A section of James Stevenson's own website is entitled "25 Years in the Rock'n'roll Wilderness" not because of his inactivity over that period, but more in honour of the nomadic career he has had over the years (now closer to 40 in truth).
From being in at the birth of punk rock, James has
been part of bands that have had global international success and remains
playing in several different line ups at present. He was good enough
to take time out from touring the USA with Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy
to answers some questions about his time in the musical trenches.
How's life treating you at the moment James?
You're just back off tour with the Alarm, supporting the Stranglers.
How did that go?
Tell me something about your earliest musical influences and how
did you get started playing the guitar?
Professionally, I think your first band was Chelsea in 1977, who
you joined whilst still at school. What are your recollections of those
days and life on the road with Gene October?
If I'm correct, you're still playing with the band and will shortly
be touring to mark their 40th anniversary. It's difficult to understand
now how much of a threat punk was perceived in the late 70's, so I guess
you've seen the musical landscape change quite a bit in the intervening
You seemed to swap one iconic front man for another in that your
next regular band was Generation X. I know it didn't last that long,
but it must have been an education sharing the stage with Billy Idol.
I know that shortly after the band split you found yourself playing
guitar on the incredibly successful single "Kids in America"
by Kim Wilde. How did that come about and did you have any reservations
about moving away from the punk genre and playing in what was ostensibly
a pop band?
You seemed to have a succession of bands afterward such as The Swingers,
Hot Club and The Smart. However, I believe you were approached at fairly
short notice to join Gene Loves Jezebel on their infamous 1985 tour
of the US. Are there any stories you can relate from an experience you
later described as "sheer madness".
I believe the band later split acrimoniously and in fact, as you
say, there are two Gene Loves Jezebels out there at present, of which
you still play in one line up. Any comments to make on this situation?
In the late 1990's Mike Peters asked you to be a part of the reformed
Alarm, where you have remained until the present. How did the invitation
come about and it must be fantastic playing those classic Alarm numbers
live. Hopefully Mike's health is holding up at present.
Currently you can be heard on the soon to be released debut album
by punk supergroup The International Swingers. This CD seems to have
been a while in the making. Weren't you initially approached in 2012
by the band's founder, Twenty Flight Rocker's vocalist Gary Twinn, just
for a tour of Australia ?
Given that the other band members are Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols
and Clem Burke of Blondie, the band clearly has a fine pedigree. Indeed
one track from the album has already been used in Sylvester Stallone's
film "Homefront". For the uninitiated, how would you describe
The International Swingers sound?
Are you playing any gigs to promote the release and is the band
likely to be a long term venture or one the members dip in and out of
I know I've missed out a number of other bands you've been part
of, as well as the solo/session work you've undertaken. Do you ever
feel at times like a guitar for hire?
Apart from music, I know you have a passion for old motorbikes.
How did that come about and have you been able to amass a collection
over the years?
Cheers James for taking the time to do this and, before I finish,
is there anything else you'd like to get off your chest?
Many thanks to James for taking time out to do this and Chris Hewlett for arranging it.