Few rock bands have taken as many strides this year as Egypt Central has. Their sophomore album, White Rabbit has been well reviewed. Their second single from that album, “Kick Ass” is making a serious dent in rock radio and opening new territory for them all across the country, not to mention the “grid iron” mix known as “Kick Off,” which is rocking NFL stadiums from coast to coast. Supported by relentless touring, they are one of a handful of modern rock bands on the cusp of a major mainstream breakthrough.
At DirtFest 2011, in Birch Run, Michigan, we sat down with guitarist, Jeff James, to talk about some band history and how the rise of Egypt Central led to an endorsement from Peavey.
Blog Rocking Beat (BRB): You recently started sporting Peavey guitars and amps exclusively. What’s that all about?
BRB: Did you contact them or did they contact you? How does that work?
JJ: Actually, that was done through management. My manager, J.D., made that happen.
BRB: What were you playing before the Peaveys?
JJ: Before the Peaveys, I was playing PRS [Paul Reed Smith] guitars and Mesa amps.
BRB: What about pickups? Your favorites?
JJ: I play EMGs—the 81/60 combination. I like ‘em. They run hot. You can get those nice squeals from them.
BRB: How old were you when you first started playing guitar?
JJ: I was around eight years old when I first started playing.
BRB: Wow. That’s really young. What kind of stuff were you cutting your teeth on at eight years old?
JJ: Early Green Day stuff got played a lot. Dookie was huge for me. Offspring’s Smash was big. Soundgarden—
BRB: SuperUnknown or BadMotorFinger?
JJ: Both! In fact, I still have both of them on my iPod.
BRB: Did you start a band shortly after that? I imagine there weren’t many other eight-year-old to start a band with.
JJ: I pretty much stayed in my room and jammed to the radio a lot. In hindsight, it sounds kind of depressing. I didn’t do too many band things. I did talent shows in middle school and high school. Egypt Central is actually only the second band I’ve ever been in.
BRB: Let’s do the math then. Egypt Central started in 2002. That’s actually a pretty big gap then until the first album came out in 2008.
JJ: Actually, I didn’t join the band until late-2004. The band had previously recorded the first album in L.A., which ended up not being released, but a handful of copies went out. Everything was redone in 2006, but finally didn’t come out until 2008.
BRB: Did you know the guys before that time, then? Or was it a situation where they were looking and you auditioned?
JJ: I got to know the guys through my best friend from high school who was doing security for them. I had moved to Florida for a few months, then came back. I met up with him again. He was hanging with those guys, so I started to as well. You know, sleeping on the couch—kind of half living there. Next thing you know, they needed another guitar player so it was like, “Well, let’s ask the guy on the couch.”
BRB: Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
JJ: Yeah. It’s worked out so far.