Sebastian James - "With a title like 'American Made', people assume it has some connection to politics, which it absolutely does not. It’s about unifying all of us to become better people each & every day." - Stereo Stickman

Sebastian James “With a title like ‘American Made’, people assume it has some connection to politics, which it absolutely does not. It’s about unifying all of us to become better people each & every day.”


Following the release of his iconic new single and video American Made, we caught up with lifelong musician and songwriter Sebastian James, to find out more about the song, his journey so far as an artist, the upcoming album, and plenty more. Here’s how it went.

* * *

Hi Sebastian – great to chat with you, huge congrats for the new single! To set things up, who or what first ignited your passion for music? 

Thank you so much! My father was a professional musician when I was growing up so music was everywhere. I can remember back at two and three years old listening to a variety of rock albums in his car, everything from Queen to Dio. I vividly remember my arm hairs standing up hearing songs like, Holy Diver, for the first time. I noticed very early on how music could invoke emotion and was hooked ever since.

American Made is a huge rock anthem, with a slightly psychedelic tone. The story suits the style, and your performance captivates. Tell me about the creative process – the inspiration, the riffs, the purpose behind the song? 

American Made is certainly one of my favorites. It was a title and theme that I had been sitting on for years actually. It evolved as I watched my children grow older and began to reflect on how I was raised and how I wanted them to grow up as well.

With a title like American Made, people assume that it has some connection to politics, which it absolutely does not. In fact, this song is really about the opposite. It’s about unifying all of us to become better people each and every day. Spending time focusing on building memories and doing things that bring us together, rather than dividing us.

For my family, it’s about things like listening to rock ‘n’ roll, cruising around in old school hot rods, and spending time just having fun. It’s one of those tracks that I believe can take on a little bit of different meaning depending on the person and how they can relate to it.

When did you first realise you could sing like a rock star – how easy was it to put all your energy and passion into singing, and to find your sound? 

Funny enough, I started as a drummer. From 12 until about 20, all I did is chop wood behind the kit and it provided me with a great perspective on what it would take to be a lead singer, and more importantly, a great frontman. I was constantly studying what tempos worked best, what types of songs resonated, and how to keep a crowd. Once I got that itch, I started to sing all the time at home and began to hone my craft. I started singing in the clubs in various cover bands and was able to cut my teeth pretty quickly. 

Identifying my sound was a whole other story. My dad was the guy I looked up to the most as a singer so when I started to open up and sing, I naturally sounded a lot like him. However, I started to put my own flare on things and then when we started to demo up this record, I really came into my own and learned to let the stories guide what came out of my mouth. 

What’s your main goal when you release a song like this – to entertain, to energise, to connect with a certain demographic, or to simply have fun? 

My number one goal in writing music is to write things that the listeners can connect with and relate to. Of course, I also want them to translate in a live setting, so that is always in the back of my head as well.

Growing up, music was my escape from reality, so in a way, my goal is to pay it forward and hopefully give the next generation of kids that same opportunity.

What’s the live scene currently like in your part of Missouri – how easy is it to get shows, and how much interest is there from the community? 

It probably depends on who you ask, but I’ve got a bit of a unique perspective as I’ve been gigging in the clubs for more years of my life than I haven’t.

“The unfortunate part is that 99% of the time, it’s easier to pack a venue playing covers. We have been very blessed to make a lot of money and perform for a lot of people doing just that.”

However, original music is a completely different thing. Luckily, we have been able to convert a lot of our crowd into followers of my original stuff as well.

That being said, I have taken the opportunity at every show that I’ve ever played to connect with those people who took the time to come out. So for the last two decades, I’ve been building friendships with those in the audience. You can ask anyone that knows me, I am the first one at the venue for load in and the last one at the merch booth at the end of the night. The most important thing about music is building your brand.

In the past you’ve performed alongside renowned acts like Papa Roach and Stone Temple Pilots – What was one of your most impactful experiences during this time, and how important were these early experiences in shaping you as a lifelong artist? 

Those experiences were very pivotal. I looked up to both of those groups specifically when I was coming up so it was always an honor. I learned how to conduct myself on those national level events very quickly. I was really lucky to have a singer like Nigel Dupree who took me under his wing as an 18-year-old kid and showed me the ropes of the industry and how to carry myself professionally as an unknown artist in those early days.

“It’s tough being an opener, but it’s something that everyone needs to do. On those stages, it’s not about you. You are always flying by the seat of your pants; hardly ever do you have a sound check and things never go as planned, but you have to learn to overcome and turn it on when given that opportunity.” 

What’s been the biggest change or challenge in terms of how much the industry has changed since then? 

The business end of it is the hardest part. As a scholar and someone who holds a masters degree in business, I have a very honest outlook and understanding of the financial side of the industry and what drives the machine. If the goal is to make money or to pay the bills, good luck. I would almost always advise that artists have a back up plan. That is not intended to be a pessimistic statement, but to encourage artists to do both.

I finished up my degree remotely in the back of a van driving from show to show. And I am very glad that I did. Especially during the down years or during things like Covid. Always have a plan B.

What can you tell us about the upcoming album – Old School Cool

I can say that the title is a dead giveaway of what the record will sound like. It is all very organic. Not just the sounds, but the themes of the songs as well. It is very reminiscent of old school rock ‘n’ roll but with a modern twist. The record is also very diverse so I think the audience will enjoy listening to it from front to back.

What’s your favourite song from the new album to perform, and why? 

So far it has been American Made. Even if you have never heard it, by the time we blast into that second chorus, the entire crowd is singing along. There are a lot of driving tracks though on this record so they all make for great live performances.

How often do you write new songs, and how long is the process from an idea to the studio version? 

I try to write every day. I am the most inspired when I am exercising. My best songs have all come to me when running or working out. That’s usually when the creative part of my brain is firing on all cylinders. The best songs from this record came the quickest. I noticed that when we solidified the final 10 songs, almost all of them were the ones that came together with ease.

What’s your biggest ambition right now, where do you want to be by the end of this year? 

My biggest ambition is to build a brand and something that will carry on long after I am gone. My number one goal is to continue to provide the type of life for my children that I have up to this point, but with even more emphasis on being present and spending as much time together as possible.

By the end of the year, I hope that the record has been successful enough to continue pursuing an original career. This is what I feel I was put here to do.

Is there anything else we should know?

I would just like to reiterate the great amount of appreciation I have for everyone who has taken the time to listen to my songs, to buy a t-shirt, or to attend one of our events. As humans, time is our most valuable asset, and I appreciate them using some of theirs to support me in doing what I love.

* * *

Find Sebastian James on Facebook.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *