First off let me give you a little history about the singer Jaime St. James. Black ‘N’ Blue originated in Portland, Oregon back in 1981. They released their first debut self-titled album in 1984 and their first video “Hold On To 18” received moderate play on MTV. The band’s second release Without Love came out the following year. Without Love was a very solid sopohomore effort produced by Bruce Fairbairn who was considered one of the best from that era. Despite having several solid songs on the album, it failed to make the Billboard 200. The band reconvened with Kiss’ Gene Simmons who produced Nasty Nasty and the follow-up In Heat. The band broke up in 1989 and everyone went off and did their own thing. St. James released a new project called Freight Train Jane in 1994. He released American Man under the St. James moniker in 2001. From 2004-2008 he was the lead singer in Warrant and they released one album Born Again. Since that time St. James has put Black ‘N’ Blue back together and they are still out playing live dates and festivals. They have played the M-3 Festival and Rocklohoma as well as a few appearances on The Monsters of Rock Cruise. We had a chance to catch up with Jaime recently and he gave us an update on everything. Without further adieu from the where are they now files we present to you the man known as the Saint.
Rock Show Critique: Can you give us a update of what you are currently up to?
Jaime St. James: Doing a lot of stuff. Black ‘N’ Blue’s had a busy summer so far. We just did a run out here on the west coast. We did the Cathouse live show in California with twenty-three bands which was a real cool thing. We played 3:30-4:00 when it was a hundred degrees out so it about killed me (laughs). The weekend before that we did the Rock At The River Festival up in Montana with Quiet Riot and a bunch of bands.
Playing still and I have another project called Let It Rawk which is an 80s thing we do. We have Oz Fox from Stryper, Stacey Blades who was in LA Guns for ten years, Jimmy D’anda from Bulletboys and Sean McNabb’s playing bass who was in Dokken and Great White. We do a lot of the songs from our bands, I do Black ‘N’ Blue stuff and some other 80s stuff and its kind of taken off. It started last year, we’re just kind of building on that and staying busy singing.
RSC: We haven’t seen you in the Northeast region in quite some time. Any plans to head east anytime in the near future?
JSJ: I know that does kind of suck. I need to get up there. Probably the last time I had been up in the northeast was when I was singing for Warrant. So yeah Black ‘N’ Blue needs to get up there. Black ‘N’ Blue is basically festivals and it’s easier for us to book west coast or northwest dates. We are always working on trying to get up there but what promoter is going to take a chance on Black ‘N’ Blue? Let It Rawk probably has a good shot at it. But yeah I would love to do it though.
RSC: It seemed you guys were primed for big things following the release of your debut album. Then Without Love came out and it didn’t even chart (Billboard 200)? How can that be with songs such as “Rockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, “Without Love” and “We Got The Fire”?? Were the wrong songs pushed by the record company?
JSJ: It got a lot of radio airplay with “Miss Mystery”. We got more radio ads on AOR reports back in the day. We got more ads than “Hold On To 18” did with “Miss Mystery”.
The record company makes the decisions off of what they’re going to release. So we did the MTV video for “Miss Mystery” and we released that to radio. It was kind of like maybe too much of a shock they probably should of released something else. But I said that about every Black ‘N’ Blue record with Geffen. They always make weird choices and I think Without Love is a great record. For some reason over the years people think you kind of blew it with that one. I don’t think so at all. When you get the people in charge to give you all that money to do the record, they are gonna put in their two cents. They released “Miss Mystery” which was probably not the best idea. It could’ve been better if we released something else. So that probably steered people in the wrong direction because the first record was a little more straight forward and heavy. So with that being said I still stand by Without Love. It’s still one of my favorite Black ‘n’ Blue records. It’s like you said how it could not have done anything with some real killer songs on it. I agree. I agree and I always blame myself for everything you know that’s just the kind of person I am. So I’ll take the blame but the record company wasn’t very helpful let’s put it that way.
RSC: Following that you regrouped with another solid release in Nasty Nasty. While you received airplay, and it had some great tunes on it, it still didn’t put you where you guys deserved to be. Why do you think that happened? I know you had Gene Simmons behind you at this point.
