The Blue Collar Prophet: Jim Wilcox

So you’re a designer, artist, DJ, and a professional drummer in an established band. So how did it all happen? Can you break it down for us for each area of your life?

OK well lets start with the first of four, an artist. I pretty much just loved to draw at a very young age. My dad was always good at drawing cartoons, basic things like woody wood pecker and shit, and I think I just fell into it because of him. I was never that good at it but I enjoyed doing it; so I continued to do it for years. I never got into painting or anything I just used to sketch… shapes, characters, whatever ya know. I found geometric shapes were always my favorite thing to draw. I really enjoyed technology and I think that transcribed into my art. I honestly wish I would have kept a lot of that stuff now, but I never found it to be important to me so I threw most of it out when I was younger (idiot).

2nd a designer. I started using Photoshop when it was version 3.0. I remember I was OBSESSED with photography in junior high and manipulating my photos was definitely on my top 5 daily things to do, along with skating, smoking ummm “stuff”, and listening to Bone Thugs and Harmony at volumes that would piss off even those who loved them, haha!

I used to take photos of everything; friends, plants, myself, shit whatever, I would shoot all day back then. I remember I got bored one day so I used my scanner (digital cameras were still new back then, so you had to print and scan your photos) to scan a blank CD, and then I warped in Photoshop for hours just ’cause I could. Photoshop has always been a fun play tool for me when I have nothing to do, nothing like replacing the heads on random bodies with your friend’s and family’s heads when your bored! I got into vector art years later after meeting a guy by the online handle, Dickiejones33 (I think he has something to do with site).

I remember trying to design with it and never quite getting it and he really showed me what was up and got me all stoked on it. Now days I do 90% of my designing in Illustrator, Its by far my favorite tool to work with.

3rd a DJ. DJ’ing started for me about 7 years ago and quickly became an obsession. Growing up I listened to a wide variety of music (still do) but hip-hop was the music that found me… it was the music that no matter my mood, I was ALWAYS happy to listen to it. With hip-hop comes, DJ’s, scratching, break-dancing, graffiti; it’s a culture ya know, and all of that was in my blood because of my undeniable love for the music.

I always tell people “when you were listening to Poison, I was jamin’ to RUN DMC!” It’s just what was in my life, so naturally I always thought turn tables were cool and manipulating beats and things was amazing!

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A few years back that led to me dumping a bunch of money on a starter DJ setup and pretty much not leaving my house for a few months. Fast forward three years later and a friend name Stephen (“Switch”) asked me to come up to a club he was at and play some records. Naturally being as obsessed with DJ’ing as I was, I jumped at the chance! Imagine… Small club, literally NO ONE there. The bouncer at the front door and the bartender stocking shit, that’s all. I picked up the needle to lay it on my first piece of vinyl and my hand shook like I was having a seizure! Haha! I will never forget that evening.

My adrenaline was pumping so much I could hear my heart beating through my chest and I was NERVOUS! Switch looked at me and said “hang on”. Next thing I know he came back with a double shot of whiskey and a beer and said “here this will straighten you out”.

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From that point on I was train-wrecking beats with the best of ‘em! (mashing two beats together yet they’re not in sync at all, its NOT GOOD in the DJ world).

Needless to say I had an absolute BLAST that night with Switch and he pretty much spawned what became known as, “Blue Collar Prophet”. These days I DJ at clubs and bars a few nights a week when I’m home from tour. Thanks buddy!

Last but CERTAINLY not least, Drumming. I started playing drums when I was about 17. I played bass and guitar for quite a few years but I never really picked up on them. One day I was jamming with a friend and his dad had a drum set sitting there. He looked at me and said “you ever played the drums” I said “nope” and he was like “dude you have to try it! Even if you suck you just make noise and beat on shit, its totally fun!” That being said I was ALL ABOUT IT! Next thing I know I was playing drums. It was naturally in me the whole time I guess? So now fast forward like four years. I had been through a few bands mainly playing punk rock cause that was the scene I hung out in when I was in my late teen’s, and through all that I wound up in Authority Zero.

