James Christian


James Christian (2006)





House Of Lords frontman James Christian talks in detail about making the new HOL record, working with a new line-up and other such topics as working with Gene Simmons, the upcoming live album and how he nearly fronted Manic Eden!

Thanks to Don Higgins for again transcribing the interview for me!

Ok James…well we should talk about your latest child, that's the World Upside Down record.
Yes, absolutely. I'm glad to be talking to you about it after the beating you gave me on Power & the Myth (laughs). But that's all right, it's all right, you have a job to do.

Yeah, well I'm very glad to be talking to you also and I'm very much looking forward to getting this review on line so I can be forgiven. Because it is a great album and it will be a great review, so you obviously must be very pleased.
I'm totally pleased. I'm relieved and pleased you know. As we were doing the record, I said, 'I know I've got something!' You just kind of feel it as every track comes together and everything you do and at the same time it was exhilarating but it was stressful. Wondering am I really on it or do I think I have it.

Oh look absolutely on it. I gave you a bit of stick for you vocals on the last album but man, you sound like you've got the energy of a 20-year-old on this record.
It felt like I was doing, you know, I picked up from Demons Down. Its one thing I never really got to just say in an interview in quite a while is that I haven't really written anything since Demons Down. You know I put out a solo record and I did Power & the Myth but I really… there was nothing there that I'd written recently. So after Power & the Myth, which I just…you know, look there are elements of that album that are very good. They were a side of House of Lords in Lanny and Ken that really wasn't my side and it was like a baseball player trying to get a hold of a grip on a bat. I just couldn't get a grip on what that was, you know. So it was a difficult task to put my vocal style onto something that was more alternative sounding. It was difficult. I really believed that what House of Lords was, is what Demons Down, Sahara and the first album were.

So that's basically when I sat down and thought about it. I said this is what I need to do. I need to say it's a year after Demons Down, what would you have done? That's how I approached the record.

Would it have been possible to make the World Upside Down record with the Power & the Myth line up?
No. For the simple reason… it's possible, they could play it, there's no doubt about it. Those guys are the best musicians around. It's just that they really, … they've moved on to different… I won't say style of music but they didn't want to be locked into a melodic rock genre. You know, Chuck and especially Lanny. Lanny is into a lot of different exotic music, different instruments and it's a wonderful thing because he's talented at all of those different facets. And melodic rock seems to be one of those things that he's really just…probably the last thing he'd like to do. So really, if your heart is not in it, I don't think the record would have had any of the fire.

Yeah, I did talk to Chuck a bit and I agree. He just didn't want to do this style of music did he?
No and again, capable of course. More than anything. But I wanted to do a House of Lords record. This is where my voice is the most comfortable. It's where I can actually expand. I wanted to write. I didn't want to get material sent to me and say here, sing it. It's a lot better when you're part of the writing team.

Yeah, so two ways you could have gone, and that was just record a new solo album and made it an epic or gone under the House of Lords banner and you chose the House of Lords name…it certainly does the name of the band proud.
You know, here's the way I went into it. Had it been a solo record, first of all, it would have never been a solo record because it's not just me as a writer, there are four writers on that CD. And it took a while to find the members that kind of gelled the same way and understood my vision for what it had to be. So I take only a quarter of the credit because there are just four other guys that were involved in the writing that really made the sound of the band. That's why to me, it sounds like a band.

It does sound like a band. It sounds like a well versed band even though it's only your first record.
And it's because every one of the members is also a House of Lords fan. They really enjoy the other records so doing this for the first time for them; they really had the fire also. And I explained to them what was going on. I mean, you know, Andrew, fourteen years is a long time and a lot of things have changed in fourteen years. But I didn't take things as seriously as I did on World Upside Down. I did because I really noticed that there really is an audience out there who are still listening to melodic music.

I didn't realize how much so. So when Power & the Myth came along and they gave me the tracks to do it, I didn't know how important it was, you know. I didn't know if it was, you know, a hundred people listening to it, a thousand people. I didn't really realize how important it was until I was actually finished with it. And then I realized that this is probably not going to be my strongest effort.

Yep, I understand. It's amazing for me…Power & the Myth took three or four years to come together and this seems to have taken nine months to get together.
Probably, yeah, maybe nine, maybe less than nine months. The recording part of it was pretty effortless. The writing period, you know we wrote more songs than we actually used. Matter of fact, I don't even know which version you've got. Did you get any of the Japanese stuff?

