He’s covered in enough tattoos to make the average suburban housewife shudder and rips on lead guitar for a hard-driving punk band, The Gunt Punchers, whose songs include titles like “Drunk Fucking Asshole” and “Sniffing Bea Arthur’s Panties.” At the end of the workweek, after an exhausting day of screen printing and sweating in obscene temperatures, he’s also a dedicated father to a beautiful 4-year-old girl and the type of person who will welcome a stranger into his home with a smile and handshake. To some, such characteristics might appear diametrically opposed, but those people haven’t met Jeremy James. James was born and raised in Northeast Ohio, growing up in New Philadelphia and spending his adult years making heads bang in venues that range from hometown “New Philly” bars to Cleveland institutions like the Agora. He’s a youthful 33, but in rock years he’s already lived a lifetime, and maybe two. He “started playing guitar when [he] was 15” and was “in a couple metal bands into [his] mid-20s.” He took a hiatus from the music scene before returning four years ago, this time as lead provocateur for The Gunt Punchers and as resident producer and sound engineer at his own facility, ’Atta Boy Studio. The Gunt Punchers is a four-piece punk band that features James on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Brian Lipinksi on lead guitar and backing vocals, Drew Lippencott on bass and backing vocals, and Rawn Driver (yes, you should be jealous of his first name) on drums. The group formed a little over three years ago and, after a period of shifting lineups, has been steadily playing several shows a month while recording their debut album. Recording at ’Atta Boy, naturally, the LP is “about 90 percent finished.” All that’s missing are some vocals, and soon the already overburdened camel’s back might snap, because another talented band will have made its own contribution to the rusted-by-sweat-and-spit-and-blood canon of Northeast Ohio rock. The Gunt Punchers are punk to the core, with harmonies soaring and shouts shooting over thrashing chords, but they allow themselves outside the genre walls, like during the seemingly reggae influenced bridge of their song, “Critical.” This eclecticism might have its root in James’ own influences, where thrash, ’80s, metal, Hall & Oates, punk, rap, and country all converge. James’ tastes are nuanced, and perhaps that reveals much about him as a person. But it’s his transition from the metal scene to the punk scene, and his reasoning behind that transition, that is most illuminating. Though he was naturally attracted to the technical skill in metal, “Every band that we played with was trying to one-up each other,” he explains. “Everybody was assholes and completely uptight.” After going on hiatus from the livemusic scene because of the negativity he experienced, James met Chris Bentley of The Most Beautiful Losers, “and it was a totally different scene. . . . We go to this show [at] this place called ‘Old Glory,’ where the Losers used to practice, and it was a blast. Everybody had each other’s back. It wasn’t like anybody was out to prove anything. I was like, ‘I’d rather be with these kinds of people, musically, than anybody [else].’” James’ work to build and run ’Atta Boy Studio stems from his connection and affinity for the camaraderie of the punk scene. “When I met the Losers and the bands that played with them, you wanted to help other bands.” He adds: “I knew there were no studios around here that didn’t charge two, three thousand dollars for an album. And most local bands don’t have that kind of money.” When pressed on the matter, he admits, “It is ridiculous what I charge.” During the last couple years, James has produced 17 albums and EPs in different genres, including large portions of Dolly Rocker Ragdoll’s album. The pink-haired blues musician describes his experience recording with James as “totally awesome” and says that James encouraged a process that was “real experimental,” and, to his delight, “gave you a weird sound.” Jeremy James is increasingly indispensable to the Northeast Ohio music scene. Let us pray that he, his tattoos, guitar playing, singing, recording, and genuine humanity never go on hiatus again.