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Ten Questions with...


James Byrd is a guitar player of the upmost quality. He has been in Fifth Angel (very big news in 88/89 if memory serves me right), his own band James Byrd's Atlantis Rising and now with Byrd. Byrd's latest CD 'Anthem' is out now. For more details please visit

1. What are you currently up to?

Well at the moment I'm just kind of taking a break from recording and working on other things. I usually need to take a month or two off when I've finished an album before I start recording another. I need to get it out of my head and start collecting my thoughts. I can't make an album without some kind of feeling and perspective. My next project before I start recording again will be to do some more upgrades to my studio.

2. Who were your influences?

I'd have to say Hendrix from a musical perspective.

3. Which band would you like to see reform? know, I'm not a fan of the whole "reunion" thing but it depends. Most of them seem to be in it for the money or bleeding the last hope, but if it was because they genuinely enjoyed playing together, my answer would be original Rainbow with Ronnie Dio. Sadly, Cozy is no longer with us, but that was my all time favourite line-up and group.

4. Your latest CD is very much influenced by the events of Sep 11. As the first anniversary approaches of those tragic events, do you think anything has changed for the better?

No. I think everything's gone quite wrong actually. I worry a lot about the future of our civil liberties as a result of 9/11. I have strong opinions in politics, but I don't care to really go into them.

I'm a musician, I put this energy into my writing.

5. You are a very talented guitarist. Would you consider in the future the possibility of setting-up your own guitar school / workshop? What tips would you give to aspiring guitarists?

I've never liked teaching really. If a potential guitarist has "the goods" in terms of developing into a great player, I've always honestly felt that the world will be their teacher. There's a world of great musicians and guitarists out there one is free to learn from if they're truly motivated. Ultimately, my philosophy has always been that if one has a teacher, or one doesn't have a teacher, they are ultimately self-taught. My advice to aspiring guitarists has always been to record themselves and then be their own worst critic to make improvements. It's the best mirror there is really.

6. Who would you like to work with in the future?

I've been pretty happy with the people I'm working with actually. Michael Flatters will probably be singing again on my next album. He's been great to work with.

7. What are your views on the current rock music scene? What countries are the most receptive to your music? Which countries have the most loyal fans?

It's quite hard to say really. I'm not sure that it can be as easily answered these days as say ten years ago. Ten years ago I'd have said "Japan" and "Germany". But the internet has diversified everything and it seems to be some people from everywhere.

8.What has been the highlight(s) and lowlight(s)of your career so far?

I'd say the low-light was the way things went with Fifth Angel after we got picked up by Epic. That really sucked. Hi-lights are happening right now really. I mean I can't answer this from any perspective other than how I feel about what I'm doing, and right now I feel very fulfilled. I have control of my art, and I'm able to make the albums I want to make. What more is there? A million dollars?

Sure, it'd be great thank you, but it wouldn't change what I do, and if it did, I wouldn't be interested.

So happiness is no regrets and right now that's me.

9. What was the last thing you read?

I'd love to tell you that it was some long intellectual treatise on world history or physics, but in the interest of honesty, it was the National Enquirer. My girlfriend brought it home from the market and you know, as cheesy as it is, I just couldn't help myself :)

10. Message for your fans...

Hi and thanks for hanging in there!

Interview © 2002 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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