No, no, no. I'd like that though.
Yeah, there's another song on there called 'Gone' which is really like a 'Hot for Teacher' type of song. I mean it's just so… there was a lot of material that was written, it was written with so much passion. I have to use that word because everybody was so into it that we had a lot of music to choose from.

Yeah, I need to hear that song. That sounds great.
Yeah, you'll love it. I'll see if I can get an MP3 for you.

I'd very much appreciate that James. I've got everything from you guys so yeah (laughs). Sounds great.
No problem.

Tough question, tough question for you: Gregg Giuffria…obviously that's going to come up. Did he actually play a note on the album?
Yes, he actually played a note.
But here, let me explain the Gregg Giuffria, the whole Gregg Giuffria story. It's important. Before I started this record. Before I actually went into anything my first call was to Gregg. And I said, 'Gregg, this is what I'm going to do.' Gregg kind of bowed out of the Power & the Myth record and, you know, he had his reasons. But I knew that going back and telling him what my intentions were, that this was something that he was going to be agreeable to. So before I proceeded to even do one note, to do anything, he said yes, count me in. So once I had his blessing and I got his blessing because of one song and that song happened to be 'World Upside Down'.

And he heard it, and he went, 'I love that song'. So he knew the direction that everything was going to go in. Now the problems…, I already knew from the beginning he was not going to be a 100% member. He just couldn't be, not with everything that's going on in his life right now, with the casino... everything else. So he said to me, as much fun as he would have being there 100% of the time, he couldn't do it. So we had to settle for bits and pieces. A little bit here, a little bit there. And that was it. And rather than say, Gregg played a hundred percent of the keyboards we had to put, keyboard productions by Gregg Giuffria. Because really without his input, and his input was valuable, I'm going to say, you know, he knew the direction of every song and he knew the sounds we were going to go for. I wish he could have played more but he played enough. He played an important part.

Oh that's good. That sounds good. I understand that he's a busy guy and I don't think anyone could expect him to make a full time return to being a musician.
You know, he even went so far as to do his own photo shoots in Las Vegas. Now I had the photo, I mean you've got to realize we don't work under half a million dollar budgets like we used to. So when we do a record, he lives in Las Vegas. To fly him here for photo shoots… Gregg took a photo shoot of his own and sent me the photos. Now it's up to Frontiers whether they'll actually use that on the, in the cover or not. I don't know if they're going to, I haven't even seen it yet.

Yeah, me either.
The only problem is, and I know that Serafino mentioned that it might look funny just to see a picture of Gregg and then a photo of all four of us. So it's kind of a real difficult… I hope I answered the question correctly. Is he in the band? He was part of that project, sure. Will he tour with us? Probably not.

No, no, I understand that. That sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Yeah, I mean, it's the most Gregg has done in fourteen years also. Considering everything he's gone through and I think that you can tell by what's going on here that there is an input, just because the sound of the record, the direction of the songs. We always run things by everyone to make sure we're in the same place.

Yep. And a tough decision obviously to move out on your own with a new line up.
It was incredibly stressful. I caught a lot of slack and I take responsibility for it also. I made the decision to do this but there was one thing that I wanted to do and that was a reunion with Chuck, Lanny and Ken. We were offered to do the Firefest and they wanted that House of Lords lineup. Obviously they wanted Gregg there too but that wasn't going to happen. So the four of us together, it was a dream come true to be able to do that again after fourteen years. But I already knew during that time that I was going to do this other project but I didn't say anything about it, probably for selfish reasons. I wanted that show to happen and had I said something that show would not have happened. So Lanny, Chuck and Ken were a little… to say the least, they were a little surprised that I was going to go ahead and do a record like this. But then once… it was an initial knee-jerk reaction on all their parts. Because afterwards, you know, Ken even said, you know James I wouldn't want to do it anyway. I don't know why I was mad. I guess I was mad because you said so. But I wouldn't have done it anyway. So we're cool now. We're OK. We're OK now. But there was a period there that I felt extremely guilty and I guess for selfish reasons, I wanted to do that tour, I wanted to play Firefest, I wanted to play Greece, and I wanted to do it with them. And I wanted to do all the old songs, and relive it, you know. Now I've got a new band, were still going to go out and do the old stuff.

