The cosmopolitan Nitroville hit the scene running back in 2016 with their highly acclaimed debut “Cheating the Hangman”. Tola Lamont, Kurt Michael, Paolo Succo and Grizzy Rose Lee took some time – before the latest lockdown and reschedule of Hard Rock Hell XIV – to chat with HRH Mag about lockdown and future plans.
Hey there guys – how are you all keeping in these strange times?
Tola: We’re good thanks. As you say – times are strange, but we’re keeping nicely busy.
Your debut release – Cheating The Hangman – is almost 4 years old now, and is still sounding as fresh as it did back then. What do you think gives it that longevity?
Tola: A good song is a good song, that’s what we’re always aiming at and song writing is our driver. Although we are about classic heavy rock, a sound that reflects the here and now is always paramount – so that we can enjoy things with fresh ears. Also, the album Cheating the Hangman has a good motor and that keeps the songs alive. We know this from much of the great timeless ‘70s productions ever since Sabbath came out with Paranoid in 1970, which is still one big sledgehammer of a track.
Who are your biggest influences collectively as a band, and also individually? Anyone that might surprise us?
Kurt: Musically, as a band, I guess we’re more about creating a feeling, therefore I’d say our influences draw more from literature and dark American road movies. If we’re talking bands though, you can place Nitroville’s vibe somewhere in the midst of AC/DC / ZZ Top / Heart / Lynyrd Skynyrd / Motorhead and so on. We never wanted to do something that’s already there, or model ourselves on something that already exists, pointless! We love the classic heavy rock genre and we use this as our vehicle for our ideas and songs.
Tola: Before something good comes out in terms of songwriting, something good needs to go in and this is usually the stuff we’ve been listening to and loved since we were born; in Kurt Michael’s case this isn’t restricted to hard and heavy rock as he’s got a very eclectic taste in music and being a Rolling Stones fan since the age of nine, many of his guitar licks show this inevitably, just delivered with the venom of vintage Marshalls instead of Fender Amps. On that note, if you ever wondered why Chuck Berry tunes run off the desk at AC/DC gigs, compare Angus’ lead guitar with that of Berry’s and you get the drift.
Tola: Vocally, Ann Wilson of Heart was probably the reason I started singing in bands. We were booked to play Ramblin’ Man Fair this year and she was on the bill – I liked that! Just like Kurt, I draw from many different influences – probably too many to list. I was brought up mainly listening to American artists and bands, which I think has very much influenced my vocal style and technique. I’m also not a trained vocalist, I just studied many different vocalists and music genres and worked at building my own style.
It’s a strange time to be in a band – are there any benefits to being forced in to a lockdown situation such as more time to write?
Kurt: There’s always band work to do and I’ve been extremely busy working on the overall production. We’ve also been busy shooting video content for the new releases, so although we haven’t been able to gig – it has given us a chance to be very productive behind the scenes as well as being reflective and taking time to re-focus.
How do you approach the creative process as a band when it comes to songwriting?
Tola: Anything goes, but often it is an inspiration, a catchy melody, a motoring riff. We met as a songwriting collaborative, the more technical process that follows the ideas and inspiration is more Kurt’s territory in terms of instrumental arrangement and production.
I believe you had plans to release your new album this year – but obviously the pandemic kinda put the brakes on – I bet you’re all itching to get the new songs out there?
Kurt Michael: Yes, we are itching! Bringing out an album is a carefully orchestrated effort that entails more than just dishing out the music. Yes you can just release an album, but without being able to tour alongside for example is a bit like driving a racing car at 20mph!
It’s hard right now to look at what the future of live shows will look like, how far ahead had you planned and are there creative solutions to make sure your audience still have the ability to see you?
Tola: We had all our 2020 gigs and festivals cancelled so far and there was quite some work that had gone into that. Usually we have our dates sorted for the following year and inbetween we pick up other gigs and slots as they come along.
Kurt: To keep our visibility up, we’ll fire out a series of videos in the meantime, which are currently in production and will soon be launched. We’ve also been doing a few on-line acoustic streaming gigs. This is rather welcome as we are as much an acoustic band as we are electric, giving our 4 string, 6 string, 12 string acoustics plus banjo an outing and Tola is just an incredible singer who doesn’t need a loud driven back up.
At risk of depressing us all with the lack of live music right now, what’s the best live experience you’ve had – both club and festivals?
Tola: There isn’t a single best moment, as really it’s all about connecting with the audience. That can be a big festival stage or an intimate club. A dedicated stage sound engineer at a festival is always great, whereas the intimacy of a smaller venue where you drink and socialise with music fans, is always a lot of fun. For Kurt, there is nothing better than a drink at the bar after a show. With the now closed Big Red in London and Bannermans in Edinburgh being his favourites.
Paolo: Festivals are great, as they’re fuelled by high adrenaline and energy due to larger crowds. On the other hand, clubs allow us to easily keep in touch with our audience.
Are there any bands you’ve come across recently that we should be checking out?
Kurt: An old friend and ex-band colleague, guitarist Matt Forbes from Edinburgh leads a 3 piece called Bigtime Chief, they’re putting a cool album together using just vintage gear, but as they are working on their album and campaign it wouldn’t be right to give anything away this early. Once it’s out, have a listen. I also have a side project up in Scotland, fully recorded, but currently in wait to be released because of… once again, Covid. More on that later!
Are you looking forward to playing Hard Rock Hell this November? Will we get to hear some of the new album?
Paolo: Of course, we are looking forward, as it will be exciting to play at HRH and have live music back after almost a year of C-19!
Grizzy: Yes as Paolo says, massively looking forward to playing at HRH and HOPEFULLY putting the C-19 nightmare behind us!
TL: HRH is an established date in every fan’s calendar, and if not, it should be! We’re really looking forward and yes we will be featuring our new material.
Thanks for speaking with me today, any final words?
Kurt: In HRH We Trust, Amen!