Jim Helmke - UFO Jim

June 9, 2004

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

First of all, I'm wonderful. I'm perfect. I'm beautiful. I'm just way beyond any girl's imagination I guess. And I have no ego at all. Basically, I have led a checkered life and I have relatives out West. I have relatives in Chicago. I lived in Los Angeles for a while. I met some famous people that might be interesting for readers to hear about. I met them out in Los Angeles when I lived there. I lived in San Antonio for a while actually, believe it or not.

Damn, you got around.

I've been all over the place. I was in Florida. I used to play in the street in Chicago as a street musician right down on Michigan Avenue by the water tower. I have friends in low places and one of them is in Chicago. I played out there but it was pretty rough out there. The streets are not exactly the most friendly place sometimes.

They never are. They never are.

It was fun. I met a lot of nice people too. I've got to look at the bright side too. When I was in Los Angeles I met Phil Spector, the famous record producer.

Who's suspected of murder.

Like I said I meet people in low places. Really he was quite nice to me. He was very friendly and I had met him through some other friends of mine. I deliberately call myself UFO Jim basically as a sales pitch. It gives me an into audience, it's something I'm interested in. I've actually seen a UFO at one time so it just seemed natural for me to go to. When I look back at my life, this was back in the 70's that I was in Los Angeles, I met the fellows that did the Aliens movie. I had been working at an experimental college called The Sherwood Oaks Experimental College. One of the fellows that was the director there was named Gary Shusett and I went to his brother's apartment. They had this little apartment in Hollywood. He and some family members and his brother and some other people were there. I was sitting around lounging by their coffee table with a Coca-Cola and they were talking to a girl on the phone. It was Ann-Margaret from Las Vegas and I was bowled over. I thought this was cool but she had told them over the phone that she was busy with a big schedule in Las Vegas and she couldn't do this film they were working on. They hung up and said they'll call this other girl that seems really nice and so they were talking to Sigourney Weaver on the phone. In the meantime I was paging through the script for Aliens in this little apartment in Hollywood. I always thought these movie things were done in these big skyscrapers downtown in Century City but here it was just this little place and real friendly. They hung up the phone and said Sigourney was interested and they were really happy. My life has taken these weird turns. Then I met Phil Spector at a place called The Melrose Club in Los Angeles and he was talking at a seminar there in 1971 and Bob Hillburn from the Los Angeles Times was there interviewing him. He drove up in a silver cloud Rolls Royce and I happened to be standing by the curb and I couldn't hear the car come up. It was completely silent. I had never realized that before about these cars that are real expensive but I couldn't hear it at all. He got out and his bodyguard got out and his driver and a bunch of other people. I got to talking with him before the lecture that he was going to give and he told me quite a bit about his life when he was younger and I think it was Philadelphia. He really had a rough time. I think his dad had died when he was real young and he'd become a bookkeeper. He really had a hard time getting by but evidently he got into the record business and I remember I had asked him at the time, I wasn't interested in records or recording, I just happened to fall into this later after I had met these people. He had said you had to have consecutive hits and the record business was like the shoe business. It was like selling a product basically like shoes. And he said the money men weren't interested in people unless they had at least a number of consecutive hits so they weren't taking as big a risk then. Then I also met Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys which was really nice. He was a very pleasant fellow. He had been the lead guitar player for The Beach Boys and this was in Los Angeles too. I asked him the same question I had asked Phil Spector. Right away he said get a good lawyer and a good accountant. Well maybe you found the same thing true in the magazine business.

I haven't actually had to do that yet. I hope I never have to. I've been doing this for nearly four years.

The whole writing thing is so much different than the performance thing in a way. Although I think that in a certain way writing is performing. Do you play music by any chance, Angela?

No, I don't but I've always loved music. As a kid I was raised on Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones. This was my destiny in a way I guess.

I love them. I really do. There are certain songs that I can hear over and over and over again. I just never get tired of them. I like "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley. I met Al Kasha who wrote a lot of Elvis Presley tunes. He was very interesting too but I didn't really talk to him long. It was just a brief thing. Then the other fellow that I'll mention just really quick too that I met, it was all sort of a nexus where there are these crossroads where all sorts of things were happening to me at that time and I met all these famous people and then nothing. For years I didn't meet anybody but at any rate I met Peter Asher and Peter Asher's sister used to go with Paul McCartney. Her name is Jane Asher and I was sitting with him on this couch in this studio and he was the nicest person. In the record industry and the film industry there are all sorts of bad people and nasty people. They're very difficult people to deal with but Peter Asher was a glowing exception. He was managing James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt at the time. I asked him if he had a contract with them because they were making millions of dollars I had this feeling. He was in the group Peter And Gordon and Paul McCartney had given him songs to sing with his career. He said no he didn't have a contract with any of these people. I said did he just do it on a handshake and he said yeah. I was absolutely amazed. He said it was a matter of trust and that these were his friends and that's the way he did business.

Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.

I guess you're right. Myself, I think in my old age here, I think I prefer to have contracts with people even if they're my friends because it's so easy for misunderstandings to happen.

I think it's a good deal to have a piece of paper with some signatures on it.

Seems like the voice of experience speaking here, Angela.

I observe a lot of things and I read a lot and I watch the news. In my 37 years on this planet I have observed a lot of things.

Live and learn.

I like to learn from other people's mistakes.

I think that's just smart if you can do that. I'm not so good at that sometimes. I should be quicker at it but I'm really not. You said that you like Elvis Presley and my agent is named Joey Welz. There's another nexus in my life for just a whole bunch of things started happening for me. It was a long time between these happy events but I happened to make a connection with Joey Welz and he is just a fantastic person. When I was in Hollywood those people told me that they had been burnt by people with publishing rights on their recordings. That even the writers are a percentage there. They tried to screw people out of their publishing basically is what they told me so when I told Joey that over the phone, I went around and around with him about it because he wanted 100 percent of my publishing right away. I told Joey this wasn't right. He said it's pretty much standard when an artist is starting out and I said no, when I was in Hollywood they warned me about this. He said he knew I didn't know him that well but he's a person that can be trusted. He said I had his word that we'll do everything 50/50 in the publishing. Son of a gun, it's been about a year and a half now. Almost going on two years and he has been very honest with me. It's pretty shocking to me.

He was in Bill Haley's Comets.

Yes he was. He puts it like this. There's sort of a controversy about all of that because he was on the tail end of The Comets basically is the way he puts it. I think he was born in Baltimore and he used to go to all these concerts and he was a piano player. He had his own band. The Comets, if you look up Joey Welz on Google or Yahoo, you'll see that he's written over a thousand songs. He's got two gold records. He played with Bill Haley And The Comets in Hamburg, Germany at the start. The Beatles were his opening act there. He's genuine but the older Comets that had been with Bill Haley at the first were somewhat upset about hiring a younger kid or something at the time. I think there are a little bit of hard feelings there but he was generally a member of The Comets but it was later in Bill Haley's life. He gets a little flack from people about that. They say he's not really a Comet and this and that. He genuinely was or I certainly wouldn't be working with him. I want people to be honest with me.

If he was considered a member of the band by the other members at that time, then I think that would make him a member of the band.

I would think so too but people are really funny in the record business. I don't have to tell you this. I'm sure you already know. That's another thing that stunned me. I played in Europe somewhat. Again I give all the credit to Joey Welz. He knew disc jockeys in Europe that he set me up with that played my stuff that liked it. They thought I was innovative which I'm extremely grateful for. One of them is a fellow by the name of Lord Litter. It's a self-deprecating name that he gave himself years ago. He's a very nice person. He's against giant corporations and these four or five giant record monoliths like BMG and Sony and Warner. He's very much independent artist oriented and he has this chain of radio programs all over Europe and in England. I think in New York now too. He plays the most avant-garde advanced rock on the radio basically as far as I can tell. He's willing to play my stuff so I think that's fantastic.

You were #2 on Radio Marabu.

That's one of his main places. He himself is out of Berlin, Germany. That's where he lives. He impressed me too because he was another one of these people that was very easy going like Peter Asher and like Joey Welz so I've been extremely fortunate. I know that there's a lot of other people out there that are not mellow in music.

There are a lot of sharks out there in those waters.


Let's talk a bit about Dancing With Aliens.

Did anything off the CD strike you as being particularly weird ass?

Actually my favorite one was "Trailer Park Princess". This was at the time this PFC Lynndie England got into trouble.

That's funny. That song has a certain a pathos about it because the situation is not happy down South in certain places. They suffer with the economy and so forth. I have friends that are from the South. They're just really nice people but I'll tell you, once in a while they're really scratching for a living. Also there's sort of a mystique especially about the Southwest. When you drive through Oklahoma and Texas and that area, there's sort of a mystic quality about that area. At any rate I'm glad you like "Trailer Park Princess".

