Interview with Threatpoint Vocalist Chris James

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello Chris! Welcome to the Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.

CV: Having seen you perform multiple times, it is apparent that the live arena is one you are very comfortable in.  What do you find so appealing about being on stage?
Chris James: The live show is everything you practice and write and record for. It’s where you get to play out your dream and get your message across. You get to show your artwork off on public display. It’s why we all do it.

CV: Give us a little background on how you came to be a lead singer. What drove you to pursue music?
CJ: Ha lead singer, I’m a guitarist first n foremost. I’ve practiced since I was about 15. Dave Murray n Adrian Smith is why I picked it up. Singing came very, very late... We were trying to find a singer in a band in New York n everyone just didn’t have this or that. I’m telling them you need to do this like that guy does or act or look this way, my old bassist Scott Gunther forced me into this, he said you remind me of Dee Snider you have the charisma n attitude you just need to develop the singing. Ya, that’s all right LOL, so I went n took some lessons from a woman in the Tri- Cities Opera to even see if I could do this? She worked with me and I had to go back after a bit because I was blowing my voice out every night. I needed to learn proper techniques. She gave me all the tools n off I went. I’m Still learning n still developing it. Every album I change, you can hear it.

CV: Besides singing, do you play any instruments?

CJ: Yes, guitar and bass, guitar, I said before where I started but it really got going when I was introduced into thrash in the 80s... Eric Peterson from Testament is my biggest influence! Bass I played in church for a worship team. It was fun… I’d put the rock edge on everything.

CV: What inspires you to write?

CJ: It’s just part of me. It’s not forced ever. I hear a song n then I hear a riff or a melody, it could come from any style of music. Lyrically, I’m very spiritually driven. God, Hope, Victory... giving people a way out of depression n suicide, bad times, struggles of life. There’s so much negativity in this world… I choose to be the light!

CV: Again, having seen you in action, you are definitely involved in all aspects of what your band is doing; from booking shows and writing songs, to setting up lighting and props and even tweaking guitar and bass amplifier settings on stage before going on. Some could see this as an extreme case of micro-management... but do you see this more as a laser sharp attention to detail of your vision?

CJ: Just because I sing doesn’t mean I walk in with a mic and some crap ego... We are a team, we are like family. I’m driven to give people a show, and I have a good know how on all the parts. We use banners and stage props and all need to be set up. My guys stuff goes down I’m there to help get it rolling again. Another reason I don’t play guitar live. I’m busy with a lot of it. Cj had to fly out to a show once when we started a west coast tour. Plane was late. I had his kit set up n ready to roll. He just needed to sit n play. We all run this little circus. Each of us have strengths n that’s where they are used!

CV: Threatpoint had a line-up change earlier this year with the return of the band’s original bassist, Samuel Young, coming back into the fold following the departure of Matthew Van Fleet. How are things working out?
CJ: Getting Sam back was amazing. He started this band with us. He wrote the first album n recorded it with us. This was always his baby too... Matt left for a career change, we wish him well. But Sam has been killing it on stage and just finished recording all the bass tracks for the new album coming out soon. He’s a great singer too, so now we extended our vocal parts with him and Alex. Sam filled in through the years when the other guys couldn’t do a show or run...It’s absolutely exciting to have him back!

CV: You have toured throughout the United States multiple times over the years... what do you see as a common thread among the Nation’s Metal scene and Metalheads themselves?
CJ: Metal heads are dedicated. They are themselves. They don’t hide behind phony fads and silly ways of life. Metal is and always will be a way of life. The scene is up n down. Good shows n bad shows. Turnouts that is. Downloading, internet, cellphones, YouTube etc... I believe ruined what we had back in the day… packed shows any night of the week. Now people sit home n watch on a screen, sad because you don’t get that feeling of being there… that rush!

CV: To date, what’s one memory from the road that sticks with you?

CJ: Several times people have told us that our music has helped them through tough times. Through depression… one girl told us she was going to commit suicide n heard our song “Never Say Die” and it changed her life and saved her. Those moments are the ones that matter, those are the reason I want to press on and give more. Changing one life at a time.

CV: A new Threatpoint album is on the horizon, releasing September 22nd. Can you tell us a little about what can fans expect?
CJ: Hopefully finished by Sept 22... but not long after, we are in final mixes and off to mastering in California. Artwork is being handled by Elizabeth. She works at the company whom does our merch.

