists, is about 10 to 1 against the USA. This, of course, leads to a saturation in the music industry here in Canada and creates very competitive grounds. Venues are very small and few, not like Europe where an Indie band can play clubs or venues that support over 3k. Only a couple of Agencies control the major venues here so if you don’t have a big label or management behind you, you’re fighting to play clubs for free, lol, or pay the venue. Canada has a talent pool that runs deep. We just can’t keep eating Muskrats and Kraft Dinner, so yeah we end up in Tennessee or California selling our soul for a real meal. Yeah, I think Indie Canadian artists have been emerging for the last few years now and will still be strong I think over the next decade building more Indie talent and labels, Eh.


Jimmy Rae: I recently reviewed your album ‘ZepOcean’ and I wondered then if the title had anything to do with the iconic rockers Led Zeppelin and their song “Ocean” off of their monumental record ‘Houses Of The Holy’. So…is it true James; I’m dyin’ to know as I’m sure all the Skope readers are as well?

James Evans: Actually the title track “ZepOcean” was unnamed even at the time of pre-production. The CD was even nameless. The original demo I think was called “Shades of Blue”. A solo acoustic piece, and at the time, I definitely was tuned into Jimmy with a vibe and tone I was getting from my old detuned $100 guitar. The acoustic track was later recorded with my Larrivee 03R, mic’d at the 12th fret. When pre-production was winding up for that track, Mark Fortuna, one of the engineers that worked on the majority of pre-production with me on 6 tracks, asked, “what is the name of this track?” hmmm I thought, yeah better come up with something fast because the files were going to be moved around from the pre-production studio into my pro-tools studio so I could do some pre-mix edits and so on. I came up with the idea partly thinking of a Zeppelin, not the band but the flying device, just the picture of it hit me, and then placing a statement that Robert Plant made when asked in an interview, “what does the song ‘Ocean’ represent”. Of course he replied “Our Fans, the Audience”. Putting all that together then “ZepOcean” is born. The definition was spun off from the first Video for the CD, “944” based on the treatment I wrote during the final CD design phase. Ha, that’s another dimension.

Jimmy Rae: I noticed that ‘ZepOcean’ is a group instrumental album while you also have a solo instrumental currently out titled ‘Transform’. I love instrumentals myself especially when they revolve around the almighty guitar but curious to know if you’ve ever thought of incorporating vocals? Have you ever done this and do you see yourself maybe adding some singing into the mix looking ahead to future projects?

James Evans: Jimmy you’re not the first to hammer that one at me. I heard it from almost everyone moving forward with the project from demo to pre-pro to final tracking. Originally it was all carved out to only be an instrumental from day one. When I was confronted with possible funding issues without having vocals I tailored the idea and had asked some well noted vocalists to contribute. The artists that I had asked to cameo just happened to be engaged in their own projects and could not commit at the time or felt their skills would not bring enough to the project. I have tracks that did not make the CD because they turned out to be more suited for vocals. I do have demo tracks with vocals that I have done, but sadly, I’m not a vocalist. I was also entertaining the idea of producing or co-producing tracks I have written for female vocalists in the Toronto area I’ve scouted but I currently had many pots burning and shelved the project. I’m always open to work with new ideas and to mold into what can become more of what has been or will be.

Jimmy Rae: What are some names of guitarists that you maybe idolize yourself or at least respect and look up to? Can you name some artists or bands that you’re heavily into that may come as a surprise to some readers and rockers everywhere?

James Evans: Damn, there is a huge list but the players I truly respect for the talent they spew from their fingertips have to be ~ Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Roads, Joe Walsh, Chet Atkins, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, David Gilmour, Brian MacLeod, Alex Lifeson, Michael Schenker, Ted Nugent, George Lynch, Frank Marino, Ronnie Montrose, Steve Howe, Uli Roth, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.

Bands and artists that I enjoyed while growing up were: Montrose, Foghat, Boston, Foreigner, Super Tramp, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Krokus, Fist, Yes, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Aerosmith, BTO, Black Sabbath, Head Pins, Toronto, Nazareth, AC/DC, Scorpions, Judas Priest, ELO and Triumphand Chilliwack.

And yes the talented, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, BB King, The Police, Devo, The Tea Party, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Caldera, A Perfect Circle, Rush, Saga, Sound Garden, Three Days Grace, Ian Thornley, Van Halen, Tom Waits and Peter Gabriel.

Jimmy Rae: I couldn’t help but notice on ‘ZepOcean’ that there were so many elements hitting me from every direction but I could always tell that rock was at the core of it all. Is this true always with your music and would you say this is the type of artist who you’ve become?

