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If You Don't Gamble You Don't Win: Inglorious Aim For The Big Time

Tuesday, 16 May 2017 Written by Simon Ramsay

Ignoring the obvious quips about the importance of size, if we were to describe British rockers Inglorious in one word, then it would be ‘big’. Or maybe ‘massive’. Either way, both terms encapsulate their sound and what they aspire to become.

A ferocious five piece with ambition to burn, the band bash out the kind of supersized rock anthems they hope will see them headlining arenas and stadiums when the legends of yesteryear finally hang up their spurs.

After last year’s well received debut album, Inglorious have returned in double quick time with ‘II’, a record that blows its predecessor out of the water and boasts the kind of songs that could see them realise those lofty ambitions.  

We spoke to singer Nathan James, who some of you may remember from TV shows the Voice and Superstar, about the new album, why no one will stop him from realising his dream and whether Andrew Lloyd Webber was right to criticise his ego.

You’re well known for being a confident guy, but were you wary about the difficult second album syndrome that’s struck down so many great bands?

Yes. I wouldn’t tell anyone, but now it’s coming out and it sounds good I can say I was petrified. Because so many people want you to fall on your face, not necessarily press, but just people you meet in life, like some jealous music teacher, some idiot that was in a band that never took off or some bitter old bloke up the pub.  There’s always someone who doesn’t want you to succeed and then when you don’t they get to turn around and do the ‘I told you so’ dance. I wasn’t going to let that happen and I think this is definitely a step up from the last one.

I agree. ‘II’ is the sound of band who’ve clearly grown together and are now really hitting their stride.

Thanks very much. It felt a bit different when we were doing it and I think it sounds so rich and big because of the incredible Kevin Shirley. Without a doubt he brought so much to this album and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

How did Shirley come to mix the record?

I was speaking to our management and was saying how much I enjoyed the Black Country Communion albums and everything else he’s done. I remember saying, ‘It would be so good if he was interested. I bet he won’t be bothered, though, maybe he’s too busy or he’s got a lot on with BCC4.’ Anyway, she contacted him, sent him the material and he said he’d love to do it. He sent me an email, we started talking on the phone and he was really complimentary about us. It was a real honour to have him do it and I suppose we just got lucky. He had a week free and only took four days to mix the whole album which is unbelievably quick.

My favourite song on the record is No Good For You because it’s a great swaggering rocker. I love the way the guitar melody chases your vocal on the chorus.

That was the only song from the demos for album one that made it onto album two. We originally recorded that in a higher key and a bit slower, performed it at Download last year, sped it up a bit and fell in love with it. And the thing you said about the hooky melody in the chorus, when we recorded the demo I actually sang the guitar line. I was like, ‘I can’t do this, this is too high, Andre play it.’ So there were a lot more lyrics in that chorus.  

You’ve said you’re particularly proud of your vocal on Making Me Pay. Why is that?

Shirley said I sounded like Paul Rodgers. That had a lot to do with it. I just think you get to hear all of my voice. You get to hear the soft side, hear me scream, hear my soulful side. You get to hear some serious high notes, which people tend to shy away from nowadays. Personally I think it would be really hard for someone to cover it. That’s what that song’s there for, I wanted a show off moment on the album and I got it.

The guitar riff is the backbone of classic rock music and the riffs are much stronger, in terms of being more instantly memorable, on ‘II’.

I think the reason why you’ve picked up on that is that Andreas [Eriksson] actually wrote with us on this album, whereas on album one he didn’t. He joined the band two weeks before recording so he had no time to write. This time around we had time with him and he’s such a good writer. He’s very inspired by bands like Aerosmith and American rock bands so he’s brought that kind of flair to it.     

Before your debut you said you hadn’t done much songwriting. How has your writing progressed between the two records?

I’d actually done none. The first song I ever wrote was Unaware, which was A-listed on Planet Rock for 10 weeks. So apparently I’m OK at it, I just didn’t know. Last time I had a lot of time to think about the lyrics, this time we did it so quick and I didn’t write the words until we got into the studio. I was writing while the boys were tracking and it was a lot of pressure. But we work well under pressure. We like a timescale with a bit of constraint to really pull us up and get mucked in. When you’ve got studio costs and you want Kevin Shirley to mix it you can’t fuck about.

Working that quickly seems to bring a real immediacy and energy to your music.

Yeah, and what you have to remember is that we haven’t played these songs a million times before we get in the studio. They’re created in the studio. So by the third take of something you’ve pretty much got it nailed. A couple of songs may be a bit longer, 10 takes or so, because you’re tired and someone makes a stupid mistake. But that’s the way we do it and it keeps a real energy to our music. Even when I listen to it now I imagine myself back in that room. I’m really proud that we’re able to do that. I doubt a lot of other bands would be willing to be so exposed, but we are.  

