Interview with Model Stranger Bassist Kevin James

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Model Stranger is a Chicago based alternative rock band that draws inspiration from the 60’s to 90’s era of Rock and Roll. The Chicago press dubbed them “rock n’ roll classicists” and describes them as “an eclectic synthesis of psychedelic grunge and classic rock.” The trio describes themselves as “an analog band living in a digital world.” Any lover of rock will feel at home with the band’s sound, while also experiencing a new and unique style. The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Stephen Francis, bassist Kevin James, and drummer Vincent Joseph. 

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  1. Tell us a little bit about the band and how long you have been together for some of our readers that may not know about the band?

Model Stranger is an alternative rock trio that draws inspiration from the 60’s to 90’s era of Rock and Roll. We’re an eclectic synthesis of psychedelic grunge and classic rock…an analog band living in a digital world.  This December will be 11 years together with all original members still in love and intact.  

  1. What is new with the band?..New Album out? New Videos?

Yeah, we’re releasing a new record, titled Phases, on November 13th.  We’ve put out 2 singles thus far, titled “Breaks My Heart” and “Pick Me,” along with a music video and live in-studio performance for each track.  They’re available on our YouTube channel, Instagram live, etc.  We’ll have more official music videos as well as live performances in the coming months to continue to promote the record. 

  1. With all this madness going on with the virus…What do you think the music scene will be like in the future…and how are you prepared to make your music heard if there will not be any concerts or festivals for the year of 2020?  

Honestly, I really don’t know. I, like everyone in the industry, hope it goes back to what it was but at this time there’s no way to tell. I can see this impacting large crowd gatherings (concerts, festivals, etc) how 9/11 did with travel and the future being some hybrid of the old and new. Regarding making our music heard, we’ve been putting a lot more focus into the digital streaming platforms and online social world during this pandemic. We’re doing a live stream on Gigmor on Nov 12th and then FB Live Nov 14th to promote the record. As of now it seems to really be the only way to connect with fans and keep doing what we love, creating and sharing music, both on record and live.

  1. What got you into music and what is your earliest memory of when you told yourself… “THIS IS WHAT I WANT”?

My Father was a professional touring musician when I was growing up so that clearly had some impact on.  I’ve loved music for as long as I can possibly remember but I specifically recall listening to Infectious Grooves’ record Sarsippius’ Ark and absolutely loving the bass work of Robert Trujillo.  From that moment I knew I wanted to create that dirty low end stank.

  1. Who was your first concert and what is your best memory? 

My first concert was supposed to be Guns N’ Roses in ’92 but it’s the show in Chicago that Axl hopped on a plane shortly before it started when he was running from the police for the incident in St. Louis.  So my first concert ended up being when I was 12 years old.  My Mother took my older Brother and I to see Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves was the opener.  It was pure magic to my young eyes!  My best memory from that actually has nothing to do with the show.  I recall watching my Mother read a book while they were performing which still lives in my mind to this day.  

  1. If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now? My first career passion as a child was to be a clown. I wanted to go to clown school and join the circus. I can’t really say that’s what I would be doing right now though.
  2. On a scale of 1 to 2593, How good is your newest single compared to your last single? (my attempt at humor, but please still answer)

I’m going to have to go with 2,594. 

  1. What do you feel is the best song you have released to date and why?.

That’s a tough question.  We’ve explored some different avenues as a creative unit over the years. Everything off this new record Phases could work for me…or even some of the b-sides that got tracked but didn’t make the record.  I know I haven’t directly answered that question but that’s because it could change from day to day. I’d just say listen to Phases, then make your way through the catalogue on Spotify, or whatever medium you prefer, and then drop me a note of your choice. IG: @Kev_James or email

  1. Do you think you can get any better as a musician/singer? And if so, How would you achieve that?

Everyone can get better at any craft.  While there’s folks like Freddie Mercury and Jaco Pastorius, that I’d say were perfect, I bet if you asked them they’d tell you otherwise.  The more we write, record, rehearse, tour and hone our crafts during downtime is the most direct way to me.  Like most things, the more you put in the more you’ll get out of it. 

  1. If you could give your fans one random fact about you that you think they should (or should “not” know) about you what would that be?

Hmmmmm…this one isn’t really interesting but I’m ambidextrous.    

  1. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Glitter Jazz Sloth Snot Purple because I like to sparkle, spread love, party and sleep.

  1. Who are you inspired by Musically or in life in general? Musically I’m inspired by most of the bass players you’d assume, Paul McCartney, Flea, Robert Trujillo, etc. But outside of the bass, I’ve always been inspired by my family. My parents were and still are great role models and my Brother Chris, who I’m very close with, is a very successful published university professor in Canada. Regardless of his success, he’s always pushing himself to the next level which gives me inspiration everyday.
  2. What’s an average day like one tour? and what about these days?
    The average day would typically be us waking up at a fan’s house, hotel or back of the van (wherever the night took us), grabbing some coffee and hitting the road onto the next city. Typically anywhere from a 3 to 5 hour drive, then hit a coffee shop and do some work, get to the club at load-in time, soundcheck, perform, load-out, rinse and repeat. The life of an independent touring band. These days we are not touring and will wait this pandemic out until we get back on the road.
  3. Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans?

We’ve always taken the direct approach.  Very accessible, out there meeting, talking, interacting and getting to know them while they get to know us in turn. We’ve built some strong bonds with fans who simply came to see a band they like live but to me there’s more to it than that.  I keep in touch with several fans I’ve met over the years and will continue to do so.  

  1. Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety before, during, or after a show?

Maybe at the very beginning of my career but that wore off quite quickly.  I get excited more than anything to play live shows.  It’s the best part about being in a band to me…gameday!

  1. If you could collaborate musically or artistically in any way who would it be and why?

That’s a tough question because there’s different people I’d collaborate with in different ways.  Off the top of my head, I’d love to collaborate with Andy Hull and Rob McDowell from Manchester Orchestra or Butch Walker.  Both I’d lean on the side of working on songs together and having them in the studio with Model Stranger to engineer and produce.  

  1. What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Work hard, then work harder, don’t let anyone get you down and keep getting better at all aspects of the craft everyday.  Playing your instrument, singing, songwriting, producing, social media, networking, fixing the band van yourself…it all adds up.  We spent the last decade independently touring and might’ve missed out on shifting our focus to the digital world when it blew up.  I’d say build your fanbase online as you literally have access to the entire world.

Model Stranger is currently promoting their upcoming LP Phases. The first single “Breaks My Heart” proves the band’s skill. The song also show’s off the trio’s range and ability, as a softer bridge juxtaposes perfectly with the fast-paced verses and refrain. Incredible lyrics matched with solid rock turn this song into an instant classic. The second single  “Pick Me” showcases the trio’s energy. The way Stephen inflexes his voice and has the notes ascent followed by the back-up vocals serves as perfect rising action to the refrain, which is infectious and will get stuck in your head all day. Both singles capture the essence of the band: The familiarity of classic rock blended with vocals and performances that can only exist in 2020.

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About Bryan Joe Corder (4279 Articles)
Concert Photographer at heart, Love listening to music and going to shows to try to capture the magic on the stage with my imagery.I also review albums and live concerts.
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