James Scott Bullard is not new to the country/Americana music scene. Having shared the stage with David Allan Coe, Butch Walker, Dex Romweber and The Steel Woods, Bullard will release Full Tilt Boogie on April 27th, which marks his 9th release and 6th LP release. Bullard is a man with many stories to tell and he tells those stories with truth and passion.
Following 2016’s EP, Box of Letters, Full Tilt Boogie is described by Bullard as “ A deliberate step down from the ‘poor me’ stuff. The lovelorn songwriter gave way to the brooding demon, who owns his faults. Musically, it’s more rock and roll, but still country. Both of those genres stem from the blues and that’s all it ever is really, from me.” Still in place are the clever one-liners that Bullard’s fans seem to appreciate, but Full Tilt Boogie is an edgier, dirtier, intoxicating ride that takes no prisoners.
Full Tilt Boogie is not only an old trucker CB term, but also it’s also a pinball term, and Tom Vadakan of Urbanwofolks translates that 70’s thread into psychedelic CD artwork. “I’ve been told this record sounds like a modern day ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ soundtrack,” said Bullard, “Which I, of course, love. Tom captured that perfectly with this cover.”
Produced by long-time collaborators, Missy Davis Jones (who also manages Bullard) and Ken “Dakota” Jones, the album was recorded in their Southern Harmony Studio in Florence, SC for the Davis Jones label, Big Mavis Records. Returning to South Carolina after “drifting a bit”, Bullard wanted to put a great band together and kept hearing two names, Jeff Springs (guitars) and Kevin Singleton (bass). They, in turn, knew other musicians and brought them in for the recording. “They are an incredible live band, but they are without a doubt, the best studio band I’ve ever heard,” said Bullard. “The one day demos were amazing.”
Born in South Carolina, Bullard claims to come from a mixed clan of Irish, German, Native American and hillbilly moonshiners. His dad was a country/bluegrass musician, which the young lover of heavy rock music found “silly” at the time. “When I began playing, I took the standard chords my dad taught me, the power chords my heroes were playing and learned all the Sabbath and Maiden I could.” Playing in local bars as a teen, he moved on to rock band in the 90’s, but slowly drifted back to country music. “My dad always said, ‘you’ll come back to your roots’, and he was right.”
“I grew up in the very rural south,” he explains. “I don’t mean this to sound arrogant at all, but there’s something about being from the south that you just ‘know’. There’s something here in the rivers and in the soil that bleeds artistic expression. The blues were born here, which morphed into country and bluegrass and woven into gospel. Hank Williams, Little Richard, Elvis, Lynyrd Skynrd, The Allman Brothers and Tom Petty all came from here. What more proof does one need?”
Too rock and roll for mainstream country and still ‘too country’ for mainstream rock and roll, Bullard has found his niche among the outlaws. Fringe characters have championed Bullard’s music; bikers, rodeo riders, and renegades, but his audience also includes bankers, lawyers and grandmothers. “I’ve seen it all in my audience,” said Bullard, “I had a couple of 20-something young girls up-front and right next to them was a 70 year old woman who danced, clapped and whooped it up right along with them. I loved that.” Harry Kaplan, of Twangrila (an Americana music website) described Bullard as a “poet” and declared, “Something tells me Bullard will soon be a household name in country music like Simpson and Price.”
Several years ago, Bullard survived an addiction and has been clean ever since. “My worst fear with becoming sober was that I wouldn’t be creative anymore,” he confesses. “Like the substances enhanced my creativity when in reality and retrospect, they stifled it.” Bullard declared himself substance-free, but it took him longer to accept responsibility for the rest of his life’s decision. That process led to fan-favorite lovelorn songs from his previous albums. Full Tilt Boogie jumps forward to where Bullard is now, owning his demons and bad choices.
James Scott Bullard is an artist who writes what he lives, with one foot rooted in faith and one foot rooted in the darker, wilder side of life. Everything you hear on Full Tilt Boogie, every note, and every word is 100% genuine. Everyone involved put his or her soul into it. As he told one interviewer, “To be a songwriter, you have to know what you’re talking about or folks will see right through you.”