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7th May 2009
METAL DISCOVERY: What would you place in your top three instrumental albums of all time, guitar based or otherwise?
JIM DAVIES: God, thereís not many to choose from, is there! Well, Vai would be first and then, erÖyou know what, this is one that I only got last week. I did an interview with this Russian woman last week and she said ďobviously youíve heard ĎJeffí by Jeff BeckĒ, and I was like, ďI havenít got a single record by Jeff BeckĒ. She said ďyou must have because heís done that album thatís quite electronicĒ, and I was gutted when she told me! I thought that was only me whoíd done that! And it turns out that heís done quite an electronic based guitar album, but it was obviously not the same as mine, because mineís all about the sounds. But it blew me away that album; I never realised that had happened, so I put that next. And then, ermÖIíd have to go withÖitís hard to think of another one. Have you ever heard of a guitarist called Blues Saraceno?
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(Jim Davies on his second stint playing with The Prodigy)
"I headlined Reading for God's sake in front of sixty thousand people! But, at the same time, my head was in a completely different place."
Jim Davies - uncredited promo shot, 2008
Photograph supplied by, and used with permission from, Karl Demata at Eleven PR
Interview by Mark Holmes
MD: The name rings a bell.
JD: He disappeared, but he did an album called ĎPlaidí and Dimebag from Pantera used to have a little tattoo on his ankle, a little ĎPlaidí, and he was massively, massively into him. And heís amazing. I used to have that album; I love that album. So Iíll put that in there as a bit of a weird one because I donít know if people know it. But I donít know what happened to him. Amazing guitarist.
MD: Iíll definitely check that out. Obviously you played in two big bands with The Prodigy and Pitchshifter - are there any Jim Davies fans out there that you know of, or do you find your followingís from fans of those two bands?
JD: How do you mean, like people influenced by me?
MD: Kind of people into The Prodigy and Pitchshifter, then following your career after that.
JD: Oh definitely. You mean people into what Iíve done in the past?
MD: Yeah.
JD: Yeah, definitely, and thatís really amazing; I donít take that for granted. Like I said, Iím a very sort of down-to-earth person. I donít really think about it too much, but it does blow me away when Iíve bumped into people whoíve said ďIíve got everything youíve ever doneĒ, and thatís amazing.
MD: Yeah, it must be a big compliment.
JD: Yeah, it is, yeah, and I think there are people who have followed the stuff, and other guitarists who have said theyíre influenced by me which is pretty amazing as well because I just do me thing really and donít really think about it. But itís nice; very nice.
MD: You left The Prodigy after your second stint in 2004 - has there ever been an offer to rejoin, and is that something youíd ever revisit?
JD: No, no. When I first did it when I was twenty one, it was amazing. Iíd come out of university and it was just like, wow, I canít believe this has happened, like IĎve joined this band and weíre touring all over the world, and Iím doing Glastonbury when I shouldíve been at university. You know, that was amazing but, when I left that, it had obviously done me the world of good because I got to play on those big records and thatís how I joined the next band. When I came back to doing it again in 2002, obviously it was a case of the gigs were the biggest Iíve ever done in my life. I headlined Reading for God's sake in front of sixty thousand people! But, at the same time, my head was in a completely different place. I was thinking, well, hang on a minute, Iíve gone away and done all this stuff, but Iíve ended up being a live guitarist again - I donít want to be a live guitarist again. And with The Prod, itís always a glass ceiling - itís always gonna be the three of them, and youíre gonna be the live guitarist. Thereís not an amazing amount of room to record with them. I did my recording which I was cuffed with because I know what Liamís like, and heís very closed when it comes to who he lets into his music. So I was chuffed when he let me in as I donít think many other guitarists have really played there. But when I came back to doing it I just thought, hang on a minute, Iím back to where I was when I was twenty one and live itís all about the performance side of things, and not about what youíre actually playing. Itís more about jumping around and giving a good performance, which I understand is part of the whole thing but, for me, I just had so many ideas and I sort of felt like Iíd done it the first time around. So, I donít know, I think Iíd done everything I could do with those guys and I donít think I would do it again. I think theyíre very happy with who theyíve got now; heís a great lad and heís a really good performance based guitarist which is what they need. I was always far more into the studio side of things more than the live side of things. I always felt a bit awkward on stage with them because I always felt I had all these ideas and I was up there playing a bar chord. But, you know, thatís what they needed; they need a performance based guitarist, not someone up there who can go ďlook, Iíve got this, and I can do thisĒ. But I understand that now. When I was younger though, it was like ďlook, I can do this, and I can do thatĒÖ
MD: I guess itís kind of a good way of learning restraint in performanceÖlike for this album, I guess, ĎElectronic Guitarí, you said you had restraint in there.
