Interview with PB Wolf about Stones Throw artist James Pants

Stones Throw January 27, 2008


Interview with PB Wolf about Stones Throw artist James Pants
Photo: Jake Green
When and how did you meet James Pants?
I met James at a show in Texas 6 years ago. I was DJing a rave and he came to the show after his high school prom with his date and offered to take me record shopping out there. Magic words for me if you wanna become my friend.

Does he create many different styles of music? If so, what styles? The reason I ask this is because I know he’s made hip hop beats for Diverse, and the three songs released by him on Chrome Children Vols 1-2 and the Hella International Box Set all sound extremely different.
He does all kinds of stuff and a lot of it is 80’s soul, electro boogie, early (and regional) rap, and new wave influenced, but he’s really into ambient 70’s stuff without a drum beat like Ralph Lundston as well as 60’s psych and bubble gum pop. Definitely all over the place, like Koushik, Madlib, or myself and his mix CDs reflected that early on and the music he makes is an extension of that.

He’s into doing themed stuff. He didn’t want any hip hop sounding beats he made on the first album because he felt they didn’t fit the album, but I had to convince him to put 2 on there. His break record is more of a single theme but his mix tapes are all over the place and his debut album is as well. But as far as what makes all his different styles fit together, he’s the master of sound. He knows how to make his stuff sound just sloppy and dirty enough to not be boring, whether it be the drums, the vocals, the reverbs and effects, etc. He plays a lot of different instruments too, so he’s able to control every aspect better than someone who needs to work with a band to record an album.

Does he produce beats with an MPC 2000, track out his music on pro-tools, or does he use a 8 track cassette player? Does he sing or rap? Does he play any instruments?
James plays drums, keys, and I think guitar. He definitely sings and yells on a lot of songs as well. He samples sometimes, but not so much anymore.

When did you decide to sign him to Stones Throw?
About 8 months ago. We hadn’t even spent a dime on studio time and he had already recorded several albums worth of stuff for me to pick from to develop the album I wanted, but I personally liked what I heard from him better than some of the stuff that we were putting out at the time and this was without my involvement whatsoever.

Is James’s music similar to any other artists on Stones Throw? Or, conversely, is his music different from other artists on Stones Throw? Please develop similarities and/or differences as best you can.
I think his album is similar to Madvillain, Ruff Draft, both Dudley albums, Georgia, YNQ, Baron Zen, Stark Reality, Koushik. All those albums have the loosest records as far as Stones Throw’s catalog go in my opinion. His music is different from all those albums as well.

What different avenues would you like to try with James that you’ve never been able to try with a Stones Throw artist before?
I have an idea that came to me in my sleep a few nights ago. It goes like this. In the dream, we did a James Pants 45 and gave copies of it to people who ran the hot dog stands next to the nightclubs late at night. It can be a hotdog stand in front of any club night that would like the James Pants record if they heard it, even though they knew nothing about him. We could pay someone to stand out there when the clubs get out and yell, “Buy a hotdog and get your free James Pants record here.” They can be animated like a cross between the sign spinners and the guys who sell food at the baseball games.

I know James’ goal was to have a 45 out on Stones Throw, so by doing the album, he surpassed his goal.