Inglorious frontman Nathan James has a voice that was handed down from Olympus, but on the band's new album his pipes travel to places where only the foolish usually tread. For Heroine finds the band covering rock goddesses Heart, Lzzy Hale and Tina Turner, alongside pop sirens like Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera.
Regular singers don't tackle Whitney Houston. So is Heroine rock folly? Or heartfelt tribute? Or is it 45 minutes of 'Hey! Look what I can do!'? Nathan has the answer.
"First things first, we know it is impossible to make these songs better," he says. "The originals are perfect and the performances legendary, so acknowledging that we weren't even gonna come close to the magic of the originals took the pressure off and we could just enjoy making this super fun album.
"Every one of these artists has inspired me as a performer, writer, singer, or person. I love the fire all these women bring to their music and that's what we wanted to say thanks for. Not only to these artists, but the awesome women in all of our lives who have loved us and continue to support us."
Inglorious are currently on tour in The UK (dates below). Below, Nathan takes us through Heroine by Inglorious, track-by-track.
Queen Of The Night - Whitney Houston
Whitney will always be one of the greatest singers of all time, and for that reason we had to honour her on this album: an album celebrating female artists of all genres. Her life was filled with immense highs and dreadful lows, but when she sang you knew she was the real deal and she meant every word. As a kid I really found female voices fascinating as I was constantly in search of that next song to really push me outside of the male rock vocal world, and Whitney was always the greatest.
We broke the cardinal rule by covering her, and I think when it comes to her ballads they shouldn’t be touched. But this is an out and out hard rock song. Aggressive vocal delivery, guitar riffs, big chorus, a guitar solo! And those awesome harmonies. It’s a bold opener to the album for sure, but I think it really shows people just what we can do as a band. I love this arrangement too. We mixed up the main riff a little and tried to make it a little bit more of ‘Mothers Finest' vibe (Joyce Kennedy, another awesome powerhouse black female vocalist - maybe Heroine II…?).
Barracuda - Heart
This song was the first I wrote down when I initially decided on it being an all-female covers album, but honestly it would have made the list no matter what gender we were celebrating . What an incredible song, interesting melodies and lyrics, as well as the almost Maiden-esque gallop on the riffs. An opportunity for all of us to showcase what we can do and honour one of the greatest vocalists in the genre. Ann, to me, is up there with my more obvious inspirations vocally. Her razor-sharp voice and range are unbeatable.
We were gonna do Alone on this album, but for me this was a much tougher challenge, and I really wanted to push my vocals to the extreme on this album - and no one makes you push harder than Ann. The video for this was filmed in the studio - where I recorded vocals and Phil recorded drums - by none other than Kris Barras, who happens to be a great videographer as well as guitarist/singer. All the guitars for this album were recorded at the guys’ home studios.
Bring Me To Life [feat. Jeff Scott Soto] - Evanescence
I was 14 years old when this came out and I can remember playing it - and the entire Fallen album - to death. It’s a masterpiece! Firstly, Amy Lee has the most beautiful voice ever and I love the fact that her gorgeous clean vocals soar over the heaviest of guitar riffs, chugs and even raps!
We did Graspop with Evanescence a few years ago and I was stood side of stage for their whole set, blown away at her voice and piano playing. It was a real nostalgic moment as I was transported back to the awkward gothy, camp, not-fitting-in kid I was when I heard them for the first time. One of those artists who really helped me at a time when I needed them.
As for our special guest, as soon as I had told the boys we were doing it I messaged Jeff Scott Soto, my Trans-Siberian Orchestra friend who had just asked me to sing on his new record, and said ‘Hey, I think you will be perfect for this track we’re doing,’ and he literally said, "Is it Bring Me To Life?"
Apparently, his wife and him were watching Jimmy Fallon the night before, and Amy Lee and the gang were on there doing that very song! And Jeff said to her "I’d love to sing that with someone. I can’t believe I’ve gone my whole career without doing it." Basically it was fate, and kinda weird how it matched up. He absolutely nails the performance, and the only change we made in our arrangement was a long piano intro, so people can really hear the softer side to my voice before the guitars and Jeff rip ya ears clean off!