That one just tickled me.

I like trailer parks. As a matter of fact, I'll probably die in a trailer park someday. Who knows. In a little trailer park in Mexico somewhere watching for UFOs. There is another kind of weird ass thing that happened to me too. On one of my songs on the CD, it's the second one I think, is "Mexico UFO's" and they had this big rat's ass sighting of UFOs just a few weeks ago with the Mexican military. They were looking for drug runners in their planes with infrared cameras and they picked up 11 UFOs that weren't showing up on the radar. It was in all the national newspapers worldwide just a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe the drug runners have become high tech.

Evidently or maybe the drug runners have been aliens all along and we didn't know it. Those 11 UFOs surrounded that plane and I guess they were scared of what was going on but then they left. They didn't hurt them or anything. That would be pretty scary.

No strange lobotomies or sexual experimentation?

I'm worried about alien probes basically. I don't want to be kidnapped and given any probes anywhere. No thank you. It's really a mystery and I have these mixed feelings about the whole alien thing. Even though my name is UFO Jim, I feel that there might be a bad side to all this. That they may not be so happy and we may be breakfast someday for them. I don't know.

I think we're busy being breakfast for each other right now.

It's so discouraging but you're absolutely right. They do have that fascination for millions of people and myself included. We'll find out probably someday. I hope it's good news rather than bad news myself. "Trailer Park Princess", I've got friends that really like that song a lot. The one that freaks people out usually is "Dancing With Aliens". I call it alien hip-hop. Just to be innovative and wonderful I call it alien hip-hop because I deliberately did it with that big beat. I just love that beat to a lot of the hip-hop songs. I don't like the lyrics to a lot of the hip-hop songs but I really do like the beat sometimes.

I find myself enjoying the musical content of songs even if I don't care for the vocal style or the lyrics.

I've talked to Joey about that too and he has a lot of mixed feelings about it. He does hip-hop and rock because you can't be not influenced by hip-hop. It's really a big influence.

I also like "Pretty Little Fiend".

You like that one? Well, you pretty little fiend you and you're proud of it too.


I play that out on the bench sometimes. I still go out in the street and play once in a while. Not in Chicago but in surrounding areas. Madison now has a university here and sometimes I go out on the street and play there because there are a lot of drunken fraternity boys and sorority girls and I play them "Pretty Little Fiend". I'll have 10 or 12 girls standing around with their boyfriends tapping their feet but they'll be listening to the lyrics and soon it'll dawn on them what I'm singing about. I thought at first that they might be offended by my lyrics or I'm calling them demonic or satanic. They get this quizzical little grin on their faces and pretty soon they're pretty damn proud to be little fiends. They're proud of that.

There's nothing wrong with being a little fiend.

Yes, that's exactly the attitude that I get so I was happy with that vibe I was gaining with people. I didn't want people to misunderstand. I wasn't putting down girls or anything like that. I was making a statement about some of them I've met in my life. Pretty little fiends. Little green fiends, little brown fiends, and little pink fiends. I had another one that I put on there. It was an instrumental. "Alien Portal" and to me an instrumental is like the kiss of death in a CD.

I used to think that but I've listened to quite a few and it's all in the way you deliver it.

Isn't that true? You're absolutely right. I remember way back years ago I was always very disappointed when I got my favorite group on the record player and then they put a damn instrumental on there. I wanted to hear them sing damn it. I put this one specifically to do innovative guitar work. It was basically "all right, I did that. Now you guys that are good on guitar, let's see you do that." It was sort of my egomaniac streak there. That was deliberately done for my ego basically. People told me that they get a weird, strange vibe from that song. It has a kind of dreamy and surreal quality to it. I guess that was the same in "Mexico UFO's". That lead that I did on there on guitar. I had that played in Australia by the way on the underground radio stations. I don't get commercial airplay but I get a lot of underground radio stations that play it.

I think music for the most part has gone underground mainly due to a lot of huge corporations.

Without a doubt. Like Clear Channel and places like that having a stranglehold on it.

Yeah, we just lost our rock station that was on Clear Channel. It's been replaced by a classic station because we just don't have enough of those here in town. We need more.

You must be bored to tears around there. At least you can get the Internet.

I like this one station that plays 80's and 90's rock and metal that I grew up on but you need a station that plays up and coming shit.

