James Taylor — singer-guitarist for great new English outfit Inheaven, which hits The City next week — believes he was fated to have a musical career.
It started when his parents christened him James at birth, in reference to their favorite actor James Dean (not the American folk rocker).
Naturally, he was regularly fire-and-rain razzed growing up, he says, “Which was not bad, overall, because Taylor was a lot bigger in America than in Britain, so I didn’t get hassled as much at home. But all my American friends always mentioned it.”
Even when Taylor met future Inheaven bassist-vocalist Chloe Little at a London nightclub and began collaborating with her on experimental audio-visual projects, he had no idea they were forming a band.
The fun pastime soon became too big to ignore. Little presented him with a 30-second video of rapid-fire images one night, instructed him to compose a soundtrack for it, then went out for a long walk.
“So I just sat there and wrote the song ‘Regeneration’ over the top of this clip,” he says of what would become the duo’s first single, on Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’ boutique Cult Records imprint. “Then we had to get it together pretty quickly, because we got such a great reaction early on.”
Taylor and Little, at the time called Blossom, immediately did a lot.
They changed their name, due to another popular U.K. act (they settled on Inheaven, a nod to David Lynch movie “Eraserhead”); wrote their self-titled debut disc on Play It Again Sam records; and hired two band members (guitarist Jake Lucas and drummer Joe Lazarus) to replicate the songs live.
The pair wanted to maintain an effervescent indie spirit, so they continued printing new fanzine issues with every single, and updating a mysterious website with homemade videos and alternate track versions.
“As opposed to having some stranger make a cool video for us, we were adamant that we would make everything ourselves, and we’ve carried that on to this day,” says Taylor, who cites disparate musical influences like Ride, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
That doesn’t summarize the thundering brilliance of “Inheaven,” which sounds like The Vaccines being deluged in gelatinous honey; the new single “Sweet Dreams Baby” heads even further into Phil Spector, wall-of-sound territory.
Taylor still can’t believe Inheaven took off. “I never even sang before this — it was Chloe who forced me to come out of my shell and do it,” he says. “And that was a gamble for me, because I’m not the most social guy, and to get up onstage and actually sing in front of people is still pretty nerve-wracking for me.”
IF YOU GO
Pale Waves, Inheaven
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. March 27
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 551-5157, www.ticketfly.com
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