Even earlier than many people thought, the British hard rock band Inglorious is back in the game with a new album under their sleeves. “We Will Ride” sees Inglorious riding to lands farther from those previously ridden, and they do it commanded by the prodigious voice of Nathan James, as well as killer riffs, prominent musicianship, and high concentrations of energetic hard rock.
Correspondent Brian Masso spoke with Nathan James, singer and leader of Inglorious, about the several new things surrounding the release of “We Will Ride”, such as the new line-up and its impact on the songwriting process and the band’s sound, how it was to record in the middle of the current pandemic, and how it was to work for the first time with a producer. Also, they spoke about how Nathan dealt with three former members leaving the band, the message he has for everyone who doubted that Inglorious was going to rise and reach higher heights. Besides, they talked about Nathan’s favorite vocalists and how the band deals with flattering comparisons with legendary acts and Inglorious role as a leading band within the New Wave of Classic Rock and Revival Rock movement. Finally, they reflected on how important the fans’ support to their favorite artists is, his thoughts on Spotify, and the first check he ever received from them, among other things.
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“We Will Ride” will be the first Inglorious album to feature new members Danny De La Cruz and Dan Stevens as guitarists, as well as Vinnie Colla on bass. In which way their incorporation influenced the band’s sound?
I think the main thing for me are that the influences are kind of different as musicians to the previous members. So, Danny, my younger guitar player who is 21 years old, he really loves all the great guitarists of all time. He loves Yngwie. He loves Slash. He loves those guys, so he bought a real interesting guitar flair to the album, which we haven’t really had before
Dan, my other guitarists, his influences are very [inaudible]. He loves Extreme and he loves Nuno and he loves those kinds of players. He loves UFO, he loves Schenker. To me, it was kind of cool to work with two great guitarists who have kind of different influences, because it means that they write slightly different, and they write more. They have just a deeper understanding of the guitar. And I think this album is, if you’re a guitarist, an album that people would love to listen to because the guitar work is amazing. And obviously Vinny, my bass player, who is from Brazil, he’s from South America and he is just one hell of a musician. He’s an amazing all-round musician. So, he’s brought musical knowledge and he’s an incredible jazz musician. He just can play anything. I think their combined influences this time have helped make this album sound a little bit different to the previous ones.
In general, how would you describe the new musical direction taken by the band?
I think we’re still inspired by the great music from the seventies and the eighties. But this time I think sonically it’s different, so it doesn’t sound like a live kind of recording anymore. On all other Inglorious albums, you hear two guitars. On this album, you can hear like 10 guitars at the same time. So, it’s just a bigger, fresher, more modern sound. And having a producer definitely made that happen for us. This is the first time we’ve ever worked with a producer, so he wanted it to sound this certain way and that’s why we went to him. So, it’s sonically sound is more advanced than anything we’ve done before.
You had to record the new album in the middle of the current pandemic. Did it affect your traditional way of recording?
Yes, very much so. I don’t know if you know, but when you finished at the studio for the day, there is nothing better than going to the pub for a beer [laughs].This was the first time we couldn’t do that cause no pubs were open. So every night instead, we finished in the studio and then we go back to our apartment. We rented an apartment for the three weeks and we would cook each other a nice meal and it was very relaxed. We’d have a few drinks back there, but there was not really that social kind of aspects of making an album that you usually get. So, it meant that we were able to concentrate, rehearse at the nighttime for what we were going to record the next day. Just discuss and really work on these songs. So yeah, I did miss it a lot.
It was weird for the boys not to be there when we were recording each other, because the first week was just drums and bass. Second week was guitars. So, no one was in the studio together cause we had to maintain social distancing. It was quite tricky, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
So Nathan, there were a lot of new things surrounding the new album. New line-up, new sound direction and a new way of recording. It was also the first time working with a producer. Which were the main differences between this time with producer Romesh Dodangoda and the previous records?
Previously, all of the decisions were made by the band. So, if we were working with an engineer, he would kind of do what we’d asked of him. Whereas this time, [Romesh] was kind of in charge of us and he would give us ideas and he would say: “I think you need to make this chorus shorter”, or maybe “you need to do this guitar part here”, or “I would like you to sing something different on this bit.” So to me, he kind of took a lot of pressure away from us, because previously we were kind of just trying to produce a record. I’m not a producer, I don’t even know. I can’t even do a Zoom call [laughs]. I’m rubbish with technology. So, it was cool to have someone who’s worked on so many great things. He worked with Bring Me The Horizon, Motörhead, Bullet For My Valentine, great British bands. So, it’s pretty cool to think that we had him listening, and he has a real great approach to sound that I think everyone listening to this album will really hear when they listen the first couple of songs.
I’m actually doing an interview with Ramesh this evening. I’m going to film us talking about how we did it and what his approach is. So, people should check that out on YouTube, if they want to hear about the geeky stuff. We call it the “geek stuff”. The stuff that I don’t understand. Stuff that musicians will understand but I don’t.
So, from all the stuff we have talked so far, there seems to be a lot of different circumstances that surely changed the songwriting process within Inglorious. How different was it?
Very different! What people have to remember is that Danny is so young that these rifts that are coming out of him are like the first riff he’s ever written and recorded. “She Won’t Let You Go”, for instance, we wrote before he was even in the band, me and him, when he was like 19. So, it’s crazy to think that these are the first songs he’s ever written, that have ever came out of his brain. So that’s pretty crazy.
I like an album to have highs and lows and take you on a real journey. And this time, I think we’ve got that cause it’s got lots of different emotions and I achieved that by writing with different groups of people. I don’t usually like to write a song with everyone because I believe that it’s too many people. It can make you lose some character. I want each song to have its own kind of special thing. I write with Danny or I write with Phil, or Danny and Phil, or with Vinnie, or an outside writer like Joel Hoekstra from Whitesnake. He co-wrote two songs with me for this album. “Eye Of The Storm” is a song I wrote with a friend of mine who has been my friend for over 10 years. So I try to find special songs with different people to create one special album.
You already talked about “She Won’t Let You Go”, I got to say that such song, as well as “We Will Ride”, are my favorite tracks from the new record. They happen to be the opening and closing tracks. I don’t think that is a causality. Could you share some insights about those songs?
Yeah. “She Won’t Let You Go” had to be the intro because it has that amazing riff which Danny, as I said, wrote at 19 years old. Killer riff. As soon as he wrote that riff, I knew how the song was going to sound. And then, when I wrote the chorus with him, I said the words “red haired lady”. I had to find a story to kind of fit that. I knew this story about this crazy redhead girl I met in London, who kicked the crap out of my friend. So that song was about her. I like to write about crazy, not crazy characters, but strong women.
About “We Will Ride”, I wrote the chorus line and I remember writing upon a thousand horses and the words “we will ride!”. As soon as I’d written that I was like, okay, now I have to think who is riding? Where are they riding? And then I had to create a song around that. I discovered this lady who used to be very wealthy and she lost all her money and then she became a robber. She was killing people and taking their money and I found it really interesting, so I wrote the song about her. Our last album was called “Ride To Nowhere” which kind of signifying the end of that band lineup, kind of put a pause on the band. I wanted this album to have the title “We Will Rise” to tell people that: “you thought it was over, but in fact it is not, we are still going, we are continuing growing and we are better than we have ever been.”
It caught my attention the title from one of the new songs, “Do you like it?”. Well, if you’re referring to this album, of course we like it.
[Laughs] Yeah, I am. That song is about that a lot of people didn’t think that this album would happen or that maybe the band was going to fall apart. This song is kind of a middle finger to anyone who didn’t believe. It’s saying that it’s always better the second time around. We’re growing and people hear it on the album. If you can say that it’s not a great album, you are lying.
Could you tell us which song had the greatest emotional impact on you, and if you don’t mind sharing, could you tell us why?
Yeah, there’s actually a couple. ”Eye Of The Storm” is. I had a very dark time when three members left the band and they kind of sabotage the release of our third album that we worked so hard on. To me, I wasn’t coping very well at all. My mental health was really bad and I felt like I had screwed up. So that song is about how I was feeling and it, but it’s also that we are all human and I make mistakes. Those guys made mistakes certainly, and we all make mistakes. So, it doesn’t mean it’s the end just because you make one mistake.
The other song is “My Misery”, which was written in lockdown. I remember when we started writing the album, it was all exciting and then lockdown happened. I became so depressed because I didn’t think I was ever going to sing in front of people again and that’s my life. So “My Misery” is about being really low and being in that incredibly dark place, which I think over the last year lots of people all around the world have been in, maybe for the first time ever. We feel very alone. Those two songs are really for that reason. But I’m happy to say I’m feeling much, much better now.
I am glad to hear that Nathan. Inglorious’ previous records were highly energetic and powerful, but now, it is still intense but blended with deep and strength emotions, and that put the record on a higher level from my perspective.
