As the guitarist of Against Me!, James Bowman has spent the last 20 years performing all over the planet, sharing stages with some of music’s most iconic acts, and releasing albums that have earned both critical acclaim and commercial success. Before he was an integral part of one of modern punk rock’s most celebrated bands, Bowman was a teenager playing in punk and hardcore bands in St. Petersburg, Florida and working as a tire technician with no idea he’d eventually be performing in arenas and soccer stadiums.

Recently, Bowman spoke to My First Band host Tyler Maas about his two decades worth of experiences in Against Me! and everything that came before. Over the course of the conversation, the guitarist spoke about striking up a friendship with Laura Jane Grace in high school, moving to St. Pete as a teenager and quickly latching onto the city’s music scene, his stints in bands like Shot Heard Round The World and The $cam$, the unexpected circumstances that found him joining Grace in Against Me!, the band fibbing its way into a Fat Wreck Chords deal, and being signed (then unceremoniously dropped) by a major label. Along the way, Bowman talked about his love of the Tampa Bay Rays, opened up about throwing the first pitch before a game, and discussed his new Bowman Audio Endeavors guitar pedal company.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Against Me! (“Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be”).