James Evans: I believe Rock has always been in my blood from the time I felt the tone of the guitar hit my ears and into my soul. It’s that tone, “Tone Chasing” as Eddie would say, it’s so big those acoustic, electric tones just seem to push me into that Rock element. It’s raw energy that I try to capture, tone from my fingers on the fret board to the way the pick attack sizzles, with a spinal-tapped-edge being muffed by the palm of my hand at the bridge with just the slightest pressure. My music roots are Rock and I will continue to forge with that presence inside of me.

Jimmy Rae: I know for a fact that you have a very diverse music background playing in hard rock, rock, metal, pop/rock, country/pop and even Motown R&B bands. I can only imagine what your CD/music collection looks like at home; care to give us a small tour?

James Evans: haha, I’m all over the place. I will have Alan Parsons, Enya, Chapper & Co. on my iPhone, then I will be listening to Thornley, Three Days Grace, Rush, Saga on my Notebook and then listening to Classical and Sinatra in the SUV, all in the same day. I really enjoy listening to detail and simplicity. For instance, ancient Egyptian music pulled from hieroglyphs, instruments are double reed flute and Ancient Harps used mainly as percussion.

Jimmy Rae: Besides being a well-trained guitarist and songwriter, we also find out that you are a seasoned vet in the studio as well. You’ve written, produced, arranged and engineered your own music but it’s interesting to note that you’ve also done so for many local acts in Canada. How long have you been doing this and do you enjoy working with other bands just as much you enjoy creating your own music? How do they compare and differ?

James Evans: I’m mainly self-taught when it comes to engineering. I started when I was 13 using 2 cassette tape recorders and bouncing ideas until it became mush lol. Being in the studio with other engineers and asking a lot of questions really helped too. Actually I really started putting together ideas and helping other bands about 20 years ago when I operated a band rehearsal space which had about 12 rooms and they were occupied constantly. I heard some great talent so I decided to offer promotional recordings and help put together shows. It came down to only a few bands that I worked with and promoted on local and college radio. One of them ended up getting a record deal and toured. I really enjoyed being part of the creation process with them but probably I would lean more toward compositions of my own. When we come back to your question of Rock and being the core of most of what I do, it is sometimes hard to pull away from that and be tuned into a guitarist or drummer who has a different approach and style so my interpretation would sometimes differ. Then when actually tracking the process it would be similar to how I would go about building the elements of my own material. When working with bands I would also let the artists place the position of style and emphasize their comfort zone to track, somewhat the same as when I work with artists on my own works and productions.

Jimmy Rae: When you’re playing your guitar and you know that you’re in a zone what is that feeling like?

James Evans: Most of the time I have to be in the zone when I play. That is a must, and it feels like I’m totally connected to the Universe. I feel the vibrations come from the string on the fret on the fret board through the neck and the tonal experience from the pressure on the neck and pick hand. I sometimes prefer not to use a pick just because the tonal experience is even more euphoric and almost presents an out of body experience with, intertwined amongst the vibe and colored energy from what the guitar is producing. In ways I would say the experience maybe close to what Jeff Beck feels. I’m not sure if he has the same emotional sensations in his zone but I know if I’m having an off day and my psyche has me clouded it’s real hard to find the zone. I feed from the energy of the sound, experience and atmosphere in a room to get to that zone. My playing ability may be hindered within my psyche but would sound normal to others, but not me.

Jimmy Rae: The Skope Universe would love to know more about the real James Evans when you’ve got down time and not playing tunes. What types of other activities are you into?

James Evans: I’m always doing something with technology in some capacity, building networks, managing Global domain attributes, internet domain WEB IIS configuration and rollout, security, DNS, etc.. (yeah somewhat of a geek). I’m also into photography. Currently putting together a portfolio which should allow me to start a showing with a well known gallery in Toronto sometime this year. Always loved the outdoors, fishing, camp fires, hiking, cross country skiing, and canoeing.

Jimmy Rae: Any skeletons in your closet you’d care to unleash to the Skope audience? If not I completely understand but then feel free to tell us about an interesting story or two of your past. This could be something funny as hell that happened to you or something that was a monumental moment in your life or something so crazy nobody but us would believe it! You can be very creative here and attention to details is always a plus!