You’ve said the older stadium and arena rock acts aren’t going to be around forever and you want Inglorious to effectively take over. It’s great to hear someone so openly ambitious and aware that there’s going to be a gap that needs filling.

It’s a fact. I really want this music to continue. There are lots of American bands doing a great job for our music, like Rival Sons and Crobot, but this is the home of this music. In order to do it you have to be really dedicated, really talented. If you’re a singer you have to have a good high voice and there’s not many of them about. So I don’t feel I’m being out of turn in saying that we want to go and do those stadium gigs. We try and deliver on every level and I’m very confident that we can do for a long time. I’m only in my 20s, y’know?

So how do you aim to achieve stardom at a time when it’s much harder for young rock bands to make such a breakthrough?

We work hard. I’ve given up everything. I left Trans Siberian Orchestra to make this band happen, which my accountant didn’t like, but you have to do these things. We got paid for maybe a quarter of the gigs we did last year. So you have to struggle, you have to be willing to put yourselves on your arse because if you don’t gamble, you don’t win. That’s how we’re looking at it and we’re gonna keep making good albums, doing good live shows and making albums that sound like we do live so people aren’t disappointed and are entertained.

Everyone’s trying to be so cool and alternative and different, and rock ‘n’ roll is fun. The reason why Kiss still fill arenas and stadiums is because it’s fun. So why can’t you enjoy it on stage? Why do you have to look like a moody twat? There have been some bands, I really love their albums, and I’ve gone to see them and thought ‘You’ve bored the shit out of me for about 90 minutes.' And I will never see them again. They don’t deserve my money if they don’t work for it and that’s one thing we’re willing to do.         

The best rock stars have a strong level of self confidence, which you share. Yet, there have been some people, particularly Mr Lloyd Webber, who have taken that as arrogance and criticised you for it. Is that fair or are you misunderstood?

I don’t know if I’m misunderstood. What people need to get is that this is what I do every day. This is all I think about. This is all I want and I can either be pessimistic, tell people how average I am and be modest, but ultimately that’s not gonna make anyone believe that I am the next rock star. That’s not what I believe. I don’t want to be modest. I’ve worked really hard, I’ve sung my whole life, I’ve really grafted, I’ve learnt my craft, I’ve put myself out, put my neck on the line a lot of times and feel like I deserve the hype at the minute. This is not a walk in the park, we’re not with a huge label who’ve given us a million pounds and I just chill and go to the gym all day. It’s not like that. I work really hard all the time, as does everyone in the band.

Have you had to work harder to convince some rock fans you’re the real deal because of the talent shows you were on?

Yes. I think that’s the reason why Classic Rock [magazine] had a bit of a, they claim not to have had an issue with it, but they didn’t cover us last year when I think it’s safe to say we were making a pretty loud noise in the rock scene. Especially as a British, what I would call, classic rock band. So I think people had issues with it and I’m constantly going to have to prove myself.

But the reason I went on that show was because I wanted people to hear me sing and that’s what they did. Because of that I got Trans Siberian Orchestra and without that I probably wouldn’t have the record deal from Frontiers that we do now. So without that TV show we wouldn’t be here. It gave me an instant fan base, a following that’s still with me today. And when you have people like Kevin Shirley saying such compliments, and he’s worked with Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Aerosmith, there’s only so many times you can say ‘Oh, it’s that bloke from the TV’. I’m obviously a bit more than that now so they should all just get over it.

It would be great if you could get on something like Later….With Jools Holland.

That’s the most impossible show to get on. Have you watched it recently? There’s so much drivel on there, but I’d love to get on. It’s just impossible. Not only our manager, but people who are in really big bands struggle to get on. But we’re looking at some other TV stuff so hopefully that’ll come off this year. I think people, if they watch us, you can say you don’t like us, but you won’t be able to say we’re shit.

And that’s the same thing I said when I went on TV. I said ‘As long as I sing great I don’t care about the outcome’ because I’ll be able to look back at those videos and go ‘You know what, no matter what you say; you don’t like my hair, you don’t like the way I act, you don’t like my attitude. Did I sing well in front of 10 million people? Yes.’ And that’s how I look at this band. Just do what you do best because that’s all people should care about. We’re not celebrities, rock doesn’t have that culture that it used to back in the day so it’s all about the music. That’s what’s we’re all about. We’re feeling pretty good and feel like we can do this for another 30 tears, 40 years, which is ultimately our goal.

Inglorious Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri May 19 2017 - LONDON Islington Assembly Hall

Click here to compare & buy Inglorious Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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