Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
I recently had the opportunity to chat with House Of Lords vocalist James Christian who is currently promoting his third solo release “Lay It All On Me” recently released on Frontiers Records.
Myglobalmind: Good evening James how are you? It’s Mark from Myglobalmind.
James”I’m fine, I’ve just finished another interview for a radio station, and just taking a break.
Myglobalmind: Your new album is your first solo release since “Meet the man “in 2004, are the songs new, old or a mixture of both?
James”No they are all brand new, there was nothing written before that time not even a track.”
Myglobalmind: The album also features contributions from fellow House Of Lords band members Jimi Bell and Bj Zampa, why not release it under the band moniker?
James”Well because it was not a House Of Lords Record it is a James Christian record.The songs are not really conducive to being a House Of Lords record. Also Bj only played on one or two songs and Jimi the same. There were other guitar players and drummers featured on there.”
Myglobalmind: I was wondering why it seems to be commonplace for talented songwriters such as yourself to bring in other outside songwriters to assist on “solo”albums?
James”I always prefer to always write with a co writer. Writing something from scratch by myself, though I have done it many times I do feel that I can get more creative and better things when I can bounce ideas of another songwriter. Not just the same songwriter but other songwriters who may have a different take on something that you are doing. It’s the only way to really keep things fresh in my mind. Each to their own but for me personally I always like to work with a co-writer or two depending on who they might be.”
Myglobalmind: Picking out one song from the album”A day in the sun”there is no personal writing credit for you. How did you come to choose the inclusion of that track on the album?
James”Well I was writing a song with the writer of that track Chris Pelcer, we were writing the song”Believe In Me”, When we completed it, I told him that it was one of my favorite songs on the record, I loved the way it came out, the approach and the outcome. He said that as I had liked that he had just written another song in his catalogue that would be just right. He played it for me and it was “Day In The Sun” When I heard the demo I thought it sounded a little too modern for me and my audience. After I listened to it a few more times I thought that I had at least got to do this song. I tried to make it as close to what I do as possible. I just loved the song that much that it didn’t matter if I had wrote it or not, I wanted to do it.”
Myglobalmind: You have produced albums also for other artists including your wife Robin’s latest release”Underneath” That features a vocal duet on the track”Burnin Me Down”. Do you have any plans to extend that and do an entire album of vocal duets with Robin?
James”Well, you are not the first person to ask me that, we have had many people including the record company ask about an album of duets. Do you think that it is something that people would be interested in?. If they were then we would definitely do it, would a whole album of duets keep them interested.”
Myglobalmind: I think so, both your solo album and Robins new album sound great, and they have a similar fan base. Yes I definitely think there would be a market for a joint release.
James”That is really interesting, as a matter of fact Robin is doing a duet with me on the new House Of Lords record which I am currently doing. It is the very first time that we are doing a duet on a House Of Lords record. I wasn’t sure how that would be received, I spoke to a few people who said that it would be great because she has done a lot of backing vocals previously. They are aware of our relationship any way, so I don’t think that the fans would be opposed to it. ”
Myglobalmind: My own personal introduction to House Of Lords came with their debut release, which remains hugely popular with many fans. I was wondering in the current age of reunions and reformations has there been any attempts to bring Gregg back into the band?
James”Back when we first started making records again, at one time maybe nine years ago there was. As I now have four records released with the new House Of Lords, I think that it would be unfair to Jimi and Bj to leave them hanging and go back on tour with the original members. I have too much respect for them to put them through that. The only reason to do something like that would be monetary, and its not something that I would do to them. They have definitely proven to the people that buy House Of Lords records that there was life after the Gregg Giuffria House Of Lords. Don’t get me wrong that was a great time, some of my favourite years were back on the first three albums. It was new to me, doing those albums and the kinds of tours that we were doing which were massive-big arena tours. It was an amazing time. I am having just as good a time now, with the music that we are doing now and the venues that we play. Even though they are smaller, because the market has changed so much it is still special to me.”
Myglobalmind: Researching for this interview I was surprised that House of Lords were still releasing albums. What prompted the bands return after the break in 2000? Do you view the subsequent”Power +the myth”release as a mistake, as it marked a completely different musical sound.?
James”Yes”, that was actually what brought House Of Lords back. At that point I was just producing Robin and not really doing anything in music I had a business in south Florida, and I was just running that. Somebody came up to me,I think it was Lanny Cordola and said that we are doing a new House Of Lords record, and that I had to sing it. The material was already written for it and that I would just have to sing. I did agree to it, and as we were doing it I thought the music was great.T he musicianship was fabulous, but it wasn’t in my key or my style. It is like putting me into Kurt Cobain songs. I am not that kind of singer. What came out I was not happy with. The critics were not happy either. They slammed me left, right and centre. I got the brunt of everything. I didn’t write it but they all were writing about me. Serafino was not happy about that record, he had called me after the record was done and asked could I do a House Of Lords record the way I wanted it ,and the way it should be. I said yes and that I needed to do it because the reviews that Id got were so bad that I needed to redeem myself. Hence that is why we did “World Upside Down “in 2006, people accepted that as it was what they wanted.”
Myglobalmind: Over the years you have made guest appearances on a variety of other artists albums. Are there still any artists on your personal wishlist that you would like to work with and play with?