James Evans: Skeletons, those guys are dead and the dead bury the dead in that closet. I tend to move on from the past. Well I have a lot of interesting stories but I think I will share one of my monumental signatures from my past. In my youth I grew up with the Cree Indians in Northern Saskatchewan in a small isolated community, population 500. I lived in the North for nearly 10 years. The only way to get there was to fly in. My father was a teacher and my step mother was the Registered Health Care provider for the community. I was about 15 at the time and always enjoyed long hikes in the woods. Sometimes I would walk for hours just taking in all the wildlife and fresh air. One day I was walking along a cut line, on a nice sunny, hot summer day, when I came to a small hill. I was about 10 miles from town now. At the edge of this hill I felt a warm golden ray of light start beaming this energy onto me. As I looked up towards the beam from the sun I instantly felt as if I was being lifted off the ground and that golden light engulfed me as this euphoric tunnel glued me in position. I felt this emotional barrier of happiness, unconditional love and totally engaged to who I was. Then suddenly images and memories seemed to be downloaded into my head of my life as it was, is and what was to happen. All of a sudden it was like all was within its own realm of being, I became enlightened. I don’t know how long I was like that, all I could remember there were tears running down my face and this huge emotional euphoric glow of happiness and love that just kept surrounding me. It was as if someone lifted a fuzzy shield away from an anticipation of your self-being. I constantly have Déjà vu and attribute that from the download of information. It was just so much information that it was hard to conceive that it happened in such a short amount of time. Can I tell my future? No not really, but when Déjà vu hits I usually know parts of the future event that would unfold. Sometimes it’s scattered or hard to interpret.

Jimmy Rae: For people living in the U.S. that know little to nothing about Canada, can you tell us once and for all just how the free health care system really is? Please be honest here so that we can all come away with an informative opinion finally.

James Evans: A subject that has many views here in Canada. Here’s my personal view from my personal experiences. I’ve never needed any serious operations nor have I been operated on for any health issues so I cannot give my personal experience on that. What I do know is that there are huge shortages of doctors here. I would think that about 20% of the medical graduates end up in the USA. Just in the region of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge there are over 30,000 families without a family doctor. Just to see a specialist here can take up to 6 months. I personally have experienced that from needing to see a Neurologist for an Ulnar nerve in my left arm which had stopped working. Not so good when you’re a guitar player, you can’t play. That was about 4 years ago. I had just started to plan and record ZepOcean when it became non-functional. I could not play for more than 2 years and now I’m just fully getting back to maybe 60% functionality of my hand. So yes, 6 months to hear a doctor say, time will heal. There was the option of an operation but I decided by giving a big NO Thanks. Emergency waiting times can be 12 to 16 hours long. Urgent Care clinics are also about 3 to 8 hour waits. Yes this is also from personal experiences and many of us Canadians really wish this free healthcare system would start paying more attention to the frontline technicians and nurses. Our system is just not working. I think the USA healthcare reform has its pros and cons but when you look at it long term I’m sure the American people will come to appreciate it, just look at us..

Jimmy Rae: I feel that it’s crucially important that everyone help out to make this world a better place especially now. What are your recommendations or take it a step further perhaps and tell us how you contribute toward making a difference?

James Evans: We can all really help out that’s for sure. I’m putting together a program to help promote delivering usable water to countries that are underdeveloped and are in need of the first required substance to sustain life, Water. The program will be incorporating a direct deposit from sales of merch and CDs to help provide water to Global programs. World Water Day is March 22nd and it is to remind us to act now to make a difference.

http://oneweekforwater.org/about/

Jimmy Rae: What’s next for James Evans (news, updates, tour info, etc…)? How is 2011 stacking up so far?

James Evans: There are some shows coming up this year and band members are being recruited for rehearsals starting next month. On a note, I have also just been selected as semi-finalist for the International Songwriters Competition for 2010, for my track “After Burner” from the CD ‘ZepOcean’.

There is also a new CD is in the works this year and guess what, you might hear a vocal track or two. There is no release date yet. I’m also hoping to work on some new projects in town with fellow artists. New promotional material will also be coming up by mid April. I’d say all is going well and moving forward at a good pace right now. I like having everything fall into place and not rushed.

For more info on this versatile artist, SKOPE out http://www.reverbnation.com/jimevans.

By Jimmy Rae (jrae@skopemag.com) - Skope Magazine


"From frozen lakes to the ZepOcean"

From frozen lakes to the ZepOcean
Muirsical Conversation with James Evans

Guitarist, songwriter and producer James Evans may have the most interesting background of any musician I know or am aware of.
His album releases are no less interesting - 'ZepOcean' (2010) is an excellent guitar-led instrumental rock album and the other two CD's issued thus far from the Canadian guitarist both feature intriguing sound-scapes and textures.
FabricationsHQ caught up with James to chat about how he got from his home town of Windsor to the musical waters of the ZepOcean, and all points in-between.


Ross Muir: We’ve been talking about catching up to chat about the life and musical times of James Evans for a couple of months, so nice to finally do just that.
But first, James - how’s life?

