Hailing from the Motor City, Daniel James of Leopold and His Fiction knows a thing or two about music.
Whether it’s the swagger of the MC5 or the work ethic of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, James understands the impact that his home state has had on the music industry.
For Leopold and His Fiction’s as-of-yet untitled forthcoming album, the musician, who now lives in Austin, Texas, tapped into the Detroit/Ann Arbor rock scene after not giving it a second glance for years.
James spoke with College Times about the forthcoming record, growing up in Detroit proper, and how the birth of his daughter rocked his world.
College Times: I just read you are from Detroit, as am I.
James: No way. Where are you from?
Twelve Mile and Woodward in Berkley.
Wow. I was born in Detroit, moved out from Detroit proper when I was 8 and we moved out to Southfield, Royal Oak, Ferndale-ish. We stayed there off and on before I left. I lived at 13 Mile and Woodward.
Where do you live now?
Austin. My daughter, who’s 3, lives in Austin. That’s where I go when I’m not on the road. We play 280 to 300 shows a year. But having her, I didn’t realized it would be as amazing as it is.
How did having a baby influence your songwriting process?
For the better. It really lit a fire where the fire needed to be lit.
How have your shows been in Phoenix in the past?
This band is about 9 years old. For years, we’d stop in Phoenix and Tempe and Mesa and nothing was happening for us. All of a sudden, a couple years ago, we tried it again and it really started making sense. We’re definitely excited to have it in our routing for sure.
Why do you think you were able to gain traction in Phoenix?
I think it was more on our side than it was the city itself. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s what the band is doing, what the city has to offer. Some cities will have 400 people for two years and then it tapers down to 100. But we’re doing bigger things and we have more momentum.
How would you say that growing up in Detroit influenced your music?
I didn’t make any records for this band in Detroit. I was doing everything against Detroit. I moved to San Francisco and didn’t have any friends. I went into a psychedelic folk realm with this band. It took me moving to Austin, having a daughter, getting my life refocused to really bring out the best songs in me. I [channeled]everything I listened to in Detroit—Motown, eventually the Stooges, MC5. All the Detroit guys. Bob Seger, not that he’s had a huge influence on me, but he was definitely present.
You can’t deny his work ethic.
You get it. You get it for sure.
Leopold and His Fiction w/The Prowling Kind, Last Exit Live, 717 S. Central Avenue, Phoenix, 602.271.7000, lastexitlive.com, Monday, August 25, 8 p.m., $10-$12