Absolutely. Here's another thing too. Along with Joey Welz, we discuss this a lot on the phone. He's in New York now plugging and working on one of his films. He has a film deal going. I had talked this over with him a few months ago. I told him I had heard this group called Promise Ring on a film that I went to. They had it in the credits and it was just really a fantastic song. I deliberately went out and bought the CD by Promise Ring. The song is called "Goodbye Good" and I deliberately bought that CD because I had heard their song in the credits of that film at the end of the movie. That's happened to me also with another one. The Verve played a few years ago and it was sort of a sexy mood they were in, I can't remember the name of that one offhand but it was a takeoff on something that John Malkovich was in. The basic point is that there was a song at the end of the film as the credits rolled by The Verve that I think might have been written by The Rolling Stones but it just knocked me on my ass and I thought I had to definitely get that CD and so I did. I don't have to hear more than a minute or so of a song and I know that I want to buy that song. I think millions of other people probably have that same reaction. They know instantly that they like that song and they want it. The Verve one was sort of a bummer because most of the songs on there were just sound effects and stuff but the song that I really went for that was a really good one on there as far as I'm concerned was called "Bittersweet Symphony".

You've been described as a combination of Frank Zappa and ZZ Top.

Oh, I am and more.

Charlie Daniels and ZZ Top on amyl nitrate poppers.

I thought that was so funny. I have my CD up on this website called www.cdbaby.com/ufojim and there are song samples of each song I wrote on the CD on there. If people check that out through your interview here, they'll see these reviews at the bottom of the screen. I never know what people are going to write in about me. Somebody wrote this really funny review that I was like ZZ Top or Charlie Daniels on amyl nitrate poppers. I thought that was funny as hell. They rip me up one side and down the other. One review person writes and then another person will just give me really wonderful reviews. To me I like that contrast. I don't want to be just bland and ordinary. I want to be out there on the cutting edge and I want controversy.

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

We're all a trailer park princess.

One person said you had too many woos.

That's right, yeah. That pissed me off to hear that. I love those woos damn it. I put them in there to invigorate my music and give it a little lift. Give it some life. I'm addicted to those god damned woos. Maybe they weren't completely against me but when I reflected about it, you've got to listen to people that give you what seem like negative comments because it's really constructive criticism. I probably over do those damn woos way more than I should. This will give you an insight into what an asshole I really am. I hear the criticism intellectually. I realize that this guy or girl is probably, absolutely 100 percent right about my damn woos. Do you think this stubborn asshole UFO Jim is going to stop putting so many woos in his songs?

Nah, there will be more woos on the next CD.

Right. They're going to hear so many woos they won't know what to do. Nah, I won't go that far with it. I was sort of hurt by a lot of my friends and old people I'd known for a long time. I'd whip out my ASCAP card. I've got two ASCAP cards. I've got a UFO Jim publishing ASCAP card and a UFO Jim membership card which is god damn hard to get. I don't know if you understand what a hassle that is but I did it deliberately because I knew that they were good at collecting in royalties and so forth from other musicians that I've known in the past. Whenever I'd brag about the radio stations in Europe that were playing my stuff or that I have these ASCAP cards, my friends had different reactions to me and it's maybe just human nature but some of them were jealous, some of them were envious, some of them just felt like I was bragging and trying to put them down by my slight success here. I'm no big deal but just even a little bit of success makes people jealous sometimes. Other musicians as well. I know it's dog eat dog in the music industry just like anywhere else. Just like the publishing world or any other kind of business. It really did hurt me, some of the reactions of people that I'd known on the street or as friends. Some of them constantly tried to find ways to pick apart whatever I was doing and put it down. They'd say it's not that god damn innovative and it's not that wonderful and I'm retro. I may as well be Elvis or something or Jim Morrison. That's another one they think I sound like. I had once seen Jim Morrison play and it was out in California at a coliseum or a big place with 10,000 or so people. He came out with a marijuana cigarette in front of the whole audience and they had a no smoking thing in the place and he did that deliberately to antagonize the cops and everyone else. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. He had on leather pants and no shirt and a leather jacket that was unzipped. He just really looked the epitome of a sex symbol and I always liked The Doors' music. From the instant I heard their songs, I knew that I really liked them a lot. Especially Jim Morrison. He was cool.

When something cool happens to my friends, I enjoy their success and pump them up because it's not very often that really good shit happens to people. I think folks should be more supportive.

Some of them were. I'm not saying that all of them were shitheads but it surprised me the number of people that had a kind of small minded attitude. It almost seemed like they'd prefer that I'd not be successful. It was strange to me because I expected them to celebrate with me and be glad. They would surely know that I would help them in any way I could also. Instead I got this other kind of reaction which was a big surprise for me. It shows you what a child I really am I guess. I read somewhere that life is a chain of people and I thought that is really cool. It's true. My life has been a chain of people. It reminds me of Elvis Presley. I heard him interviewed a number of times and he always impressed me with how smart he was. He was a smart guy. A very intelligent guy. Everybody thought he was some hillbilly that was a truck driver singing rock but there was a real mind there.

Never underestimate people. What got you into the music business?

I'm probably addicted to music. Specifically rock and roll music. I have a wide range of musical interests. I heard Clifton Chenier when I was in Los Angeles at the clubs there. He's from New Orleans and he does zydeco music. Plays an accordion and does really cool stuff or he has accordion music in his songs. I listen to classical music believe it or not. I especially like the organ and Bach organ stuff. I don't listen to it hours on end. I just have a taste for that somewhat and maybe it's because of the stained glass windows of churches that gets me but it's got this kind of mystical thing for me. I like Booker T. And The MGs. That organ going in it. That Hammond B3. I listen to country and another guy that was a real influence on me guitar style was Lonnie Mack. He's a fantastic guitar player. I have his records and I've heard him play in person and I just loved his stuff. Of course I like ZZ Top. I'm an absolute ZZ Top fan. I've got their new CD called Mescalero and I love it. I like The Doors and Frank Zappa. Also there's been another interesting little twist here. When I go to the fast food place to get my hamburger or I go to the pizza place, I'm addicted to pizza, I've found that in these little places there are younger kids maybe 18 or 19 years old who are into avant-garde experimental music from Japan and from Italy and in America. One of them is named Tortoise and they did this really avant-garde stuff. Not much singing but a lot of experimentation putting everything in there from pots and pans clanking to a chainsaw with a heavy beat though. It just turns me on because I love the experimental side of this stuff. Apparently these younger people are going for that too. It's something that's way, way avant-garde and the Japanese guys are doing that too which I can name you some bands but Tortoise is one from America and there are some from Italy too. What they do is they burn CDs for me and so I'm tuned into all these experimental bands which I expect to incorporate into my own music somewhere along the line. I didn't want to do it immediately because I'm just trying to get off the ground here but that's where I'm going. I sense intuitively that this is probably the direction of things into great unfettered, unchained experimentalism.

I think a lot of musical styles have probably gone as far as they can go so why not start banging on pots and pans.

Believe me, it goes a lot further than that. I just used that as an example but if you ask young people, they'll turn you on to it. It's like a little cryptic club that a lot of people that are really young are into. There will be like these little groups of them in different places like a pizza place and it's really cool. I really give them a lot of credit because they are not sheep like people. It gives me a lot of hope for the future. I think there is a streak of kids that are very open-minded and they crave really good stuff that's experimental.

Is this your first release that you've done? How has it been selling?

Yeah, it is. Now you're talking business. This is a very interesting thing to me personally. I work at a bank. As a matter of fact I'm calling you from a bank right now in my office. The only reason I work at a bank is because I have friends in low places and they know my attitude about this whole thing. They're going to be too offended. They have interests in music too. They know I do music. I don't have to hide anything from them. I live a very wild life in certain ways. The bank believe it or not, there's a wild side to the bank. Whenever you mix money into the equation, all of a sudden you get all kinds of strangeness and weirdness going on. Especially if it's a large amount of money. I work with mortgages and stuff. That's kind of dull and boring but I'm doing it for the money. That's what supported my CD. The interest rates are going down and so I'm going to be up shit creek here for a while until the mortgage rates stabilize. That hurts me. Like millions of other people as well, their homes right now are doing well but they're going to be hurting in the future because the rates are going up. I may not last at this but at least it gave me an opportunity to finance my getting myself off with the records and the recording and meeting Joey Welz and talking to people such as you on the phone and so forth which has been very pleasant. It's been a very happy time for me. The money is so important now. You asked if I was making money on my CDs. No.

What's the response to it? Do people dig it?

