INTERVIEW: Nathan James – Inglorious

Inglorious II is out now | We talk music with singer Nathan James

Every once in a while you get really excited by a band who manage to encapsulate all that is good about a particular style or music or point in time, some bands seem to have it all out of the blocks, but surprisingly few manage to keep the momentum going. When Inglorious released their debut album back in 2016 the fear was that they were just another in a long line of ‘next big things’ for Classic British Rock – a genre that’s had more than a few false new dawns over the years. The reality is that they are the real deal and this May their swift follow up ‘II’ does all the talking. We caught up with main man Nathan James to find out where all this great music comes from…

 

Mark: Hi Nathan, thank you for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit today and thank you for another great album. I had money on you not being able to top that storming debut, but you’ve pulled it off magnificently.

Nathan: Thank you very much mate, we’re very, very happy with how it turned out.

Mark: I think the first time I heard your voice was with TSO back in 2012, then after that there was the TV, the solo album, all leading up to the first Inglorious album. Where does your love of music and especially with classic British rock come from?

Nathan: I began I guess quite late, I was 14 or 15 when I first heard Glenn Hughes, I heard him sing and I thought Jesus I want to be able to sing like that! At the time there was not a lot going on in the charts and I was born in ’88 so that will give you some sort of indication how terrible music was when I was a teenager. But I remember hearing him and hearing the album ‘Play Me Out’ (Glenn’s 1977 debut solo record) and just being blown away and thinking how amazing that a male voice could do that. And it seemed that it was really hard to do so that’s where it came from I was originally inspired by vocalists, a lot of soul singers, and the Coverdales and Paul Rodgers, and that’s how I got into discovering all the old bands.

Mark: Glenn’s got a great voice, I spoke to him a few weeks ago about his next project ‘The Music of Cream; celebrating the 50th Anniversary.

Nathan: Yeah with Malcolm Bruce and those guys, I did a gig last year with Steve Hackett and a load of other names, Bernie Marsden was there it was great, and I love that Cream stuff. On Sunday actually I’m recording at Abbey Road with Keith Brown who co-wrote for Cream.

Mark: That’s amazing he wrote a lot of those classics ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ so many great songs.

Mark: As far as Inglorious goes after that first album and all the great reviews, the publicity, the accolades and the hype surrounding that first release did you feel the pressure coming into the second album?

Nathan: Well we tried not to be too intimidated by it. I know that we have more albums in us. I think the good thing about us being in our late twenties is that some bands who get together at 16 write some pretty awful albums and it’s not their fault it’s just that they haven’t got that out of their systems, they haven’t been around the world enough, maybe haven’t listened to enough music or even had enough life experience, but we’ve all lived a bit. I’ve pretty much been on the road since I was 16 so I know what I like and also I hadn’t actually put any music out, I hadn’t written at all. So for me personally it was all those years of experience and I feel like I’ve such a lot to write about still. I haven’t used it all on songs in the first ten years of my adult life and I’ve got it all there now to write about and there’s still plenty up there! We’ve got so many more albums in us and we’re all strong writers.

Mark: I think I read somewhere that the first time you penned lyrics was on that first album?

Nathan: Yeah, ‘Unaware’ the last track is the first song I ever wrote.

Mark: Not a bad way to start.

Nathan: I was so scared you know, I’d been a singer and kind of a ‘hired gun’ my whole life because I learnt to sing the kind of stuff people couldn’t sing, the high stuff, I wanted to be able to scream like Ian Gillan because it makes you versatile – if you can do everything you get more work. So that’s why I did that, I never got into writing, I never wanted to become self-indulgent and ‘artisty’. I don’t think I have actually, I don’t write about anything too deep! (laughs)

Mark: A thinking man’s David Coverdale?

Nathan: (laughs) it’s very shallow! Wine Women and song!

Mark: As the great man might have said himself (laughs).

Mark: Aside from the great songs on both albums the production on ‘II’ is spot on and really brings out the best of the songs, production is by a name most rock fans will know – Kevin Shirley – how did that connection come about?

Nathan: Well I’m lucky to say that I’m now friends with Glenn Hughes, and to be honest the only albums of the last ten years I’ve really loved the sound of are the Black Country Communion albums. I think they sound incredible and that’s down to Kevin Shirley, he’s got such a great pedigree and it’s amazing to think that he’s’ worked with so many of our heroes. And when I thought of him for the album I just thought let’s just see how much he is. So I got my manager to talk to him, at first just to see if he was interested, and he said yeah! Ad he told us the price, and our mouths hit the floor, and then when we picked them up off the floor, we worked out our budget and saw that we could afford it, and it’s the best decision we ever made. We’re all really in love with the sound of the album, it’s still exciting, it gives you a buzz, and just the fact that he liked us and liked the songs – he’s since said some really nice things about us.

Mark: I bet it would be worth half the price just to hear some of the tales he could tell.

Nathan: Yeah, you can’t imagine the stories he’s got.

Mark: The UK and European tour starts in a couple of days and there’s a nice mix of shows with a few Festivals in there. Are you looking to take things further afield this year at all?

