St. James drummer Todd Shelly
Everyone remembers the great time rock 'n roll that the 80's dealt out. It's very obvious as well of what impact Black 'n Blue had and really still has on the music scene. Well, Jaime's back in town with his new good times roll hard rockin' band St. James. I feel very privileged to have had a chance to get an inside look into the band with drummer Todd Shelly. Todd is very confident in his abilities and is another dynamic personality that should get this band kickin' it hard and reminding all what music is suppose to be about, fun, and lot's of it!
Dave:  Todd, I appreciate you taking the time to talk a bit about ST.JAMES, the music, the band and the whole approach. Give us a background on yourself.

Todd:  Well, let's see here. I've been a drummer almost all of my life. I started drumming at the age of 7 and began playing in clubs at the age of 14. I've been in so many different bands that I've lost count. They were bands of no real significance...bands with names like Foxx, Nasty Rachel, Freak Parade, Kidd Wicked and many others. I've done numerous studio works for other bands. In '96, I was a drum tech for Ginger Fish of Marilyn Manson for 3 whole weeks. I live in Cleveland, Ohio and I'm a huge music fan. I now am thrilled to say that I play drums for a great band called ST.JAMES featuring former Black 'N Blue frontman, Jaime St.James and we're getting set to release our debut album in a couple of
months. Things couldn't be better right now.

Dave:  Everyone's gonna be curious, how did you meet Jaime St.James?

Todd:  Bassist Joe Frietchen and I met "The Saint" in 1999 at the Cleveland Agora Theater where the band we were in was doing a show with DOKKEN. We were finished with our set and decided to go walk around the place and hang out with our fans and some friends. Jaime was standing there, kind of checking out the scene. He had just moved to Cleveland from Los Angeles and didn't know too many people except for Don Dokken who he initially went there to see. I remember looking at him and realizing who he was and wondering what the hell he was doing in Cleveland. He was looking for musicians to form a new band. He saw our set and I guess he was interested in our guitarist. We were all introduced and decided right there, after a few cold ones, that we should all just form the band and get the ball rollin'. That's basically how I met "The Saint".

Dave:  What kind of chemistry does the band ST.JAMES have? This is one of the single most important factors of a bands signifiance on the scene.

Todd:  The chemistry of this band is nothing short of phenomenal. I've been in many bands and nothing has ever been this easy and smooth sailing as things come together with this band. As you know, Joe and I have been playing together for about 5 years or so. We definitely have our shit together. We're a solid unit. He reads me well and I read him well. It makes for a truly refreshing feeling when we play. when you see me and Joe on stage together, you can tell we've been playing together for a long time. That's good chemistry! We know each other inside and out. I'm very proud of Joe. I was in another band for 8 years, we were looking for a bass player at one point and came across Joe. He was a guitarist
and gave it up to play bass for us. He wasn't a bass player. He took on the task and learned a ton of songs in a very short period of time and just nailed it. I got to watch him grow as a musician and learn from him as well. He's now the best bassist I've ever played with. In this band, ST.JAMES, me and Joe perform all of the backing vocals as well. There's quite a few harmonies to deal with. I've been singing awhile and Joe's never really been given the opportunity to step up to the mic until this band. He gets better and better each day. He's a great musician. The chemistry with the rest of the band was easy from the get go as well. We've all been around the block and know what's good and what's not. With every gig, rehearsal and even just hanging out as brothers, the chemistry is always evident. We're friends, we've made some good music so far and we collectively shred on stage. THAT is chemistry.

Dave:  What kind of approach does Jaime take to the songwriting with the band? Does he handle most of the duties or is there more of a group thing going on?

