Who is Jim Danger?

“No excuse,” offers Jim Danger, when asked how he’s remained virtually unknown, though one of the more interesting and original musicians in this world of trend-chasers and icon-mimickers, for some three decades.
Jim Danger, born James Paradis in Portsmouth on July 3, 1959, to parents who were both professional musicians, began as a drummer at age 7, learning primarily by playing along with the just-released “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Beatles album. As a drummer, he was involved in a band by age 9, and played with scores of locals, doing everything from rock’n’roll to country-western to gospel, including a “very brief” stint in his high-school band, before dropping out of Kittery’s Traip Academy at age 15.
At age 19, Jim drove himself and his pregnant wife to the West Coast, where, in a band in West Covina, California, he heard punk rock for the first time. “At first, I hated it,” he summarizes. “Then, though, as soon as we did an Iggy Pop song and I actually played punk, on the drums, I realized immediately that this was for me. The energy was just what I’d been looking for all my life.” Bear in mind that this was a life steeped from birth in nearly all types of popular music. “I grew up listening to the Everly Brothers, the Kingston Trio, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Ernest Tubb, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Doors, bluegrass stuff, Lawrence Welk, CCR and lots and lots of church music, especially old hymns and gospel quartets,” once his mother started taking him to a “backwoods Pentecostal church” when he was 9 -in 1969.
It was ten years later, during his 6-month stay in southern California, that his heart was won to punk rock. The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, the Buzzcocks and Iggy Pop made the music in which he then steeped himself. “Though I was into the music, I had no idea about the scene, the culture, or the mindset of punk. Then I met GG Allin.”
It was March, 1980, and Jim had placed an ad in a local musicians’ paper as a drummer in search of a band. GG Allin, fronting the Manchester-based Jabbers, phoned in response to Jim’s ad, and during the next four months, Jim and GG formed a bond that would last until Allin breathed his last in 1993—and continues, clearly, in the soul of Jim Danger. Musically, the relationship was to set the course of Jim Danger’s life, he says, as a songwriter and singing performer. “Just getting to know GG,” says Danger now, “and being around him, and seeing how he operated, taught me more than I could explain. For one thing, he taught me to say whatever you want, to really express yourself, to say what you really have to say, no matter what anybody might think of it. He taught me to be brave enough to really be yourself.” The details of Danger’s relationship with GG Allin and the Jabbers could make a book by themselves, and Danger corresponded by mail with GG for years in the ‘80s, and though Jim saw GG face-to-face for the last time at a Wendy O. Williams gig in Manchester in ’82 or ’83, it was to Jim that GG wrote a letter on his last day in a Michigan prison, in March of 1993, shortly before Allin’s death in NYC. The two planned to get together that summer.
Danger became a “serious” singer/songwriter and frontman of his own band, after being kicked out of Bible School {on a charge of having been caught smoking cigarettes - though he claims he was “the only straight-A student in the whole school—it was a tough school, academical1y.”}, where he’d been studying to become an evangelist. That was December of 1983, “I was always crazy, ” Jim explains. “I was either an extreme, Bible-thumping zealot for God, or, then, sporadically, a pitchfork-toting member of Satan’s inner circle. Then, after getting kicked out of Bible school, I realized I was going to have to go all the way, for one side, either wholehearted Christianity or complete, Hell-bent, sin-drenched rock’n’roller, instead of doing first one, then the other, in an extremely bi-polar fluctuation. I figured I’d do best on the dark side, so I went all-out for that. Years later, of course, I finally integrated and became a whole person, not trying to be anything but in touch with reality. ”
So, at the dawn of 1984, Jim Danger was determined to put a band together and front it, singing all his own songs—basically, like his friend and mentor, GG Allin. Also, however, Jim wanted to be able to really say something to people, just as, in a far different way, he would have been doing had he become an evangelist. That merger of an ardent determination to communicate with people on an intellectual level about things that really matter deeply to us all, and his determination to be a “Hell-bent rock’n’ro1ler”, putting his full, wayward energies into his music and performance, is a blend of sacred and profane still evident in the music of Jim Danger.
“I’d actually started writing my own punk songs in 1981, when a guy named Emmett Blotter, a.k.a. Bob Dwyer, a.k.a. Bob Fuckin Murderer, and I met and formed a very hard-core punk band called “The Murderers”. “I think they’re still playing today,” Jim says. “GG told me in ’92, he was hanging out with them in San Francisco, and my name came up. When Bob and I started the band though, it was he and me. The name “Murderers” was Bob’s idea, though I thought it was the best name ever, and wished I’d thought of it.” From there it was another band, wherein Jim began really singing, while drumming to his own songs and those of the Sex Pistols. “I actually found out I could sing, by imitating Johnny Rotten while driving around all alone in my van. So, when I sang Pistols songs, and played the drums, it really sounded just like the Pistols.” This, in a band founded by Rick Twombly, who went on to later renown with “lt Figures” and “Heavens To Murgatroid”. “The name, ‘lt Figures’, was basically my idea, too,” says Jim. “But I wanted it to be, ‘The Itt Figures' and Rick altered that to ‘It Figures’, after I’d been kicked out.” {It seems that Jim was way too wild and scary a character, in ’82, for his teenage bandmates. “I was actually kicked out on suspicion of being a witch, as well as for doing lots of drugs,” Danger reveals, chuckling.}
“1984, though, was really my ‘blast off, as a musician. I took copious amounts of acid, and wrote something like 50 or 60 songs that year. Had my own band, and we kicked ass, for several months, there.” Unfortunately for the world, the band did only one gig, before breaking up. “The drummer died, and the lead player went mental.” Several attempts at re-forming the band failed, due to a dearth of personnel who were “both ultra-street-level and really good. I’ve never been a professional anything, and the only way I ever met musicians was quite accidental. After ’84, I just realized I was wasting my time and my life, trying to find the right musicians to work with again. So, I went solo.”
