Tag Archives: Jim Rotramel
Posted: July 13, 2010
Skinny Jim & the Number 9 Blacktops are set for a mid-July release of their new studio album Daredevil Action, an appropriate title for a southern Illinois trio that dared to stretch its rockabilly wings on their latest effort.
“It’s faster and more aggressive compared to our last album (Horsepower! Horsepower!),” says frontman Jim Rotramel. “It’s still rockabilly by all means but the tones are more aggressive and there’s more of a driving tempo. I’m not ashamed to say that this album is hard-hitting rock and roll, but with pop melodies. It still has the same rockabilly beat behind it — the walking bass line, the Gretsch/Fender amp tone — but I think it breaks the mold and is not the monotonous stuff that’s been done a million times before.”
Carving out a niche in the rockabilly world is tough to do. As Rotramel notes, “It’s all been done before so you have to break the mold. You can’t just play a song that’s G-C-D because it’s all going to sound like ‘Rock Around the Clock’ or ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’”
So Rotramel blended his wide-ranging musical influences — Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Brian Setzer and the Black Crowes — with a tempo borrowed from his childhood exposure to bluegrass music to create a brand of rockabilly that’s been dubbed “hot-rod rockabilly.”
“I have always considered us as being right down the middle between rockabilly and psychobilly bands,” says Rotramel. “Most rockabilly songs are going to be in this I-IV-V progression whereas psychobilly bands don’t really have walking bass lines. They are doing all the crazy punk rock stuff. A lot of our songs have that bluegrass tempo that’s on the 2/4 count.”
Rotramel’s bluegrass guitar tempo preference was influenced by his father, who introduced him to Bill Monroe and John Hartford while he was still a young boy.