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Riley James has been writing songs since he could speak. At the age of 12, overcoming the adversity of an undeveloped left hand, he taught himself to play guitar and began putting music to these songs. After over a decade of playing in various punk rock and hardcore bands, in 2004 Riley returned to his roots and began playing country and folk music in the bars and cafes of St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City and every little Midwestern town in between. In 2006, Riley self-released his debut album Whiskey, Ramblin, and St. Louis Nights (James Whitlock, Homeset Studios), which contains songs of sorrow and redemption. Pat Wolfe of the KDHX show Interstate Radio described Riley as a “Young St. Louis singer/songwriter” who “sings with a voice worn by whiskey and late night wanderings”.
In 2009, Riley began working with Carl Nappa of The Shed (Nelly, David Bowie, Boston, Christina Aguilerra, New Kids on the Block etc.) to record his second album, the Devil Don’t Mind E.P. This album represented Riley’s darker side and dealt with subjects ranging from heart break to drug addiction. Carl helped Riley to examine his music and look deeper within to perfect his voice and his sound.
In late 2009, Riley added a rhythm section in the form of the Bad Men with Tyler Bicknesse on drums and Aaron Daugherty on Bass. At this point, Riley began incorporating other influences from his childhood into his songwriting, beautifully blending pop of the 60’s, indie of the 90’s, and of course his folk and country foundation. In late 2010, Riley James & the Bad Men finished recording their debut album Time Goes On, returning to the Homeset Studio of James Whitlock, who has had extensive experience capturing the true sound of Riley’s music.