James Evans: Lately it’s been a roller coaster. Something in the air, immediate change is upon us in all regards. It’s been pushing me into unchartered waters so it brings on the waves of life. Overall, in being where I’m at today, really fantastic.

RM: I’d like to talk a little about 'ZepOcean,' your guitar-driven instrumental album released in September of 2010. 'ZepOcean' has started to make some waves - no pun intended - amongst fans of the rock instrumental genre as well as music critics and reviewers. When we first talked, you asked if I would be interested in checking it out and were surprised when I told you I owned a copy and that it was slipping in under the radar on this side of the pond…

JE: Actually yeah, kind of caught me by surprise. I had been slow out of the gate in getting promo done for this CD and getting airplay. I’m a full-time dad, have been for nine years now, to a teenage daughter. It's sometimes a bit taxing to fall into all these roles with a passion for music and guitar. I sometimes lose myself, finding my soul come from within my playing. So yeah, I never would have thought a buzz was making it over the pond, for sure.

RM: 'ZepOcean' is one of three albums you have released, the other two being extended EP’s or mini-albums and we’ll touch on those later. 'ZepOcean' is a full-length album of ten tracks and is a great little release featuring your rock chops. What instantly attracted me to it wasn’t so much the solid soloing featured throughout, but the songs themselves. Many such albums tend to be about the fret-burning ability, but 'ZepOcean' is as much about the structures and form of the songs.

JE: Shredding has its place. It’s not something you want to hear all the time. Mostly you want these types of licks from structured songs and placed accordingly, but as I write my tracks out I feel there needs to be more than just fret-burning. The listener needs to grab on to more of its surroundings, its foundation, and catch what the whole piece is doing and not just one solo guitar. Of course you need to hear some really cool riffs and that’s what I want to get across - placement, texture and the tonal sound which I make happen. If I had the budget I would have gone even further into developing more of a bigger production and scope of diverse guitar sections. Who wouldn’t!

RM: Many people will feel the title relates to Led Zeppelin, or a nod to that band and Jimmy Page, but would I be right in thinking it has more to do with the concept of energies, or soul energies, travelling the universal ocean?

JE: Yes, and actually the title track, ‘ZepOcean,’ was unnamed even at the time of pre-production. The CD was even nameless. The original demo I think was called ‘Shades of Blue.’ A solo acoustic piece and, at the time, I definitely was tuned into Jimmy with a vibe and tone I was getting from my old detuned $100 acoustic guitar. The acoustic track was later recorded with my Larrivee 03R, mic’d at the 12th fret. When pre-production was winding up for that track, Mark Fortuna, one of the engineers that worked on the majority of pre-production with me on six of the tracks, asked, “what is the name of this track?”
Hmmm, I thought, yeah, better come up with something fast because the files were going to be moved around from the pre-production studio into my pro-tools studio so I could do some pre-mix edits, and so on. I came up with the idea partly thinking of a Zeppelin, not the band but the flying device, a vessel of light. Just the picture of it hit me, and then placing a statement that Robert Plant made when asked in an interview ”what does the song ‘Ocean’ represent.” Of course he replied “Our fans, the audience.”
Putting all that together ‘ZepOcean’ was born. The definition was spun off from the first video for the CD, ‘944,’ based on the treatment I wrote during the final CD design phase. Ha, that’s another dimension. But yes, being inspired by Jimmy Page himself gave me the images and a kind of different space to write in.
Jimmy is very versatile, an amazing artist.

RM: As regards the tunes themselves there are a number of highlights, none more so perhaps than the opener, ‘After Burner.’ That song has made quite an impact internationally…

JE: 'After Burner' is one of my favourites. I could actually listen to it several times and not get bored of it. That's probably because I'm always critiquing my own music when I listen to it and find more movements within its context. Being said, some impact, yeah. It just won as a semi-finalist for the International Songwriters Competition for 2010. A very prestigous competition involving something like 110 countries and over 15,000 artists. I just entered to build awareness and not thinking that it would be noted. Another surprise!

After Burner - from ZepOcean (2010)
RM: A month after the appearance of 'ZepOcean' you released the mini-album 'Transform.' It’s highly unusual for an artist to have releases this close together, but 'Transform' showcases a very different side to the guitar tonalities of James Evans. The tracks for 'Transform' were recorded live, with no overdubs or edits?

JE: Yeah, those were performances I had done live for guests at my house over the summer of 2010, building promo for 'ZepOcean.' There are definite mistakes (laughs) and timing issues, which I thought should just be there. Why not, it’s character. The only edits were selecting the tracks I wanted to master. The only real edits would have been the endings on a few tracks where I would cut.
No over dubs, I played only one guitar straight through the whole track. A Baritone solo and then one track of sitar solo. I mastered the CD at my home studio.
It was really just as a memento to be handed to my friends who had been around through the making of 'ZepOcean.'

RM: 'Transform' is also entirely improvised. Was there a pressure to perform when the Record buttons were hit, or did you find those musical energies just started to flow?

JE: It’s the way it is with me all the time, turn the switch and it just flows. I get into the groove and just find a place to find serenity and that cloud of intensity.
I feel the room, the energy of beings, the thoughts and emotions of which are flying onto my energy space and keep feeding with its intensity and power.
It just creeps through my bones and out my heart into the guitar. I like playing the sitar, it is so cool, it gives me a new vibe to breathe and live on. It’s deep in colour and style, aged to bring out an old, souled flavour. Someone that uses the style of sitar on twelve-string is Jeff Martin, formerly of The Tea Party - although I just heard they are regrouping. I love the different tunings; it just gives the guitar more dimension and soul.

RM: I hadn't heard that about The Tea Party reforming, distinct sounding band with the eastern influences they incorporated into their music. That's interesting in how you describe turning the switch and it just flows. The improvisational sound-scapes you create with the guitar draw parallels, for me, to Pat Metheny. And that’s no bad thing…

JE: I try and take my style to its own transformation with improvisation. Pat is an amazing player, truly talented. Hey, and yes, thanks for that great compliment.
I want listeners to hear me and hear something more out of the box and away from the cookie cutter record deals. Something of free spirited music.

RM: Amen to that, James.

Bring Me Home - from Transform (2010)
RM: The three albums you have released are all very different beasts, but are all facets of James Evans’ musical expressions. I would think such musical diversity comes from your background and all the musical influences picked up on and played since you were a teenager and throughout your career as a performer.
So I’d like to go right back to where it all started…

JE: …and it all started with that tone. The string vibrating over the fret board, being sustained over the bridge and sending these coloured frequencies into my ears, giving me a picture to the movements of those sounds to phrases.

RM: And you were introduced to that tone, and those sounds, at the age of 5, I believe. A few years later you had completed, what was it, Grade 5 Standard Guitar in around two and a half months?

JE: I achieved Grade 5 of the Standard Guitar Method around the age of 9. The private instruction was done by Gordie Taylor, a great Jazz player. I was in grade 4 or 5 at school and did this in about two months, along with some extra work Gordie gave me - big band stuff, etc.

RM: That's pretty impressive, and all clearly indicating there was a true talent, and relationship, developing with the instrument, even in those early years.

JE: Before school lessons I would play along with WRIF 101 from Detroit.
What ever came on I was playing along side, whom ever. I remember Jimi Hendrix came on and my mom said "I really like his playing" so I paid attention to detail and tried to make sense of his tone and approach. I was at a schoolmate’s house and he took out his guitar and put a book in front of him and he started to play 'Tom Dooley.' I thought wow, that’s cool, getting that vibe from notes. He gave me Gordie's info and I was off collecting pop bottles and hopping on a bus for a half hour, once a week, for a month or two.

RM: In your teens you moved to Pinehouse, Saskatchewan where there was a native Cree Indian community and you picked up on country, fiddle and jig music. That must have been both a fascinating and interesting time.

JE: At first it was quite a culture shock. I remember the Beaver pontoon plane landing at the main dock of the town and here I am climbing off the plane with high platforms, bellbottoms and strapping a guitar in one hand and flicking my long hair over to one side to see about sixty Cree Indian kids all staring at me and shouting “moony ass.” I thought they were swearing at me! (laughs).
It means “white man.” I soon became part of the scenery and picked up on the local music scene. The town hall would hold contests for best act and I would join in with anyone who showed up. I just started playing along with fiddle and other singers and guitarists filling in my spot. I was 14. Some of the favourite guitar pickin’ tunes were from Chet Atkins, I just followed and picked up what I could.

RM: And you were also recording and building guitars at that age?

JE: I decided I needed more than just my Silvertone guitar so I started making an electric guitar in Woodworking shop. Then it became a project for me after school. I had all sorts of parts so I just put everything on that thing - I never heard of Eddie Van Halen until I was 15. I remember the double top Mahogany, which I stained dark with a Satin finish. I had this idea of tracking my rhythm chops so I could practice my solos. I soon found that I was recording two rhythms and two melody parts, haha, it kinda became mush after two bounces.
I then decided to build this wall of sound out of the school’s turntables. They had a line in and line out so I would daisy chain about six of these bad boys in the gymnasium and voila - instant stadium sound! (laughs).
I was having a blast and so were the locals, as the outside of the school would be crowded with an audience of about fifty or so kids wanting to watch the show.

RM: Around this same time you moved back to Windsor, where you were born, played with local bands and were introduced to rock music.

JE: It started with a three-piece band playing for high schools. I then mostly got engaged with other players and strayed in and out of practice halls and sessions, picking up the rock vibe and scene. Not any of that in Northern Saskatchewan where I had just come from. That’s when I picked up my first and only Fender Twin… great experience.

RM: By 17 you were back at Pinehouse and became a licensed truck driver.
You have stated before that you feel you are “a loner” and enjoy isolation - truck driving in the beauty of that isolated area must therefore have been as enjoyable to you as the music in your life.

JE: I was actually back in Pinehouse when I was 16. When my father and stepmother moved back to Ontario I stayed. I had just turned 17. Just before I started the truck driver training course I was a fisheries scale-house operator.
I would wait for the fishermen to bring in their catch from the nets and weigh, crate pack and ice them in the icehouse for delivery to be flown into the fisheries at LaRonge. I then worked for a construction company building the bridge that suspends over the Snake Rapids on the Churchill River system in the middle of winter. Later in the winter I cut trees and trimmed for logging.
Then I started my truck training, which I enjoyed so much. Just being out in the openness and isolation with a large piece of equipment and taking in all the surroundings was amazing. I really felt that this would expand my experience and greatly build my character - being alone and just taking in so much of the northern beauty.

RM: The truck driving included trips across frozen lakes and hauling uranium I believe? Looking back now do you see that as an enjoyable part of your life adventure or do you think, “I must have been crazy” (laughs).

JE: Yes, I hauled uranium from the Cluff Lake mine and delivered the yellow cake to the transfer station in Saskatoon. I mainly hauled fuel from Edmonton to the Cluff Lake mine though, and that was an adventure. The northern roads can become very tricky and at times unpredictable with adverse weather conditions. Some of the rivers were at the bottom of huge cliffs and in the winter you need to keep your ear keen to the CB radio to hear if anyone is coming towards you with a load of yellow cake or something. The bridges at the bottom of the hills were single lane and the roads were covered in ice. I was glad to have taken that course as it taught me how to avoid certain mistakes others had made who ended up over the edge of the cliffs in flames. I was always pretty confident in my driving skills at 18, and felt in control of the transport all the time.
When I was a bit nervous was when I was promoted to the most dangerous task - hauling corrosive materials out of Uranium City. This meant I had to cross Lake Athabasca in the middle of winter. I never really thought anything of it, it was just another job. I enjoyed driving my Kenworth through the forest just after Cluff Lake to get to the shores of Lake Athabasca, always wanted to do that. It was just trees bulldozed out of the way and you were driving through the wilderness for miles.
A bit crazy? Well, let’s just say I drove with my window cranked down when crossing the lake at minus 50 degrees (laughs).

RM: Fascinating stuff, James. My wife is a big fan of the ‘Ice Road Truckers’ programme that currently airs here in the UK and you have just painted a picture as vivid as any of the images from that TV series.
Music was never far away though - the next few years saw you move around a little, including back to Windsor, where you were now playing rock, metal and began classical training. Mixing so many styles must have been a great musical education.

JE: Yeah, the whole time I was driving truck in the north - before moving back to Windsor - I was playing in The Roy Corrigan Band, a country-rock group I put together with some teenagers. We toured the north playing at arenas and town halls. We were a big hit. I later joined a rock group called Danger Street, while still driving transport. Then when I moved back to Windsor and was driving transport into the States I was playing during the week and weekends with metal and R&B bands and recording. This was back in the ‘80s and, haha, the recording turned out to be at the same studio The Tea Party started recording at! Same time I did.
A friend, Barry Rumble - we played together in a band called City Beat - owned the studio and I helped him get motivated to start using 6-track cassette, haha, then later upgraded to the 1/2inch 8-track TEAC, which I still own today.
I found the more diverse and challenging the guitar parts were, the more I had to work, and the more I could bring out who I was. And in my own style.
Picture
"I want listeners to hear me and hear something more out of the box and
away from the cookie cutter record deals. Something of free spirited music"

RM: By the mid-'80s you had experienced many genres of music. For example City Beat, the band you just mentioned, were Motown R&B. You were also becoming proficient in other aspects of music, starting to arrange and engineer.

JE: City Beat was fun. The guys were great and we all seemed to have this good synergy. I came up with most of the productions and set arrangements. I mixed and engineered and started to create medleys for the band, which became a hit at our gigs. Yes, as mentioned Barry and I tracked as much as we could and had lots of fun. We tried all kinds of different situations and used all kinds of instruments. Barry was a collector, the more the better… he had all kinds of gear and that was one of the reasons I liked tracking with him, experiment and experiment.
I only arranged and helped with tracking of my own material at Barry’s Fine Line Productions, which he owned and ran. I was an integral part of his start-up and a good customer. Later, I started my own studio where I worked with a drummer and had a monster console from Headwater. I believe it was a Hill. I bought it from Barry who at the time was working at Headwater. They did all the major productions in Detroit - Kiss, AC/DC etc. So I had this enormous console and outboard gear in my penthouse room on Riverside Drive in Windsor while, again, at the same time, driving transport in the States and recording when I could.

RM: And this leads to you producing, mixing and mastering - for both yourself and other bands. Do you get the same enjoyment producing and engineering as you do recording and performing?

JE: It’s all intense and I love it all the same. At every aspect of the creation it never ends, that complete synergy and this welcoming to new ideas - it keeps the music alive.

RM: Early in the ‘90s you got involved in computers, to such a degree that you became a computer technologist, built computers and formed the template for what became YSC systems. You sold YSC systems in 2001, but were there ever any thought that YSC might be your future or was the call of recording and performing too strong?

JE: It was a battle. While at the office I had a studio where I could take breaks after the gang was gone and just let it loose. I had one of the guys from Cedar Tree Recording studios stop in and help me bias and align the heads of my TEAC 8 track. I just kept recording and coming up with ideas. That’s how I put my album 'Tradewinds' together, from all those late nights, breaks and also during the weekend recordings. I knew that the technology was something that just came naturally to me and that it would morph into another phase to give rise to more great compositions and recordings.

RM: Around the time you stepped out of YSC Systems you released the CD you just mentioned, the mini-album 'Tradewinds,' which took around two years to complete. And YSC workstations were used in studio as part of the recording technology?

JE: Yes. While tracking and putting together ideas for a CD I was also working with Motorola on a secret mission. I was trying to develop a machine that could run multiple operating systems but also be compatible and be offered to a direct consumer base. The project was shelved and I do believe Apple picked up where things were left off. During that process I was introduced into digital recording on the PC side. I started off with the Notator by Atari, back in 1990, and that’s what captured my digital interests.
Yeah, the YSC music workstations were a work in progress as it was the first of its kind to be a full-blown 16bit digital recording PC, back in the late ‘90s. I worked with Triple DAT, Lloyd Walker and the rep for Cream Software to work out the kinks. This is partly why it took so long to complete the CD and I was also head deep in R&D, and manufacturing servers for Software Manufacturers in Waterloo. Lloyd Walker owns and operates Random Access Productions and was also the engineer/ co-producer on the 'Tradewinds' project.

RM: On 'Tradewinds' you featured saxophone, world percussion and even some dialogue. You also play both guitar and Chinese zither. All those parts give the album it’s own identity - almost cinematic in texture - painting pictures or soundtracks. Intentional, I would surmise?

JE: Yes, that was the whole idea. Mix in a big blend of world elements and textures. I really liked experimenting with the guitar, with tones and different techniques of attack, on that CD.

Gung Ho - from Tradewinds (2001)
RM: Composer, guitarist, engineer, mixer, producer, performer, creator of a successful computer company, frozen waste truck driver (laughs)… where to next on the James Evans musical adventure?

JE: Haha, I’m going fishing soon! (laughs). Maybe some golf, Mexico again.
But on the music note, I’m currently working on new promo for press and for the next up-and-coming CD. The music will definitely be rooted to rock and, you never know, possibly some vocals.

RM: James, it’s been an intriguing and fascinating musical journey and I’m very pleased to have been along for the conversational ride.
Here’s to the next adventure, and thanks for stopping in at FabricationsHQ.

JE: Cheers, my friend. Hope to catch up with you soon with that Scotch in hand!
It’s been a pleasure and I hope we get to do it again real soon!

ZepOcean - from ZepOcean (2010)
Ross Muir
Muirsical Conversation with James Evans
April 2011

Featured audio tracks are presented to accompany the above Conversation article and by kind permission of James Evans. No infringement of copyright is intended.

James Evans website: http://www.jimevans.ca/Official_Music_Website.html

ZepOcean, Transform and Tradewinds are available through iTunes, CD Baby and other selected music sites.
- FabricationsHQ


"James Evans proves to be a force to reckon with."

By Jimmy Rae (jrae@skopemag.com)

If you like group-oriented instrumentals that focus on the almighty guitar then you should love this album. The artist’s name is James Evans and his new project is called ZepOcean. Hmmm…wonder if the title has anything to do with the legendary band Led Zeppelin and they’re song “The Ocean” off of ‘Houses of the Holy’??? Anyway, the new record is great as Evans provides you a plethora of music to choose from.

