Interview by Karen Hetherington / Pictures Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
Just before taking to the stage to perform their biggest headline gig to date at London’s iconic Electric Ballroom, I was fortunate to get a chat with charismatic Inglorious vocalist Nathan James to discuss song writing, reaping the rewards of hard work, star struck moments and how he’s very hard to impress…
Asked about the song writing process Nathan had this to say:
“We are actually going into the studio in Spring, we have got 5 or 6 really good ideas and we are going to write for the whole of November”.
He continued: “It’s strange because with both of our albums one of the guys will come in with like a whole demo and we will put lyrics and a melody to that and it will be perfect straight away, and other times they will just say ‘we’ve got this riff but we haven’t got a chorus or anything’. When people just bring an idea we all sit down and work through that kind of like a family so each song is a bit different in that respect. On this album that we just put out there are a couple of songs I done with Andreas, with just me and Andreas writing and a couple with just me and Colin and then the rest of the group as a whole. I have written on every song, I am the only member who has written on every song. I write every single word and every melody and some of the music. I play piano, my fingers are too fat for guitar”.
I wanted to know who Nathans main inspirations were when he was young and influential:
“There’s three male singers that I was obsessed with when I was about ten years old until I was 14 or 15. Michael Jackson, I love Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton – which I think you can hear sometimes in my soulful kind of style of singing and the other – not for his voice but for his style and great songs is Robbie Williams, I loved how great a performer he was and he put on a good show so as a kid I was kind of influenced by that and then in my teens I discovered Guns N’ Roses and it was all downhill from there really”.
And asked if he gets a chance to listen to other new bands?:
“I listen to lots of new stuff, sometimes just once but I do listen to it. If someone sends me something I make an effort to listen to it because I think, once upon a time I was that guy you know who was sending people stuff and getting people to listen to it and I truly believed in what I was doing. I’ve got a couple of friends who I’m trying to help out, a band I’m almost managing – Gypsy Heart – my best friend Heather of like 10 years, I love her she’s the best female rock singer in this country without a shadow of a doubt, she’s unbelievable, she’s here tonight actually, so yeah I’m trying to help them out”.
He goes on to say:
“If I believe in something I genuinely get behind it, I just don’t think there’s a lot of….there’s a lot of good stuff but there’s not a lot of amazing stuff and I like amazing stuff, I like things that blow me away on first listen, a voice that can capture me or a guitarist you know has spent thousands of hours mastering his instrument. I think we live in a generation of people who are too lazy to master their instruments, their voice or guitar or drums, I think people are so over stimulated by social media and TV. These people who used to sit down in their rooms in the 70’s and 80’s and practice for 7 or 8 hours a day don’t exist anymore and I think that’s why… rock n’ roll’s not dead but I think it’s harder to find really great rock bands because there’s just no one paying the time or paying their dues really. I sacrificed everything, I gave up TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) which was a huge, huge gig and lots and lots of money every year which I got very used to and I worked for like two months of the year and didn’t have to do anything the rest of the year. I gave all that up to make this happen, so I put myself in a totally different financial situation. I moved back in with my parents and I put myself on my arse and it made me very hungry, so I think if you really, really want it there’s always a way. I don’t come from a rich family, I was born in a council house in the same place where Ricky Gervais is from, we just graft, if you really, really want it, you’ll find a fucking way of doing it. If you have to work ten hours a day at the Post Office and you get to write for the other 10 hours and get to sleep for about 4 hours you’ll do it, if you want it you’ll do it, that’s where my mentality has always been. It’s not fucking easy, it’s not easy at all”.
Asked about brushing shoulders with rock royalty he had this to say:
“I met Clapton at a funeral, I sang Bread of Heaven in the row behind him at a funeral, I sang so loud, I really went for it. I met him and he was very lovely. Obviously Glen Hughes is now my buddy, I message him on Whats App and he’s always got time for me, he’s full of advice and lovely things”.
