AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES HIGGINS: Musical Litterbug and Artistic Fidget
INTERVIEWER: James, how do you describe the music on this album? If you had to say it sounds like ...... mixed with ........., what would you say?
JAMES: Cement mixed with trees. Concrete cedars.
INTERVIEWER: What's this album about?
JAMES: I don't want to spoil the movie for you. You have to chew your food well to get all the flavour and nutrition from it. I wanted this album to grow on people slowly, to give them something to think about instead of just explaining everything in the sleeve notes and removing all trace of mystery. Basically though, it's about life on the road and the things that live and die and sing and dance along that highway.
INTERVIEWER: How do you define "on the road"?
JAMES: I think it's different for everyone. I knew a guy who, last I heard, was living in a cave in France. He was looking for Isis or something and he was a great violin player. He was doing his thing, doing no harm. He gave me directions to find his cave. He said to go to Carcasonne in southern France and drive straight through heading south. After a few miles there'll be a T junction, it's either a left turn or a right turn. He couldn't remember, so he said drive left for 15 miles then get out and yell my name. If I don't appear, then it must have been the other road. Drive back to the junction and take the other fork for 15 miles. Get out and yell my name and I'll be there. That was his take of "on the road."
For me, it was all about freedom. Freedom of movement. Freedom of thought and artistic expression. Being on the road gives you a feeling of always living slightly out of sync with the rest of the passing world. Moving at a different speed. On the road is the freedom to do what you want as long as you don't hurt anyone, whether you're shacked up in a cave with Isis or living in a ditch with a telegraph pole. It's the freedom to settle down if you want and therein lies the paradox of on-the-road philosophy.
INTERVIEWER: You lost me there.
JAMES: Me too.
INTERVIEWER: Are you pleased with this album?
JAMES: I think so. Like the cover, each album is a complete painting. A sum of its parts. These songs go together, it's not an album made up of one or two hits and then B songs. Each song is an element of the painting.
Also, it changed direction several times in the making. It was constantly metamorphosing and evolving. It was a slippery fish. Two or three times I thought it was finished, but then I'd take things out and put things in and rerecord and take away the number I had first thought on.. Finally, in the end it's all about letting go. Facing the fact that it isn't going to get better.You just say "it's finished." That's it. In the back of your head you're afraid that if you let go, it will sink." You want to be sure you've plugged all the holes.
INTERVIEWER: How does it differ from the last album,"Crawling Out the Woodwork?
JAMES: It's a little more electric. A kind of Crawling out the Metalwork
INTERVIEWER: You're Scottish. Any plans for recording some traditional Scottish music?
JAMES: My brother and I recorded an album of Scottish and Irish folk songs a while back It was a lot of fun. It was called "Calling Aiken Drum". We'll probably do another one. Maybe two or maybe more. Who knows?
INTERVIEWER: Last question, why do you call yourself a musical litterbug and artisitc fidget? Explain what you mean by that.
James: I write songs about nothing everywhere I go. I am always working on several projects at the same time, from painting, to writing and recording songs, designing and building rustic furniture, or building wooden sculptures in my backyard. If I keep working on all of them, moving from one project to the next, I'll eventually finish all of them. Eh, maybe.
For more info on James, please check out his website (http://home.attbi.com/~jameshiggins) or the bio in his previous release "Crawling out the Woodwork."