INTERVIEW: Louis James – Dirty Thrills

New album 'Heavy Living' is out now

Dirty Thrills are an exciting and charismatic bluesy hard rock quartet from London, UK. Fronted by the son of ex-Moody Blues singer Nicky James, this unique outfit are bringing back old school rock ‘n’ roll, while all the while applying their oh-so-appealing filthy edge to it. With lung-busting, powerful vocals from Louis James, killer guitar riffs from Jack Fawdry and solid, sexy low-end grooves from the rhythm section of Aaron Plows and Steve Corrigan, they are churning out crowd pleasers whilst all the while endeavouring to make guitar music sexy again. Their influences flow like a stream of innumerable genres to produce a pool of sound similar to current rock icons like Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, and Rival Sons, while also taking care to include lashings of clever guitar riffs and vibrant Robert Plant-esque vocal lines. We caught up with Louis to find out the story so far…

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit today, what can we say? ‘Heavy Living’ has to be one of the finest and most complete albums we’ve heard this year. It captures that classic rock vibe but paints it with a thoroughly contemporary brush? 

DT-  Thank you for having us ! And thank-you! Very kind words indeed guys ! Yeah we think we have achieved what we set out to do! And that’s deliver a sincere piece of music that combines everything we love. 

Take us inside the process of making the album? Where do you start? How do the songs evolve? 

DT-   We had a couple songs already that we wanted to add to the album as we felt they needed to be on it. As far as the rest, they kinda wrote themselves really. We recorded it at the famous Monnow Valley which was amazing! Each song tells a kinda story, some even link with one another, we never have any rules when it comes to writing the tunes, sometimes it’s a riff, other times a melody, we try not to limit ourselves when being creative. 

Do you enjoy the process of creating? Are you someone who continually writes or does the best come out under a little gentle pressure? 

DT-  I (Louis) love pressure writing, that’s what I call it (laughs), I think having a deadline can help create some mental ideas, mental being good and mental being bad! I never force it though, I’m very hard on myself when it comes to ideas, I often throw many away. Sometimes coming back to them later on. I do enjoy it,  at times it drives me mad, but so do loved ones, and id never give up on them, the same goes for holding onto my creativeness.

What does it feel like as an artist waiting for the songs you’ve lived with for some time to get released to the fans? Is there a sense of excitement or a little panic in there too? 

DT- It’s a real mixed bag of emotions. You want everyone to love the tracks, they are a part of you, nobody likes to hear they are shit, so it can hurt if people don’t get you, but at the same time you have to accept that as well. Negativity doesn’t get to me anymore, it fuels our fire if anything.

I must admit my greatest struggle with ‘Heavy Living’ is picking a favourite song, it’s so solid from the first to the last: you must have your favourite moments on the album?  

DT- Thank you! We will never get tired of hearing that (laughs). We all have our favourite tracks, but collectively I think we all dig ‘Interlude’ Ive always wanted to do a spiritual ‘Great Gig In The Sky’ type vocal, and ‘Interlude’ is what we came up with. We dig playing that live and the crowd go nuts for it.

‘I’ll Be With You’ is an amazing song, haunting and huge, immediate yet expansive all in just over four minutes – where does a song like that come from? 

DT- We Jammed that song for a while. Broke and ripped it apart. It started as a few songs which were OK, but it wasn’t till we glued them together that it became a foot stomper. Originally it started with an acoustic feel.

Tracks like ‘Rabbit Hole’ show what I really love about the band – low and slow and a hugely rewarding listen, there so much groove and soul in there – there’s a huge amount of spirit – how does an idea for a song like that spark? Does much of your music come from jamming? 

DT- I (Louis) wrote that song on my living room floor whilst watching shitty day time TV. I’m no maestro on guitar but I can write a riff or two, and the Riff to Rabbit hole is one of my favourites, I’m a slave to the pentatonic minor scale, and this riff shows it. The lyrics are about all the women in my life, who seem to be my crutch during hard times. Gotta love the ladies, they put up with some serious shit.

How much stock as an artist do you put by reviews? Do you read them or let them pass you by? 

DT- We do like to know what people think, there are a lot of people out there however, who seem to be or come across as, a little bitter or jealous maybe? Their honesty is admirable but come on, we are just trying to give something good to the people. All bands get a mixed bag of good and bad reviews, I think it best to just ignore the nay sayers and keep pushing for what you believe in.  

The UK has a wonderful rock scene at the moment and there are a number of great new bands playing the sort of music we love. Does it feel like a special time at the moment? Can you feel Rock rising again? 

DT-  Most definitely! We often say it, this is the British Invasion mark II coming at ya baby! We know many of the bands on the circuit, and have made some good pals with some. It’s a great time for Rock n Roll. Its coming back people, and ya ain’t gonna stop us! 

With an album like ‘Heavy Living’ how on earth do you choose what to play live – what makes it into the set-list and how hard a decision is it? 

DT-  Well, if we have an hours set, a headline show basically, we will play the album in full, and maybe play a few oldies for encores, that sounds like a song itself! But if we are limited to 30-45 mins, We will try rotating, We generally have a starter, middle and an ‘ender’ fixed, then we fill in the gaps to suite the gig. 

You recently played the Camden Rocks Festival as well as The Wildfire Festival and Ramblin’ Man Fair as well. What’s it like transitioning from a club to a bigger stage like that? What do you prefer? 

DT- We love it all obviously.

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