Download Festival, Castle Donington
Saturday 11th June 2016
Plus Interview With Nathan James
Photos by Steve Bailey
The meteoric rise of Inglorious continues apace, and this weekend the band put in an explosive performance at Download Festival where they took a lunchtime slot on the second stage, following Finnish powerhouses Santa Cruz.
Despite the early-ish start there was a capacity crowd who were attentive throughout with many singing along and getting right behind the band - quite astonishing considering their debut album was only released in February.
With a well-chosen setlist of all originals including one new track, 'No Good For You', which will feature on the next album, Inglorious to a man were not phased at all by the occasion. Playing to their largest audience to date, they owned the stage, setting the bar high for the rest of the day.
Proving that sun shines on the inglorious as well as the righteous, the set was scheduled in the scant few hours in the weekend where the rain stopped and the sun shone, and before the storms hit again making Download 2016 memorable for yet another of those notorious mud baths.
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Frontman and uber-talented vocalist Nathan James showcased the depth and power of his range and expertly worked the crowd, and the hard rock soundtrack was both fresh and classic.
The two guitarists were highlighted best during 'Holy Water' with Wil Taylor and Andreas Eriksson taking a solo each. The rhythm section of Colin Parkinson's punchy bass and Phil Beaver's hard and heavy drums made sure that the immensity was tempered with fluidity.
With only half an hour to shine in front of a mixed crowd Inglorious captivated and delighted. Today was also their manager Maria's birthday – what a great start to the celebrations. No frills, gimmicks or tricks, just some of the best hard rock around.
Until I Die
High Flying Gypsy
No Good For You
On the back of this set I caught up with frontman Nathan James who spoke to me from the tour bus on the way to Bilston for the next date in the current UK tour.
Great to speak to you Nathan and congratulations on going down a storm at Download. Tell me how it was for you.
It was our first outdoor festival and our biggest crowd so far, it was incredible. I was so nervous, we all were beforehand, but we got bumped up a place, and put on an hour later than the original time which was nice. The crowd just grooved throughout our set, people knew the words to the songs, they were better than I thought they would be, they were amazing. A real life-changing kind of moment.
It was a very early start for us as we drove up from Reading, where I live, at quarter to six, but as soon as we walked up towards the shuttle to take us to the stage and we looked out and thought "this is huge". It felt like a make or break moment, there are so many out there who want you to succeed but equally want you to fall on your face - and we definitely didn't do the latter.
Absolutely not, you seemed to judge it perfectly – with half an hour to prove yourself to a mixed crowd that wasn't necessarily yours, you went out there and absolutely killed it with good honest hard rock. You also made a comment about using no backing tracks, and your first album was also tracked live. Is that something that remains central to your identity as a band?
Yes. We were walking round that day, and I'm not going to name names but so many bands at a rock festival were relying on pre-recorded material. It seemed odd, I don't understand. The other thing that came to me was that there was a lot of bands from all over the world which was amazing but there wasn't a presence of real young British bands, we were one of the only ones there so that was actually quite sad.
Well let's see, you had Iron Maiden of course, one of this country's best exports, Sabbath, Saxon ... (mentally rushes through a list of a couple of dozen other bands on the bill)... and... you're right, you have to really think hard about this! Ummm ... yeah where is the home grown young talent? [I thought of a couple afterwards, eg The Temperance Movement and TMWWNBBFN but the point remains valid]
Exactly, Santa Cruz were on before us, then later Monster Truck, and other great bands - but not from the UK.
Were you able to stay and catch much of the rest of the day?
We had some press to do, but I caught some of Rival Sons which I really enjoyed and then we left as it was the start of a four day run, so we had to kind of behave. Actually we went to – this is very un-rock and roll – we went to a pub and sang karaoke in Barnsley. Yes, the evening of playing Download we drove to Barnsley, got pissed and sang karaoke while Black Sabbath were on the main stage. We did all the classics – 'Here I Go Again', 'The Look' by Roxette, Bryan Adams...
A very special impromptu Inglorious gig! How did that go down with the punters?
Well, I think everyone was more drunk than us so didn't really notice...
Staying with the festival subject, you have a few more coming up including headlining Wildfire in Scotland on the Saturday night and opening proceedings for the main stage at Ramblin' Man Fair. Can we expect a similar set or will you be changing things up a bit?
We may change it up a bit, for Ramblin' Man, looking at the day and the line up we might put a cheeky cover in there, maybe a Rainbow or Whitesnake number. Actually, better not do Whitesnake as they are on last!
This current UK tour, which started in Nottingham, Basingstoke and Frome, then Holmfirth last night, Bilston tonight, and has a couple of sold out dates around the middle and plenty more to come – how have these dates gone so far?
It's been really good, someone said the other day that it's a proper old school tour, going everywhere and that's what we want to do. If there's enough people that want to come and see us and it's not costing us to do then of course we will do it, we want to play this music, meet some more fans, and those who have been involved from the beginning. Last night felt very busy meeting everyone and it can be overwhelming, but it's so good to do.
We have to thank the people at Planet Rock as that is where the majority of the fans know us from as we have had four or five songs from the album A-listed, including two at the same time which Paul Anthony told me has never been done before. It's amazing and we are very thankful to Planet Rock for giving us that opportunity and they are the reason why people are coming along to this tour.
And how did you find the experience of touring with The Winery Dogs earlier this year?
We had a great time with The Winery Dogs and spent a lot of time with them. Colin our bass player is a huge Billy Sheehan fan, having a poster of him on his wall when he was growing up, so it meant a lot to him. Andreas loves Richie Kotzen so to be on tour with them was quite scary at first when you are proper big fans, weird to be in catering with them eating a bowl of soup!