Midnight Sky - Miley Cyrus
I fucking love Miley Cyrus. She is a rock star and I don’t care what anyone says. She doesn’t give a fuck; she crosses multiple genres; she looks amazing; her videos, live performances, and albums are always pushing boundaries; and she is a wonderful ally to many groups of people, especially the LGBTQI community. It’s sometimes mad to think of her as Hannah Montana.
When this song came out last year I wanted to cover it straight away. It has a great chorus, and our amazing drummer Phil Beaver came up with this awesome arrangement. She is a baddass and I love her energy and punk attitude. Again, video filmed by Kris Barras - what a guy!
I’m With You - Avril Lavigne
I really am living my teenage fantasy by getting to sing all these amazing songs from the noughties.
Avril was someone who every kid like me loved. She had great pop songs but was just like all of us! We had to do one of her songs, but I think our version of Sk8er Boi wouldn’t have been quite as epic. I chose this song as it’s a song I remembered word for word 20 years later. It reminds me of my school prom and that awkward moment where you ask someone to dance with you, and you do a really awkward three minute hug at arms length, not in time to the music. This song will hopefully remind everyone of my age of those times.
My favourite bit about our version is Danny’s solo at the end: it really is something else, and I couldn’t believe it the first time I heard it. So much feel in his playing. This is also the only song on the album to feature a woman, the incredible Sarah Jory on pedal steel guitar. I’ve known Sarah for years as we used to tour in a show band together. When I heard where our version was going I spoke to her and asked if she would like to be on it, and within a day she had sent her stunning parts over.
With every track on this album I wanted to be true to the original but add a little bit of a different flavour, and the pedal steel really does add a bit of country swag - which I’m usually opposed to - however, in this instance it works perfectly.
Fighter - Christina Aguilera
Growing up, people were either Team Britney or Team Christina - and I was 100% Team Christina. Her voice is unbelievable. I discovered her when she sang on the Disney movie - Mulan - soundtrack, and I couldn’t believe just how high her voice was going and the cleanness and quickness of her riffs and runs. One of the most gifted vocalists of our time.
And this song had to be the one to cover! It’s a rock song. We added a little Yngwie-like moment at the beginning, with harpsichord and neo-classical shredding from Danny, as I didn’t want to do the spoken word. It sounds cool and sexy when an American woman is doing it, but not when a guy from Reading does it; I sound more like David Brent to be honest.
I love the fact that all the songs on this album are so different, and the songs we are covering all have one thing in common… awesome vocalists singing awesome songs. Real pressure on myself to deliver on this one, but probably one of my favourite vocals of mine to date. It’s almost a rap, as it’s so quick-paced and so wordy. Christina really is the real deal.
Nutbush City Limits - Tina Turner
You cannot do a female covers album without Tina. It’s against the law. She was there at the beginning, one of the original rock stars. What an amazing person and her talent is unrivalled. No other performer can do what Tina Turner does.
I chose this song as it’s a hell of a lot of fun to sing and play, and it sits really well in my range. I love the fact that for the first time ever we have real horns on an Inglorious album. I always loved the sound of horns on Aerosmith, Slash’s Snakepit etc, and it really gives this the vintage treatment that I think it deserves. It was released in 1973 with Ike, who was obviously a piece of shit, and I did think about doing one of her solo songs seeing as it’s a female album… but Ike’s dead and he won’t make any of the money, so fuck you, Ike.
Tina is a fighter and an icon. Not many people have had the career she has, and to come through all the pain and still have created so much joy for others... it really does make her better than all the rest. Keep an ear out for Vinnie’s bass line… it’s so groovy!
I Hate Myself For Loving You - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Joan Jett is so fucking rock and roll she puts many to shame. This song, co-written by the amazing Desmond Child, is an absolute banger. First time I heard it I thought it was T. Rex. It has such a swagger and so much sex. Joan is legendary, and we had to cover this one as, in the world of rocking women, she is the godmother of punk. Such striking images and distinct tone to her voice.
