One of British rock’s most exciting new bands drop their ‘difficult’ second album on Friday but Inglorious II already looks set to be another big hit. HRH Mag Editor Simon Rushworth caught up with Inglorious frontman Nathan James.
HRH Mag: Describe how Inglorious II came about?
Nathan James: The new album happened quite quickly. We went down to Somerset where our drummer Phil lives and took over the family home for a week. We had one song from the last album that wasn’t quite right at the time but was perfect for this one. Apart from that we had 30 songs and ideas for songs so we worked on them and demoed them. Things went so quickly after that – the writing and the recording. We still recorded everything live – the majority of stuff, anyway.
HRH Mag: Did you feel under pressure following up your debut?
NJ: We felt great about the reaction to the first record so we went into the studio full of confidence. We felt that if we did it once then we could do it again. The cool thing about the album is that we didn’t have any co-writes on it. All of the songs are written by the five members of the band. There are a couple where it’s just me and one of the other guys but on the whole it was a joint effort and that made everything even easier. We had the coyrage of our conviction. It wasn’t stressful at all. We have massive faith in our songwriting. From a personal point of view this was my second outing as a songwriter and I was much more confident.
HRH Mag: Do you have a formula for writing a ‘typical’ Inglorious song?
NJ: On the first record the songs that got the biggest and most positive reaction were the songs with the biggest choruses. After seeing the reaction from the crowds at Download and Ramblin’ Man we knew the direction we needed to take. I don’t necessarily set about writing songs like that but I suppose they just happened naturally. I Don’t Need Your Loving is a case in point. It’s a special song and very much an ‘Inglorious’ song.
HRH Mag: But was there a sense that you needed to mix things up second time out?
NJ: The things that remain the same for me on the second record are that it’s still just five of us and a keyboard player. You won’t hear any more than that. I suppose the big difference is that Kevin Shirley has mixed the new record and it sounds incredible as a result. It’s the best mix of my vocal that I’ve ever heard. We also recorded the album in a great studio – it had the biggest recording space in the UK outside of London. It was amazing to have that experience and you can hear how much that room influenced the overall sound.
HRH Mag: Bringing Kevin Shirley on board is quite a coup – how did that happen?
NJ: Kevin Shirley’s involvement came about because I love Glenn Hughes and my favourite sounding albums if the last few years have been the Black Country Communion albums. One day I just said to our manager that it would be amazing if we could get Kevin Shirley to mix our next record. Incredibly the message got through…and he said yes! That’s how it happened. At the time I suppose it was just a throwaway comment but I’m glad it popped into my head!
HRH Mag: How excited are you about the new BCC album?
NJ: I can’t wait to hear it. They combine great musicianship, great vocals and great songwriting so you can’t go wrong. If you’re crap then you can’t get away with it – you have to practice and you have to be good. You have to have stamina and you have to have self-belief. BCC have all of that. Their work is a great example of all of those things. I’m incredibly excited about hearing their new record. When I sang with Glenn Hughes earlier this year I talked to him for about an hour about all things rock and Kevin texted me at around the same time to ask how things were going. To have guys of that calibre on side makes a huge difference.
HRH Mag: Aren’t you itching to get back out on the road?
NJ: There will be a big UK tour announcement very soon. And of course we’ve got the album launch show in London. We’re really looking forward to that. It will be a great night. We’ve got a few HMV signing sessions lined up where we’ll be doing some acoustic stuff. It’s a bit tough holding ourselves back until later in the year as we love playing live. I think the PR company and my manager are pretty close to blocking my mobile phone number as I’m constantly badgering them about the tour plans and asking them when we can announce more shows! I just want to be out there gigging. That’s where we thrive and I’m so proud of the new album that I want to put it out there.
HRH Mag: You have played a handful of shows in 2017 – including the Monsters Of Rock Cruise in February. How was that?
NJ: It was great to be back in the US on the Monsters Of Rock cruise and of course we want to go back there too. It was an awesome event. It was a brilliant and a very drunken dream come true. I was walking up the gangway and I bumped into Joel Hoekstra, John Corabi and Michael Sweet as you do! Can you imagine that? From that point onwards it just got better and better. I was doing a Q&A in front of a load of people and there were so many Inglorious T-shirts I couldn’t believe my eyes. Michael Sweet was walking through and he shouted to Don Jamieson – who was hosting the Q&A – and pointed at me and said ‘that’s the best singer on this boat’. That was a real ‘wow’ moment for me. Then Jeff Scott Soto came through and said he had a question for the rest of the band. He said ‘how do you work with Nathan James’! I was having an absolute blast. In terms of the sets I saw, Tom Keifer put on such an awesome show – great songs and the crowd was going crazy. I loved Beasto Blanco and John Corabi’s set was brilliant. He surrounds himself with a young and energetic band and just lets rip.
HRH Mag: After the album was recorded you parted company with Wil Taylor – was that unexpected?
NJ: A change had to happen in our band because not everyone was on the same working level. After we recorded the album it was very apparent that we needed to do something. We needed someone in our line-up who’s as dedicated and focused and hard working as the rest of the band. Bringing Drew (Lowe) back into the band seemed like a natural move.
HRH Mag: What’s life like in the Inglorious camp right now?
NJ: We’re pretty much living the dream. Even though we’re not gigging, we’re working hard around the release of the new album. I’m pretty proud of how far we’ve come even though we’re nowhere near the finished article. I have odd moments where the whole thing hits me. When they replayed our set on the Friday Night Rock Show I turned up the TV and couldn’t believe that was actually Inglorious on there. Of course there’s being stopped in bizarre places and being asked for photos but as a fan I understand that – I want to make people happy. I suppose I’m beginning to understand how some of my heroes feel. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that great feeling you get when people actually spend their hard-earned cash on what is, essentially, your hobby and something you love.