James Pants comes clean on why dirty is best.
by Joshua P. Ferguson
published 4/30/08 Time Out Chicago magazine
Far from the snow-capped mountains and seas of pine trees that dominate the popular image of the Northwest sits Spokane, a midsize city on the eastern side of Washington state. Spokane has no such Kodak moments. Driving down Interstate 90, heading east into downtown, you’ll first notice Mickey D’s golden arches and the red bubble-letter sign of Burger King sandwiched between Whopper buns. While the gray streets and generic strip malls would seem to offer little inspiration to aspiring musicians, some, like Stones Throw artist James Pants, call the drab burg home.
“It’s hard sometimes,” says Pants, the gruff-voiced, 26-year-old drummer and record-digging enthusiast who’s known to his family as James Singleton. “I just listen to records to get inspired and then try to re-create what I hear. Badly. The key is finding ways to entertain yourself.”
The self-professed band nerd’s attempts to stave off boredom have molded his musical mentality. Spokane’s lack of cultural activity provided Pants countless hours to noodle around with a thrift store’s worth of used instruments, putting a lo-fi, gritty spin on his favorite records, regardless of what kind they are. As a result, Pants’s style defies easy categorization. “I do stuff I think would be funny, to me at least,” he says with a laugh over the phone from his home studio. “I’m not trying to be like Frank Zappa or anything. I just really like to do whatever sounds fun.” In fact, he’ll readily tell you his music isn’t great: “I’m not that skilled, and I don’t have a lot of the right equipment.”