Session Ace & Road Warrior: Roto on the Road (And in the Studio)
An accomplished and versatile guitarist, synthesist/keyboard player, and harmony singer, James has been tapped as a first-call sideman by major-label bands and indie upstarts alike. and has toured the world several times, with stops in Japan, Australia, Eastern Europe, Canada, the U.K., and even far-flung destinations like the Canary Islands and Maui.
In 1997, Rotondi played guitar for Northwestern chanteuse McKinley, was a member of ex-Gong singer Gilli Smyth’s band, and was the lead guitarist and DJ for acclaimed new-jazz ensemble The Grassy Knoll [Antilles Records], touring extensively across the U.S. with Meat Beat Manifesto and Josh Wink, and performing at the Warsaw Summer Jazz Festival and other global events. In 1999, he accepted an offer from Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton to join the band as a guitarist, keyboard player and background singer on their world tour supporting the now-classic album “California”; the band headlined festivals in Portugal, Australia and Japan, playing on bills with the Flaming Lips, Coldplay, Limp Bizkit, The Foo Fighters, Beck and many others.
(With Mr. Bungle in Germany Rotondi on keyboards)
In 2001, he joined French superstars Air—and their two American bandmates, pop legend Jason Falkner and drummer Brian Reitzell—for their world tour supporting “10,000 Hz Legend.” In addition to sold out shows at the Paris Olympia, New York’s Hammerstein ballroom, and Lisbon’s La Scala, the band would headline at Glastonbury in 2002, and perform at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall in front of a sold-out crowd that same year. Singing harmonies with Falkner and Air’s Jean-Benoit Dunckel—and sashaying in a suitably French manner—Rotondi was also tasked with playing and programming the mighty Alesis Andromeda synthesizer; his ethereal sounds and lush textures compelled Air’s Nicolas Godin to remark, “James puts the ‘Air’ in Air.”
(With Air in 2002 – Rotondi on synthesizers)
On electric and acoustic guitars, Rotondi has performed and recorded with a who’s-who of great American musicians, including drummers Shawn Pelton (SNL Band), Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos), and Michael Shrieve (Santana), bassists Billy Gould (Faith No More) and Mike Dirnt (Green Day), and appears on recordings with the Tower of Power horn section, Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, ex-Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner, folk icon Ellis Paul, and has played guitar for network television series including the acclaimed Dirty Sexy Money. He’s recently been joined on stage by rock legends Eric Burdon of The Animals and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
With Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top
James can currently be found touring and recording with NYC rockers The Cringe—in opening slots for Cowboy Mouth, Cheap Trick, Trapt, and The New York Dolls—as well as Brooklyn ensembles The Red Hook Orchestra and Dexter Lake, and playing guitar for several NYC music houses, including Tonefarmer and Duo-Tone. He also leads songwriting workshops worldwide for the innovative company Song Division, in which he brings the joy of songwriting to large corporate retreat groups, leading a band of similarly accomplished touring musicians behind him in sharing the wonders of being—or at least aspiring to be—a globe-trotting rock star.
With The Cringe: “Lord Jim,” live in 2012. Rotondi on Guitar