Danny James may be best known as a tireless supporter and promoter of a circle of independent artists out of Portland and Nashville (and several other places neither here nor there) as the head honcho of Badfoot Records.
The Oregon native moved out east a few years ago, set up shop in Music City and, in addition to endorsing recent releases from Portland folk standouts Fox and Bones and rocker Trent Beaver on his artist-funded label, is now ready to release his debut solo EP.
The three-track, punk rock The Odd Story is the culmination of James being reinspired by song and refinding his musical voice. From his first hand-me-down acoustic guitar, to buying a book of Nirvana tabs, to touring around the PacNW in a punk band, to becoming a guitar tech and eventually a luthier at the Deering Banjo Company, he finally landed in Nashville.
"I hadn't written a song since I was 14 years old. And out came The Odd Story EP," James says. "I originally wanted this project to be a four-song folk punk EP done DIY. But, the songs really started to come to life the more I played them and I thought they deserved more growth than just an acoustic album."
So James reached out to John Little at Magnetic Sound in East Nashville, gathered together some players—John Condit on guitar (Lilly Hiatt, The Inscape), Ryan Colebeck on drums (Lilly Hiatt, The Burning Peppermints), and Todd Bolden on bass (Elizabeth Cook)—and laid down the songs in a single day. "That first note that John Condit hits in the solo on 'Haven't Had It Easy' immediately gave me chills!" James recalls.
The track "is a song about my life when I was younger," James tells. "A true story about the struggles of being broke and living on the road at age 20. Yes, I stole a jar of mayonnaise from a grocery store," he laughs. "Yes, I got a tattoo that says 'Jesus' in the county jail. I started writing the song inspired by a lot of the current outlaw country artists who claim to be 'outlaws' but haven't had it hard a day in their life. I believe there is something to be said about claiming or being proud to be an 'outlaw.' A term that is typically earned. Not to be glamorized."
"I have a lot of other songs that didn't make it on The Odd Story," he continues. "Songs that I think will be better done acoustically in the light of Americana and folk. So, I plan on recording those late spring and releasing them in the summer."