James”I like working on stuff that I actually enjoy doing. Sometimes people ask me to do favours, and I will do that. There is nothing wrong with that. Helping someone out because maybe your name will help to sell a few extra records for somebody. The last person that I hung out with was Steve Lukather, and I would love to work with him on something. A few weeks ago we were with Bobby Kimball and Joe Lynn Turner. Joe had actually done something with Robin on her last record “The Great Escape”I would like to do a duet with Joe, that would be something that I would definitely be into doing.”
Myglobalmind: I was wondering if you would ever consider stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something in a different musical genre or style.?
James “Had you anything in particular in mind”?
Myglobalmind: Just something outside and different from the melodic rock that you are renowned for?
James”I have so many musical tastes, I am almost embarrassed to say what some of them are. They are so far away from what I do that I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. I do have lots of tastes and styles that I listen to. I just don’t know if anybody would be interested in it. I would never release something unless I was totally in command of the vocal,as its what I do best. I think that a lot of acoustic music I could do in a heartbeat, maybe something. If I was to do something folky my voice lends itself very well to an acoustic guitar and a voice. I guess because I have a very husky voice, its raspy and interesting sounding in that way. When you hear it with an acoustic guitar. I may do that, but otherwise I cant see myself doing anything else.”
Myglobalmind: I noticed also when researching for this interview that your own personal website on the biography section stops in 2006. Do you feel that social media eg Face book is replacing websites as a more proactive/interactive tool for information and communicating with fans?
James”I feel that Face book has been amazingly rewarding for me in many ways people have contacted me directly through Facebook to do projects with them. Whether it has been production, backing vocals, lead vocals you name it. Without it that would not have happened, and its also a great place to promote your music. Anything that is to do with social media that is fine with me, though there are times that it can get too much propaganda on the site. For me its worked out very well.”
Myglobalmind: I have noticed from your personal Face book page that the House Of Lords have some live shows coming up. Do you have any plans to do some dates in the UK,and Europe to promote your solo album release?
James”We are planning on doing a tour in January in 2014 and we are looking at that for House Of Lords. The best thing I can think of at this point would be to incorporate one or two of the songs from the solo record into the set. I will have to think which would be most appropriate. House of Lords has such a big catalogue of songs and we will also have a new album out at that time that its really hard to fit everything in at once. It that doesn’t happen, then the only other thing that I can think of would be to maybe do a small acoustic set”
Myglobalmind: Nothing definite then with live dates to promote “Lay It All On Me”
James”Not at this time, I recorded the record strictly because Frontiers wanted me to do a solo release. If there is a demand for me to go out and do a solo tour then that is a different story.Really my career is doing House Of Lords that’s what I do on a daily basis.”
Myglobalmind: I’m actually quite surprised because many of the new tracks on the solo album that would lend them selves well to be performed on a live stage…
James”I totally agree, and I guess that I could put a band together. I’m just so used to working with the guys in House Of Lords, feeling comfortable with the way they play. It would have to be something completely separate from what House Of Lords does. I would have to really think about that, maybe a festival if they wanted to invite me. That would definitely be interesting.”
Myglobalmind: With a musical family with both your wife Robin and also your daughter being involved on your album,is music all encompassing in your life? Or do you have any outside hobbies or interests?
James”I am terrible with sports, probably just watch two events a year. That would be the World Series, and the Superbowl that would be about it. Other times I am pretty much in the studio writing, recording or doing something that has to do with music. Robin always keeps me busy and my daughter Olivia. She is at the theatre, and is constantly coming and saying “Dad I need to sing this song through”and I need to share what I am doing as I need to reference it. Between family and outside projects I keep very busy, and am very lucky that way. I really wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t golf, living in Florida you would think I would be a golfer. Robin and I are kind of boring in that way. We like to go to nice restaurants, in the immediate area if we haven’t tried them out yet. We have a few friends that we like to hang out with. Basically we keep a very simple life, because when we are on the road that is where all chaos breaks loose anyway. Its nice to be away from it, be at home and be parents and enjoy that.”
Myglobalmind: Just a couple of questions then to finish on. Looking back over your career, has there been any particular high and low points that instantly stand out?
James”Extremely high point, would be doing a concert in Berlin, we were with Ozzy Osbourne, Queensryche and I think Udo also was on the bill. I don’t remember the name of the festival and House Of Lords were on the bill. I just remember the event, there must have been 25,000 people there. That was the highlight, around the time of our second album. It was an incredible response and I just thought that it just doesn’t get much better than this. The low point was at the album party for “Demons Down”when 1 of the top programme directors from a top Boston radio station said that this is a hit record, but wont get the success that it is due, because this music wont get on the air. It was at the time when Nirvana had just broken loose, and grunge had taken over the whole market. We had this fabulous record that we had spent almost a half million dollars making “Demons Down”, and the promotion was all in place. The musical climate had changed, so that was a particular low point for me.”
Myglobalmind: Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?
James.”No, I have to look back on my life and have asked many times is there anything that you haven’t done. I have played on the biggest stages, I have been on MTV. I have made records, have had a gold record, and recorded a platinum record for another artist. I have a wife and a daughter, and am pretty much fulfilled. I don’t think that I could ask for more. I don’t think that I deserve to ask for more, I’ve got quite a few blessings.”
Myglobalmind: Thanks James for chatting to Myglobalmind this evening…I look forward to seeing House Of Lords when they play the Uk in January.