James Parton speaks to Paul James Berry of The Rose of Avalanche.
First things first. How are you doing after your terrible accident? It happened in May 2009 right?
1.45pm 18/5/09 - when I died and then came back... I've been trying to heal and piece together my life ever since. It's been a long long road. I still don't have any external feeling to my left leg and the foot basically just hangs there. However, I'm out of the wheelchair and get about OK with a walking stick. The jury's out as to whether I'll ever walk 'properly' again. Kids call me Dr House...
What are your plans? Can explain about the Pledge Music album project?
Well, I want to record & release a new album! I like the idea of going through Pledge Music because it gives a structured platform for friends/fans and to get involved while the process literally unfolds. Moreover it gives the 'Artist' the financial support and freedom to realise their aspirations...
Normally I couldn't do another album without the financial backing from a label, but PledgeMusic permits me to be in control and hold the strings and therefore have no taskmaster dictating a lot of, well, bollocks!
Check out their site! http://www.pledgemusic.com/
However, before I sign-up I want to galvanise opinion from everybody out there and see if in principle they would back me on the idea. So, have a look and please please contact me with at least a simple YES or NO...
You made a rare appearance in the UK recently - is it still hard to get bookings in the UK without label backing?
Yeah, but I'd love to change that. When if I get this project off the ground then I'm sure I'll play more in the UK. However, it's a little bit my own fault because when I left the ROA many years ago I just wanted to 'pay my dues' as a singer/songwriter in my own right, and so I always distanced myself away from the ROA world. Perhaps because I was only a guitar player and a frustrated singer. The result was that for over ten years nobody really knew about my ROA years and hardly any ROA fans came to the gigs. In them days I'd just knock on venue doors and blag my way in for a short set. However, I did learn to sing!!! And, GOD did I pay my dues.
I never played ROA songs, in-fact I've only ever played my own stuff. Which I'm very proud of. I still play only my own songs, but I would welcome everybody and anybody to my shows. Especially ROA fans... You can run from the past - well in my case, more hobble - but it eventually catches you up!!
For the people reading this that may be in the dark, can you tell us what happened with your accident?
Yeah, I was riding a bicycle and and a 32-tonne lorry turned left into me while circum-navigating a particular notorious roundabout called the Seven-Dials in Brighton. The result was my legs were crushed...
Aside form the gruelling physical therapy; I guess you have had to be incredibly mentally strong to get through such a terrible ordeal?
An Interesting question! I've got a young family and the idea of 'giving-up' never was an option. I spent the first three weeks in Intensive Care, then I think nine weeks on the trauma ward. I was later on told that I actually lost 5 times my body's blood capacity, had operation after operation, told twice that it was all over blah blah blah. ICU where absolutely brilliant. The Trauma ward was a scary scary place... We are the best in the world at saving lives, but rehabilitation? NHS doesn't do gruelling physio, it's more, 'you've stopped bleeding, next please, we need the bed'... It was a real hard time...
Have you come out the other side with a new lust for life?
When I hear your question I think, how corny and pathetic it sounds! However, in reality - YES, it's true! I really do have a lust for life and a deep belief and need to document and move on... However, let's be clear I don't seek sympathy for being disabled. I seek help to record a new album!
You played some live shows in the UK and Germany in 2010, which is pretty incredible coming so soon after the accident. Was that the last time you toured?
You know, when I finally got out of hospital I was bound to a wheel chair for six months and then later crutches. I was taking still a lot of anti-inflammatory and other pain killing drugs... but I really needed to break the dependence from others... I always cherished and prided myself on my personal independence.
So, when the medicine-induced stupor eventually subsided and my mobility improved, I contacted some venues and arranged a few gigs. I craved autonomy. Remember I had had nurses, doctors & family basically doing everything for me over the last nine/ten months.
I hired a small automatic car, slung my acoustic guitar in the back and hit the road. Truthfully it was fucking knackering, but I swear I had a smile on my face for most of the 2600 miles I drove.
A slightly lighter question. Is there any bands or artists that stand out for you at the moment? Who are you into?
I listen to a wide range of stuff and I'm at ease with most genres. But, but I'd say I do generally gravitate to, moody shit my wife calls it: Vic Chestnutt, Nina Simone, George Moustaki and many many more. Though, I still get off on The 'bloody' Beatles, The Birds, Neil Young, etc...
At the moment I'm writing new songs and find it difficult to listen to music similar to my own (guitar & vocals). So, I submerge myself in a lot of classical music. Also, Japanese, Indian & weird Balkan stuff. It annoys the hell out of everybody around me, but I like it...
Last record I actually bought was Jack White's new album, Blunderbuss. I love it though he's got the habit of turning into some Led Zep seventies throwback, but I love the sounds and way he records. If he wanted to produce my new album - I'd consider!!
Any other pertinent things you would like to add?
Just hope that people will get behind this new project and help me realise it. For my project to become a reality, I need to test the waters and see if people are interested. Please contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org and just say yes or no. I promise it'll be interesting... ;-0