Yes, that's the curious thing to me. It's pretty much like the reviews on the bottom of my screen on CDBaby.com. Most people recognize that I'm doing something really weird ass here. They're not really sure but they like certain songs and they tell me to go for it. To keep going and all this kind of thing and I will. I'm addicted. I'm going to keep going. Money turns the wheel in just about everything. Relationships with people. I've noticed that if my friends run out of money their marriages usually run out of gas too. The record industry is a relationship based thing and if you don't have money, the records don't spin basically.

I think the record industry has been about money all along, it's just more obvious now. We don't live in the age of multi million dollar contracts anymore.

No, I don't think so either. I think you're absolutely right. The basic patterns don't change. The same scenario is there no matter if the characters change or if the circumstances change. I put advertisements on the Art Bell Show. He's a really well known interviewer on late night radio. Talks about UFOs and stuff. There are a lot of people that are interested in these subjects plus a lot of other new age ideas like psychic powers and supernatural stuff and ghosts and everything along those lines. I'm very much into all that so I'm an Art Bell fan for sure and I thought this would be a wonderful way to promote my stuff. I have a niche market with the UFO people and the people who are interested in the New Age and go send all the stuff and new forms of physics. I put a little thumbnail ad on their website which gets millions of visitors every year and lo and behold, on my CDBaby web page I got thousands of hits on that page through the Art Bell advertising. I'm proud of myself. The discouraging thing was, I had written Lord Litter in Europe about that. The disc jockey I told you about. He has thousands of listeners as well. Well, millions of them actually. He's broadcast in England and all over the place so I said what's going on? I'll get a thousand and some hits about something and it takes about a thousand to two thousand hits for me to sell one CD. I'd be better off just playing on the street and selling my CD just personally. Just go up and down the street and say hey, you want to buy a CD and just hand somebody a CD. It's very discouraging. The Internet is highly overrated. I do think it's going to be a tremendous force somewhere in the future here. I'm addicted to the music. I'd keep doing this no matter what. Whether I made money or not. It's just very discouraging not to be able to weasel some way to make a living at it. I should be able to make a fairly decent living at this. Being into banking, I'm kind of a realistic person. I have my realistic streak here too. I'm wacky in one way but also very realistic in another. I just feel that I've got to be more innovative with my marketing than I am with my music.

You have to be more aggressive.

Yeah and it's a hard thing to do because I want it to be a good vibe and a happy vibe for people and not just money grubbing everywhere.

You have to be innovative in your aggression. Happy aggression.

Happy aggression. Are you going to coin that term? Are you going to have your happy aggressive newsletter? Angela's happy aggressive newsletter?

I should. Angela's happy pleasant aggressiveness.

It just might sell. I meet all kinds of artistic people and people that do artistic things and I met this old codger that's even older than I am. White hair and all. He's been writing books like John Milton for the last 20 or 30 years that no one has read anything of. He just does it himself. He calls himself The Scribbler. I asked him if he wanted people to appreciate what he's done and to get some sort of reaction from people on what he's done artistically. He said no, he just does it for himself and that's it. If nobody ever sees what he's written, he's perfectly happy with that. He's written a couple of thousand pages of stuff like John Milton would do.

Two hundred years from now people will discover those pages and go "oh my God, he was the John Milton of the 21st century" or some shit like that.

It could happen. Then they'll say "UFO Jim who?"

What piqued your interest in UFOs and aliens?

Like I mentioned before, I saw a niche market in that to give me something that I could be extremely experimental in it. Who is to tell me what UFO music is supposed to sound like? Basically I feel in a way happy in that...I was hoping that I could invent a genre of music called UFO music but I see now in looking through the web and a lot of places, there's been this UFO streak all along like "Purple People Eater" back in the 50's and "Rocket 88" and David Bowie doing "Ground Control" to Major Tom and The Rolling Stones did "2000 Light Years From Home". There's been this streak of alien music all through the culture.

They only do one song and you do an entire CD of UFO music.

Yeah, that's what I had hoped to do but I did mix in some that were like "Trailer Park Princess", they don't have any direct UFO images there. I thought well, I don't want to overkill either. I don't want people just thinking it's just going to be a CD full of strange and long meeps and woops and strange sounds on it. I don't think a lot of them realize that this is like straight ahead ZZ Top heavy rock and roll stuff. That's what I'm after. That's what I love to hear but I try to give people a little bit of variety so that doesn't get boring. I know all sorts of other bands are struggling with the same thing and everybody is trying to get by.

Everybody is trying to be original in a time where it's difficult to do so.

