The Pitch: What differentiates the solo material from the Black Diamond Heavies? Is there more than just a two-piece?
James Leg: It's still just a two-piece, man. Basically, the short answer is, the Black Diamond Heavies, we just decided to take a pause. We did a couple of shows in August, but Van [Campbell], the drummer from the Black Diamond Heavies, he was recently married. We'd been doing it, touring 260 days a year, for six or seven years, so we decided to take a pause. In the meantime, though — I'm not married, so I'm gonna keep playin'. [Laughs.]
The new record has multiple instruments on it, but right now, we're just touring as a two-piece. I know it's going to be confusing at first for some fans, but I wrote all the Black Diamond Heavies' songs, and all these, of course, as well. Really, the only difference is that it's a different badass drummer.
Now, did Van's influence come through a little more on the Black Diamond Heavies' material?
For sure, man. The Black Diamond Heavies were very much a two-piece. The drums on the Black Diamond Heavies' stuff, they're kind of like a solo instrument, in fact, because his influence is very prominent, whereas this is a little less of that. I'm still working with really great drummers, but it's just more kinda my thing, I guess.
Yeah, we did a Link Wray cover on there. Do you know that record? It's self-titled. 1972, maybe? It's just self-titled, Link Wray. Man, the shit he did in the '70s. It's not the guitar-hero shit that he was doing, the garage “Rumble” kind of stuff. The stuff he was doing in the '70s was amazing. It's very folky. He sings on it … yeah, check that stuff out.
But, yeah, to answer your question, I used acoustic piano on pretty much every track on this record. Some of these songs I had pitched to the Black Diamond Heavies, and they just didn't feel like Black Diamond Heavies' songs, so I just put 'em away for another project, which is what ended up happenin'.
Now, I know your given name is John Myers, but where does Rev. James Leg come from?
Well, I am a reverend. I grew up in church. My father was a pastor of a church. I didn't find rock and roll until I was 15, so when I was 15, I was already ordained and preaching in my dad's church and stuff like that, and then found rock and roll and marijuana and all that … so, the reverend part is for real.
So, the James Leg thing. There's a street character in Tennessee. I've known him for 20 years, and he's always called me James. He knows my name's John, but he's always called me James. The roadie for the Black Diamond Heavies, he started calling me Jimmy Leg, because when I start playing piano, my right leg can get a little crazy sometimes, and do its own thing — which, in the South, we say, “You've got a Jimmy leg.”
It kinda helps, man. The wild-ass onstage, it's hard to be that person all the time, so it's actually healthful to have it be a separate fucking person.
Sort of like, there's Jim Osterberg, and then there's Iggy Pop. Iggy's the madman onstage, and Jim's the guy who shakes your hand backstage.
Right. Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
What can folks expect when you get up onstage at Davey's?
It's sort of like a cross between a tent-revival circus and a wild rock-and-roll show. It's pretty electric. They will feel it. If they come to the show, they will feel it, I can promise.