This album is faster, thrashier, more energetic and alive feeling than any of our past albums. We are changing. We are growing… I won’t stand in the fence no more. It’s positive and enlightening filled with hope and positive energy… very spiritually driven. Also more clean vocals n harmonies on it. Cool old-school gang vocals on it too!

CV: Do you enjoy recording and working in a studio or prefer playing live?
CJ: Studio is fun and challenging. It makes you do things perfectly, over n over n over again till it’s right. But that’s when you get to see all your hard work come together. Seeing and hearing it done professionally the feeling is awesome. Live is a different animal all together. You have great nights n sometimes bumps n bruises, when things go wrong or you make mistakes. But that’s live music. We practice hard to be tight n roll like a machine. Live you get to let loose the energy you have built up ...that is different than the studio.

CV: What’s the feeling for you when new material, like “Iron Sharpens Iron,” is added to the set list? Is there a concern about how the crowd will react?

CJ: We write for the live show. No gimmicks or back tracks. We are very old school. I started going to a lot of old school thrash band shows again like when I was young. It brought back that energy that was missing. It changed our writing a lot. A lot of our older stuff had a mid tempo feel. I wanted that energy I saw from flotsam n jetsam and overkill, armored saint and metal church. I just saw them all more recently. People love to move at live shows. Sometimes you’re crushing n then you play a slower song n the energy evaporated and it’s nearly impossible to retrieve it back. So we wrote faster more energetic songs. Still groove and melodic!

CV: What do you believe are the top three things bands must do in order to get noticed by music fans and rise above an already over-saturated market?
CJ: I don’t even know myself? We keep pushing n pushing. Playing out. Trying to get on bigger shows to more people. We try to meet people on a personal level before or after shows. Developing solid conversations helps people to really take you more serious.

CV: There are so many opinions and strategies on what bands should and shouldn’t be doing when working to build a fan base. Does giving away your music for free help or hinder album sales?
CJ: Today they steal it anyway. The real people still buy CDs and purchase off iTunes or CD baby or Amazon. It’s tough I don’t think they understand how bad it hurts bands. Fuel is high, recording is expensive, merch isn’t cheap. Videos aren’t cheap. So sales help us pay for fuel to get to the next show or maintenance on our bus. It helps us pay for recording n merch. We all work full time jobs to pay our house bills and take care of our family. So taking out of that hurts or sometimes stops us from going further or to the next show.

CV: Are you a digital downloader or a CD buyer?
CJ: I myself buy off iTunes. Every Friday I listen to all the new releases n see if anything cool came out. I find new bands all the time. Special CDs I will buy but I hate CDs, they scratch n I always hated dragging tons of them around. iPod has everything. I go truck to car to house... I love Bluetooth.

CV: Do you feel bands can make it on their own without a label or management support?
CJ: No! Not for us 6… years touring and pushing. We are still looking for help. Real help. I’m tired of phony people that say this or that. Reposting a Facebook post is cool but it’s not enough. Real management hits the pavement and gets on the phone or emails. We have no label, but still looking and hoping. No management to help us. We do it all ourselves. It’s exhausting and your very limited. It’s all who you know. Do Not BS yourselves!

CV: In recent years with the explosion of social media platforms ruling the internet, do you see them more now as a positive or negative for a band’s image?
CJ: Both, some good n some bad. Gets you out there but also opens up illegal downloading n lazy people that rather sit home than go to see live shows like it used to be. Seeing a YouTube live video is t the same as standing in front of a PA system moving your internal organs. LOL

CV: Who’s an artist or band you would like to work with and why?
CJ: Anyone genuine that is willing to help us grow. We can hold our own next to any band out there all in confidence... just give us the big stage.

CV: Biggest influence on you as an artist?
CJ: Testament, Overkill, Stryper, Flotsam and Jetsam, Armored Saint, Demon Hunter.

CV: Biggest influence on you as a person?
CJ: God, My mother, My Wife Lori...!

CV: What’s next?
CJ: Finish new album, new merch designs, Threat-Fest 2018 Sept 22, Keep trying to find a label and some management that believes in us. Keep playing new venues and meeting lots and lots of new people, people matter otherwise we are nothing!

CV: Thank you again Chris for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and much success with the new album.

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