That's cool. Is the live album any further along?
The live album just got sealed. Matter of fact, we're going in to do the mixes in about 2 weeks. We have 3 weeks and the mixes will be done. And I have to tell you, from what I heard of the rough, it's just killer! I'm so happy that it came out as good as it did because we never had a live record and the songs that are on the live CD are all the best ones, 'Pleasure Palace', 'Sahara', 'Can't Find My Way Home', 'Love Don't Lie', 'Edge of Your Life'. You know, to me, it's all my favorite songs. You know, so it's going to be a great little live record.

It sounds pretty hot.
It sounds great! Now mind you, Ken Mary is going to have a mixing session at his FSL which is going to even sound even better than what I heard.

And you said you're going to play some songs with the new band. Obviously you'd like to get out there and play…support the new record.
Yeah, we're playing… we just got confirmed for a festival called Lorca. Are you familiar with that?

Oh yeah I am, yes.
Whitesnake, Twisted Sister, we're going to be there. That's June 17. And then, we also confirmed United Forces of Rock which is something in Germany.

Yes, Frontiers, great.
Ludwigsburg Germany.

And in between there, we're going to do quite a few dates and also do some dates here in the states.

Not too many people do that so that's great.
Yeah, not too many people do what?

The live US dates.
Well the thing is, we got asked to do a bunch of dates, now I don't know if the … is perfect yet but they're working on it with Vixen. The management from Vixen called us up and thought that…

Yeah, now I don't know how that's going to work out but he's got like 30 dates. And because House of Lords does have drawing power still here in the states he thought Vixen and us would make a good package.

Wow, that's cool!
What do you think of that?

That's cool.
Does Vixen do a lot of work in Europe?

They started to, they started to. Yes, I think the reawaken to the potential as well.
OK, but they're doing a lot of dates here in the states.

Yeah, OK, that's good.
So we'll see how that works out. But there's been a lot of offers for us for Europe. Really amazed. We offered 3 days in Spain besides Lorca festival and another promoter from, I can't remember the name of his promotion company but he's from Germany and wanted to do some more dates there. So whatever is out there we're going to take. And the band is so eager to go out there and do it so… I'm up for it myself.

Fantastic! And the rest of the guys are all local with you aren't they? They're all Florida guys?
No, they're all Connecticut and New York.

Oh, OK.
Jimi and B.J. are from Connecticut. Which is my… they're from my neck of the woods and they played the same club circuit as I did when I was in Eyes and Jimi was always considered the premier guitar god, you know. He was in a band called Joint Forces. Just one of those bands that they came to see the guitar player. And Jeff Kent who is the keyboard player is from a group, now I'm not sure if you're familiar with, you know so much music that you've probably heard the Brecker Brothers, they're horn players.



I don't know… oh yeah, sure.
Yeah, the Brecker Brothers played on Steely Dan's record. Well Jeff was in a band with them called Dreams.
And they were awesome. If you ever get the chance to pick up a Dreams record... Billy Cobham was the drummer. They had…, it was the most incredible, incredible horn band I'd ever heard. And Jeff was a part of that group. Jeff is an incredible lyricist and songwriter. A lot of the lyrics that came from this record, they came from his lips and his ideas. Great Lyricist. So that's one of the things I loved about this new record also is that the content of the lyric was important, I thought, you know. I wasn't just the same old, same old.

It very much sounds like House of Lords. Very naturally.
Well again, yeah.

Every bit about it. They're not quite as close to you, they're not in your backyard as such but you worked around that with recording.
Absolutely, I went up there. I spent a lot of time in New York. Jeff has a studio in New York City. There's a studio in Connecticut, we did some work there. And back here at home I did my vocals, and thank goodness for my wife who really chipped in, you know. Because I said listen, Robin, on this record I'm going to be doing a lot of background vocals. I had ideas that I wanted to do and I called my buddy Terry Brock and we said look, come down here, because he was in Atlanta and once in a while he comes down to Florida. But for this occasion I said I need you down here for 2 or 3 days. Let's bang out a whole bunch of vocals. So between Robin, Terry and myself we went crazy on the vocals.

I was actually going to compliment you on the backing vocals because they are extreme.
Well you know, I thought so too. And I was wondering if we were pushing the limits but I said, I don't care, it works. It's what it needs. Everything had its place.

You can never have too much backing vocals (laughs).
As long as they're good and they actually do compliment the actual song, I agree with you a hundred percent.

