Signed to Peanut Butter Wolf’s Stones Throw stable, electro extraordinaire (and part-time pension provider) James Pants fights off the jet lag, memories of food poisoning (courtesy of an Aberdeen cheeseburger), and dodging UK roadrunners to give Clash the low-down on his debut set ‘Welcome’.
Fresh home from a UK tour with mentor and pal Peanut Butter Wolf, Pants who heralds from Spokane, Washington, is yet another ‘one man phenomenon’ who finds his music is best conceived in his garage. But, credit where credit is due – and rest assured he’s no Daniel Bedingfield. He’s the freshest, funkiest new kid on the block; the bastard child of The Beastie Boys and Gary Numan, who effortlessly blends psychedelic ’60s cuts with ’80s boogie, rap and new wave – an explosive concoction that’s infiltrated every track on his formidable debut.
Pants’ conception into the music industry is a refreshing one. It goes something like this: the Stones Throw boss was DJing when a fella by the name of Pants, James Pants, rocked up to the DJ booth, valiantly introduced himself (and prom date) and offered to take the honcho shopping for records. Wolf obliged and the rest is history.
Just like his label mates Madvillain and Dudley Perkins, it’s hard to pigeon hole his sound – a testament to his artistry and versatility as a progressive independent act. Playing drums, guitar, keys and “singing badly” (don’t be hard on yourself Pants!), his artistic control has proved to be one of the album’s key successes and acknowledges the esteem in which he is held by Wolf, who champions him as the ‘next big thing’.
“I like all different types of styles, and I just think I wanted to showcase all the different forms of music I like.” Speaking with Pants, one gets a feeling he is a maverick; an artist who wants to challenge musical boundaries. “I’m hoping my next album will have a little more unified feeling, and a central theme: Gospel Psych.”
Inspiration comes from the likes of Prince, 2 Live Crew and Tony Toni Tone – just a handful of acts who have energised ‘The Pant sound’. Rising vocalist/rapper and close friend, Deon Davis, guests on the standout soulful track ‘Crystal Life’ – reminiscent of the vocal mastery of Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo. Lewis reappears on the imaginative soundscapes of ‘Ka$h’ – here the P-Funk of George Clinton is mothershipped into 2008 with a parliament-electro twist. ‘Finger Knife’ is a glorious interpretation of ’60s psychedelic pop and northern soul – shitting on Barkley’s ‘Run’ from the top of the Empire State Building.
Pants is conscious of using inspiration in his music but ensures to make his own sound. “I think a lot of new music is stale, but lots of good stuff too. I think the biggest problem is that people are trying too hard to recreate old sounds instead of making new ones,” he reasons. “People take themselves too seriously nowadays. I like songs with mistakes.” Pants simply wants to get paid for what he loves – making incredible music. He’s achieved that with ‘Welcome’, producing what is quite possibly the debut of the year. But what does he envisage in his future?
“I have a secret desire to be a crab fisherman, like on that show, The Deadliest Catch, but I would probably get beat up early on.”