Isn't that the truth? That puts an onus on me. It was so wonderful for Joey Welz to stick his neck out, stick his famous reputation on the line, about UFO Jim being all this fantastic, innovative, original stuff. He's really paying me a giant compliment. In his log of people, he has Sando and Johnny's material like "Sleepwalk" from years ago and he has The Four Tops and he's got a lot of other really cool people like Lake Ray he's played with and Roy Buchanan and here he's calling me so damned innovative and original. It's such a fantastic compliment. I'm just so happy that he did that but now what am I going to do for a follow-up act on my second CD or my third one? People are going to say well is he going to fall on his face on this one? Is he going to screw up now? There's a fear factor there and pressure and stress of constantly having to one up yourself and do better than before.

Back to the UFO thing, you said you saw one or something.

I'm a night person. I'm like a regular damn vampire at night. That's when I do most of my writing for songs. I was out in the countryside. I don't know if it was Illinois or Wisconsin at the time but it was at night, about three or four in the morning, and I was just appreciating the stars. I'm all awed by the stars. I just can't believe it. There are trillions and trillions of them. This one star was like any other star. It wasn't bigger or brighter or anything like you'd expect a UFO to be. Something that would catch your eye because of that. For some reason I think I was psychically tuned into it or something but this one star just looked interesting to me and I looked at it more than I normally would have just in passing. Maybe a couple of seconds more. All of a sudden that star started coming towards me and I thought what's this deal. I thought this thing was trillions of light years away from me and now it's coming closer towards me. It started getting a funnier look to it then the normal star look. The other stars around it. It had like a halogen headlight kind of a blue white kind of look. It started getting that kind a look to it. I thought this is like a UFO here. I call myself UFO Jim anyway but this is before and it started coming a lot closer. I thought this could be a UFO and all of a sudden it stopped and it started to flare brighter like if you puff on a cigarette at night, it flares up, it did that and all of a sudden it shot back at a 45 degree angle backward like lightning and out of sight. I thought that had to be a UFO. I can't think of anything else that would do that. In retrospect I looked at that experience and I thought I wasn't scared. I was sort of quizzical and sort of curious. I thought it didn't seem like it was going to hurt me or anything. God, it could have zapped me right there with an electron beam or something and vaporized me right there in the middle of nowhere if it had wanted to. Nobody would have known the difference.

That would have been pretty cool.

Well, I don't know and like I said, I don't want to be taken on board the damn UFOs and be given an examination, that's for sure. I thought if they're hostile they sure have a funny way of showing it. They just tease you here with "well here we are. We do actually exist. We're not going to hurt you, you big dummy." And take off in the other direction. It was just like a little signature to let me know that they really do exist. They're really here and they're not talking. I've gotten other vibes from them in the past. Just in various ways through artwork and things that I have been messing with. Again in terms of creativity on an intuitive basis. That was a fact. That was a physical, empirical piece of evidence for me personally. There are a lot of people that say that was just a fantasy or that was just my imagination but I think I'm smart enough to figure out what really happened to me or didn't happen to me.

Seems to be something a lot of people are interested in. I think a lot of people are curious about the unknown.

You wouldn't really know it unless it actually happened to you. It's a personal subjective thing. Have you ever had anything like that happen to you?


Oh, thank God. I thought you were going to tell me you were an alien there for a second.

Well, actually...I need to go do some probing tonight.

Don't freak me out now. The aliens are fine as long as they keep their distance. You haven't had any alien vibes or anything?

Uh...no. Maybe on a spiritual level but nothing religious or alien or anything.

Do you have any guesses about the UFO thing at all?

There are unusual things out there and people are interested in the unknown. I don't judge anyone over that but I never really thought about it much.

If it happens, it happens. That's a practical way to do it. I imagine it could really be a freaky deal if you have a lot of this kind of stuff happening to you. It would be hard to prove to anybody and they'd think you're nutty as a fruitcake.

Most people are nuts anyway.

They do have that streak of irrationality, there's no doubt about it. Including myself. I don't exclude myself from that. I'm pretty wacky about things once in a while. Just certain things. To be an artist or do anything artistically, I think you have to have a streak of that or partially otherwise it isn't happening artistically I don't think. It takes courage to do something creatively whether you're doing pottery or whether you're doing a magazine or whether you're building airplanes. It takes a certain amount of guts to do something.

Any other thoughts or comments you'd like to add?

Music has a certain mystical thing where it's not going to hurt people. I think it's uplifting to people. There's a spiritual thing right there.