Terry Brock, what a machine he is.
Oh, he's incredible. He is incredible.

I love that guy.
Between him and Robin, together they created a background vocal, you know, it's just amazing. I was sitting there going, woah!

Actually I can hear Robin shining through on a few of spots.
Yeah, she cuts through like a razor.

Yeah, it was a nice accompaniment to have that female vocal there wasn't it?
It was wonderful to have that available to me, you know. Terry, he really helped out quite a bit.

That's fantastic! And look, I love some of the songs on there.
Do you have a favorite?

It varies between the mood. There's a couple of moods. You've got the rock and you've got the sort-of the more melodic. 'Million Miles', 'Ghost of Time' and 'S.O.S.' consistently you know?
Yeah, I hear you.

I love those tracks.
They're great songs. You know, it's a funny thing, you know, depending on… a lot of the people I played it for in the states, their favorite is 'I'm Free'.

In the states… there's a radio station in Colorado. A classic rock radio station, they're like, drooling over that song and then you go to the other end, the more European market, they love 'S.O.S', they love 'All the Way to Heaven'. Everyone seems to like 'These are the Times'. So, and Robin's favorite is 'World Upside Down'. But yet she's a woman.

That's a nice way to end the album actually. A reflective kind of …
I thought so to, it's just, you know, it kind of fit the whole… what was going on. Everything did turn upside down in our world, even though the lyric in the song really has a sort of different meaning. It's a more of an emotional love song. The title has a little bit more meaning for all of us.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely! Just back to your lead vocals again, like I said they're just so passionate. You used the work passion so I'll use that. Very passionate on this album, compared to the last, is it purely the material, was it just easier to sort of be inspired by?
It's the material number one. You know, I made this comparison once and I don't know if anybody ever really got it but for me as a singer if I don't really feel anything it's just kind of hard to kind of make it happen if it's not there in the song. I had that problem with a project called Manic Eden many years ago. I just could not get my teeth into it, and it's because I didn't believe that much into what I was doing. But I had the good sense to just say, this is not happening. And I didn't get involved in that project.

Wow, I never knew you were even up for that, because I've got that album right here.
When that project came together, it was for a Randy Rhoads tribute. And the guys in Whitesnake, at that time David Coverdale was doing Coverdale-Page so Adrian, Tommy Aldridge and Rudy decided they wanted to do something for the Randy Rhoads tribute so I went up there and did vocals for them. They did a couple of Black Sabbath songs, I did a Whitesnake song, and a Vandenburg song called something Hearts, I can't remember.

'Burning Heart'.
'Burning Heart', that's the song.

Sorry, I have to butt in, what Whitesnake song did you do?
I don't even remember.

Man, I'd love to hear that. I'd love to hear you do…
It was a long time ago. It was a long time ago so we did this at the Palace Theater and from there someone had heard the lineup and they said 'this makes a great band'. We should do a band with this lineup. Hence JVC came in and, I think it was JVC.

Yeah, it was Victor, yeah.
Yeah, that actually did offer them a deal so here we are. And I didn't really know what the material was going to be but I said listen, if this is Whitesnake then the lineup and the songs have got to be great. The songs were already written. Adrian said he had all of the material so the deal was finalized before we even played a note and then I got the material. And I was a little shocked by it. This is not what I expected. I expected, you know, 'Still of the Night', 'Is This Love?'. That's what I expected. I didn't get that. I got these other songs. So that's when things started to go a little rocky because it really was Adrian Vandenburg's baby. These were all his songs and I wanted to bring Mark Baker in and myself to write some songs for it and really contribute that way. And no one really wanted that. Well, I shouldn't say no one, but Adrian certainly didn't want it. And I started losing interest like you would not believe because I could not get into the lyric. It's a Dutchman writing an American lyric and the translation was just so straight. So you know, it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Did you ever hear the end result, their album?
I never heard the finished product. I never even knew what got onto it. All I knew was, I wasn't into it.

I must send you a copy.
What do you think of it?

You know what, I absolutely love the sound of it but it just doesn't quite work.
Oh, OK. Well maybe, you were on the same page there. Yeah, the guy who was producing it, is actually a very good producer.

Yeah, exactly, it was a great team but the songs were just a little bit too much in one direction - bluesy.
Something just didn't connect. But back then I had… I knew that it didn't work, I should have used my good sense with Power & the Myth to realize that maybe we should hold off until it was a little stronger, material wise. But Lanny and Chuck really felt very strongly about the material. They stand by it. And probably rightly so because they played their asses off on the record.

