By Sarah Donahue
After playing with Tempe’s Authority Zero for over a decade, Jim Wilcox carried his passion for drumming from the Sonoran Desert to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where he helped create a punk rock “supergroup” that will soon release its first album.
The new band, Record Thieves, was pieced together with members from other well-known bands in the Denver music scene, like Allout Helter and Boldtype. Record Thieves dropped its first single, “Sacrifice,” on October 7 and its second, “Work it Out,” on October 27, teasing the release of its debut, 11-track album, titled “Wasting Time,” which is set to release this year on November 24 on Thousand Island Records.
The punk band’s first single features complex, hard-hitting drum lines; intelligent guitar riffs and passionate vocals combined with a strong sound of melodic hardcore and a hint of pop punk.
Record Thieves started recording the album last winter, 41-year-old Wilcox says. Upon its completion, and as the band started looking for the right record label, is when COVID-19 started running its course around the world.
“We originally were trying to release this back in April, but that all got turned upside down,” he says.
Thousand Island Records actually wanted to release the album next year, Wilcox says. However, the band had been sitting on the record for so long at that point that it told the record company that it had already constructed its second album and that “we’d really like to get this one out of the way.”
Normally, around this time the band would be preparing for a concert tour, but with the looming threat of COVID-19, that isn’t possible. Record Thieves talked about doing a livestream performance for people to enjoy, but with the lack of pumped-up, moshing fans, it unfortunately just won’t be the same, Wilcox says.
“The energy of people being in the room with you is huge,” he says. “Losing that portion when you’re streaming—there’s pretty much no one there, you’re just doing it for a camera. And so, it kind of sucks, you know what I mean?
“We’re really looking forward to being able to tour maybe next year—(it’ll) probably end up being the year after that, because who knows what the hell’s going to happen.”
Luckily, there are some live performance options in Denver that the band is considering, he says. Some larger clubs that normally fit 500 people are offering socially distanced shows where a maximum of 50 people can safely enjoy the face-to-face experience of live music.
Right now, with everything being turned upside down, the band is focusing on creating its first music video, he says. It’s also finding other ways to create online content to create a “longevity-type situation versus just one livestream.”
Record Thieves records its music in Wilcox’s home studio, which sits 10,000 feet high in the Rocky Mountains. The band used the scenery of the area as a theme for the album artwork as well as the cover of its first two singles.
He described the connection between the cover art and the album name, saying it’s a “smoky background and it looks like everything’s dead, and there’s just this ski lift that’s not obviously running anymore—hence the reason (it’s called) ‘Wasting Time.’”
The band is looking to shoot scenes for the music video in that scenery, too, to “give us some synergy between the album cover and the song that we decide to use,” he says.
Record Thieves started forming around four years ago, Wilcox says. Allen White, one of the band’s guitarists, and Wilcox went through a long process of trying to solidify their sound as well as trying to find the right members.
After practicing and playing shows with a number of band members who couldn’t fully commit, White and Wilcox decided they weren’t getting anywhere.
“(White) and I basically just said, ‘Screw it. Let’ just go write a record and stop worrying about practicing and shows and all that,’” Wilcox says.
“That’s when everything kind of shifted,” he says. “We basically got to the point where we didn’t have to be concerned about anything else—it was just about writing good songs—and then basically the band started putting itself together.”
From there, the other guitar player, Fred Bear, offered to join after hearing a demo they wrote, he says. It was ideal that it happened that way, because “the biggest challenge was realistically just finding the right lineup of musicians that really worked together and had the same vision,” he says.
The full lineup also includes vocalist Mike Waterhouse and bassist Chad Gilbert. A new band with new members brought a new sound that Wilcox evolved into, he says.
“I’m definitely doing a few things on this album that I didn’t previously do regularly with Authority (Zero) records or any of my other 20 other projects that I play drums with.”
Wilcox is on “all ends of the spectrum” in the music world, he says, mentioning how he DJs, works with hip-hop artists, produces EDM under the name Blue Collar Prophet, and is also part of a trip-hop project with his sister-in-law. He is also part of a stoner-rock project called Wolf Blood Moon with friends in Arizona.
“At the end of the day, writing and recording music is the thing that I love more than anything else in the world,” Wilcox says. “So, I never tend to turn down projects or turn down the collaborations or anything like that.”
When he was younger, Wilcox started his music-playing pursuit as a guitar and bass player and says, “I was never very good at them.” He opened the portal to the world of drumming when he was in his late teens when his friend told him to try banging it out on his dad’s drum set.
“I just could play,” he says. “I didn’t know how I understood it, but I did. I just knew how to play that day. That became the focus of my life at that point in time.”
Later on, he went on to tour the world and sell out shows with Authority Zero.
After leaving the band in 2012, he spent another year in Phoenix DJing with friends until his wife suggested moving to Colorado, where she had lived. His family and many other ties to Phoenix had moved away, so he told his wife he was down for a new adventure in Colorado. “Two weeks later, we left,” he says with a laugh.
He still talks to the Authority Zero guys and misses his friends in Phoenix, “but I truly do love it here,” he says, adding that the mountains, the snow and everything that comes along with it are some of the best parts of living in Colorado. “I prefer the cold to the heat,” he says with a chuckle.
“I love Arizona. I grew up there, so of course I’ll always have a soft spot for Phoenix,” he says.
“Wasting Time” is due in stores on Tuesday, November 24.