There is allot more to that story but I’ve told it so many times now I just don’t want to explain it again haha! If you want to hear the whole story check out the DVD “and I am zero”, you can get the whole history on the band and its members.

Today I’m privileged to say that I travel the world with Authority Zero, I’ve recorded and released 5 albums world wide, and have had the absolute pleasure of doing what I love for the last 12 years of my life. Remember, if you want something: GO GET IT! Stop sitting around wondering “what if”…watch this video! These days I’m super into music production, creating beats, electronic songs and playing live drums with my DJ friends. The main Drummer/DJ project I have is with Switch called “The Wednesday Machine”. You can check it out at thewednesdaymachine.com.

What was it like growing up in Arizona? Did you ever see yourself doing everything you do now when you were younger?

Honestly I never saw myself doing ANYTHING like what I do today.

Growing up I was totally into everything that I do today but never took any of it very seriously until I hit my late teens. I guess you could say I was a “late bloomer”.

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I was blessed with the coolest parents a kid could ever ask for. My parents would always tell me “follow your dreams, make sure whatever it is you decide to do, your happy doing it cause there’s no point doing things you don’t want to do.” I love my parents for being supportive of everything I’ve been into and I will pass along that knowledge and support to my kids when I have them. One thing is for sure when I started playing drums and got into playing live music, my life focused so quickly it was ridiculous. I remember always telling my friends “I’m gonna be on MTV one day” not in a cocky way but a very serious “fuck working 9 to 5” way and BOOM, five or so years later I had my first MTV video. Focus is what matters in life. Funny thing is even today, even after all I’ve done and accomplished I’m still stoked when I go into record a demo CD or play that 100 person bar down the street because my life is exactly what I want it to be, FUN.

What were your main influences early in life that led you to who you are today?

Well, I never really had any design influences cause most of what I did I really tried to just design what I saw in my head. On the other hand, musically I had many influences! I was a HUGE Smashing Pumpkins fan and Jimmy Chamberlin was probably the most influential drummer I listened to growing up. Another big inspiration was Tim “The Herb” Alexander (Primus). The way that guy could turn a drum set into an orchestra blew my mind! There were so many bands and so many different genre’s of music that I listened to in the early days and I think I always tried to replicate some drumming style or beat when I heard something I liked. That’s what lead me to being the style of drummer I am today. I’ve always said, you can never learn too much and to this day if I meet a drummer that is amazing I will totally ask them to give me a lesson on something. We are sponges and the only way to master a craft is to never stop learning it.

With everything you have going on revolving around design, art and music, you are in a constant state of creating. What is it like maintaining that balance with other aspects of your life? What do you do to avoid burning out?

Its funny you say that cause I’ve never thought about it like that before. But yeah, I’m always creating one way or another. The balance is just simply there. Its always been easy for me to multitask and honestly I think that’s what created the ability in me to play the drums: four different things at the same time working together. I find when I’m burned out in one situation something in another is excelling and so one. So its nice. I will say I have to maintain it though. If I fall too far behind in one thing or the other, its twice as hard to catch up simply because I have so much going on. Keeps me busy that’s for sure!

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What inspires you in terms of design, art and music? What keeps you going?

Honestly, just life in general. Daily experiences and interactions. I never think too deep into what I’m doing. For instance, I recently was contacted by a friend in Japan that was putting together a compilation album to sell for charity to help Japan in this crisis. After I got off the phone with him I started to reflect on everything that was going on and 10 hours later I had written a new track that I’m now sending to him to sell on his compilation. I believe inspiration comes from all angles, you just have to know how to see it.

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What are your skill sets as a designer? What skills do you think are necessary for designers these days?

Hmmmmm, skill sets, uh… not sure I even know what those are! I’m kind of a jack of all trades – master of none… I dabble enough in all ends of design that leads me to be able to pretty much handle any project, but that being said I’ve never had a “strong” side to my design work. Lately I’ve been playing a lot with pop art and honestly, I’ve gotten more compliments on my skills with that than any design work I’ve done before. I think as a designer its good to be pretty well rounded. One thing is for sure, ALL industries are changing drastically today and if your not ready to keep up your gonna get left behind faster than you can imagine. Remember, don’t do shit you don’t WANT to do and make SURE your happy with whatever it is your doing.