Oh yeah.
It was a better showcase for them than it was for me.

Oh, there are some amazing moments on there. Some amazing playing, just a couple of elements missing.
If the songs were in my key, you know.

With the House of Lords name on it you kind of, … there were expectations but… You know, that album has it's fans and like I said, I still think there are some great moments on it.
Yeah, it just wasn't the best moments for me. But again, look, we can't all do things that are right on target.

How about the early days with the band and working with Gene Simmons? That must have been interesting.
That was great. The early days were for me my best memories because really I was coming off a time when I really had nothing but playing in a night club band, or playing in a band called LA Rocks. We had a few local moments in Los Angeles but nothing to write home about. And then all of the sudden I go from that to being in a studio with Gene Simmons in the booth while I'm singing. It was just an amazing transition. It stays with me forever. Knowing someone as big and influential as Gene was and to know that he was a part and a reason for me having any kind of success. You appreciate those times.

A lot of people sort of in hindsight step back and say, Gene was kind of a pain or whatever but you sound like you had a good experience with him.
I never found Gene to be a pain. Gene was a man who always knew exactly what he was looking for. Whether it was right or wrong is a whole different story. He always followed a path and said, this is the way it should be and he took responsibility if it didn't work. He also took responsibility if it did work. I never had a problem. I only had good moments with him.

That's cool. That's very cool.
And you, at the time back in L.A. you were sort of the go to man for a lot of songwriting demos weren't you? You and Mark Free. You and Mark Free seemed to have the market cornered.

What happened, actually Mark Free had it cornered. He was doing all of it. And then I guess maybe he got too busy and I got to do a few. And then after I got to do a few, my name got around. And so I got to do more. There was a time I was doing more session work than I knew what to do with. There are songs that pop out now that I go, oh my God, I didn't even know I did that song. It's just amazing how many things I did.

Yeah, there's so many different demos and different quality versions of those demos floating around that have leaked from different sources.
The demos that are hanging around, there are people that have asked me, we'd like to do a record of those demos. And if you'd have asked me three years ago, four years ago I'd say sure. Now I'd say no. Because if I'm going to do anything for myself, or for the band, it's going to have to be new material that I'm happy putting my stamp on.

Yes. Yes.
I learned my lesson with the last record. I want it all to be great.

Yes, ok. That leads me to my next question. You're also contracted for a solo album.



How do you go and make that record and make it sound different to World Upside Down? What do you do?
To me that's easy. Because the distinction between House of Lords, the band. It will never sound like a band. That stuff you hear on World Upside Down are three people in a room actually playing at the same time. And that's a good thing. I think it's a good thing because, if you notice, I mean I notice it, there are a couple of spots where there's actual tempo fluctuations. And you know and I could have, we could have redid it and I said, no, don't redo it. That's real. You guys, you did that, whatever it is, I loved it. And it's also a harder edge CD. On the James Christian solo record there's always a lighter side to me that I get to capture on the solo records. A duet with Robin. There's a song, 'When the Last Teardrop Falls', it was written by Amy Sky and her husband and they did a duet with it but only released in Canada. It is an incredible duet and it's the first one that, you know, a ballad type song that me and Robin are going to do. And then there's a whole bunch of other material that just would not be right for House of Lords.

Yeah OK, good.
So it's really more of a … I guess I would say it's more of a commercial side.

Yep, well that's good. When do you hope to have that out?
I haven't even broke tape on that yet.

Gotcha, early next year or something?
Yeah, I would imagine early next year because, I mean I've got maybe 6 songs written. But I haven't laid it down yet.

Cool, no that's good.
Robin is the next project.

Yeah, Robin's in… another solo album for Robin?
We're working on that right now. She's got a DVD out. You were kind enough to mention it a few times. It is so terrific, you know, we're still having, not problems but the distributions, there's a couple of things that have to be tied up with universal who owns the licensing.

And we're trying to work that out right now but she's able to offer a few on her website before we do major distribution but it really is a terrific DVD.

Excellent! I'll look forward to seeing that.
I'm going to get you a copy so that you can, even if you want to review it. I think you'd find it really interesting. A lot of parts of her career are on there.

