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James Intveld looking better "Somewhere Down the Road"

By Jeffrey B. Remz, July 2000

James Intveld is no newcomer to music. After all, the Fifties-styled, twangy country singer can be heard on the "A Town South of Bakersfield, Vol. 2" compilation 12 years ago.

And he also did stints playing with Dwight Yoakam, Harry Dean Stanton, The Blasters and Rosie Flores.

But the Compton, Cal. native has not exactly been what anyone would call prolific when it comes to putting out his own music. He recently released his second, "Somewhere Down the Road" on his own three years after a well-received self-titled debut on Ichiban where he played all the instruments.

Referring to touring with others, Intveld says, "While that was going on, I was travelling all over the country, going to Europe, people were asking, 'so, when are you going to put out a record?"

"I kind of got to pursue this thing," Intveld says.

"My schedule got kind of crazy," he says.

Intveld says he wanted to release the album himself to maintain control. "The problem usually when you're dealing with record companies is they want to see you 100 times. They want to let you know when they're going to release this stuff and how they're going to release it. We decided to just release it ourselves."

"I kept promising people a new record would come out," Intveld says. When fans would ask, the response went something like "We're going to have a new album probably in the beginning of the new year."

Except the reality was delay after delay.

"I said, 'why don't we just make a record and sell it?'" he says.

And he has sold a very respectable 3,000 copies since March. "I'd rather be doing that than the record company saying 'we don't like the third song,'" he says.

The title track was written years ago. "I just really dig the version that we came up with on this record," he says. The song was first recorded on "A Town South of Bakersfield, Vol. 2" on Restless.

"Just a different twist than what we expected," Intveld says.

"I write a lot of lot of ballads," he says. "I can only put so many of them on the record."

"When you're dealing with certain sensitive subject matters - a lot of those songs fall into category. I write that way, and I think way - the material doesn't really translate into a rocking beat. You could, but it just doesn't tell the story as well."

"Living Without You," a ballad with strings, is one of Intveld's favorites because of the instrumentation. "I wrote that song, and it sounded like an old country song, and I wanted to do a thing with an arrangement," he says, referring to Floyd Cramer with strings.

"I think the first album was a little bit more kind of country rockabilly. This album is a little bit more folky and a little bit more singer-songwriter oriented. If you add the two, the new record is a little bit more mature than the first one."

Intveld has his backing band playing with him this time around.

"It's great to have a band," he says. "It's a lot more fun. It's more organic. The reason I did the first one by myself is I didn't have a band. I was on the road all the time with The Blasters....I never had time to put a band together. This time it was 'let's go in.' I had a band. Even though I played drums on a couple of tracks. Basically, it was cut with the whole band playing. that was a lot more fun to me."

Intveld assume the lead guitarist role in The Blasters from Dave Alvin, a gig he held for about three years.

"It's the growth of an artist, of a person," he says of the new disc. "All of those things come into play on the new record. I'm in a different place than when I made the first record. I'm a little more stable."

Intveld first gained country influences from his parents, who liked Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin. "That's probably why I have this old style - because of all the influences," he says.

Intveld played with his brother in high school, but his sib eventually joined with Rick Nelson, an ill-fated move since they were killed in a plane crash.

The death affected Intveld musically. "I played small clubs. I didn't have a band. I kind of laid low for a years, and then I met Rosie. I wrote a couple of songs for her. I kind of helped her out. I played bass for her. I wanted to do someone else's career instead of my own."

When Intveld isn't pursuing his music, he often can be found acting. At one point, he was in acting school and received bit parts in such movies and TV shows as "Roadhouse 66" with Willem Dafoe and John Waters' "Cry Baby."

Intveld more recently appeared in The Beach Boys HBO movie as Hal Blaine, a session drummer.

He soon will film "61*" with Billy Crystal, a baseball movie about Roger Maris' pursuit of Babe Ruth home run record. Intveld plays a character who catches Maris' ball and wants to sell it.

A member of the Theatre Rats group in Hollywood, Intveld also directed a short film, "Bugger," about a dog in a "Sling Blade style movie where the guy who owns the dog is this character Billy, who's slow and works in a muffler shop. A next door neighbor poisons the dog because it defecates on his lawn."

"Personally, it's a good balance for me," Intveld says of music and movies. "It keeps me kind of level. Sometimes, the acting stuff is doing real well, and it makes me feel not so desperate if the music is kind of slow. It gives me something else to boost my energy."

"The biggest problem is scheduling," he says. "If we get a movie, we try to schedule around it."

"Creatively, it keeps a lot of stuff going for me, which I like," he says.