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James Gaden


   
James Gaden, also known as The Great One and The Pretty Boy, is the multi-talented leader of Hidden Depths, a group he has commanded since their inception in 2005. From leaving college, James learned his trade in the print industry, training in graphic design and reprographics. His obvious artistic flair led him to become "the best Mac Operator in the country, nay, the world" and has been indispensable in the branding and look of Hidden Depth's stunning work so far.


    Originally having musical aspirations from a very early age, penning his first song 'Everybody Loves Me' as a toddler, the flow of James' creative juices were never stemmed. He showed enormous skill when it came to creative writing, so it was a simple step forward to begin writing lyrics.

    "I remember penning the first prototype for my lyrics when I was a teen," he told us, as he smoothed his jeans over his rock hard thighs. "I was inspired and wrote what at first glance seemed like prose, but I realised that prose and poetry were far too limited for a man of my off-the-chart charisma and talent. I decided they'd work much better as lyrics. I tried singing them and instantly hit upon a melody. At that point, I thought this music thing might be worth pursuing."


    The lyrical snippet, which had a working title of 'Impossible Dream', has yet to be turned into a full song, but it did plant the seed for an early idea for James and his brother Buz to form a group.

    "Never one to have an original idea himself, Buz wanted in on my brilliance," James reminisces, his boyish good looks complementing his charm and humour. "He wanted to form a band. As described on the first Hidden Depth's DVD 'Buried Treasure', Buz was going to be a guitarist, but sadly he lacked patience, drive or ability in order to master even the most basic of chords." With no musical training, no direction and no material, the band, under the working title of 'Gaden', was put on ice.


    James, however, was keen to keep busy. In 1997, he decided to go back to the start, and re-create his first ever song, 'Everybody Loves Me.' Armed with Buz's now cast off guitar, a second hand four track tape recorder from their uncle and a drum machine, James cut his first official track.

    "People say I'm full of myself, I take myself too seriously and won't accept criticism," James explained, displaying a fiery masculine passion. "But that is bullshit - negative propaganda from haters. 'Everybody Loves Me' was a starting point. I was eager to start making my mark, I had a blank musical canvas. Rather than waste time, I decided to revisit my first ever song to get me started. Was it the best thing I've ever done? Of course not, but we all have to start somewhere. However, I must point out that four tracks very much limited the vision I had for it in my head, so I can't be completely to blame."


   
With his first recording under his belt, James began work on his debut solo album. The next song he wrote was entitled 'All I Want' and was backed with a cover of Robert Palmer's 'Addicted To Love', which James had a long affinity with.

    "It was karaoke that began turning the dream of musician into reality," James recounts with a wry smile and a twinkle in his piercing steel blue eyes. "I was out on the town with Paul Stanley and he suggested we go into this bar. They had karaoke on and he wanted to sing. He suggested I sing too - most people are terrified of singing in public. I thought that if I wanted to make a go of this rock star thang, then I had better step up and see if I could deliver. I chose 'Radio Ga Ga', written by Roger Taylor, one of my inspirations. The backing track made my voice sound quite weak and it didn't resonate properly, so I decided to try something else. I settled on Robert Palmer's 'Addicted To Love' and promptly brought the house down."


    That song became a staple of James' live work as he would continue to sing weekend after weekend. His work paid off, as before long he was performing music by a plethora of legendary artists such as Elvis, Tom Jones, The Who, Deep Purple, Guns N' Roses, The Doors, Kenny Loggins and Timmy Mallet. One patron was heard to say that "You could be on 'Stars In Their Eyes'… as anybody!" Possessing a voice that could "stop a speeding truck or make a nun weep, depending on my delivery", James found singing live a much bigger thrill than mundane pursuits like drinking and smoking. He would frequently give 'Addicted To Love' an airing to the delight of the audience. In fact, the song became so well associated with James that, when he heard the Robert Palmer's original on an advert, The Great One had to concede "I forgot how well he did that."


    A rare live recording from one of these performances surfaced as a B-side to James' next single 'I Think I Love You'. This new track, along with 'All I Want', formed part of what would be James first ever solo album, released in 2002, called 'Story Of My Life'. Keen to expand upon what the four track recorder had offered, 'Story Of My Life' was recorded digitally on a primitive multi-track application on an iMac, using only a guitar, synth and drum software. A sample of the track ‘Showman’ is offered below.