Thank you, that means a lot. I think it takes a long time to be honest with yourself and I was always very conscious about writing things that were really honest. But in great times of trouble is when the best art is made. Usually, when bad things happen. Someone actually just said to me that “Back In Black”, the album, which is one of the best albums of all time, was written in the wake of Bon Scott dying. From great sadness comes great art and that’s hopefully what’s happened with us.
I bet it did, man. I´ve got some questions regarding how does Inglorious approaches the way of writing. Does your voice adapt to the music or is it the music that goes where your vocal range takes it?
I like to say that I’m a very versatile singer, so I would rather make my voice work for the song than change the song, because the riff is as important as my voice. So, wherever the riff sounds good, I will try and make it work there. If it really doesn’t work, then we will change it. But ultimately, I want the whole song to sound great, not just me. I think I can sing, I have quite a big range, so I feel like I can sing comfortably anywhere there. This time around, I’ve actually done a lot more in my middle range and my low range, just to give people variety and to show people that I can also do that as well. So, we write for the song, whatever is best for the song is what we will do it about.
I am sure that you are aware how impressive your vocals are, always full of power and emotion. Which vocalists had influence you the most?
Oh gosh, there’s so many, but the most obvious one is David Coverdale. David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes for me, are the greatest British vocalist of all time. I think they’re amazing. I love soul music and R&B. I love the fact that even though they were singing rock and roll, it still had soul and it was heavily inspired by black music, which I love. I’m a big fan of those voices that make you feel it. They just got such great tone. I love listening to a singer and thinking, well, I can’t do that. I can’t sound like David Coverdale or like Glenn Hughes. I can do an impression, but my voice doesn’t naturally sound that rich. That’s his actual voice. I’m always inspired by people who have that special something about their voice, who you can’t quite copy.
Speaking about some of your influences, Inglorious has continually being branded as a young Deep Purple and compared to other classic acts such as Led Zeppelin, are you comfortable with such tags and comparisons?
No! [Laughs]. It’s crazy. It’s really nice when it comes from someone, like, I think that quote, the first quote that you said about Deep Purple, Brian May said it, which is amazing, but it puts so much pressure on you and there will never be another Deep Purple, there will never be another Led Zeppelin. I like to think that people can hear the influences, but we’re kind of doing our own thing, which is ultimately what we’re doing. As I said, I’m inspired by all things, I’m inspired by bands like Slipknot to Bring Me The Horizon to softer things. I listen to Lady Gaga or Dua Lipa. I like all music. I love music. Those are really nice compliments, but it’s quite crazy.
Especially the one coming from Brian May. Talk about pressure, right? [Laughs].
Yeah, absolutely. It puts so much pressure on you. Kevin Shirley, the producer, he mixed (Inglorious’) last two albums. He compared it to Led Zeppelin. He’s someone who’s worked with Led Zeppelin. That’s amazing, that’s such an honor. But he’s not buying the album, he got paid to make it. I care about the people that are listening to it, those who are going to spend their money on buying it. That’s what I want for them, to be happy as well.
Those legendary bands, they are already there, their music is out there forever. It’s great to have modern bands as Inglorious, performing new music with such high quality.
Oh, thank you. Yeah, we are trying to show people that this genre is always here. So many people say rock is dead. I think once you listen to our album, if you think rock is dead, you’re talking out your ass.
Inglorious is considered one of the leading bands within the Revival Rock Movement and the New Wave Of Classic Rock. Does such consideration represent any motivation, or does it adds more pressure on you?
It’s amazing that people say that, but I think the idea of this movement being every one of these bands, whatever level we are at, it’s important that we, as a group, and we, as a community, push this music to the forefront where it should be. It is not about individual bands, it’s about people. There are so many people out there in the world that would love our music and would love Rival Sons, or would love any of these newer bands, they would love it. They don’t get an opportunity to hear it because it’s not on MTV or it’s not on the TV and it’s not on the mainstream media anymore. We need to just keep pushing. After last year, everyone is so depressed that they need some rock and roll and need. some metal, people are angry and people are upset. I think rock is definitely the answer to that.
You already talked about Rival Sons, are there any other bands that belong to such movement that you can recommend to us?
There’s a great guitar player here in the UK called Kris Barras who is phenomenal. He’s an amazing guitarist, he’s got a Southern influence I really love. I’m also a big fan of bands like The Struts who are doing it well, they’re representing the UK, doing amazing things. There are great bands out there, we just need to keep pushing. I think rock has lost its edge. I think people are scared now, to be crazy and to be real, everyone is pretending to be nice all the time. And all of them, my favorite rock stars, were probably assholes [laughs]. I just think people need to be a bit more authentic and it would be more fun if we were allowed to be ourselves.