As I listened to this 10-track recording, I could tell that rock was the core element but there was also so much more there. This makes sense because James has quite a diverse & extensive music background. He has played in rock, hard rock, metal, pop/rock, country/pop and even Motown R&B bands plus is a studio vet. Not only does James Evans write, produce, arrange and engineer his own music but has done so for many local bands in Canada. This guys seems to be a jack-of-all-trades for sure, so how will ‘ZepOcean’ pan out then?

The answer to that last question is very well because the new album will not disappoint. You have James Evans on all electric guitars, bass, acoustic, keyboards & programming plus other musicians helped out as well. Contributing artists include: Brian Doerner on drums, Ryan Abramowitz on drums, Steve Hogg on bass, Dave Wiffen on sax, Ian Yim on bass & percussion and James Im on programming. Add in Richard Chycki (Aerosmith, Rush & Pink) as the mixer and you have yourself one fine ‘ZepOcean’.

As soon as you hit Play, Evans is rockin’ it on guitar and the drums are hittin’ hard on “After Burner”. The exhilarating start is followed up with a number that has plenty of passion & power on “Into The Night”. You get a southern, blues feel on track three “Dawg Days” while the title track really moves. James picks up the pace a bit on “944” with some heavier riffs and then get ready for a jazzed up rock sound with the help of the sax on “The Quest”. James really surprises you next by incorporating a major dance beat into a rock mix on track nine “Trashy Pumps”.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable listen as James Evans proves to be a force to reckon with. I was very impressed with Evans’ guitar playing here and I have to say that the drums had a big impact on me as well. This instrumental album was definitely well done, but not gonna lie when I say that I’d be very curious to see what a few vocals would sound like on some of these songs. I really do love instrumental albums; especially ones that revolve around guitar & rock as the main source. You owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of ‘ZepOcean’ just to see what all the fuss is about.

- Skope Magazine


"ISC Semi-Finalist for 2010 (After Burner)"

International Songwriting Competition is pleased to inform James Evans that the song "After Burner", entered into the Instrumental category, has been selected as a semi-finalist in the 2010 International Songwriting Competition (ISC). Congratulations on this achievement! - International Songwriters Contest 2010


Discography

LP: Tradewinds 2001
LP: ZepOcean 2010
LP: Transform 2010

LP: Skies of Silk 2013

Photos

Bio

James is an accomplished guitarist who can choose licks from Hendrix, Fripp, Howe or Page and work them in effectively to his own sound.

Influences:
Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, David Gilmour, Carlos Santana, Randy Roads, Alex Lifeson, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Joe Walsh, Ted Nugent, Tom Scholz, George Lynch, Frank Marino, Ronnie Montrose, Steve Howe, Randy Bachman, John Fogerty, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora,Eric Bell

Born May 5, in Windsor, Ontario Canada, Guitarist of Pop/Rock Instrumental. On September 1, 2010 James has released his second self-produced CD “ZepOcean”. Current contributing talent include, Brian Doerner on drums (Helix,Saga), Steve Hogg on Bass (Ian Thomas Band) and mixer Richard Chycki (Rush, Aerosmith, Pink). On October 10, 2010 James Evans has released a solo guitar and sitar CD entitled "Transform". Also available on iTunes and CD Baby.

James was introduced to the guitar at the age of 5. Ever since, James has been obsessed with the tonal effects the “soul of the guitar could bring out”.

At age 12, he finished Standard Guitar in two and a half months which was taught by Gordie Taylor.

James started recording rhythm tracks at age 14 and began to build guitars and make shift amps. Moving back to Windsor where he started playing in various bands, was introduced into rock.

At 20 he played with a rock band and toured in Saskatchewan while attending college. At 21, James played heavy rock and pop, then back to his hometown of Windsor where he played rock metal and began classical training.

In 1985, James joined City Beat (Motown R&B) and played local towns. He Produced, arranged and engineered the bands production. He appeared on cable May 1985 for the African Relief Fund. Later that year James began recording original material of guitar instrumental pop/rock at Fine Line Productions.

James continued writing and arranging musical works by himself. In 1987 he ran a studio where dance mixes were held and some pop/rock with a drummer developed. Later the next year started a rock band in Windsor.

In 1990 James moved to Kitchener, Ontario and began renting studios out to bands for rehearsal. Later he started a studio to promote local talent which was aired at University and New Alternative stations. He has produced, promoted and engineered for local band’s.

Band Members