Swirling and breaking the sounds of blues and horror, Gold Coast clan Jimmy the Saint and the Sinners are now hurdling barriers for the impending release of their sophomore EP. Jake Wilton sat down with the band’s frontman, James Turner, to dissect the group’s future plans including Blues on Broadbeach, potent feature guests on the upcoming EP and the marvels of Turner’s home.
A breezy mid-week afternoon invitation into the house of James Turner, of Jimmy the Saint and the Sinners, turned into an appropriate level of culture shock and a manifestation of an interior designer’s reverie. Nothing says welcome more than a first glace of aged books lined on the shelf, imported absinthe bottles catching the light and being greeted by the more than ecstatic almost-two-year-old poodle (who came up to almost my hips). James moves quick to calm to dog who, just yesterday, got struck by a motorcyclist, and does so with his slicked and combed hair, suit and waist coast and the appropriately hand crafted silver pin stylising, “JS” (for Jimmy the Saint) attached to his collar.
I remember the first time I heard Re-animator. It was like nothing that existed in blues music at the time. With their Boozehounds & Bad Men EP, the lines between (voodoo) blues, rockabilly and a hint of psych well and truly smeared. The mashing of previously sacred genres is commonplace. But in 2014, this gang of sinners, led by the uncompromising, blockade force of Turner, paired with vintage organs, all the guitar pedals and enough charisma to put Jack White’s live performance to shame, was coming from a singular and very new place.
Boozehounds, released in August of last year, gave the Sinners a working punchline to tour on-and-off around the east coast. Launching on the Gold Coast and then spreading the bluesy wisps further entertaining Melbourne and Sydney audiences respectively. Coming off the back of irregular tour patterns and a dashing trip to Paris, to propose to his girlfriend, mind you, James came prepared with a greater sense of self and growing experiences in song writing to dive into recording the next batch of tunes for the yet-to-be-announced EP, Love Notes & Obituaries.
“[Love Notes] is the follow up to Boozehounds but essentially it’s a companion piece to it. It’s about, basically, the fine line between to the two things. Something can start as a love note, before you know it, it’s an obituary. It deals with a lot of lost love, broken heart, etc. But there’s also a lot of positive things about love,” recalls James.
One of the biggest inspirations for James on this latest set of songs was his recent engagement to his girlfriend of five years, Lola. Not to say James didn’t have anything positive to say about love before but his blooming adoration for his one-and-only allowed him, and his Sinners, to tap into their softer side. “There are two [songs] on this EP that are simply about her.” Being a succinct four-track listen, Love Notes & Obituaries is an astounding climax of sound, song writing and emotion from the group.
Perusing James’ estate is a feast for the eyes. Stepping down into the living room, which after thirty-odd-minutes of chatting in the upper rumpus room of sorts, was the first sign of modern interior furniture – a television. Although James is not an anti-establishment hermit with collective pieces from around the world. It’s a far clearer statement to the overdrawn, ultra-modern furbishing to the “glitter strip” of the Gold Coast. It’s a far clearer indication to where the band’s aesthetic draws from and his home being the crux of it all.
Having only just twenty minutes received the masters for the Love Notes & Obituaries EP before I arrived, James was already eager for others to start soaking it in. ‘She Gives Me Love’ – no doubt one of the tracks James dedicated to Lola – stirs an infectious, yet danceable, guitar riff. The riding organ line, a preamble to the group’s songs, makes a familiar return; crawling and hissing underneath James’ cut-throat vocals. ‘She Gives Me Love’ plods along nicely, an early indicator to where the group’s chancier, more precious moments can lie but still ramshackle and dissect the listener into a heated frenzy. This rare moment arrives toward the end of the track, a crescendo of classic blues techniques and instruments rising together with James’ rumbling hurls. In all the dizzying fray of building blues rock happening, a familiar voice enters the domain. The soulful major vocal chords only this particular bearded Gold Coast gent could pull off. Yes, Karl S. Williams, the man himself, features on ‘She Gives Me Love’ – a fitting collaboration that one would assume could happen in a live setting.
A chance to catch some of new songs live before the release of the EP is at this years Blues on Broadbeach festival. For a second year in a row, Jimmy the Saint and the Sinners would have appeared on the infamous free event’s bill held in various venues across the Broadbeach CBD. Admittedly being one of the “heavier” options on the lineup, “…taking a lot of elements from punk,” they still file the papers and the ticks the boxes that says “blues”.
“It does occur to me when we perform at something family oriented. We played the Summertime Sessions just recently which was, probably, 80 percent kids. Personally, I think about it, sure, but I don’t approach it any differently. Thematically there are some darker elements in our songs but I was exposed to that stuff when I was a kid so I guess I don’t really think about it,” tells James.
With no shortage of plans for the future, James says Love Notes & Obituaries isn’t going to be the only bit of new music planned for release. After a run of east coast shows, to be announced, coinciding with the release of the EP, “follow it up with a double AA side single and just hit the live shows again,” prophesises James.
Jimmy the Saint and the Sinners play Blues on Broadbeach Saturday May 23 at Broadbeach Tavern from 9pm.