House of Lords. Three words that if you are a fan of melodic rock, you better know. Formed in 1987, lead singer James Christian fronts this four-piece that still puts out incredible music. Playing a surprise show in Connecticut to warm up for their new album Saint of the Lost Souls, Shockwave Magazine was there to cover the show and we were also lucky enough to score an exclusive interview with guitarist Jimi Bell about the new album coming out in March on Frontiers Records.
Shockwave Magazine: Hey Jimi. How are you? Thank you so much for doing this.
Jimi Bell: I’m good. Yeah, no problem Michael. I look forward to doing things like this very much. Plus, we got a lot of stuff coming up with House of Lords this year.
Now I’ve only had the chance to listen to the one new song “Oceans Divide” you guys have out and it is awesome. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.
Well thank you. Yeah, that’s the only track so far Frontiers has released. They are doing a new thing this year where they will release three or four songs before the album will come out. Another one will be released around the 7th of February I believe and then two weeks later another one comes out and then two weeks after that the EPK press kit comes out and then March 24th is the release date for the new album called Saints of the Lost Souls.
Can you tell me a little about the recording of new album? How do you go about doing an album?
We have a system that we’ve done pretty much every record. I work with BJ (Zampa, drummer) a lot and we work with the music very closely, especially at first, because we don’t want to waste James’ time. So I go over to BJ’s house and try to do at least 15 t0 20 songs every CD and this time we had about 18 of them that were completed on our end and then what we do is send them down to James one a week or so to have him listen to them and he’ll pick the ones that really happen to grab him and then his part comes into play where if he wants to move something like a chorus here and there or combine a part of song with another and it just continues from there. We have a good process though I believe. BJ and I have done this from the very first record we were on with James and it works very well.
Can you compare it with one of the other releases or does it have a sound of its own?
From Precious Metal on, I started recording the guitars a little different and that made the sound a lot better to me. We are always trying to reinvent the sound of the band but we always have to try to keep in mind that House of Lords has to sound like House of Lords. We don’t want to sound like a House of Lords nineties band, but a House of Lords 2017 band, but with that traditional sound we have. That’s very important to us. We always are trying to keep it fresh. These new songs have more keyboards in them than we have had recently. We’ve always had keys in House of Lords songs, especially back in the day when Greg (Guiffria) was in the band. That was the very prominent thing. When I came on board, the guitar became a little more focused on because I write a lot of more heavier riffs than what they were writing back then. No matter what I give James, he will turn it to a great melodic song. It turns out fantastic. Right off the bat though when we heard these songs BJ and I gave him, he must have heard something in his head that these need more keyboards to them and that’s what we did. We added a lot of keyboards to them and there are a couple tracks that are really heavy with keys. There’s some really cool different things on this CD and I think House of Lords fans from the past are really gonna love the sound of this new one.
Did James play all the keys? I saw something that you brought in Michele Luppi of Whitesnake in to play.
Yes. James plays the keyboards on all the stuff we do but there have been other tracks that we have had guests come and play on in the past. Over the last two years, I have become friends with Michele and he is a huge House of Lords fan from way back apparently. He found out I was in the audience at a Whitesnake show and the next day he is messaging me and we’ve become friends. Anyway, we asked him if he wanted to do a track on this record and he was more than honored to do it with us. He’s featured on the song “Harlequin” which we just shot a video for up here in Norwich, Connecticut.
How has the new bass player Chris been?
Oh. Let me tell you. I can’t even tell you how pleased I am. Chris McCarvill (former bass player, now with Dokken) is family, always will be. He’s still in Maxx Explosion with BJ and me. He did a run with Dokken a couple of years back and they let him go but then they asked him back and he wanted to do it because it was a financially good situation for him to do it and it’s always hard to replace somebody. We were looking for someone who has vocal ability and could fit the part and have experience and new Chris(Tristram) just fell out of the sky for us. He is the nicest and easiest person to work with too. We had an instant connection with him and willing to go the distance with us that’s important.
Tell me a little about the new video.
We shot it at the Norwich Insane Asylum which has been closed for quite a while. It’s listed as one of the top ten haunted places in the US too. There is some freaky stuff in there let me tell you. Michele is in the video as well. He had a similar venue over in Italy so he is filming his parts there and then we will add him in it as we see fit in the editing room. It’s really great. I’m expecting to see some paranormal activity in the video too. James had an experience in a scene where it got really cold and he ended up seeing his breath at one point. So, if you see something come across the screen, don’t be surprised.
Is that the only video so far you guys have made?
So far, yes. We will most likely do some more very soon.
What about playing live dates? Have touring plans been discussed yet?
We had a whole year off. James wanted a year off and that’s what we did because, well, he’s the boss. So, our goal is to tour a lot more this year and hopefully in the US a lot more. We are in contact with people right now who can do that for us. We always play Europe and we love Europe, it’s great. I love going over there. But I’d love to build House of Lords back up in the states. Back in the day before I joined, this band was a US touring band. So, that’s our goal is to build it back up in the states again and we know it will take some time. I love Baltimore too. I played there when I was on tour with a band with Joan Jett. I think it was Hammerjacks I believe.
Well it just so happens Hammerjacks will be reopening sometime in the late fall of this year. A brand new one is being planned as we speak.
Wow. That is great. Yeah, that place was great when I played there. That sounds like a place House of Lords would love to play.
Have you ever been offered to play the M3 Festival they have here in Columbia, MD?
I know we have never played it but I do know there were negotiations to play it last year and they fell through but I know that’s a festival I definitely would want to play. We are perfect for that festival and I’ve seen so many requests for us to play there. I think we will be in the future. I really wanna play that. It’s almost a must for House of Lords.
Another big thing bands are doing now are cruises. Have you done one yet?
No, we haven’t. These are the things I was talking about building ourselves back up in the US. The band is still thriving over in Europe big time and we go over there and we do well. For us to go out here, it will take a little time and money but we are willing to do it. We’re at that point now. We have seven records now with the core line up of James, BJ, and myself and we have plenty of material to play. And we are not one of those bands that live off of past hits. We literally put out a record almost every two years now and we aren’t going to stop that anytime soon. We’re always doing something different.
Is there any talk of a new live album especially with this line up?
No. Not at all. I have heard talks about a live DVD and of course that would be through Frontiers as well. Those guys are great. They do wonderful things. We are very grateful to have a team like that and they pretty much have every band now. That’s the label to be on.
Going back to Maxx Explosion, will there be a third album?
Yes. We are in the process of recording now with that. We are currently not on a label, but we’re looking around right now. We are about seven songs into the recording right now and it will happen. It’s a good project. I dig the trio thing a lot.
What about a Jimi Bell solo CD?
Uh, no Jimi Bell solo albums are happening at the moment (laughing.) BJ and I are in some cover bands up here in Connecticut so we try to play all the time when there is nothing going on with House of Lords, but when they call, everything gets put on hold, even Maxx. We’re booked with our cover bands too but those dates will go away when House of Lords calls. I have a new one called Beyond Purple which is something I always wanted to do. It’s a lot of Deep Purple, which was my favorite growing up, but we are branching off with that doing DIO and Rainbow stuff as well, Whitesnake too.
House of Lords has always been one of my favorite bands and being able to talk to Jimi was an incredible pleasure for me and I personally would like to thank him for his time for this interview. Hopefully, doing this interview will be the difference maker in the band coming to Baltimore to play if you guys can’t decide on a city, hint hint. Thanks again Jimi. Looking forward to the new album, House of Lords Saint of the Lost Souls March 2017.