Jaymes & James captivated America as the hunky, relentlessly optimistic duo who wound up coming in second place on The Amazing Race. The guys were representing Chippendales, but they were hoping the million-dollar prize would help with the bills associated with Jaymes's dad's cancer. Sadly, his father passed away in March ("I got the best guardian angel in the world now," Jaymes says), but this duo's deep friendship has kept their personal and professional collaboration alive.
Today, Jaymes & James (who were innocent bystanders when Lance Bass made his concerned comments about Amanda Bynes, which led to another round of "ugly" comments from the troubled ex-starlet) are releasing their first single, the melodic thumper "Light Up the Skies," produced by Tanzer, and available at iTunes.
I spoke with the guys to get the latest on their plans...
Boy Culture: Tell me how you decided to merge your very different musical styles?
Jaymes: We both have very different backgrounds. I have a country and pop background and James has a progressive metal background. But surprisingly, it kind of just came together very well. We give and take pretty easy with each other. We know when to push and when not to. And yes, we are still talking about music here!
James: Our first single, "Light Up the Skies," was just a no-brainer. It's about seizing a moment and giving it a shot.
Jaymes: To me, it's about losing my dad and making the most of every moment after to make him proud. I always wanted him to see me win a Grammy and now that he's in heaven and can see everything, I'm gonna make sure he does, dammit.
James: It's also about us taking the leap to start this journey together. And it's even got a few hints of the fear you face when starting a new relationship.
Jaymes: It's purposely got multiple meanings, but the underlying message is the same: "We've got tonight...that's our only guarantee, so...let's light up the skies."
James: It's all about having fun and making the most of the moment.
Jaymes: Our personal mantra.
BC: So you didn't fight at all over songs and creative choices?
James: We don't fight. Why would I want to be friends with someone I fight with? We are doing this to have fun on another adventure together. Just like we said on The Amazing Race, things like this are like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, don't waste it by fighting.
Jaymes: And our debut single we worked on with mega-producer Tanzer, so it was kind of like we had a referee of sorts in the room to help us blend our styles. I think we got it. I think it's like Kings of Leon meets Flo Rida.
Jaymes: James sticks to his guns. If he feels a certain way about a melody or a lyric, he won't back down, which artistically I admire so much. Where as I second-guess myself a lot. He always stands firm.
James: One thing I musically appreciate about Vaughan is his ability to breathe life into whatever lyrics he sings. He truly makes it unique in his own way.
BC: Tell me something about each other that no one knows.
Jaymes: Um, unfortunately, I think we accidentally put it all on the table for the world to see on The Race. I'm clumsy, I walk into doors, trip over things in plain sight, while unfortunately missing clues that are also in plain sight. Grace is not my strong suit. In the least. It's cool. We are representing for the clumsy kids of the world.
James: I think a lot of people don't reallize what major outcasts we were growing up. How much bullying we endured. That's something a lot of people don't know that we actually want them to know.
Jaymes: And I think it's important to put that out there not as a dark secret but as a message to realize we overcame that, and anyone else can to. It sounds cliché, but honestly, it really does get better. Kids need to know that. I was gay and from a mixed race family in the South. It was torture. Not the mention that I had an awkward phase that lasted about 14 years. But I made it. And you can, too.
BC: Give me some dish on the celebrity guys who've been rotating in and out of Chippendales!
James: Well, coming up this June we have Ian Ziering, and he's so excited that it's injecting all kinds of new energy into the show.
Jaymes: He's genuinely excited about the show, which is awesome. And I think he is gonna be really good. Not to mention our ticket sales are gonna go way up. They actually have gone up tremendously since The Race. We are sold out so much that they've actually added even more shows to our schedule. We are now seven nights a week with 10 shows total a week. And with Ian there, I think that number is only going to go up.
BC: Were you crushed when you came in second on The Amazing Race? Happy for the winners?
James: That, in and of itself, is something to be so proud of. And of course we were happy for Josh and Brent.
Jaymes: They did so many things to help out charities and the less fortunate with their money, so how could you be mad at that? Josh and I still joke we are going back on the race together as a team instead. Only this time, he will be in drag as Aquadisiac. Basically, RuPaul's Drag Race meets The Amazing Race. I love it. Unfortunately, I doubt that'll ever happen.
BC: Will you sing about your Amazing Race experience?
James: Yeah—it's called "Confused, Disoriented, Hungry, Can't Count and Can't Find Stuff When It's Right in Front of Our Face."
Jaymes: Wait, that actually does sound like a pretty good country song...maybe I'll work on that for a side project.
James: I hope you're kidding.
Jaymes: I am. Sorta.
BC: You need a gay/straight version of "Ebony & Ivory!" Anything thematic like that coming up?
Jaymes: I'm sorry—I can't stop laughing long enough to answer that. James is now singing at the top of his lungs.
James: Yeah...nothing like that in the immediate works.