Local music: Wolf Ram Heart

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When he disappeared into the Hocking Hills three years ago, the last thing on David James' mind was getting his music to the public.

"Basically I went insane and thought the world was going to end, and so I moved out to the woods and built a survivalist compound," James said.

James emerged in 2006 as frontman of The Black Canary, a unique Columbus combo that transfixed listeners on MySpace but rarely delivered in concert. By 2008, he was weary of music scene feuds and this city's increasingly deaf ear toward his retro-futuristic jams. Furthermore, a "total collapsed society" seemed more and more plausible.

So, in a move reminiscent of heroes Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson, James and his girlfriend retreated to Logan. A year later, the relationship was over, the threat of societal breakdown seemed less pressing and James returned to music.

He recruited Black Canary drummer Eric Buford and attracted guitarist Sawyer Shepard and bassist Jessica Barnes through Craigslist. By June 2009, James' new band Wolf Ram Heart was at work on their debut LP.

That album, the dense and moody "Betrayal of Hearts," is finally out this month, with an accompanying U.S. tour including a local release show Friday at Circus. They'll play Brooklyn's Northside Festival in June and hope to spend autumn touring Europe.

The rural compound proved useful for writing and recording, though it contributed to "Betrayal of Hearts"' melancholy bent.

"It can be kind of gloomy, very Ichabod Crane/Sleepy Hollow out there," James said.

James has plenty of reasons to be happy now, though. He's happily married to bassist Barnes. His band recently added keyboardist Rob Cave to recreate the album's dense layers live. And he's promoting the album he always dreamed of making.

"I think people are having a hard time pigeonholing it, putting it into a category," James said. "That was the whole point."


10 p.m. Friday, April 22

1227 N. High St., Short North