Thanks James, I'd like that. Some of her records came out down here and I've sourced the others but I don't think any music videos or any footage like that ever sort of made the shores. So that would be great. And what are you going to do with that solo record? Any direction? Just follow on what's naturally…
For Robin?

I want to produce the record for her. And I've always told her there's one record that she has called Trouble or Nothing and I told her to this day there are some moments on there that actually gave me chills and made my hair stand up. And it's because of her vocal. And I said, Robin, Desmond Child did those productions and he got it out of her. He really did so I said, we've got to do a Trouble or Nothing record the same way I did Demons Down and … just said, where would I be a year later after that album. You have to do the same thing with Trouble or Nothing.

So that's where she's going to go. So I'm really excited to do that project.

Great! And who's going to work with you on that as far as musicians?
There's a couple of people in New York City that I want to use. There's a drummer here in Florida who is just an excellent drummer. We're going to try out a few things to see what works best. We're not going to commit to any musicians until we find the right, you know, the right combination.

Certainly no disrespect to Fabrizio Grossi but I'm glad you're going in a different direction.
Yeah, look, Fabrizio has too much on his plate. Doing so many records and you know, I've got to tell you Andrew, after as many years as I've been doing records I know what I want to sound like. It's just, you know, I really do. The guy that mixed our record, Dennis Ward…

Yes, Amazing!
We sent him one track. And I said, let's try it out and see what it sounds like. He brings me the track, he sends the track back and I'm like, perfect! He nailed it! The guy is really, in my opinion one of the best mixers I've ever heard.

Yeah, he's got an amazing touch… he just keeps getting better and better.
It's unreal. He's extremely talented when it comes to knowing the sonics of a record, placement. Where everything has it's place and you hear everything that was recorded. I find that to be amazing. And also a very easy guy to work with. Where he has no ego. If I said, well I'd like a little bit more this or a little bit more that, we went back and forth for a good month and a half while we were doing the mixing. He never once, you know, just whatever he needed to be done, he did.

Yep, he did a great job and you did a find job getting the production and you know…
Thank you.

He can only mix something that sounds pretty good to start with so I think credit to you.
I gave him the pieces, yeah, you know, I don't know if you notice, there's not a lot, I mean if you really broke down the pieces to the songs. There's not a lot of parts.

No, no, it's very simple but it sounds huge.
Right. And that's… the reason is because less is more in a lot of instances. The more you put down on a piece of tape, your ears can only grasp so many things. And Dennis was so good at saying, OK, those guitars right in your face and they sounded so beautiful. I was so happy with him mixing.

Yeah, great stuff. Look, everything sounds great James. Anything you'd like to add?
Well, I just, I'm very happy that we're actually talking about this record because I don't remember us really talking about the last record or getting an interview like this. Did we get one? Did we do an interview?

We didn't, no. Frontiers and I didn't talk for about 3 months after I reviewed that (laughs).
Oh really!

They were not happy. But you know what? I still feel the same way about that record and the new one is back to the old sound for a reason right?
You know, look, and I remember saying it to you, if I do something and you like it you praise me. And if I do something you don't like, kind of let me know that too. I'm happy when it's right. I know when it's wrong too.

I hate doing negative reviews and to your credit and Chuck as well, you know, I find out who my real friends are after I do a review like that (laughs).
Yeah, well if you reviewed everything highly then how can anyone really know what to buy and what not to buy?

Well that's my point. Some folks don't like to say anything negative but you know what? Not everything's a classic.
Yes, right.

This record is however!
Listen, in my eyes, in my heart, and I've said this to Robin after I listened World Upside Down, I said Robin, if I don't another record for the rest of my life, I can walk away and go, this was one of my best. I feel it's a classic. Whether anyone else feels it's a classic will be up to them. But when I listen to it, I go, I can listen to that again and again and again.

I have no doubt you're going to make a lot of people happy with this record.
I hope so. And I guess that's what my message would be, pick up the record and let me know if you, you know, shoot me an email at jameschristianmusic.com which is my website and that's what, I'm actually, it's the home for House of Lords also. Jameschristianmusic.com and I've got everything that's going on with House of Lords also on that website.

Yep, terrific, OK. I'll give that a plug along with the interview James.
Well I can't wait to see what you have to say. I'll be one of the people that goes, takes a hit there every day to see what you have to say.

Fantastic! I'd appreciate that and I'm sure you'll like what you read in this case.
Oh great , that makes me feel good.