Describe a year in the life for Jim Wilcox? At anyone point you can be on tour, at home, in the studio, DJ’ing etc. Are the experiences ever overwhelming or something you thrive on?

Haha yeah, my life is pretty nuts that’s for sure. For example: Yesterday: Friday the 1st of April. (insert deep breath noise here)

I woke up, got some coffee, coded some CSS on a web site I’m designing, went to guitar center, got lunch at Lee’s Sandwiches, back to the house for a small recording session, hit happy hour for some tacos and a beer, back to my house, took a shower packed up my drums, met a friend for a beer at 8, took my kit down to a club and rocked out for 4 hours with The Wednesday Machine project, went home got 6 hours of sleep and now I’m riding in a van our to California to play a show with Unwritten Law.

It’s a 24hr a day job/party to be honest. That’s the hardest thing to balance. When its time to drink some beers and when its time to be professional, BUT!, Authority Zero allows me to be professional and drink beer so HOORAY for rock-n-roll! When I’m not on tour I try to stick to a schedule like most people, but there’s always someone throwing a wrench in my system, so I have to be ready to fly by the seat of my pants at all times. My favorite thing to say is “its cool, I’ll make lemonade”. I would say at times it’s a bit overwhelming but when that happens I just have to take a step back, look at what needs to be done and then organize it. It took me a while to get it down. Trust me… most people just look at me and shake there head calling me crazy. This is me?

AZ has been around for over 12 years. What has the experience been like for you?

Honestly, it’s a fucking roller coaster! When you think its over, some huge drop comes out of nowhere to take you on yet another ride.

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AZ has been through a lot, both good and bad, but at the end of the day I LOVE what I do and I’m not about to walk away from it. This has been, and still is, the best experience of my life. I always say, the moment you give up is the moment your career is over.

AZ has released over 4 studio albums (correct me if that is wrong), a live DVD, and multiple videos, etc. What is life like being a musician? What are the common misconceptions that people have about musicians that they see in videos and on tours like the Warped Tour?

Well technically we’ve released 6 studio albums if you consider the first album Live your Life and our 6 song EP Patches in Time (pre-release to A Passage In Time). We’ve also put out a live record called Rhythm and Booze (the title says it all). I think the most common misconception is the fact of the lifestyle.

Most people take what they see on TV and think that just cause you’ve made it on tour, suddenly your living the “rockstar” life style. I can honestly say the only “rockstar” life style I’ve lived has been while drinking those energy drinks with the star on the can! Nah, honestly its just a lot more work then people think. Yes, I love what I do and yes I get paid to travel and play music, but what you don’t see is that I average 6 hours of sleep, work 14 hour days, load 3000 lbs of gear on a off stage (sometimes up and down 3 flights of stairs) 2 times a day, wake up in a new city, half the time not remembering where I was yesterday because it goes by so fast. People also don’t see that I’m gone 9 months out of the year so having a “normal” life is virtually impossible. A relationship with someone like me is ALWAYS long distance whether you like it or not. To top it all, I only see my own family once a year if I’m lucky. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but remember: the things you want most in life will NEVER come easy.

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Tell us about Ransom Apparel.

Ransom Apparel was a venture started by one of my best friends Adam Rankin (check out 2 Tone Lizard Kings great ska band). I was doing shirt designs for Authority Zero as I always have, and was talking with Adam about them and he asked “what do you do with all the designs you guys don’t use?” I was like “holy hell, I have A LOT of those haha!” So we decided to create a clothing line using all my designs and then create some new ones while we were at it. Adam and I went on to have Ransom Apparel for about 4 or 5 years doing only 3 lines, because it was just WAY to hard to keep that going with our schedules, and with how gnarly that industry is, it was simply just to hard to keep up. I LOVE clothing lines and would love to do it again, but that is a cut throat industry and if you really wanna make it, you better bring a bigger knife then the next guy.

