Nathan James and his band are flying the flag for heavy rock, writes Ed Power.
A LESS determined singer would have been crushed by the rejection . But Inglorious’s Nathan James doesn’t seem to have been especially traumatised by his first round elimination on The Voice UK, when neither
Jessie J nor The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue were wooed by his big lunged cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’.
“TV was fantastic,” says the singer. “I wouldn’t change a bit about it. It gave me a thick skin. You learn a lot.”
The Voice is merely the thin end of James’ reality TV experience. In 2012, he reached the later stages of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ITV talent search Superstar, only to be cut because the series’s creator was uneasy about James’ social media addiction.
The final straw was tweeting a picture of himself posing as Jesus (even if it made a certain amount of sense give that Loyd Webber was casting for a new production of Jesus Christ Superstar)
“Nathan, your voice is amazing but I think you need to love the song more than you love yourself,” said Webber. “Why do you keep tweeting the things you keep tweeting?”
Five years on, James has few regrets. Inglorious are building an enthusiastic word of mouth following – with fans drawn to their non-ironic take on classic British heavy rock. Maybe TV helped, maybe it didn’t. Either way, he’s more interested in pushing on than dwelling in the past.
“The pressure on television is really stressful,” James reflects. “Everyone who has ever gone on reality television will tell you that. The easy thing would be to stay at home. What I took away from it was a love of performing. I’ve won fans from TV shows who are now into my band. We have people coming over to see us in Dublin.”
James is an artist with a mission. He is appalled at the diminished preeminence of heavy rock — a genre once as quintessentially British as warm ale and bicycling vicars.
“The UK created this music,” he says. “We gave birth to the best bands of all time… We [Inglorious] are doing this for our country. We’re also doing it for the genre.”
He’s just 28 – but James has been around the hard rock block. With a powerful delivery, he’s never lacked for collaborators and has performed with the multi-platinum Trans- Siberian Orchestra (an arena-filling American progressive rock band) and sang alongside Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth.
Inglorious is a bespoke affair, assembled by the singer as a vehicle for his voice. Their first big smash — a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ — was a thoroughly modern success , having initially been a hit on YouTube.
A brace of studio albums trumpet Inglorious’s influences. They’re old school rockers, indebted to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, Bad Company — the entire pantheon of 1970s British headbangers.
“We’re also big Thin Lizzy fans,” says James. “The last time we were in Dublin we visited the Phil Lynott statue. It costs a lot to play in Ireland – but we’re doing it for the love of the music and to hopefully keep our fanbase growing organically.”
The cliche of the difficult follow-up album is given short shrift by James. With second LP Inglorious II — no fancy titles here — coming out just 14 months after their first record, the group have little interest standing on ceremony.
“We’re not messing about,” says James. “We’re doing it like did it back in the day. People waste so much time and money in the studio. We go in prepared.
“Our last album took us 15 days. While the songs keep coming, we’ll keep putting them down. We care about making music that is real. The chemistry in the band is great. “
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