The one man show known as Jamie T is taking a huge breather in New York City when we talk.
"This tour is three weeks, which is sooooo long enough," the personable musician says with a laugh. The South London native has been busy doing mad promotion for Panic Prevention, his Caroline Records full-length debut full of quirky grime-like raps, pop-infused hip-hop beats, and snarky commentary woven into nostalgic memories about London. Prior to his landing in the States, the fifteen month tour around Europe was a little daunting, but "nothing I couldn't handle," I can hear him say with a grin. Not bad for the twenty-one year-old who initially started playing drums at a young age and who cites The Clash and old-school B-boy jams as influences.
"I do prefer playing clubs than [large] festivals, though," he says when we go over his itinerary. "There is a certain spontaneity in the atmosphere in clubs."
It's not uncommon for British artists to play huge stadiums in the U.K. and then come to America to play small halls, but the change from Jamie's tour in England to his show in San Francisco is ridiculous; while he played to 50,000+ at outdoor festivals such as Glastonbury and the Carling Weekend in Leeds over the summer, the 570-capacity of tonight's show at Slim's in the city by the bay seems a little... drastic.
Jamie cites an upcoming in-store at SF institution Amoeba Records as an event to look forward to to alleviate the change.
"I am so stoked about record shopping," he says, adding he might pick up some '90s hardcore bands that he grew up loving. "But whenever I step into the store, the list I have in my head disappears." (The in-store scheduled at the record shop ended up being canceled in lieu of a last-minute appearance on Last Call With Carson Daly).
Panic Prevention won for Best Solo Artist earlier this year at the 2007 NME Shockwave Awards, beating out the likes of Radiohead front man Thom Yorke and Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker's solo efforts. Jamie expresses gratitude about being included in the running for the award, but "we were so bored at the [awards] show," he says with a laugh, quickly noting the honor bestowed is still appreciated. "Everyone's drinking, I started to [drink] when I got there...I don't remember accepting."
"They keep you waiting for so long, it's like they're asking you to be plastered and make idiots out of you!"
The plan to follow up that record for hopeful future awards will start at the end of the year when Jamie heads back to the studio to lay down a new full length, but not after a two-week vacation and seeing family back in Great Britain; Jamie's brothers have helped with the artwork for most of his albums. It will also be a time to listen to old mixtapes (yes - cassette tapes) made during this tour for fans. The tapes are handed out without a track list and aren't labeled in any way.
"It's our way to say, 'Check this out man, this is going to rip your head off,' sort of thing," says Jamie. "And generally cats like to pee on tapes, so you have to be careful."
Jamie T plays Slim's in San Francisco Tuesday, September 25 with SF local darlings Birdmonster opening. His performance on Last Call With Carson Daly will air Tuesday night on NBC.
By Jenn Hernandez