Who is the Blue Collar Prophet?

Blue Collar Prophet. Hmmm, well its like my alter EGO. (lord knows I have one ha!) I do a lot using that name but mainly it just represents my electronic music, (trip hop, dub step, progressive house etc) and when I DJ. I released a record you can get just about anywhere online called “240”. Its quite old now, and I will say my production has come a long way since then, but I’m proud of it none the less. These days you can find me on the interWEB under Blue Collar Prophet or Blue Collar Jim (when BCP is to long of a user name). I blog, remix tracks, talk shit about absolutely NOTHING and pretty much have fun doing it all! I’ll be releasing a new record some time here in the near future once I get my shit together and finish up the last couple tracks for it, BUT be on the lookout for a Bob Marley Dub step remix to be released VERY soon.

I hooked a flyer up for you recently for DJ’s vs Drummers. Tell us about that?

That night was awesome! It was actually a birthday party for my Buddy Jeff and I. We decided to get all our friends together at a dive bar and attempt to do something that hadn’t been done yet. I woundn’t say it was actually a competition, but more or less a way to get some people together and freestyle jam something that is NOT normally freestyle jammed. Putting 2 DJ’s on stage, throw a drummer in the mix and simply go at it. It was a free for all. Any tracks any style, just throw it down! We ended up with 8 DJ’s that night and 5 drummers and everyone had an absolute BLAST! We have been asked by a few people now to throw the event again so I’m pretty sure it’s gonna go down soon.

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What aspect of your life do you find most fulfilling?

That’s a toss up. I don’t do things I don’t love doing so everything I do is a passion of mine. I can honestly say drumming would make the top of the list by just a hair cause it’s a 100% complete release: artistic, musical, rhythmic and just all out fun. That would definitely be the one thing in my life I could never give up.

Do me a favor, yes you who is reading this, just make sure whatever it is your doing/listening to it makes you HAPPY… that’s all that truly matters.

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If I told you I want to do what you do and be like you, what advice would you give me? What would I have to go through to get there?

Oh man, I’ve actually been told that and let me tell ya, its probably the HARDEST thing I’ve ever faced as a question before. First you’ll never be me, simply because you are your own person and no one can be replicated. Now if you wanted to try to walk my path all I can say is be prepared. This road I take on the daily leads to you knowing every emotion in your body better than you can ever imagine. Your gonna get fucked over by allot of people, used, and abused. You’ll make a TON of decisions you regret, but you have to stay strong and LEARN from those decisions.

You’ll meet a shit load of people simply from being in a band which is great, BUT those are not your real friends, and at the end of the day all you’ll want is some stability. I have few people in my life I call true friends and I keep those people very close to me. They keep me grounded and are always there when I need ‘em, as I am for them. You’ll have all your dreams come true and then sucked away like a toilet bowl flushing, and all of this will happen so fast before you know it you’ll have aged 10 years; and barely remember half of where it all went. My day to day life is a roller coaster ride and all I do is just HOLD ON. That’s the best advice I can give. If you want to ride this ride then HOLD ON tight cause you’re not gonna know what hits you I promise. Now that being said, my life is RAD! I learned how to balance everything as I said earlier and I enjoy every day. You only have one life… DO SOMETHING!

What does the future hold for Jim Wilcox? Future goals?

I honestly don’t think very far ahead… my day to day keeps me from doing that. BUT, at this moment in time, I’m playing music with everyone I can. Collaborating with hip hop artists and punk rockers alike. DJ’ing and writing that FAT dub-step track I hope to release soon (Bob Marley, Get up Stand up remix).

Any last words?

That is my life. Enjoy.

Links you should check out:
Authority Zero
Bluecollarjim.com
The Wednesday Machine
Follow me on Twitter
Friend me on Facebook
BCP on Bandcamp
BCP on Soundcloud

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One Comment

  1. Jo DuPuis wrote:

    Jim, great article, I’m very proud of you & so glad you are doing what you enjoy.Your attitude is teriffic & that’s a big plus in the music world. Some day I hope to hear you play again.
    Love you
    Nana

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