Great stuff! Let's talk again and keep in touch.

Thanks for your time mate.
Thank you Andrew.




James Christian (1999(


Hey James it's Andrew from Australia. Have you got a few minutes to talk?

Hey Andrew. Yeah of course.

I knew it would be you calling, You said around this time.

Great thank you. I finally got it together to call you! So how's things?
Great, couldn't be better.

Good. Now I have a copy of Rude Awakening sitting here, the 5th anniversary release.
Can you believe it's been 5 years?

No I can't, that's a long time. Time is just flying by, moving too quick for me.

I can remember when I brought this!
Yeah, I can remember doing the House of Lords record and that was in '89

Still some of my favourite albums I must say. So what are you doing right now?
Well right now I a have a business in Florida and I'm working also with my wife Robin Beck. She's got a new record coming out in 4 weeks or so. Well the promotions starts in about 4 days.

I haven't heard about it yet?
Well you will soon. I did some work, some background vocals for her. Basically I have a music company that I'm working with, me and my friend Mark Baker.

Your old songwriting buddy?
Yeah. We have a music company that we put together and we have had this for about 3 - 4 years. He works in California and I'm here in Florida. We basically do our music via computer, transferring files. I'll do some vocals and he'll do some melodies. It's working out pretty well

You have been pretty low key since you disappeared out of LA?
I have heard several rumors that you were selling computers down there in Florida?
Selling Computers? No! None of the above.

So you are still writing songs for Mark Baker, that's great. I love your stuff that you did together on the solo record.
On Rude Awakening? Yeah, we actually wrote most of the House of Lord's record too, that was Demon's Down.

My favourite House Of Lords record actually…
Yeah mine too. It was a change the market had taken a change for alternative right about when that came out. The record didn't stand a chance at that point.

You know I listen to that album and I can't pick a hit single because the whole album just flows so well.
Well we just wrote. We didn't try to gear anything towards being a single, we just wanted the best material.
One of those songs had a chance in Canada and ended up being Number 1 for 17 weeks in Montreal for a female artist called Julie Masse. We produced that and gave her 'What's Forever For'. She recorded that song and it went to NO. 1 for 17 weeks.

Oh ok, that's Corey Hart's wife?
Yeah. We won a Judo Award; it's like a Grammy down here for that song. So you know the material definitely stood up but the market changed so drastically in the US that it became very not in demand.

Well I can tell you there are many fans going through my site after this sort of music.
I just went on there the other day. Are you getting a lot of hits there?

1700 odd a day.
That's great. Your fan base will only get bigger. There are a lot of people who like this kind of music and can't get it via MTV or radio these days. What's happening in Australia these days musically?

Pretty bad. We follow the states about 6 months behind
6 months behind? That's not too bad. Germany is about 5 years behind.

There is no rock press or TV support here in Australia.
There is a video channel on Pay-TV but it's basically rap/dance.

It's a strange market right now. Music doesn't know which way to turn. Creativity has dried up. There are not enough great songwriters like there were 10 years ago. With the exception of a few prolific songwriters out there, there is not enough quality bands. I don't think in 10 years people will look back and say what a great band anymore. They seem to be gone in a year

In fact I've talked to few people like yourself, great songwriters recently and they are getting asked to write songs for the new hip artists because they can't write for themselves.
Well they have to. There was a time there for about 6 years where the bands refused any outside material form anyone. That's why you had a period of 5 - 6 years where the songs were so bad. You were thinking to yourself how could this actually get releases. It was the bands refusing to take the material. Now, because record sales were so down record companies are now demanding their artists have a couple of hit songs.

So where are Mark and your songs going at the moment?
We've done some things for some movies. I've done a thing for a full-length movie. There was some talk of me doing a new solo record. Right now I would rather concentrate on Robin's career. I mean she had a really huge career in Europe. She had a million selling record with 'First Time First Love'. Right now she has a new record contract with BMG and she is really pushing that.

What country is her record coming out in?
It's coming out in all of Europe. They are talking about a release in the states cause the new song is so good. It's a great song. It was written by Shelly Pikin who wrote 'Bitch' for Meredith Brooks.
Desmond Child wrote the flipside.

Have you sung on anything lately?
I've sung on Robin's record. I really haven't done that much as far as background vocals on people's records.
You know once I moved out here I kind of moved out of the loop from LA. Had I been in LA I'm sure I would have been involved in a lot sessions with different people. I did quite a lot of that at one time.
It's not that I don't enjoy doing it I've gone to a different place in my life.

