Songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and professional project juggler James Dewees has had a hand in many memorable acts throughout the years, including The Get Up Kids, New Found Glory and My Chemical Romance. The most personal of his musical outlets, and the one that has stood the test of time even as time refuses to slow down, is Reggie and the Full Effect, a solo project he began in 1998. With 20 Full Effect years under his belt, Dewees recently released his 7th studio album, “41,” one he says was inspired by a series of personal tragedies in his life and how he chose to subconsciously cope with them.
We recently sat down with Dewees to discuss how each project fuels the next, the aspect of “41” he’s most proud of, and what he won’t lie to himself about in 2018.
TrunkSpace: It’s been four years since the last Reggie and the Full Effect album. Do you ever get in a headspace where you’re not sure if you have another album in you?
Dewees: Not really. Music is just something that I’m always doing. Writing, performing or whatever, I’m always working it seems, but I love it so much it never feels like work.
TrunkSpace: A lot of people find themselves needing to refuel the tank before tackling their next creative endeavor. Is that true for you between albums?
Dewees: Not really. I’m involved in so many projects that are different from each other. Each helps inspire the other.
TrunkSpace: When you set out to put “41” together, did you want to approach the songwriting or recording process in a new way? At any point during the experience did you feel out of your comfort zone, but by way of putting yourself there on purpose?
Dewees: Well, having gone through two personal tragedies in a month, I used the sadness for creative fuel, even though I didn’t realize it when I was doing it.
TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with this particular album?
Dewees: Writing and recording the songs for my mom, they were very difficult to sing because of the content, but I got them done and I’m super proud of them.
TrunkSpace: The album is your 7th as Reggie and the Full Effect, which is a huge accomplishment. If we were to sit down with all seven albums and listen to them back to back, sonically and thematically where would we hear the biggest differences? Where you do you think your music has changed the most over that time?
Dewees: It would be 21-year-old James and 41-year-old James. I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer and performer throughout the years.
TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, 2018 marks 20 years of Reggie and the Full Effect. Time flies by in life, but does it fly by when you’re making music as well? Have those 20 years felt more like a handful?
Dewees: Yeah, I’ve never stopped being super busy. From Reggie, Get Up Kids, New Found Glory, My Chemical Romance and Deathspells – I’m always a busy person.
TrunkSpace: Has your own musical point of view changed since 1998 or do you feel that your songwriter’s voice is relatively similar between then and now?
Dewees: Yeah, I am a fan and lover of music. All kinds. My songwriting reflects a lot of that. (Not just with Reggie but all the other projects or recordings I play on.)
TrunkSpace: Sticking with the idea of your songwriter’s voice, how long did it take you to find yours and be wholly confident in it?
Dewees: Have I found it yet?
TrunkSpace: As you look back on your career in music, what are some of the highlights that you’ll carry with you throughout the rest of your life?
Dewees: All of it. From playing my first show out of town to headlining Madison Square Garden with My Chemical Romance.
TrunkSpace: What has been one of the surprise side effects of your career in music? Has music changed your life in a way that you never could have imagined when you picked up your first instrument?
Dewees: It has been my dream since I was seven to be this. And I’m thankful everyday for the opportunity to be able to do this.
TrunkSpace: We’ve barely scratched the surface on 2018. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for yourself and if so, how are you doing sticking with them thus far?
Dewees: Not really. I want to quit smoking. But I’m also not gonna lie to myself. (Laughter)
“41” is available February 23 on Pure Noise Records.
Check out the TrunkSpace review of “41” here.