JSJ: Again the infinite wisdom of Geffen. There was a song we did a song for a movie soundtrack called “I’ll Be There For You” it wasn’t even on the record. Jonathan Cain from Journey wrote the song and we were gonna record it with him. Nasty Nasty was done. There was another song called “Promise The Moon” that was on that record, it was a really cool tune. Well we finished the song for the movie soundtrack. The movie was called Out Of Bounds. A weird little movie with Anthony Michael Hall I think his name was. Well anyway the label said well that’s going on the record and that’s the single. And we’re just like what? We get this great record here and Gene was like kind of freaked out about it. But there was nothing we can do they didn’t care. So they released “I’ll Be There For You” which wasn’t even a part of Nasty Nasty. So once again they fucked us.
RSC: What song do you consider BNB’s quintessential song? If you asked ten BNB fans you may get ten different answers.
JSJ: I can only answer that by saying my favorite BNB song is “Strange Things” off Without Love.
RSC: You did the Freight Train Jane album in 1994 then seemed to disappear for a few years. The St. James album came out in 2001. What else did you do during that gap?
JSJ: I’ll give you the timeline. I got a Japanese record deal. We released that record (Freight Train Jane) which was a good record. All those songs were written after Black ‘N’ Blue. I was trying to get a cool new band together but had the wrong timing 94 it came out and things were changing back then. I did take some time off. I took about four or five years and I didn’t pick up my guitar , I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything musically at all. I was disillusioned. I tried so hard with Black ‘N’ Blue and i’ve been playing all my life since I was thirteen years old. I just stopped. After those four or five years went by I decided to pull the guitar out and started writing again. What actually became of it I had a band called the Glorious Things at first. Everyone thought we were religious. I didn’t understand that. I thought it sounded like something David Bowie would have made up. So I just called it St. James. We released a record that was really all demos. It was just a bunch of songs I had written but one song. It was called St. James American Man. It’s an all right thing but it was demos and I wasn’t really crazy about the sound. In between there was a Black ‘N’ Blue live record we did One Night Only Live. It is a really good record if you like live records. Some of the versions on that live record are better than the studio versions to me. Like “Wicked Bitch” blows away the first album’s version of it.
RSC: Did you do much touring behind the St. James release? I did manage to catch you at Revolution, Billy Morris’ old club outside Cleveland.
JSJ: I wanted to play and at the time I had left Los Angeles and bought a house in Ohio. I got an RV we just threw everybody in it and I booked us some club dates. Did some dates down in Texas. We toured a little bit not a lot. If you saw that you were lucky. I think we made it over to Los Angeles. That RV had some miles on it.
RSC: Out of all the live shows you have done are there one or two that standout?
JSJ: Sure straight off the bat I’d have to say the very first arena we ever played which was 84’ opening up for Aerosmith. It was the first time I ever played in front of 14,000 people. So that stands out for sure. It was sold out and we were opening for Aerosmith and the lights go out and then I hear that roar. It really hit me I went whoa. This is a new game. I remember opening for Kiss in 85’ at Madison Square Garden it was sold out. We even got an encore. I remember Gene saying afterwards I thought they were gonna throw chairs at you guys, you got an encore awesome, great job. So yeah those stand out.
RSC: I know you did not play here much but what is your best memory from Buffalo.?
JSJ: I did play in Buffalo in early 2000’s St. James (Glorious Things) and Iron Horse Ron Keel’s band. We played some little club in Buffalo. I don’t remember what it was called.
RSC: Then you played Rock ‘N’ Roll Heaven under the Black ‘N’ Blue moniker with LA Guns.
JSJ: That was a crazy tour. The Bulletboys were on that in the beginning, they didn’t last long. I remember that was me and Shawn Sonnenschein who is still in the band. My drummer Pete Holmes and Jeff “Woop” Warner bailed on me at the last minute and couldn’t do it. So rather than cancel it I just found a couple of guys it was kind of weird.
RSC Any newer bands out there today catch your eye?
JSJ: When you say new, new to me is have they been around the last ten years. I know that I like Airbourne and I like Volbeat. They sound like what I like. As for really new stuff I don’t know. The music industry is weird. Every now and then I hear something from some singer-songwriter that has a cool song that reminds me of something Beatle-ish or something but other than that I’m just old school.
We would like to thank Jaime for his time in doing this interview with us.
For more on Jaime check out his website http://www.jaimestjames.com/
For more on Black ‘N’ Blue check their site http://www.blacknblueofficial.com/