It’s been a banner year for Wendy James. In an already storied career that spans decades, Wendy is not content to rest on her laurels. Rather she’s delivered yet another stellar solo album, toured the U.K. with global plans for the future and extended her impressive legacy. It’s exhausting just to hear her tell us her schedule, but it sounds as if the icon wouldn’t have it any other way.
This seems like it’s been an exciting year all around for you. Does it feel like this has been a banner year from your perspective?
This year has so far been one of the best! The culmination of the previous year recording and writing and producing ‘The Price of the Ticket’ which was such a happy, instinctual time — recording in NYC with Lenny Kaye, Glen Matlock, James Sclavunos, and then recording in California with James Williamson, Steve Mackay and James Sclavunos, mixing in California at Fantasy Studios with Jesse Nichols, staying in Berkeley for the duration. We were having the best time, working so hard and loving every second of it.
Then there’s the artwork and liner notes, which is a task in itself, pressing up the first single ‘Bad Intentions And A Bit Of Cruelty’ and ‘Indigent Blues,’ then finally coming to London, meeting up with Malcom Dunbar and deciding that the very best possible way forward would be to launch the album via PledgeMusic. At the same time, I was also getting back out onto the road around the U.K., reaffirming the passions between myself and my audience and my musicians. The whole thing has been wonderful and now I have a very firm basis from which to grow. It has been, as you say, a banner year!
It’s been a few years since you’ve put out a new album. Have you stayed busier, musically speaking, than people might realize?
I have been living in NYC for the past 15 years and during that time recorded three additional solo albums: ‘Racine No.1’, ‘Racine 2’ and ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds.’ Each album getting progressively more intricate in its recording and production, each album containing heartfelt moments and so many of the songs carrying right through to now!
I play a handful of songs from each album live and I also do some of the big hits from Transvision Vamp. It is a very dynamic live show and easy to see the relation between all my songs from the early days of Transvision through to the new songs on ‘The Price of the Ticket’. I think I truly sound like I have an identity, a style, a vibe. And that is a helluva thing when an artist is recognizable for their own work. I sound like me! I can see the relationship between all my music, although spanning a couple of decades and more, and the journey and the relationship is very constant.
What are you most proud of when it comes to this new set of songs?
I am most proud of the memories of the making of the record. I know how much went into it: the nights of hard labor, writing them, demoing them, gathering around the luminaries who play on the album, the fun and the joy we had in the studio, the eureka moments when it all came together, the whole memory of the making of it, and of course, now when I read the comments from fans who’ve bought the record and are playing it over and over again! This makes me so happy!
You wrote and produced all of your own songs on ‘The Price Of The Ticket.’ Is it important for you to maintain control for the vision you have for the songs?
I cannot imagine it any other way. I take pleasure in every note, every millisecond, every intonation, every choice, every timing, every melody, every rhythm. I cannot imagine forgoing that pleasure in lieu of just turning up and ‘doing a bit of singing’. I make music as its own reward. It is the work that brings me the most pleasure — my interaction with my musicians, my interaction with the technicians on the record, the whole process brings me pleasure. Of course I maintain control over my work, my output. It is mine. Why wouldn’t I?! But apart from quality control, the reason most driving me is the pleasure I get from the music itself.
Creatively speaking, what’s on the horizon for you for the rest of 2016?
I am now pressing up a second single on 7” vinyl with two of my — and the audience’s — favorite songs from ‘The Price of the Ticket’: “You’re A Dirtbomb, Lester” and “Farewell To Love”. This single will launch a new set of tour dates, not just the U.K. this time but also across Europe and the U.S. and into Australia, New Zealand and Japan. So exciting! I simply cannot wait!
At the same time I am now in the early stages of writing the next album. So, as always, music is the thing and I look to be more busy and more creative and more productive than ever before! I shall commune regularly with my audiences in live shows and always have my antenna on alert for opportunities I may not have expected but which are always welcome! It’s the journey, right?!