“We were fed up with 90% of rock playlists being stuff where you don’t even know if you can hear a guitar”: James and the Cold Gun are bringing the “early noughties guitar rock revival” back – with a little help from Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard

James and the Gun
James Biss holds aloft his Rickenbacker 330 Mapleglo (Image credit: Provided)

Picture the scene: two ultra-cool young musicians – both named James – are brought together under one roof during a surreal detention of global proportions and spend the next 18 months writing songs in their garage, cranking their amps and waiting not so patiently to be allowed out to play. 

Then, in a “fairytale kind of moment,” their music gets heard by a rock-star-turned-record-label-owner on the other side of the Atlantic, and they find themselves catapulted directly into their wildest dreams.

Nope, it’s not the plot of the feel good musical movie of the summer, it’s the story of James and the Cold Gun – a band of plucky punk ’n’ roll upstarts from Cardiff who are well on their way to big things.

“One of our songs ended up getting played on KEXP,” recalls lead guitarist James Biss, who’s still on a high from recently supporting Guns N’ Roses at BST Hyde Park when we chat. “Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam was just driving through Seattle in his car, listening to the radio. He heard our song and sent us a message on Instagram.” 

With that, James and the Cold Gun became Loosegroove Records’ freshest signing – their gloriously jagged self-titled, self-produced debut LP landing this summer like a cluster bomb of raucous riffs and unchecked energy.

“We were getting so fed up with 90 percent of the stuff on rock playlists being stuff where you don’t even know if you can hear a guitar,” explains frontman/guitarist James Joseph, who wields a ’94 Korean-made Epiphone Flying V, makes a sport out of irking sound engineers with his enthusiasm for feedback, and reckons it’s “a proper bummer” when “layers of electronics” get in the way of a good tune. 

Instead, the pair inject their music with the spirit of the “early noughties guitar rock revival”, with bands like Queens of the Stone Age, The Hives and The Darkness being major sonic touchstones.

Biss chooses a Rickenbacker 330 Mapleglo for its “super-spiky” single coils and jangly tone, and, according to his bandmate, takes care of “all the bits that sound good in our music.” 

The pair have recently become Laney artists and craft their tones using LA30BL valve amps – modern descendants of the Supergroups that Tony Iommi used to define the meaning of ‘heavy’ back in the ’70s.

“They’re 30 watts, which means you can actually turn the volume up to 5 to get some of the amp tone,” explains Biss, before Joseph, unable not to grin in the process, hops in to profess his love for the amps’ wicked good looks and retro-styled “big knobs,” to boot.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Ellie Rogers

Since graduating university with a degree in English, Ellie has spent the last decade working in a variety of media, marketing and live events roles. As well as being a regular contributor to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and GuitarWorld.com, she currently heads up the marketing team of a mid-scale venue in the south-west of England. She started dabbling with guitars around the age of seven and has been borderline obsessed ever since. She has a particular fascination with alternate tunings, is forever hunting for the perfect slide for the smaller-handed guitarist, and derives a sadistic pleasure from bothering her drummer mates with a preference for “f**king wonky” time signatures.