“Quality songs, quality players. Just an honor to work with James Williams and be part of this kick-ass project.” - Mike LePond, Symphony X
Hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, James Williams was raised on classical music; his mother was a singer in the church choir and sang Opera locally, and sister sang professionally for the San Francisco Metropolitan Opera for ten years. Composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, Stravinsky, Mozart, Carl Orf, Chopin were all part of James's early musical vocabulary. By the age 12, Jimi Hendrix became his fascination, followed by guitarists Robin Trower, Larry Carlton, Al Dimeola, Gary Moore, Jeff Beck, Alan Holdsworth, Frank Marino, Yngwie Malmsteen and bands like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Scorpions, ELP, Yes, Boston and Kansas.
James has appeared in Guitar Player Magazine with Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who said, “James's impressive guitar pyrotechnics are highlighted by arpeggios, speed picking, vibrato and guitar harmonies that work together to create inspiring high level passages that sometimes remind me of Yngwie Malmsteen.” James has recorded with the late bassist Wyman Tisdale and also legendary bassist/composer/arranger Marcus Miller. Performances with guitarist Norman Brown, saxophonist Gerald Albright and many other top artists, along with years of exposure to classical, jazz, metal and R&B, James has created a diverse sound that is on the cutting edge of today's guitarists. Says James,“My inspiration is always to achieve something musical that will last and inspire others.”
In 2011, Magna Carta Records released the critically acclaimed album by James's under the name X Opus titled 'The Epiphany CD'; the band was essentially James on all instruments with two vocalists. Sea Of Tranquility raved about the album, “If you like heavy progressive music with celestial lyrical themes you most certainly won't go wrong if you invest in this one.” WeLoveMetal.com expressed, “For me personally what stood out was the passion that James Williams talks about comes out on every song and an artist that lays his heart and soul out for the world to explore and critique deserves my applause and genuine appreciation.”
In regards to the outcome of his latest album 'Eclectic Shred', James explains, “There is so much diversity in this record it should satisfy the solo hungry guitar fans, the song composition fans, and anyone who likes fusion with odd time signatures, power Symphony X rhythms to Hendrix, Ynwie and classical lovers of guitar and keys.” Adding to his impressive guitar virtuosity, James also plays bass, keyboards, drum programming, along with composing all the symphony arrangements. He also produced and mixed the album at his personal recording facility, X Opus studio. Says James, “As far as the players on 'Eclectic Shred', I am really happy with how that turned out, as it can be a challenge to communicate to guys that are in other parts of the US and can't come to your studio. However, the players I used were great at doing their thing. I am so happy to be able to have gotten my good friend Mike LePond from Symphony X to play bass on the album – he is a bass god! His timing and interpretation is masterful, and he wrote his own lines and played the way he wanted as he heard it. Mike is the best prog-metal has to offer – Symphony X is my favorite modern metal band and the best out there musically. I got in touch with Matt Guillroy through my good friend Mike Varney, the famed progressive guitar producer who brought us Yngwie and Jason Becker. Matt plays keyboards for James Labrie and has worked with Yngwie – he is better on keys sounding like a guitar than most guitar players. He is a master of the keys and I was so glad to get him on the record shredding solos!” Also included on the recordings are guitarists Dave Thomas and Richard Tull.
In conclusion, James has this to impart to his fans and listeners, “I hope that people benefit spiritually as well as musically from this record.”