Nathan: I hope so, it depends if we get interest. I think we’ve concentrated on this market because we’d really like to break the UK, which we’re definitely on track to this year. And then maybe go over to America, that’s the dream and I guess it has been for every British band for the last 50 years! So that would be amazing but we’re really happy here, we love doing the festivals. But it just costs so much to tour America and being a young band, we’re very lucky with our label but it’s not as if we have millions of dollars, or a major behind us who can break us on all these huge Festivals. We are working – we’re in a van, we’re playing these huge stages and we’re doing it in a very ‘rock and roll’ and very raw way, which is awesome. It’s how it should be done we haven’t been handed anything on a platter, we’ve worked for all of this.

Mark: You’re the sort of band that has the sound that will soon see you on those bigger stages. The US will come, you’ve played Download, you’ve Hellfest on the way, you’re getting there. You’re getting in front of a lot of people and keep making albums like this and it will come. When I first heard your voice I was amazed by the sheer power and tone, and you’ve told us about Glenn’s influence but when did you know that music was going to be you’re life does it even predate that? Was there a defining moment?

Nathan: Yeah way earlier! I was 10, 11 years old and in what we call primary school here, and they were looking for children to be in a mass school choir concert, they were picking 20 kids from each school and I got picked for that because he’d heard that I kind of sang in tune. And they put me forward to sing a solo out of about 700 kids I was one of ten. I’d never sung in public before in my life and the venue was a 1500 seat auditorium in my home town. And it was sold out as all the parents had bought tickets. So I sang on that stage in front of all those people and I walked off stage and I felt amazing! I just remember thinking “this is it” so even at that age I knew, and then I just became hard work a secondary school because I just knew I wasn’t going to need any of it. I was so certain I knew what I would do and everything else was a giant waste of my time. I wish I could have skipped school and got n tour even earlier. I love singing and I love music.

Mark: So what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given so far on that journey?

Nathan: Play the music you love. It’s really that simple. The problem of course is that the music you love is not always the music that is going to make you most money so even though I’m pretty sure I could have gone on to have a career it lots of other genres, as I also trained classically when I was young, this is 100% what I am supposed to be singing. I’m supposed to be singing Bluesy British Hard Rock. That is the music that gets me off, it’s the music that I listen to, it’s the music I know. You should definitely do what you love and I’m pretty lucky that this might lead to something that is really fruitful.

Mark: Amen to that sir! The sort of love and passion that you have for British Classic Rock is I guess, how can I put this? The sort of love that a lot of people of a certain age have, now some of those people might be a little harder to reach than a younger crowd – more set in their ways less willing to hear the new and just settle back with their classics. I played Inglorious to let’s say and older guy the other day and he was blown away that you were doing this in 2017. Do you find it hard to connect with that crowd or are enough reading Classic Rock?

Nathan: I don’t know how you get to those guys I think there are barriers but you just have to get heard. Maybe it’s being with a major label, getting on the tonight show? Otherwise you have to just slog it out and hope you get lucky, but it would be unbelievable to get a break and get on one of those shows. I think if people saw a band like us doing what we do live and saw our energy, could see we weren’t going through the motions – that it was real and vital and now. I think then they’d buy into it. Remember back in the day when you tuned into a TV show like Top of the Pops and you saw a new band, how exciting that was!

Mark: I think choice is killing us. One thing I love about the band is the name ‘Inglorious’ It struck me as being a bit tongue-in-cheek a bit of British humour as there’s nothing Inglorious about the music at all!

Nathan: Yes it is a bit tongue in cheek, but I’m sure with the hundreds of people you speak to you know that finding a band name is the hardest thing! Without a doubt.

Mark: It does now come up top on a Google search though.

Nathan: Really! Even before Bastards!

Mark: yes it’s finally got there.

Nathan: That’s great. I just love the word, I also did love that movie, and I like how it looks on a T-Shirt, I like how it sounds, I like that it’s one word, and it does have a British feel to it, yeah. It doesn’t sound too Metal and the meaning’s pretty cool too, it was kind of an F.U. to the music industry too when we started out.

Mark: We’re at that point now when we ask our two standard questions, we even asked Glenn Hughes these so we can see how you stack up against him! If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?

Nathan: That album… wow, I’m not sure I can pick between the two I have in mind. It would be ‘Foreigner IV’ or ‘Hysteria’ because I have this obsession with Mutt Lange and I would love to see how that process went down, you know. And they’re two of my favourite albums of all time. I feel if you were a fly on the wall for the making of ‘Appetite For Destruction’ you’d be dead, so definitely ‘Foreigner IV’ or ‘Hysteria’.

Mark: Two great albums, just a shame he’s not producing Rock anymore.

Nathan: Yeah such a shame.

Mark: And the final question – the really easy one… What is the meaning of life?

Nathan: What is the what!? The meaning of life! Really, really easy… Um, it’s to make more life!

Mark: We’ve not had that answer before so there’s a first!

Nathan: That’s a very Coverdale answer actually isn’t it!? Make more life, sow your seeds! There you go! (laughing)

Mark: It is, David would be proud. Glenn said ‘love’ so I guess in a way it’s the same thing…

Nathan: Awww! It’s been great to talk to you, cheers buddy have a great day.

Mark: Thank you so much mate. Take care.

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