Pause… he goes on:
“Ahh and Jimmy Page and Brian May ….this was weird, I’m friends with Paul Rodgers daughter, Jasmine Rodgers, she’s got a lovely voice, really beautiful and I went with her to the Royal Albert Hall to see her dad perform and she was like ‘Do you want to come back stage’? and I was like ‘Yeahhh…’, so she brought me backstage and I was sitting outside Paul’s dressing room and she said ‘he’s eating at the minute but he says it’s okay to come on in’ – it was the second time I’ve met Paul, I met him at Wembley as well – and I walked into the dressing room and he was sitting eating chicken with potatoes and vegetables or something and I looked to my right and there was Jimmy Page and Brian May having a chat! I completely froze, literally… it actually gives me shivers thinking about it, I started chatting to Paul and said you’re a huge influence for me, I gave him a copy of the album and said ‘I’ve just had a number 1 rock album in the UK’ and Paul said ‘Jimmy, have you heard this? This boy has just had a number one rock album’. Jimmy said ‘Nooo’, I said ‘yes’ and he said ‘that takes some doing, well done’ and he started talking about it and Jimmy lives in my village Sonning on Thames, he literally lives about a 5 minute walk from my house and we were chatting about that. I’ve met Brian quite a few times and he said ‘would you mind taking a picture of us all’ and I put my phone up to take the picture and I was shaking, but it was great, they got their families in and then Brian was talking to Anita so Jasmine took a photo of me, Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page and my smile in the photo is like the biggest smile I ever done, they were so nice and lovely to talk to and weirdly I bumped into Jimmy Page the other day at the petrol station, my local petrol station. I was stood behind him in the queue, he was with his girlfriend and she said ‘Are you Jasmines friend’? And I said ‘yeah I am’ and Jimmy shook my hand and said ‘we met at the Paul Rodgers gig’ and I said ‘yeah’, they were getting out of London or something so they were staying locally, it was so weird, it’s so weird when someone like that remembers who you are. So yeah those would be the most famous, the most star struck I’ve ever been…Clapton, Page, May and Rodgers”.
Asked if he had read anything about the band which got his back up, Nathan goes on to explain how all press is not good press:
We had a one star review for the second album which was absolutely ridiculous. It was really nice for Classic Rock to give us a 2 page spread but I think they could have been in there talking about the album review more, where I think they just painted a really negative view of our fans, they mentioned two of our songs and I thought that’s bollocks, that’s not an album review and they gave us 7/10, it’s not a 7 out of 10. I know it’s my album but there wouldn’t be 1000 people here tonight if it was a 7 out of 10.
I pointed out that many of the audience at the album launch for Inglorious II back in May were clearly familiar with the new tracks…
“Yeah! One week after the album release! It’s testament to our songs, they remember the songs, or they want to remember them. Four singles from this album have been play listed on Planet Rock so that’s only four songs people have heard if they listen to Planet Rock, if they don’t listen to Planet Rock they have sat down and listened to the album as a whole from start to finish, in the gym, in the car and that is awesome to me, that is something I’m never going to get bored of”.
With another albums worth of material to incorporate into their set I was interested to know which song Nathan enjoys performing the most:
“I love doing Faraway, I think it shows people a very different side to my voice and it’s a very personal song to me. My Grandad is really sick, he has cancer and dementia and it’s about his and my Nans relationship and they’re amazing people. When I went into song writing I thought oh no you don’t write anything really personal, I just want to write things that sound good or I really like singing and then I wrote that I thought oh god… I really do love all of them though, I love performing Making Me Pay as well and, maybe it’s my theatre background but I like conveying the emotion as opposed to just standing there and like staring at the floor”.
Inglorious started touring on 30th September and I wanted to know what the crowds response had been, who rocked the hardest:
“Opening night was unreal, the Welsh always get a bit rowdy… but probably the Robin in Bilston, there were 700 people there, it was packed out, it was fantastic”.
When asked what’s up next for Inglorious, Nathan responded:
“We have a gig in the Netherlands in December. We have a month so we are going to write for the month of November – can’t wait, can’t wait to record album three. This is a business, it’s a job now, a full time job, like I said before you have to find a way to commit entirely, I believed in myself and this band enough to leave a job that paid me more money than most people ever earn – I left it to get paid nothing for two years you know? I did that to myself, I put myself in that position, I could have had a really nice life with TSO, could have done the next 20 years in TSO and my bonus would have gone up every year I would have toured America, been on nice tour buses… that’s not what it’s about, I want to sing my own songs, I want to pay my dues as a band and I hope people see and respect that. My Dads not a rock star, he’s not got loads of money and our record label didn’t give us a million pounds to make an album, we have grafted and when we see like 1000 people at the Electric Ballroom it makes it all worthwhile.”
Finally, with it becoming more and more difficult to get a break in the music industry I wanted to know what gives Inglorious the edge?:
“I thinks it’s being a bit older and all having been in the same situation before individually. Colin and Phil when they were 15 and 17 years old got signed to Mick Fleetwood’s label and they spent half a million pounds in LA making an album that never got released. Andreas was in a band called Crazy Lixx who done OK… but they would never have sold out the Electric Ballroom and Drew’s been in bands his whole life also so I think it’s about finding the right amount of people with the right amount of talent who know this is it… We are never going to find a band better to be in than this band, we all have so much respect for each others ability, like I’ll never find a better guitarist, a better drummer, a better rhythm section and I think we just got really lucky, we have all been fucked over individually and we know what we want, we have made our mistakes. Like… Colin was a real handful when he had his record deal, he used to trash hotel rooms, he trashed a house in London once, he was a very troubled kid but he’s grown up and made those mistakes and now we are a lot more thankful, a lot more respectful and just more hungry and focused”.
Finishing the UK tour on a high after raising the roof of the Electric Ballroom, Inglorious kick the European leg on 6th December in Tilburg, Netherlands.
Full tour dates can be found here: