Return to James Durbin







Some of you may recognize the name from a well-known singing competition.
Some of you may not recognize the name at all. Either way, he's sure to be a
household name very soon. He just released a new album on July 15 called
Riot on Sunset. A few days later he embarked on a national tour. Born and
raised in Santa Cruz California, please allow us to introduce you to Mr.
James Durbin:

RTW: What are your musical influences?
James Durbin: My earliest influence was Motown. My mom would always listen
to the oldies station after we dropped my older sisters off at school. That
route was accompanied by the sweet sounds of New Kids on the Block. When I
was old enough to decide what music really interested me I loved Journey. I
still do. Steve Perry's vibrato and presence are legendary. I also got big
into Queen and Aerosmith. A few years later I discovered the 60s: The Beatles!
The Doors! Hendrix, Joplin, The Stones, and Led Zeppelin! In high school I
discovered my love for the 70s and 80s hair metal, followed by the "Emo"
bands of the new century: 30 Seconds to Mars, My Chemical Romance, AFI, etc.
These days my influences are still all these things and more. I love the
authenticity of Chris Stapleton as well as the style and attitude of Backyard
Babies. I try not to be one thing and one thing only. My influences are
diverse and in turn, so is my music.

RTW: At what age did you become a vocalist and guitarist?
JD: I was singing straight outta the womb! The Dr. smacked my ass and I sang an
F above high C! It was my first standing ovation. I got a hand-me-down
guitar, a chord book and a mouth tuner when I was 10. I taught myself the
chords and got an Elvis' Greatest Hits chord book with my allowance. Since
then I picked up different tricks and nuances from friends and heroes. I'm a rhythm player mostly, as my fingers don't seem to want to move faster.
My guitar and my voice are the tools of my trade. Put me anywhere with
guitar and I'll do what I do best.

RTW: What are your goals as a musician?
JD: I try, hard as it is, to not measure and compare my achievements to the
success of others. Sometimes that's easier said than done. My goals are to
always do better, get better, be better at what I do. As an artist, I will
always be my own biggest critic. But fortunately, this time around with my
new album "Riot On Sunset" I got out of my own head and truly delivered my
best. I couldn't be prouder of the work we all did to make it. We set the
goal and we nailed it!

RTW: What gear/equipment do you use on stage?
JD: Most often you will find me playing Epiphone guitars. I just love the
feel of all of the Epiphones I've played. I'm a big fan of the options you
get with them as well as the familiar feel of each guitar I've owned. I tend to
lean towards acoustic. My two trusty acoustics are "Stickers", a black EJ-
200SCE and "Ol' Red", a Masterbuilt DR-500MCE. I've had them both for
almost 6 years and they've been with me many strange and amazing places and

RTW: How do you feel the music industry can be more successful in this day
and age?
JD: It's all about what you do and how you do it. There's so many more
options these days. You can be independent and be your on boss. Make all the
decisions, design your brand, exploit it, and not have to give yourself
away. It's a good time but also a strange time to be an artist and a
professional musician.

RTW: Any closing remarks?
JD: I hope you found this interview insightful. Every musician sees things
differently as every musician is different. They say "No two people play the
blues the same way" just as no two people agree about everything they've ever
discussed. Our differences are what give us our individuality. So don't be
afraid of being weird or different. Dare to be weird and different! Express
yourself in a way that makes you happy, as happiness is personal gold. And
in this day and age with all the killing and war, fighting and hatred we
have to hold onto the things that make life worth living. We need our
happiness. I got into music originally through theater. I discovered the power
of healing through performance. Not only my own personal healing but the
healing of those in the audience. I discovered that if I just do what makes
me happy, in turn I can make other people happy. It occurred to me more
recently that I am a target for people's insecurities and fears. Their
strengths and weaknesses. My music can heal scars and mend wounds Don't worry.
Be happy!