Todd:  It's quite simple actually. Sometimes it can be comical as well. To get the full effect, a person has to be in our little circle of fools to understand the comical side of it. I'll explain both. In basic explanation
Jaime will give us all a call on the phone and that he just finished a song and wants to show us. We'll go to rehearsal and Jaime will present us all with his new idea while playing acoustic guitar. The band
collectively throws in little bits here and there and a new tune is made. Now the inside funny stuff happens by the way my bro, Jaime presents the new idea to us. This is also where you gotta understand the bands humor. Jaime is a performer through and through. On and off the stage. He'll come to rehearsal and bust out "Boxcar Willy" (aka an acoustic guitar) and really try to sell us his idea. He'll put on a performance for us. Rock faces, arm thrusts, hair flipping....the works! It's actually cool as hell but with our humor, it makes it kinda funny. I guess you'd have to be there to get it. I wouldn't want it any other way. The Saint writes killer stuff. He handles most of the writing duties. All but one song on the record. Danny wrote one called "Light of Love". I haven't heard from Jimmy yet but Joe's got some good demos that could be cool to work on. I'm more of a lyricist. I've got alot of ideas but it's hard to present something to the band unless you play guitar or piano. Jaime leaves his ears open for one of us to bring something to the table and contribute in the songwriting. He was simply on a roll and wrote such good songs that we kept them and used them for the record. They were all keepers. It came easy. So, to answer your question, it's Jaime for the most part.

Dave:  When did ST.JAMES come together as a project?

Todd:  Well, I wouldn't call this a "project". We started playing together because we're all music vets. This is what we love to do and we've been doing it for awhile. We all love to create music and perform live. We just wanted to jam. That's what we're getting to do. This is more of a jam session to me and if people dig it, that's all the better. I'm getting to play with a group of great musicians here. We want people to have fun. Rock is supposed to be fun. That's what we're doing. Making people have a great time and having a great time ourselves. I would call us a band, not exactly a project. We're not out to change the world or come up with some weird political statement. We're just a great rock band. It's all good!

Dave:  What can we expect from the new ST.JAMES album? Stylistically, what would you say it's like?

Todd:  From the record one can expect a wide array of different styles. There's tastes of hard rock, heavy metal, some fusion...Our stuff is loud and extremely guitar driven. There's something for everyone with our music. Each member of this band has some of the same, but for the most part, different musical influences from different musical eras. We purposely combined our different influences to come up with our sound. When we first started this band as "THE GLORIOUS THINGS" we had it set in our minds to kinda bring back that flamboyancy and glam that the 70's had. You know, T-Rex, Mott The Hoople and various others. You'll get a sense of that sound in the songs "Die Like A Star" and "Spinnin'". Gradually
over the span of writing, heavier stuff came into play. Evident in "Generation Suicide", "Testfy" and "Hello, Halo". To me, the other tunes on the record are hard to put a finger on. They have a really cool
feeling all on their own. There's some obvious Black 'N Blue influence as well as some pop rock. We're kind of leaving it up to the listener as to what kind of music we play and what kind of band we are. That's fine with us. We promise this collection of songs will please your ears. It's good stuff!

Dave:  How many tracks are on the album and what are your favorites?

Todd:  There are 11 tracks.The record hasn't been released yet but I believe that's the final count. The names of the songs are (in no order) "Hello, Halo", "Generation Suicide", "Testify", "Magical Taxi Cab", "Die Like A Star", "Aliens", "Losing Your Man", "Deaf, Dumb & Blind", "American Man","Spinnin'" and "Light Of Love". As far as having favorites on the album, that's hard for me to say... I like them all for different reasons. I'm pretty partial to "Aliens". "Generation Suicide" is a solid rocker. All of the songs have the potential to be favorites. I'm very pleased with what we've got goin' on with our music.

Dave:  Speaking of the album, what is the projected release date?

Todd:  Well, we've still got some loose ends to tie up. We're shooting for October 2001. We're in a hurry to get it out there because we're really proud of it and anxious to let people hear it. But at the same time, we want it to be a good representation of who we are. I guess you could say that we're taking our time to make it a faster process. If that makes any sense. Right now there's a pretty big demand from Jaime's fans to hear what he's been up to since Freight Train Jane and Black 'N Blue. He thinks very highly of his fans and wants to put out a great album. He's mixing and mastering the entire album wih producer Michael Vescera right now to do just that. It's gonna be great stuff! October is the projected goal.


Photo credits: Michele Monet, St. James