Clarissa musician making it in Hollywood
Through the ups and downs of the entertainment industry, local musician Jeremiah James takes the best of both worlds with one foot in Hollywood and one foot in rural Minnesota.
Jeremiah James, whose real name is Jeremiah Korfe, said he uses his first and middle name on stage because people mispronounce his last name.
He lists Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Audioslave and Blink 182 as among his influences. He said that at age 14, he saw MXPX live at the SonShine Festival in Willmar and thought, "I want to do that."
He didn't know at the time that he would later get to tour with them on the Action Sports Tour. "I was geeking out the whole time. After that I kind of calmed down," he said.
Beyond music, he is a union actor and has worked behind the scenes on a variety of TV shows.
After living in Los Angeles for eight years, Jeremiah spent this past summer at the family farm in Clarissa, Minn. On Tuesday, he plans to return to southern California to record his next album before visiting the Gopher State once again to play for Caitlin Crosby at the Minnesota State Fair on Sept. 3-4.
Originally scheduled to play in the Vans Warped Tour, James learned he was cut after the tour had budget reductions across the board. "I'm not really high up the totem pole," he joked.
Instead, starting late April, he took time off to plant corn and soybeans, finish up combining, trim trees and work with new equipment.
"We happened to get that bucket truck two weeks before the tornado hit," James said.
James said he learned about much of the tornado damage from his brother Welde Crider, who works for the city of Wadena. "He was like, you need to get up here with that truck, we need help," James recalled.
He has family around Todd, Wadena and Otter Tail counties and at age 27 already has 23 nieces and nephews.
James grew up the second-to-youngest of 10 kids, and his interest in music started early. He said that at age six, he started playing violin after being inspired by the fiddle player from the Charlie Daniels Band. He began playing drums at age 12 and guitar at age 15.
During his teen years, he and his friends had a band called "All Unchained" which produced a number one single, "Shining Star," on 103.9 Praise FM.
A 2001 graduate of Eagle Valley High School, he attended Verndale High School during junior year to play football with his cousins. After two years of vocal music and music theory training at Fergus Falls Community College, he struck out west.
"I realized there was no way to make money doing music here,"
He decided to move to Los Angeles where the job opportunities were. "I just headed out there. I had my little '91 Cavalier with 190,000 miles on it. I drove out there and slept in my car on the beach," he said. "Hung out with a couple of homeless guys, shared some cans of tuna and crackers with them. It was pretty intense."
James said he made friends with entertainment industry workers, slept on people's couches and eventually found normal housing and work in television.
He said working in reality shows like MTV's "The Hills" is not as glamorous as people may think. "You're there for 14 hours, hanging lights, running around, basically off other people's schedules," he said.
On the other hand, he said, other jobs and shows like Discovery's "The Colony" gave him opportunities to travel.
"It's just fun. I got to go all over the world, 27 different countries, in this line of work," he said.
James said he enjoys the outdoor life in both Minnesota and southern California. In his hometown, he likes hunting and working outside. Where he works now, he takes advantage of California's unusual geography.
"You could go surfing in the morning, then drive 2 1/2 hours and be snowboarding by afternoon," he said.
That sense of adventure, along with his Minnesota roots, landed him his first acting job in a Harley-Davidson commercial. He said he was working as a camera operator in a casting session when the director asked his opinion of the auditioning actors and asked him if he rode a Harley.
James responded that he had started riding when his dad told him he was old enough to kick-start his motorcycle.
He said he and the director talked about Minnesota because Harley's headquarters are in Minneapolis. The director encouraged him to audition for the open non-union job, and he got it.
"Since it got to be such a big job, with print, commercial and Internet, then they made it go union," Jeremiah James said. He is now a member of the Screen Actors' Guild.
For his actual music career, he has toured with the Winter X Games and sold music rights to commercials and other productions. He said the Warren Miller film "Children of Winter" bought one of his songs, and that his music fits with the action sports world.
He said that the recession has made it harder for musicians to find work because of budget cuts in major network television. Fewer television pilots and fewer commercials mean fewer opportunities for artists to sell their music.
Whether opportunities are good or bad, he said he is focused on working hard at his craft and improving himself as an artist.
He compared the volatile nature of the entertainment industry to the unpredictability of agriculture.
"Music is a lot like farming because there's zero consistency," he said. "You don't know, you get what you put in first of all, and you don't know what you're going to get out of it."