A few years ago I stumbled upon pictures of this very hot guy performing queer punk music under the guise of Nick Name. At the time he was giving me a mix of Henry Rollins and metal-shredder Scott Ian from Anthrax with a familiar dash of any in-you-face turn-us-out rockers from our day. And I say “our” day because anyone reading this of any age or generation knows the type I’m telling of. Current musical gruffers and scruffers have included Limp Biscuit, Korn and the like. Little did I know that Nick Name was so much more than just a catchy moniker.
Before there was Nick Name there was a hopeful Star Search competitor who won his very first round. He’s also a former Mormon from Utah who went to school at Utah State University on a music scholarship and acted in various television, music video and film productions. I now know him quite well as James considering I gawked and fawned at his pictures as Nick Name for years… and still do! However, now his sexiness is much more understated and a complete turnaround from the raw image Nick Name provided. James is super sweet, still very sexy and the “aw, shucks!” swagger quality he wears is very becoming considering I see him all week at the gym where I work and he trains like a fiend, sweaty and ready to peel that shirt off as he leaves. Hubba-da-Hubba-da!
The interview really could have gone on and on considering the many facets of James’ life and talents but I focused mainly on music when we got together for this round. I’m sure we’ll be talking again soon since he’s planning on having a new album out in 2014! Can’t wait. The following chatter is between James and I discussing gay culture, his style transformations and the music he loves to make. Plus, I put him through his paces as I brought to life a game I now call “Answer That Song Title” and to also mention if he knew the artist. I didn’t make it easy, I admit.
Steven Michael – Where are you from and what type of childhood did you have?
Kent James – “I’m from Logan, Utah. I was raised a Mormon.”
Describe your early influences in the music scene?
“Mike Ness of punk rock band Social Distortion was a huge influence on my attitude and sound.”
How has that evolved now since you’ve changed image and lifestyle from the days of, as you described it, “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll?”
“I guess that I’m a grown up version of all that.”
Can you share any sordid stories from performing on the road? Any backstage antics for the history books?
“The first time I performed in those tight white pants I was making out backstage with a boy and I almost missed my entrance.”
I know there must be more juicy story there but I’ll digress. I remember seeing your pictures when you performed under the stage persona of Nick Name and becoming quite smitten with your sexiness and raw before-it-was-known-as-swagger swagger. What was your inspiration for the in-your-face performance in the videos for “Who’s Your Daddy?” and “I Fucked Your Boyfriend.” You looked like a badass sexy Mother Fucker.
“Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say. I was bored with being ignored…”
I understand. We have that in common. What was the turning point for you between Nick Name and Kent James? Where were you in your life?
“It’s a geographical thing. I was Nick in Los Angeles. I was Kent in San Francisco. Now that I’m in Palm Springs, I’m James.”
Can you describe the feeling you get when stepping onstage and begin doing what you love? When did you figure out that you were a performer?
“It’s a rush. I’ve performed music since I was a kid. I always knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
What are you working on now music wise? And where is your music today from where it began with your queer punk roots?
“I’m working on a new album with Ben & Rachel from back in my day of Nick Name and The Normals. We hope to release it in 2014!”
Speaking of, I was reading an interview with you where you commented that “Nick Name was queer and Kent James is Gay.” Elaborate.
“Nick Name was wilder and more underground. Kent James is mellower and more mainstream.”
Yes, I agree with that. Who would be your ideal singing partner and what duet would you cover? And why them?
“I’ve got a few new duets with Rachel that will be featured on the new album. I think we sound great together.”
And now for a round of “Answer This Song Title” … And for fun say if you know who sings the song.
When Was the Last Time Music Made You Cry?
“Some country song. A good country song can make me cry. I do not know the artist.” — James Ingram is the artist. By the way readers I told him not to use Google or iTunes for the artist so I was tough.
Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?
“I needed the boyfriend that I’ve got now. We’ve been together since February. Artist: Def Leppard.” — Yes! I know you both and agree you work well together. This song reminds me of a straight stripper in Atlanta I threw too much money on at the Coronet Club.
Was It Worth It?
“It was worth it if I helped gay rights in any way. I do not know the artist.” — This was a hard one. Pet Shop Boys. And great answer! I believe anyone with a voice in the LGBT community has the opportunity to change a mind or influence good.
Do You Know the Way To San Jose?
“I know it’s in California. I think I’ve been there. Artist: Dionne Warwick.” — Let me grab my iPhone map app and see.
What Have I Done To Deserve This?
“I chose my heart over my head. Artist: Dusty Springfield.” — Another Pet Shop Boys gem with Dusty providing her incredible voice.
Are You Ready to Fly?
“Ready or not. I do not know the artist.” — Rozalla. This was a mid-’90s dance floor hand-waver we simply lived for in Atlanta. Another tough one.
Are You That Somebody?
“You tell me… I do not know the artist.” — Aaliyah sang this one. I’m tough on you, buddy.
How Will I Know?
“If you stop and listen you will know. Artist: Whitney Houston.” — Deep and insightful. Yes, Whitney Houston. What a voice!
Do You Know Where You’re Going To?
“Does anybody? Artist: Diana Ross.” — Worship Miss Ross.
Do They Know It’s Christmas?
“‘We Are the World’ was better. Artist: Band Aid.” — Band Aid is correct. I actually like them both.
Who Will You Run To?
“I’m not running anymore. Artist: Heart.” — YES!
Who Can It Be Now?
“Seriously, Who? Artist: Men at Work” — An ‘ole ’80s throwback. Yes.
Do You Think I’m Sexy?
“I’m working on a cover of this song that might make it onto the new album. Artist: Rod Stewart.” — Ooh, sorry. The answer we were looking for is “Yes I find you sexy, Steven.” Thanks for playing. Game Over. (laughing)
When Will I See You Again?
“Sooner than you think. Artist: I know the song but can’t remember the name of the artist.” — Brother Beyond in the U.K., but Three Degrees made it huge here in U.S. in 1978.
Is This Love?
“Yes. Artist: Whitesnake.” — Love this song. This was fun!
Tell people where and what you recommend for incredible food and excitement in Palm Springs. Where can you be found having a good time?
Boxers, Briefs or Bare in the bedroom?
Can I get a video of that, please?! Favorite part of a man?
“His sense of humor.”
Biggest Turn-On? And Turn-Off?
“I’m turned on by honesty. I’m turned off by dishonesty.”
You mentioned in an interview you got to know RuPaul. Are you still in contact with Ru? What do you think about his current success with Drag Race and do you watch it?
“I knew Ru back in my Nick Name era. I ran into him in L.A. not too long ago. I have seen RuPaul’s Drag Race and I am very happy for his success.”
I see you workout daily like a fiend. Mostly cardio. It that your thing? What’s your off time like and what are you doing?
“I do workout hard. Weights and the treadmill. I have to really work at keeping the gut off now that I’m almost 50. I spend most of my time with my boyfriend and our dogs.”
What’s the best way for fans and worshipers to follow you and get your music?
Any last thoughts?!
“Steven, Thank you for the excellent interview!”
The pleasure was all mine and our readers, Your fans and followers. Thanks for making music entertaining. ♥