There were perhaps 50 or 60 people who regularly packed themselves into the small practice space where the Jim Danger Band rehearsed, in 1984. “Oh,” says Danger of those days, “I was always really big in back alleys and gutters, quite famous among the garbage-can set.” That kind of under~underground notoriety stuck with Jim into the 90s, during which decade he appeared at open-stage events in the Dover area for several years, and then in ’99, released a multi-track cassette tape, “Packaged Raw”, featuring some two dozen meticulously recorded originals. “Dozens and dozens of copies of ‘Packaged Raw’ were released,” Jim recounts, smiling. “That was probably my biggest seller to date ~ and I only sold one, as I recall. The rest, I just gave away, ‘cause nobody’d pay me. I just wanted people to hear it.” I’d been writing a lot of songs, actually ever since ’84, and some of these on ‘Packaged Raw’, I know I spent over 12, 13 hours or more to record - I mean, each song that much time. I did multiple tracks, had four or five backup vocals on some of them, and played all the instruments and did all the recording and mixing, all that. No one else ever even heard any of it, until it was all done and packaged; and it was raw, hence the title. The sound wasn’t the only thing packaged raw, however. The cover he designed for each copy featured, on the inside, several “very scandalous” photos of a naked and shall we say, even “excited”, Jim Danger. “Well, lots of guys had done naked,” he jokes, “But I was the first to go to such great lengths, as far as I know.” “Packaged Raw” reverberated among the immediate underground, but its full effects may never be determined.
Never having been “much of a guitar player”, Danger moved to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi in late 2000. There, he says mysteriously, in the way he has of making perfect sense while taking poetic liberties, “the blues just comes up out of the ground down there. You breathe the blues, in the air. ” Absorbing, as it were, the blues by osmosis, Jim finally - after decades of playing basic chords on the Epiphone Texan guitar his father had purchased in 1963 {the only guitar Jim has ever played, although he did recently purchase his first electric guitar}—Jim began to really play the guitar, albeit “clumsy, and very primitive”. “Then I started hanging out with my brother and his son, in Texas, in ’02, and those guys are really serious guitar players, and that got me into working a lot harder on really playing well, too.”
Living in Mississippi for over five years, Jim also did a remarkable amount of songwriting and recording there, though “maybe a half-a-dozen people have heard any of it,” he relates casually. When one hears these recordings he so casually mentions, however, it seems impossible that such amazing, original and truly exciting work—which sounds like nothing but Play, has remained almost completely unknown, unheard! Say this to Danger, though, and he just laughs. “Well, my brother said to me a bunch of times, ‘I can’t understand why you are not famous. ’ “ Jim just laughs some more. Can it be that here is an artist who genuinely doesn’t care whether he’s famous or not?
There are several tapes - I’ve seen and heard them! - from Jim’s Mississippi days. If there is any justice in this world, their titles and sounds will someday be known, if only to the hundreds. There’s, “Gooting Off In Mississippi”, which includes not only great original songs and quaint old covers, but also improvised spoken-word humor, and even several improvised songs, some of which Jim later learned from his own tapes, so he could repeat them later. Then there’s, “From Somewhere Else”, and “Danger Is Double”.
Recordings were gleaned from all of these recorded endeavors, and placed on a collection he entitled, “Jim Danger’s Greatest Misses”. Not only is Jim a great lyricist, but he comes up with great titles, too. I can’t resist offering this one, from “Packaged Raw”: “Fuck You {If You Won’t Fuck Me}”. Now, why didn’t any of us think of that one? See, society really does need the Jim Dangers of the world.
Returning to New Hampshire after stuviving Katrina in Mississippi {leaving him with a chilling song, “Katrina”}, Jim was all alone, broke, with no prospects but whatever lie had within himself. Within four months, he was married again and soon had a newborn son. What we’ve left out for the sake of relative brevity, is the rest of Jim Danger’s amazingly full life, for example his several marriages and three daughters, in addition to his current marriage {to local singing sensation Erin Patricia—who’s not bad on the eyes, either} and young son. Jim has always had full-time “regular jobs”, so although he hasn’t rendered himself “famous” yet, don’t think he’s been slacking over the past five decades. The man’s been Busy. He’s also a writer, aside from songwriting, and seemingly endless reams of his writings attest to the fact that he hasn’t been slacking there, either.
The distinct impression is of an artist so involved in his art and domestic life that he hasn’t had the time to effectively promote himself or his art. “I desperately need a manager,” he admits. “I’m a complete failure at promoting myself or even arranging real gigs. I’m no business person.”
In 2012, J im Danger is still Writing songs by the dozen, and determined to finally become known, if at all possible with his total lack of technological devices and professional “connections”. “I’m not even online,” he says. “I have virtually no recording equipment or computer access. I don’t know anybody, I don’t see anybody. I don’t have a driver’s license, and don’t hardly ever go anywhere.” His frustration is palpable, and one realizes that there is yet a seething rage inside him - the fuel of great rock’n’roll artists. “I used to be an angry young man,” he states. “Now, I’m really pissed.” He isn’t kidding.
Danger plans to - “somehow” - record two dozen songs for a CD he has already titled, “Pass Hell, Keep Going.” It will include a song, “The Streets of Kittery”, which though performed publicly only 2 or 3 times, has those who’ve heard it buzzing with enthusiasm, and wanting to hear it again. This particular song might well be his introduction to the public. He’s looking forward to “busting out” soon, and appearing at a venue near you. Trust me, this is a guy with a complicated life, and it has taken him a long time to be ready to really “bust out” on his own, but Jim Danger appears to be about ready to “happen”. Do not miss this person.

No comments:

Post a Comment