JD: Yeah definitely. But it opened a million doors for me and itís an amazing thing, but Iím far more proud of this album than the stuff Iíve done with Pitchshifter. But people are always gonna bring it up because it was a big thing.
MD: Yeah, a big band, and theyíre back there now.
JD: Exactly, you know, itís great theyíve had a massive resurgence. Thatís amazing and Iím really, really chuffed how that panned out. I know because Iíve been around it, and I know how close it was to not happening, so itís pretty cool.
MD: I read you did an album with Keith Flint a few years agoÖ2002...2003...?
JD: Yeah, thatís right.
MD: Öand that was never released. What was the nature of that music, and are those recordings ever gonna be released, do you think?
JD: Itís a very long story, but basically we recorded an album with Youth from Killing Joke. Iíd just literally finished playing with Pitchshifter, weíd done our last gigÖwell, what I though was gonna be the last gigÖand then went straight into the studio with Keith and we did a whole albumís worth of stuff. But it was all just a bit of a mess really. I think we went in there with Youth and all very closed off, you know, we didnít have any contact with the record label - they were Polydor, so they weren't quite a very sort of cutting edge label; they just wanted commercial kind of stuff. So they just left us to our own devices, and we just spent three months making a really raw punk album. And it was a really raw punk album! It just got to the point where the A&R man came in after three months and went ďuhÖwhat the hell am I gonna do with thisÖĒ. He was expecting something that he could put on CD:UK next to Rachel Stevens. It just all went a little bit, ďjust hang one a minute, what are we trying to do here?Ē There were too many people involved and it all just sort of combusted. It wonít ever be released, but itís out there to get. It couldíve been so good. It couldíve been an absolutely amazing album but it just wasnít done right and itís a shame.
MD: That sounds cool; that's a shame. Victory Pill - quick questionÖis that band now defunct or will you be doing more stuff with Victory Pill?
JD: Nah, nah! Victory Pill is just very much my baby now. After all the stuff Iíve done in the past, I just canít go back to doingÖwhen I did that first Victory Pill album, I just wanted to be really cool with it and say, look, yeah, Iíll go back and do some pub gigs. I donít need to be playing massive gigs all the time. So Iíd done it at really ground level; almost too ground level. We funded it ourselves and it was really, really hard work doing it all yourself. Thereís only so much you can do without a big label because you need that; you need someone backing you for tour support and stuff like that. But it was just nice to put out those songs, and we put it out ourselves and Iím really proud of that album, so Iím definitely gonna do another one. Weíve got about halfÖactually, weíve got about eight tracks now.
MD: Right, brilliant.
JD: I donít feel like thereís any rush to do it. Itís not something thatís ever gonna be big. Itís hard for us to play live because itís all self-funded. You know, itís frustrating sometimes because I do interviews with people like I have done today from Spain, and theyíve heard about it. Iím not sure itís even out in Spain! So itís frustrating because I think itís a really good album, but Iíd rather it was one of those albums that people discover and go ďoh, thatís goodĒ.
MD: And is that the first time youíve sung when you sung for Victory Pill?