I read some days ago that the Inglorious Facebook page posted something regarding Spotify. You asked for fans’ thoughts about it. I think Spotify is the best source to find new bands. Probably there is where a lot of people found Inglorious and many other great bands that get such exposure thanks to it. But I also get it when bands and artists talked about Spotify as if it was the devil when it comes to terms of income. What are your thoughts on the streaming services?
I love Spotify because it introduces people to our music, people that would never hear us before all around the world, which I think is pretty amazing. I treat Spotify like radio. People are discovering us by listening to it in a playlist. But I just wish the guys at the top of Spotify, the multi-billionaire who owns it, was paying people correctly because that’s the only problem with it. No one’s being paid properly. My first ever Spotify check, and I had a million listens on one song, was under one pound.
Jeez! They spent more sending that check.
Literally. When they sent the check, I kept it because I thought it was so funny, I kept it in a frame on the wall because I had a million streams of a song and I got a 43 pence fee. It’s just crazy. It’s so f***-up to me. There must be a better way for it.
You are right. That isn’t fair at all. Musicians are the ones providing the main resource.
Right, but he’s the one making the money. It’s not like the money doesn’t exist, he’s making tons of it, but they’re taking it all. They’re not giving enough to the artists at all.
What a shame. At least we can use it to discover new music. If I discover a band on Spotify, a band that I get to enjoy, I make sure to go out and buy a physical edition of any of their CDs or merch. If any day they come to play a show where I live (Mexico), of course, I am going to be there.
Yeah, absolutely. That is the key, like you say. It’s so important that if you do like a band, especially a young band, you go and support them. Because this last year we haven’t been able to do any performing. We need people to buy the CD or buy the DVD or buy even a t-shirt. Just try and support these young bands. Because last year, all of our money was in festivals and shows and that was taken away from us. So yeah, it’s not music, isn’t a hobby, it’s a career. If you love a band, I’m not just talking about Inglorious, I’m talking about any band that you love, go and show them some support, show them that you care about them.
Sure. I’m from Mexico, so if I want any new band to come here, we need to make sure that the band is aware of us. We need to buy their physical products, follow them on social media, support them. That way, you’ll know that there are people right here that love you, that are waiting for you to come here.
That’s how it works as well. For instance, if we find out that we sold a few thousand CDs in Mexico, our management and our record label will send us to Mexico, it makes sense.
Well, Inglorious fans, if you want them to come near you, support them, buy the album.
And tell your friends about it and share it on Facebook or wherever you like. If you love something that much and you want to see it, go and tell everyone about it. Tell your local venue, “I want this band to play here”. Let’s make it happen, we will do it. We want to go everywhere. Many bands after Corona are going to be so hungry for live music. Now is a time when we can get really excited about doing live shows and going all around the world because people are going to have been going crazy, not being able to hear live music for a long time.
I can’t wait for that day. In the meantime, are there any plans to promote “We Will Ride”? Will Inglorious jump to the livestream bandwagon?
I don’t know. I don’t think so. I would rather wait until we’re able to do it properly. I think it’s amazing, anyone who does the live streams. But for me, I feel like, unless it’s perfect, you are distracted. It doesn’t sound great and I don’t think it’s perfect. But we will see. I would rather wait till I can see people and I can hug them after the show and have a beer and I can just sing for people and make them sing with me. That’s what I need. We have the hope that that will happen. Otherwise we will be depressed.
I saw several live streams shows and half the experience is completely gone.
Exactly. It’s not a gig. Isn’t about just the music, it’s about how we are, about the five drinks you have before the band come on. It’s about seeing friends that you only see at shows. It’s about meeting people doing crazy stuff. You need that stuff around a bit to make it a really special night. It’s not just about the music, it’s about the atmosphere.
Okay Nathan, just one more question. Which is your favorite song on the new album?
My favorite song on the new album is “Messiah”, track number two. I love it. I think it’s a great song. It’s about a cool thing. It’s about a guy who tells people he is Jesus. It’s just amazing how people believe him, just because he says it, and a lot of people just followed him without really knowing the full truth. It’s interesting. I was inspired to write that after watching a show on Netflix, “Messiah”. I really liked it. I really liked the idea that this crazy dude was saying he was Jesus and how the whole millions of people around the world believed him. There was no proof at all, it’s kind of crazy. I love that song. I think it’s got a crazy great riff, a very exciting riff, and it’s got a big chords and a great guitar solo and our music video is coming up for that on the same day the album comes out. It’s a special music video.