Jaime “The Saint” St. James
Interviewed on Aug. 25, 2006 by Celtic Bob
How is it going?
Going real good. How are you?
The new disc is just like classic old school metal.
That’s the way we planned it. Glad you think so. We’ve been getting a lot of love on different sites. People are digging it. We’re feeling good about that.
The fan response been good to it?
The fan response had been great you know. It’s been great response live, we play one or two new songs live and they go over really well. People that buy it at Amazon.com. They rate it when they buy it and they’ve been saying great things about it.
Do you get any flack from the Jani fans where you just replaced him?
Replacing a lead singer is very difficult. It’s the hardest thing a band can do. I know from the get go there was gonna be some flack. There are some that will now accept me. They’re like forget it, I’m not interested. There are so many more that give it a chance and love it. I get a lot of great feedback fro the audiences. The ones that don’t want anything to do with me aren’t even gonna come to the shows anyways. On some of the enquirer style websites out there they slag me the metal sludge type stuff I’m gonna get some crap on those because those people are assholes. For the most part the people that come to our shows are awesome and they love it. It’s been a pleasant changeover.
I was curious as to how the new Warrant was going to sound and after hearing the disc it was like “Jani Who?”
(Laughs)Thanks and I hear that all the time. It’s difficult to do, it’s not an easy thing. I knew getting into it, it was gonna be like “Aww man. This is not gonna be what I’m used to”. I’m gonna be taking a lot of heat, I better develop a real thick skin to get through some of it. It’s been really great. It’s been nothing but a pleasure. There are people that will never accept it and that’s fine. They can go get Jani’s solo stuff.
Did you have any reservations about joining the band?
Initially I did. I said I will give it a try. Let me come down and sing some songs see how it works. If I’m not comfortable with it I’m not going out there and make an ass of myself. Basically it felt good, they all thought it was great so…It took some time. The first 6 months or so of me being in the band I got thrown right out into the shows. They had shows already booked so I didn’t have a lot of growing up period with these guys. I had to learn 19 brand new songs to me. It was like Wow, cram full in my head. I wasn’t as good as I am now when I first started. The first year was tough. It’s become easy now.
Do you think your writing style fits in with what Turner & Dixon idea of what Warrant should sound like? It’s a bit like the first three.
Yeah, it’s a little bit like that. We purposely set out to write songs that were from the old school. 80”s sound not necessarily the 1st Warrant album but it’s gonna sound like that because these guys played on it. That’s think so…..and with my voice there is a bit of a different flavor there but I’m the same way. I came from a band called Black N’Blue and I played this kind of music all my life. We definitely intended on it sounding like that.
Were you a fan of Warrant back in the late 80’s and early 90’s?
Yeah, I used to go see them in the clubs. I barely remember it but I sang on one of their demos way back when. I was a fan; I thought they were a good band when I heard them after the first record at a place called The Country Club. The just finished their record and came out and played, all the songs were really tight. I said those guys are gonna break.
Do you have a favorite Warrant album?
I like the first record a lot ‘cause that’s what I was hearing them do that stuff live back in the day. I like all three of the first records. DOG EAT DOG is really cool on its own. I think CHERRY PIE has some really well written tunes on it. All three records are good. I didn’t get into DOG EAT DOG until about four years ago when I had to learn stuff off of it and I said “Wow, that a great record”.
That is my personal favorite one.
It’s really strong, it didn’t go through the roof like CHERRY PIE or something doesn’t mean its not a good record. It’s a really great record. I think Jani wrote some killer tunes on that thing.
How are the new songs going over live as compared to the classics?
Surprisingly we play one or two new songs every night depending on how long our set list is and I’m really surprised how well they go over. We’ve played like four different new songs live and they just seem to go over well. I think it is because they’re similar vein, it just sounds like an extension of Warrant. Really the crowd is just giving them a great response. We don’t load tem up with new stuff; we play all the old stuff. We only play stuff off the first three records.
Do you try to re-create the originals or change them slightly?
I purposely try to sing the melodies and all the phrasing and everything the exact way it was on record. Of course, its gonna be a little different. I try to sing it like the record, hit the same notes but with my voice, I can’t be somebody else but I can duplicate those records well. My voice is still strong and I can sing high. That’s what I do. I think the people deserve to hear the songs the way they were originally written. I really work hard to do that. It’s with my voice and thank God it works.
You don’t consider the band one of those nostalgia bands.
It feels like a new band because two of the guys: Joey and Steven had just come back into the band after being gone for twelve years. Me, I’m new it feels to me like a new band Fresh blood but we have a classic rock background with everything those guys did and we eve throw in a Black N’ Blue song, one called “Hold On To 18” so it’s a best of both worlds really. We’re gonna be on those 80”s package tours and stuff. That’s just the way it’s gonna be and we play with al lot of different bands. We’re not on the Poison Tour we’ve done shows with a lot of the bands. We just played with them in Wisconsin about three weeks ago. It went over really well. It was a big Rock Festival out there, like a few other bands on the bill, it was a three day thing but we played with Poison, Cinderella. It was a great afternoon.