   
"My first album was ten original songs, where I performed all the parts," the Pretty Boy explained as he rubbed his toned bicep. "It was an intense emotional experience and I was the sole creative force, doing everything. When I released it, it was radical. I had no formal training and no musical lessons. People wrongly cited this reason as the fact the album contained no chords, like I didn't know any. In actual fact, all the classic rock albums had chords, I wanted to shake things up, do something different. I was probably ahead of my time if anything. My genius did not translate to the finished product, which was almost certainly due to the amateurish software I was using. The lack of chords and interesting production were simply unique - but like all pioneers, my work was vilified. Those less talented than me preferred to refer to the album as 'crap' and claimed the stony faces of my listeners was not due to shock and awe, rather it was, in fact, abject apathy."


    Unperturbed, with his first album finished, James was keen to add to his discography. In
2005 he recorded 'Have You Heard The News?', an album of covers consisting entirely of Huey Lewis And The News material. Originally planned to be an album of rock 'n' roll covers, The Great One made the decision to choose Huey's work instead, prompting Lewis to proclaim "Well don't you have excellent taste!" the last time they spoke.

    "That album I just did for fun," James remembers, steepling his long, dextrous fingers. "It can be a labour of love writing, playing, recording, mixing and doing everything yourself. This time I just had to sing. As unlikely as it may seem, I've improved a lot since that record and could probably do much better now. However, I still had comments saying people preferred my version of 'The Heart Of Rock And Roll' which is reward enough for me."


   
2005 was important for another reason however. It heralded the first Hidden Depths album. Buz, after recording two solo albums of his own, teamed up with James to finally form the sibling duo planned years ago. You can read both brothers comments about the debut record on the Discography page, but suffice to say, the self titled album, paired with the 'Buried Treasure' DVD which chronicled the making of the record, was the most popular thing either brother had created so far. James was the driving force behind the record, thrilled at the facilities new technology and new found skills offered him. The self penned title track, which you can sample above, was one shining example of just how far he had progressed musically.


   
2007 saw James pay tribute to Roger Taylor with his 'Taylor Made' EP, featuring five songs Taylor recorded either solo or with his parent band Queen. 'Foreign Sand' was particularly popular from that EP, which pleased James no end.

    "My respect for Roger Taylor is second to none, a feeling I'm confident he reciprocates. Indeed, he was only too aware of me when we met, - he saw at me wearing my Roger Taylor tour shirt which had a big picture of his face on the front and said 'Hey, I know that guy!' We hit it off immediately. I'm sure if he heard my versions of his songs, he'll hear his originals with new admiration."


   
In 2009, Hidden Depths returned with their second album 'Believe The Hype' and their second accompanying DVD 'Depth Charge'. The album featured 13 all original tracks, including the hard rock tour de force ‘Those Lookers Are Hookers’, sampled opposite. The two disk accompanying DVD set provided amazing unrestricted access to the pair making the record, performing live and featured celebrity friends chipping in with their thoughts for good measure. As before, you can read what the boys had to say in the discography section, but James naturally had more to add.

    "I'm very proud of that record - that finally came close to being the album I wanted to make. It would have improved immeasurably if Buz had left all the vocals to me and stuck to doing oohs and aahs, but he insisted and being the kind soul that I am, I relented. You have to appeal to the lowest common denominator sometimes, and that's Buz's audience. 'Believe the Hype' raised the bar so high, it's got ice on it."


    Never one to stay still, James has spent his time doing artwork and enjoying the company of rock stars far and wide. He has been pictured with legends such as The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood, WWE's Chris Jericho, Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, Status Quo, Brian May, David Hasselhoff and Des O'Connor. He has shot the breeze with multiple big name artists and continues to write both for Hidden Depths and himself.

    "2013 will see plenty of activity from me," he announced with a sly knowing wink which is quite arousing. "There will be a new James Gaden album entitled 'Third Time Lucky' which is going to surprise a lot of people. If 'Believe the Hype' was stratospheric in terms of where it put the bar, this one takes is through the mesosphere and to the upper reaches of the thermosphere until we're almost in the exosphere. That's how good it is."


    But what about Hidden Depths?

    "Don't you worry, plans are afoot for another Hidden Depths album as well. The Great One has far too much inspiration to just have one musical outlet!"

 
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