I found this one of the hardest to sing. It’s quite low in my range, so we had to find a way of me making it sit more comfortably. I love that on our version the outro features our amazing producer, Josiah J, on Hammond. Josiah mixed, co-produced, mastered, and played keys on this whole album. He really was crucial in the sound of these songs, and we treated each of them individually as they are all so different. A real challenge for all of us, but definitely something we are all proud of.
I Am The Fire - Halestorm
Name a better singer nowadays than Lzzy Hale… I’ll wait… no?… can’t do it? Correct! She is the epitome of great rock singers. A voice that could shatter glass, and a monstrous guitarist. Over the last year I have been teaching a lot, and so many of my female students say they wanna sound like Lzzy…I have to be honest to them and say, "That’s great, but you don’t have a fucking chance”. She is in a different league to anyone else I know doing it now.
Saw them at Ramblin’ Man Fair a few years ago and her voice was on 100 percent at the beginning of the set and the end. She also plays guitar the whole set, in heels! And makes it look so so easy. I am obsessed with her voice, and when it came to picking the Japanese bonus for the CD, Josiah and I decided this would be the piano/vocal cover of choice.
It’s a beautiful, empowering song and I really do believe she is one of the best singers in the world. We added a little solo between the first chorus and second verse, played by Dan Stevens, but apart from that we didn’t change a lot… only the key, cos there was no way I was gonna sing it in the same key as her: I know my limits – Lzzy’s voice has none!
Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper is one of the most original and amazing songwriters to ever walk the earth. Her voice is so unique that you know it as soon as it’s on the radio. With this song I really wanted change it the most. The original is very synth and 80s, and to me it just wouldn’t have worked that way for us. But the message and lyrics are so beautiful that I wanted to really showcase the song. A great song is a great song whether it’s with an orchestra or just a guitar and vocal. And I really think this one works all stripped back.
Phil, the drummer, played 12-string guitar on this, and Danny’s solo again is just perfection. A masterpiece in feel and taste from a 21 year old… I am very proud of my vocal on this one, as I allowed myself to be really exposed and vulnerable - which I struggle with, to be honest. Thank you for the music Cyndi, you are something else!
Uninvited - Alanis Morissette
My favourite artist of all time is Alanis Morissette. Jagged Little Pill is the best debut album of all time. Fight me. She was doing this, that women weren’t doing back then: talking about sex, and being angry, and being vulnerable, and not feeling OK. She opened her heart up for the world, and the world loved it.
The last gig I saw before lockdown was Alanis acoustic in Amsterdam. I was second row and I cried for the first three songs. Her voice is so interesting, her songs so descriptive, it’s almost conversational. She really did shake the industry up when she started, and I still remember hearing that album and hearing Flea on bass on You Oughta Know, and thinking, who is this goddess? What an amazing musician.
In previous line-ups of this band I have wanted to do a cover of an Alanis track and they weren’t really feeling it, so when the big change happened I said to the new guys we are gonna try it and give it a go. The audience reaction every night to our cover of this song was so special and actually the reason we went down the female covers album route.
This is for all of the people that told us to record it on that tour, and I hope you enjoy this album as much as we did making it. £1 from every sale on our webstore goes to Women’s Aid, so please grab a copy today.
See you on tour.
Inglorious Tour Dates
Sep 10: Nottingham Rock City
Sep 15: Gloucester Guildhall
Sep 17: Plymouth The Junction
Sep 19: Southampton Engine Rooms
Sep 20: Brighton Chalk
Sep 21: Bristol The Fleece
Sep 22: London Islington Assembly Hall
Sep 24: Milton Keynes The Craufurd Arms
Sep 25: Swansea Sin City
Sep 26: Birmingham The Asylum
Sep 27: Norwich The Adrian Flux Waterfront
Sep 30: Liverpool Jacaranda Records - Phase One
Oct 01: Stoke-on-Trent The Sugarmill
Oct 02: Buckley The Tivoli
Oct 03: Manchester Academy
Oct 05: Newcastle upon Tyne Riverside
Oct 06: Glasgow, Cathouse Nightclub
Oct 07: Bradford Nightrain
Oct 08: Holmfirth Picturedrome