But they really liked our music and what we did, Mike Portnoy watched nearly every soundcheck, and kept saying really nice things about us. A great tour and a perfect start for us, we've come a long way since then.
We have just announced this morning that we are going on the road with Steel Panther in Europe so it will be nice to go back and show how far we've come in such a short space of time.
Yes I just saw that announcement, that's a very different band and set up from the previous jaunt.
It is a little different but I think they are about giving a good show and about entertaining and that's what we do too – we want to give people a good show, entertain them and let them have a good time – forget all the crap that's going in the world for an hour.
I'm not trying to be clever or say that we're trying to save the world or anything, but the reason that I go to a concert is to escape, to enjoy, to forget about all the stuff that you have to do – and Steel Panther definitely do that – you don't think about anything else while you are watching other than Steel Panther.
I agree – we've been talking a lot in the MetalTalk offices recently about how the bottom line of a concert is how it makes you feel on your way out, that emotion sets the scene for how you remember the overall experience. With you guys, you also have the songs, the talent, the performance, and you look so cohesive and really gel up there. Is it as enjoyable for you all as it looks and/or something that is still developing with each gig?
We are very comfortable with each other, but we are also finding that we are getting more nitpicky. We feel we are getting so much better every day, and are at an awesome stage and we just want it to be perfect - fully fantastic from every angle, to sound the best, to look the best. We want to enjoy it as well and it's getting to that stage where we know the songs so well that we can concentrate on performing and really enjoying the gig.
We were treated to a new song 'No Good For You' which sounded great and very much in the Inglorious style, and will be on the forthcoming album which I understand you are all currently writing for at the moment. Can you tell me how that is going?
It's going really well, we've already got a pot of about 22, 23 songs that I'm writing lyrics for at the minute and sorting out arrangements. It's in pre-production and we are doing it all ourselves, including producing the album when it's time to record it. So we are picking the best songs in conjunction with our label and the A&R guys and we will start recording in August.
With the same principles as the first, tracking live?
Yes. Absolutely. It worked the first time, we don't want to change anything and it's what gives it that energy that we love, and that's on all the albums that everyone grew up with. We got together for a couple of weeks recently in Somerset which is where our drummer and bass player live, and hung out and wrote all these tunes, and it was so quick.
Everyone chipped in and it was a very easy non-stressful experience. We all share the same aim; we want to write a great second album that is as good as if not better than our first one. It can be such a curse but we are trying our hardest to make sure that it's a banger. We hope for a release early next year.
It's been such a busy time for you with all the touring and promoting and you also had your first major TV appearance a couple of weeks ago on Vintage TV with Nicky Horne.
That was a great day – the sweatiest room I've ever been in. It was a really hot day and the studio was up a couple of flights of stairs in a really old building, and when they filmed they wanted the sound to be great so all the windows were closed and it became an absolute sauna. When I watched it back I thought oh my god I look like I've just come out of the shower, I was drenched. But it sounded great and we performed well, and Nicky said some really nice things about us.
That's the other thing, so many people are bigging us up that we never thought would, like him and Whispering Bob Harris who played 'Holy Water' on his Radio 2 show.
And I think that goes back to what we were saying earlier about the need for really good British hard rock acts like yourselves – we love them, we want them.
I know – so why on earth are Classic Rock not getting behind us? It's bizarre, I have no idea why not. We are a young British band who produced a great debut album, selling good amounts of everywhere, people are enjoying us, we went down a storm at Download and yet we weren't included in their list of top bands to watch this year. It's ridiculous and I want to know what their problem is.
Well it's great you are backed by almost every other media outlet...
They haven't even come to see us – is it that they don't want to like us because I was on the TV before or something? Still, we've sold loads of albums.
It's also great that you keep on doing what you are doing. For now, is there anything coming up that you are particularly looking forward to?
We are doing a free London show on 27th June which is going to be crazy. It's in Holloway at The Big Red which doesn't have a huge capacity so people will have to get there early. It will be mental and really good fun. We've also just been announced for a festival in Belgium with Steel Panther and Limp Bizkit which will be fun, but there's so much coming up and it's all good.
And how is the tour bus lifestyle treating you?
It's glamorous. What's not to love about Travelodge? It has everything you need, you know what you are getting, it's become a home from home now. Last night, the bloke at the Travelodge knew who we were and then tweeted a load of his mates that we were staying there.
That's Twitter for you. I saw on it last night that someone who had been at Download and staying in a local hotel came running down the stairs in her pajamas as her friend had told her that Bruce Dickinson was staying there, so there's a pattern.
I'm guessing that Bruce Dickinson wasn't in the Travelodge though! We are all having a great time though, and it's so insane watching all these people come through the door to see us, especially as our album was only released in February. The reception has been incredible so far and we want to keep it up, deliver a strong second album, and another great year of touring next year.
Well it is clear that you have a good audience out there. From my own experience I have shown your videos to around half a dozen friends that are outside the industry and the regular gig-going crowd and they have bought the album and want more – so no pressure!
No, the pressure's good, it makes us work harder! We've got a really crazy schedule this year, touring for the whole of June, dates in July, recording our album in August, then the Steel Panther tour September and October. It's a full time job, we've had to give up whatever we were doing before in order to make this happen.
We are very dedicated and in a great position because of our record label and management. We feel very, very lucky but we also work extremely hard.
Inglorious Live in 2016:
Jun 14 The Stables
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Leicester, United Kingdom
Swansea, United Kingdom
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Biggar, United Kingdom
Academy Green Room
Belfast, United Kingdom
Ramblin Man Fair 2016
Maidstone, United Kingdom
Bingley, United Kingdom
Farnham, United Kingdom
København V, Denmark
Porthcawl, United Kingdom