JD: Yeah, it is actually. That was a bit of a strange one because I spent a long time trying to find a singer and I couldnít find a singer and went, what are we looking for? Rowdy English blokeÖand I thought, right, I can do that! I did really enjoy it but, at the same time, I found myself really limited because I was trying to do all this guitar stuff and do vocals, and thatís pretty hard work. So, yeah, Iím gonna do it but Iíll do it in my own time. It was a frustrating time because it was a really good album and we just had to deal with a load of absolutely useless record labels, and agents, and managers who were promising you the world and then nothing comes of it. I just got so fed up with it I thought, you know, I donít want anything to do with this, Iím just gonna do it myself and put it out when I wanna put it out. Iím happy with what Iíve done in the past, and I just wanna put out an album of stuff I like.
MD: Definitely. I heard thereís a remix of the Victory Pill album?
JD: Yeah, weíve done a little remix EP. Thereís about four tracks on there. Thatís just like remixes of ĎFreefallí and ĎKing and Countryí, stuff like that. I think the new stuffís gonna be far more electronic so itís just trying to push it that way a little bit so itís not too much of a shock! [laughs]
MD: Would you incorporate the íElectronic Guitarí sort of stuff in there as well?
JD: No, I think Iíll keep that separate. I think, if anything, itíll be sparser guitar on the next VP album and more electronic, and just back it off a little bit because I feel like Iíve got a lot of that out my system now.
MD: Cool. Youíve kind of answered my final question then - do you have any plans to record further instrumental albums?
JD: Yes! Itís really inspired me, this album, having the backing from Mascot and peopleís responses to it and Iíve done about eight tracks now for the second album.
MD: Brilliant.
JD: And Iíve upped my game a little bit with that. Even though on this first one I held back a little bit, on this one Iím sort of playing a bit more than I did on the last one. A similar sort of thing but pulling out a few more bits of lead. Not shreddy, fast stuff but a little bit more than I did before. So itís sounding really interesting; itís sounding really good.
MD: Iíll look forward to hearing that one!
JD: Yeah, yeah, Iím looking forward to it. Iím on a bit of a roll at the moment so I just want to keep going really.
MD: Keep going and release more good shit.
JD: Yeah, exactly, I just like writing stuff and if Iíve got the chance to put it outÖlike I said, with the Victory Pill thing, it was such a mission to find someone to put it out, I was getting so much bollocks from A&R people going ďoh yeah, itís really good; itís not really whatís going on at the moment though; itís all about doing this and doing thatĒ. I just thought I donít want anything to do with any of that and put it out myselfÖ
MD: Good on ya!
JD: Öand, obviously, having Mascot pop up and go ďthis is really good; weíll put it outĒÖ
MD: Good on them as well!
JD: Yeah, exactly, and Iím really chuffed about that so I hope this album does well because I want them to do another one.
MD: Definitely, I hope so to. Well, thank you very much for your time.
JD: Nah, nah, itís a pleasure. Sorry Iíve been sort of out and about, itís just I had toÖ
MD: No problem! I wouldnít have even known if you hadnít said you were at a cash point at one point!
JD: Shit, I know, Iíve just been wandering about!
MD: Itís been very interesting so thank you very much indeed.
JD: Thank you sir!
Official Jim Davies MySpace:
Select Albums (see Jim's official MySpace page for comprehensive discography)
Official Victory Pill MySpace:
Huge cheers to Jim Davies for his time
Thanks to Karl Demata at Eleven PR for offering and arranging the interview
Mascot Records Website:
w/ Pitchshifter - www.pitchshifter.com (1998)
w/ Pitchshifter - Deviant (2000)
w/ Pitchshifter - PSI (2002)
Official Victory Pill Website:
w/ Pitchshifter - Bootlegged, Distorted, Remixed and Uploaded (2003)
w/ The Prodigy - The Fat of the Land (1997)
w/ The Prodigy - Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (2004)
As Jim Davies - Electronic Guitar (2009)
w/ Hyper - Suicide Tuesday (2008)
w/ Victory Pill - Victory Pill (2007)