Inglorious return to Ramblin’ Man Fair’s main stage this weekend with a settled line-up and David Coverdale’s praise ringing in their ears. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth quizzed frontman Nathan James ahead of the band’s Mote Park set.
Rushonrock: How’s the new line-up shaping up?
Nathan James: It’s just awesome. We have one more European festival to play and I think those shows are the measure of any band. You really know if it’s working when you play the festival stages. Fans coming to our shows know our songs and know what we’re all about. It’s a different situation. At a festival you imagine the opposite to be true – it’s not until you play in front of a bunch of people who don’t know who you are that you get a feel for how your band’s doing. But every reception at every festival we’ve played this summer has been overwhelmingly positive. It seems as if more and more people love our band and love what we’re doing. It feels really, really good to be part of Inglorious right now.
ROR: How easy was the transition following the decision to bring in the new band members?
NJ: I knew that we were very well rehearsed and that was down to the new guys. I think they all felt that there was a lot of pressure on them given the circumstances. Phil [Beaver, drums] and I were ready to do what we always do but the new guys had to show everyone what they were made of – and they did. The rehearsals were so tight that I went into that first run of headline shows with the new line-up full of confidence. The band was just so committed and so the transition was really easy in that respect. That was a huge relief to me. And I’m loving life in Inglorious. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be right now than on stage with those guys.
ROR: Have the new guys already stamped their identity on the band?
NJ: Absolutely. On stage and off it – they’re already contributing to the writing side and we’re already throwing ideas around for the fourth album. The ideas that Danny [Dela Cruz, lead guitar] is coming up with are insane bearing in mind he’s only 19. These are the first riffs he’s going to record and he’s really channelling his inner Blackmore and Slash. I can’t wait to put the words to the music.
ROR: After a period of huge personal and professional upheaval how are you feeling right now?
NJ: Much better than I was. Up until that first Inglorious show with the new line-up I was a mess. It’s no secret that my mental health took a real battering and I wasn’t in a good place at all. I don’t want to go into the ins and outs – nobody really knows what happened and I doubt they ever will. It’s nobody’s business but ours. But I could barely eat for two weeks and just felt so sick all of the time. Inglorious has always been my baby and my creation and to feel as if it was being pulled away from me was so hard to take. But as soon as I realised I could still do this with people who I really wanted to spend time with I started to pick up. These days we hang out as a band, go sightseeing and socialise together. We’re having a really good time and so I’m in a much better place.
ROR: How’s your summer been so far and what have been the highlights?
NJ: Grasspop was amazing. We played the main stage and it’s such a huge festival. It was great to see the guys feel at home on such a massive stage – Danny was Andreas’s [Eriksson, ex-lead guitarist] tech on these stages last year and now he’s playing them! It’s just so cool to see this teenager get out in front of a festival crowd and tear the place apart. I just can’t stop smiling and it’s a really weird feeling. Norway’s Tons Of Rock festival was another highlight. It was our first set in a tent at a festival and we didn’t know what to expect. I peeped out a few minutes before were due to go on and there was nobody there! I thought ‘this isn’t going to go well – we’re playing in an empty tent with terrible sound’. But when we went on stage the place was bursting at the seams. We had an absolute blast. I saw Dream Theater and had a chat with those guys and it’s those kind of experiences which make the festival season the best time of the year.
ROR: And you finally met your idol David Coverdale…
NJ: That was the standout highlight. It was amazing. Everything I hoped it would be. I was stood at the back of the stage and the guitar tech for Reb Beach [Whitesnake guitarist] came over and said he’d seen us earlier in the day and thought we were great. I replied that I’d learnt from his boss! At that point the guy took me to the side of the stage and Mr Coverdale came across during a quick break! He said ‘hello Nathan’ and I properly fan-girled. I wasn’t cool at all. But he was such a lovely bloke. I’d just been in a car accident and he asked me how I was – it was just insane. After waiting so long to meet my idol it was everything I’d hoped it would be. David was a complete gentleman.
ROR: How important is it for classic rock that a genre leader like Whitesnake continues to make new music and play live across the world?
NJ: Hugely important. Even with new bands coming through the danger is that the genre will become nothing more than a nostalgia trip unless bands like Whitesnake continue to put new music out there and keep upping their game. As long as the band wants to make new music and David can still sing then it’s vital that they keep going. I know there are a lot of people who go to watch the big classic rock bands because they like a song from 30 years ago but I’m not one of those people. I like to hear the mew music as much as the older classics. And rock fans are still buying music – and buying physical music. David and Whitesnake know that. He still loves music and loves writing songs with his band. He’s so happy with where he is right now and his Twitter feed is brilliant! Follow it!
ROR: What are you looking forward to most about Ramblin’ Man Fair this year?
NJ: We’re back for the first time since we opened up for Whitesnake on the main stage and I can’t wait. It’s such a cool festival. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of friends – I go there as a fan when I’m not playing and it’s got a great vibe. We’re on in the late afternoon which means I’ve got time to have a few beers before Foreigner – a band who I love. First and foremost I’m a huge fan of the festival. Playing Ramblin’ Man is an added bonus.
ROR: Who are you hoping to see?
NJ: Foreigner is top of the list. It’s shame Kris Barras is playing on the Friday as I’m a huge fan of his and he’s on fire right now. I’m hoping we don’t clash with Richie Kotzen – if we’re not playing at the same time I’ll definitely head to the Blues Stage for that set. I love him.
ROR: What’s the best advice you can give to first-time Ramblers?
NJ: Always remember that there’s so much more than the main stage. Do your research because you’ll regret it if you miss a killer band on one of the other stages. Go on Spotify, listen to a few of the bands you’ve never heard of and you might just get hooked. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I go an investigate bands I’ve never heard of – it’s one of things I love most about the festival season. When we played Nova Rock I made it my mission to check out at least four ‘new’ bands and I loved them all. Ramblin’ Man caters for everyone and it’s very easy to find your new favourite band. And they have the halloumi chips stall…
ROR: If you could curate Nathan Fest who would be your three headline acts?
NJ: I saw them at Grasspop and they’re still the most phenomenal live band on the planet…so Kiss would be one of the headliners. They’re guaranteed to be the biggest headline act you could get. I’d like to get the Foos to my festival and probably The Rolling Stones. How’s that for three headlienrs!
*Inglorious play Ramblin’ Man Fair on Sunday July 21.
Main image courtesy of Adam Kennedy