What’s Your Band Called, Mate? Get to know James Smith

Each week we introduce you to a brand new artist we’re going mad for here at NME Towers via our ego-busting Q&A, What’s Your Band Called, Mate? This week, Upminster's James Smith on his East End heritage, classic covers and his love of Kiwanuka and Nutini

What’s your band called, mate? 

James Smith mate! Not a band, just me and my boring ol’ name.

What do you sound like?


Depends who’s listening. Soulful, a bit blues, a bit gospel… blinding on the car stereo

Are you any good (honestly)?

Me dad thinks so. My cover of Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright’ goes down well with him and his mates.

What’s your best song?

Gotta say latest single ‘Call Me When It’s Over’… bit of a quarantine banger

What’s been your most memorable gig?


Headline show in Melkweg, Amsterdam, had fans queuing round the block. Brought a few friends and got absolutely hammered

Tell us something really interesting about you, that isn’t to do with music.

Was kicked out of school when I was 13

We said really interesting…

FINE! I’m from a family of old-school East-end market-traders. It’s all a bit dodge. In a different time my nan says I could have been hanging out with the Kray twins

What is your karaoke song?

Gotta be ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ – Johnny Cash. Cheery

Scenario: We’ve given you a shit load of money to make a big budget video – what do you do

Book a flight to the Caribbean and start a new life!

What do you want to achieve with your music? 

Soundtrack people’s lives. Paolo Nutini and Michael Kiwanuka sound tracked mine.

If your tour bus was hanging over the edge of a cliff and you needed to throw out one band member as ballast, which member would it be and why?

Errrrr… suppose it’d have to be me then ?

Fill in the blanks: When you listen to MY music it feels like the fookin local is back open in your hometown

If your band had ‘stans’ (superfans, like Katy Perry’s Kitty Cats or Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters), what would the name for them be?


Where can we see you next?

Fock knows! Hopefully on European dates in October, or the headline show at Scala!

What do you want to happen at your last ever show?

Smash it and then kick off with the Oasis brothers scrapping each other.

Any final words?

CORONAVIRUS (in Cardi B’s voice)