Any plans to tour Canada next summer?
We want to. That’s something we keep talking about and to do it right. It’s still in the works. Summertime in America is huge for us. We’ll probably try and get up there eventually I’m sure.
You were the original drummer in Black N’ Blue?
I was a drummer all the way up until Black N’ Blue the band was called something else, it was me ad Tommy Thayer and Patrick Young in a band and I was playing drums and a different singer. When I went up front to sing we changed to name to Black N’ Blue.
Do you ever get behind the kit now?
I still play drums, I can still play, I still own a drum kit. I play sometimes in the studio when we’re doing demos or different things. I don’t get an opportunity to play that much. My drum kit I put in storage so its not like I play on it everyday. I can still play, it’s fun but I concentrate on singing. It’s pretty much my bag.
Are you still close to Tommy Thayer now that he’s doing the Kiss thing?
Yeah, I talk to him all the time. I was just at his wedding a month and a half ago. I talk to him, we live close to each other, he’s a very close friend of mine and we keep in contact all the time.
Where does Black N’ Blue stand now with Tommy in Kiss and you in Warrant? Is there a chance for any more Black N’ Blue stuff to come out?
It’s unlikely. There’s a thing I been working on for Europe, this thing called HELL YEAH, which is me, Jeff Leporter and Patrick Young. Doing a new Black N’ Blue record without Tommy and hopefully with Pete on drums someday. It’s hard to get those guys motivated. They’re not as involved with music as I am. They kind of dabble in it here and there. They have day jobs, they have kids and families and stuff. I’m just a lone rocker. It’s hard to get those guys motivated and they have a few personal problems. Someday we’ll finish it, it sounds like a classic Black N’ Blue record.
Will HELL YEAH ever get released?
It has nothing to do with me being in Warrant, and Tommy couldn’t be involved with it from the get go because that is in his contract with Kiss. It’s hard to get those guys motivated to play we made it about halfway through the record. We’ll see if I can get it going again someday. I will finish it somehow.
What are you currently listening to these days?
I’m listening to my own music. I got the pro tools set up, I got a little studio thing and I’m writing my own tunes and when I’m doing that I don’t listen to too much stuff that’s come out recently. The new Buckcherryy, Rob Zombie’s new thing, I listen to that a little bit. Those are cool! I just picked up this new Butch Walker thing. I don’t listen too intensely to anything else because I don’t want to get influenced because I am writing.
There is a chance for a studio album from you?
Everything I write now is for Warrant. Our new record BORN AGAIN just came out in June basically and we’re already writing for another one because we plan by the end of 2007 or sometime we’ll get another record out. We’re gonna keep pumping them out because it’s part of that feeling that we are in a now band.
Any chances of a live concert DVD?
Well we do have some DVD stuff in the works. In fact we did MTV style videos for every song on BORN AGAIN. We paid for this ourselves, we rented out a soundstage ad just did it live to the record but added in different stuff; funny footage, different kinds of things. Some stuff that was like an old school MTV video. We’ve got a lot of road footage, extra stuff that goes along with it and we’re gonna release that one of these days. We’re almost finished with it. We’re doing it ourselves.
I saw the “Bourbon County Line” online.
“Bourbon County Line” is part of that. We did it ourselves. We did eleven more of those.
Is there any MTV’s or radio stations picking up any of the new stuff?
There is a station out in New York is playing it. It’s tough. I would like to see MTV Classic maybe get ahold of it. Right now we are using it as a promotional tool on our website and we use it for when we do live shows. They sometimes have TV commercials for the bigger shows. We use it to promote ourselves basically. MTV, they ain’t gonna touch it.
The whole video things don’t seem to be as big now as it was back in the 80’s.
It’s kind of a dead thing. The only thing they like about videos anymore is the nostalgia aspect of it. Playing old ones “Here’s Flock of Seagulls again”. That’s what they do. Now it’s all about reality shows. I think the days of the proper videos for every band that comes out is gone right down the toilet. It’s not really gonna happen, but you can still do stuff. Technology has gotten too the point where we don’t have to spend $150,000 on a video. That makes it easier for us to do it ourselves. This whole Pro-Tools and computer really changed it all.
I don’t know if we’ll do another. It was a lot of work especially for Jerry Dixon who edited it all. That poor guy just beat himself in the studio. It’s a dying thing I think.
Any words to the readers and fans?
Hey! Rock N’ Roll it’s what it’s all about. Keep old school alive. Kick some ass.