Aiden James: Paws-itivity

Out Philadelphia-based independent singer-songwriter Aiden James is launching another nationwide tour and a new single, all before the holidays. The trek will take him to cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Palm Springs (we asked … sadly, he doesn’t need a roadie) and includes a home-town benefit show for Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society Oct. 10 at World Café Live.


James said he was inspired to do the benefit because of his own experiences with animals.

“I knew of what they were doing in Philly and I actually have a rescue animal, not from PAWS,” he said. “I love critters. I figured they need help and I thought it would be a nice pairing, being an animal lover and having a rescue pet myself.”

James said he and his rescue animal met each other by chance on a cold winter evening many moons ago.

“Her name is Rosie the Cat,” he said. “She’s a bitch. She’s really old now. She’s 16. It was New Year’s Eve, and I was walking home and it was freezing cold out. I saw this little kitten walking up to me. I walked to a couple houses and knocked. ‘Is this your kitten?’ Everybody was like, ‘Aw, hell no!’ I was like, ‘Oh well, I guess I have a cat now.’”

James said his love for animals has also inspired him to go vegan.

“The correlation between being vegan and [my support of] PAWS is unrelated,” he explained. “But the tie-in is being compassionate towards animal welfare and the overall treatment of animals and how society has made them a product. There’s this detachment to the animals we have that live in our houses and the animals that are raised out of sight, out of mind, for slaughter. There’s a detachment between the animals we eat and the compassion we show to the animals we have as pets. It’s a good step in the right direction. It’s a good step in the right direction as far as shelters and animals and it shows people how to have the capacity for compassion. So that’s why I became vegan, because animal welfare is something that is very important to me and I wanted to wholeheartedly live my beliefs.”

James’ commitment to his convictions is laudable, especially for someone who travels as much as he does.

Vegans are often faced with the challenge of finding suitable sustenance, especially on the road, often in places where uttering words like “gluten-free” and “vegan” are akin to declaring an undying love for communism or hailing from the planet Jupiter.  

“They do look at you like you have lobsters crawling out of your ears,” James said about TWV (traveling while vegan). “It’s a little bit of a struggle. I had been vegetarian before that. So the initial shock of it came when I switched to being a vegetarian. And that is easy. So becoming a vegan, it is fun now for me to travel. I’ve sort of made it a game. I go to major cities so it’s a little easier. But I like to try all their vegan restaurants. I end up spending so much money on the road because I’m eating at all these vegan restaurants because Philly doesn’t have that many. I’m ordering for two or three because I want to try everything. Being on the road and being vegan can be hard if you aren’t traveling to major cities. When I fly, airports are the worst. But there are great vegan restaurants in California and Chicago.”

James’ last full album, “Trouble With This,” came out in 2012, but since then he’s released a few new songs as singles, the latest of which became available online Oct. 1.

“It’s called ‘Last Reminder,’” James said. “I wrote it when I was in Philly. I was waking up at the crack of noon, going to get my coffee on the corner. I saw these signs all over my neighborhood. It said, ‘Lost item. Huge sentimental value. Reward if found.’ I thought, What is the monetary value that this person placed on a memory that they are not ready to forget and would pay to get it back? So my wheels started turning and I wrote the song.”

James added that the new song finds him experimenting with bigger, bolder sounds than he had on “Trouble With This.”

“I have Ingrid Michaelson’s drummer playing on the track so it has a very Gavin DeGraw [sound],” he said. “The drums are big. It has a nice big sound akin to One Republic. The vocals are front and center. It’s not as electronic as ‘Trouble With This’ but there are definitely some of those elements in there. There’s definitely more live drums on it and it sounds great.”

When asked about the possibility of a new album, James was noncommittal about any plans beyond staying on the road and performing.

“I don’t really have a comment about future stuff,” he said. “It’s up in the air. I’m just focusing on getting this track out and getting something new. Because I’m touring, it’s hard to do studio time and write and record. I have seven shows coming up all around the country. It’s hard to juggle these things. I’m just going to put out the single and figure everything out when I get back.”

Aiden James performs a benefit show for PAWS 9 p.m. Oct. 10 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. For more information or tickets, call 215-222-1400 or visit or

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