Songwriter Showcase: James Deia of Blasted Diplomats

James Deia (Blasted Diplomats) creates Midwestern, blue-collar rock and roll with a confident barroom swagger. James combines an early 80s punk sensibility and self-deprecation with warm riffs and anthemic alt-rock. His cynical edginess and musical maturity enable him inflect simple melodies with subtle ennui and an underlying insight into why people tend to make poor decisions time and again.

James joins Che Arthur (Pink Avalanche), Maigin Blank (Whales), and Anthony Cozzi (Radar Eyes) for the Songwriter Showcase on Friday, October 10th, 9pm at Uncommon Ground Wrigleyville, 3800 N Clark St. Chicago, IL. Facebook Event.

How did you begin writing songs?

I'd always write riffs on guitar or piano when I was young and would scribble lyrics on napkins or trapper keepers. I had high school bands that never made it out of the basement but shortly before Blasted Diplomats began I was concentrating on completing actual 'songs'. It was nice timing when we started because I had a ton of songs sitting around.

How has being in a band (Blasted Diplomats) with other talented songwriters changed your own songs?

We're lucky because we all contribute songs so there's never a shortage of material. If I think something I'm working on is undercooked, someone else can suggest an idea. Then I'll do the opposite of that idea or something. But really, every songwriter should have a sounding board.

You've lived in the Chicago area most of your life: do you think the city has influenced your songs?

Chicago is a music town with a ton of songwriters, bands, labels.. That can lead to over saturation but at the same time it's an influence. In high school, seeing a friends band blow my mind at the Fireside Bowl set up a framework for me that I still have, which is to try. No song will write itself, so as long as you're doing and trying and changing, you'll pretty much be ok. I think Chicago is a good place for that.

Do you have a process for starting a new song or combating writer's block?

Chords come first for me. And that's usually an emulation of a song I already like. Just rip off your favorite songs and change some chords. No one will ever know. I also watch movies and play along to them. I watched the Tarkovsky Solaris and came up with a song about decaying flesh. So really, who knows where it comes from. 

What song or songs would you like played at your funeral?

Chuck Berry songs.