You cut a lot of songs for The Randells…
The first thing I did when I moved out to LA was to work with Robin Randell and Judithe.
Very nice people. Great lady

I was talking to her cause and she needed a singer. She said tell James I need him.
Great people. I wish them a lot of luck. I also wish you a lot of luck with that site.

It's picking up pace. Thanks.
Have you had any offers from people who want you to make an album for us?
Yeah. I had Greg Guiffria that wanted to know if we wanted to put a record together.
It's something I don't think the time is right yet in the melodic scene.
I just don't think it's going to sell any records at the moment. The record scene in the US is alternative, rap and very angry music. I mean it would be fun to do a House of Lords record but who would we play it for? If that's 3 years down the line then we'll wait.

I talked to Chuck Wright a bit.
What's Chuck doing?

He's playing away in LA. Doing a couple of records for people. The last thing he is playing with Lenny Cordola. Something with Matt Sorum Gun's and Roses. He said to say hi and get in touch. He also plays on the new Mitch Perry project.
We very close .Did he get married?

He didn't say…
We kinda lost touch when I left LA and I got married and me and Robin had a baby daughter and she is like the light of my life. Everything revolves around her. It changes your perspective on so many things. Most importantly I look at her growing up. She'll have the benefit of our experience and hopefully won't make as many mistakes in career moves. You should hear her sing. She actually does some la la's in the song 'Shut Up And Kiss Me'.

Is Robins' record traditional rock?
She has a little more of an edge than her other material. I think it's the best stuff she's done in years. She caught a vibe; you know which is really hard to do these days, to find a little niche. It just sounds right for today's market. Whether you like melodic rock or alternative it goes both ways. It falls right in the middle.
I'd like to send you one if you can't get hold of it.

I'd like to feature it.
I may be able to set up something it you would like to speak with her.

So do we have wait a while longer for another James Christian record?
I'd say a year. We have maybe 10 or 15 songs almost in the can.

Well things sound like they are going well.
Yeah. Well I wish there was more music in my life but I don't want to beat a dead horse. I mean in the House of Lords it was big, I had a struggle before that, playing in small clubs. I got spoiled playing the big stage. If I can't do that I don't want to do anything at this point.

I don't blame you
Do you know what Greg Giuffria is doing?

He got involved in some kind of casino stuff in Las Vegas. I think it has something to do with slot machines. I think he's doing pretty well with it. I just don't know what it is.

Last time I spoke with Chuck he was having a laugh about the fact the last time he saw Greg he was playing golf with Joe Pesci!
Well that doesn't surprise me; he was the kind of person that liked to hang around with celebrities.

James I appreciate your time
No problem, I think it's time for you to go to bed now isn't it?

Yeah, bye



James Christian (1997)


James Christian has been going at it for over twenty years now, but it's been in the last several years that he has proved himself one of the best hard rock vocalists in the business, with three classic House Of Lords albums and a debut solo album from a couple of years ago.
James also sang with Eyes and LA Roxx back in the early eighties, and has just had a compilation album from his first band with other AOR singer/songwriter Jeff Cannata, Jasper Wrath, released to the unsuspecting public. But where is that House Of Lords Re-union?


So James, last thing I heard fom you, was the House Of Lords re-union. What happened to that?
There still might be a House Of Lords re-union soon. We have already written three songs. It all comes down to timing. The timing must be right.

Okay. I had heard on the rumour mill, that was you had submitted tracks to the label, and they didn't like it.
No it is not true. We never submitted any new tracks to the label at the time. But when we do, it will be on our terms. Why elso do a record after so many years, if you don't do it for yourself.

Right, so it's still possible then?
Yeah, as I said before, we have three tracks recorded, and depending what everyone else is doing, a re-union could definately happen.

I noticed that missing from the re-union was one Mr Guiffria! It is no secret that he is an interesting guy to work with!
Yes, Greg Guiffria was quite a guy, but time heals all wounds.

So what are the other guys up to now?
Ken Mary and Lanny Cordola are both producing, and Chuck Wright is writing songs and producing.

And I heard Greg is writing songs for pin ball machines in Las Vegas......
I don't know about Greg Guiffria!

What else have you been doing James?
I'm still writing and recording. Working on putting together another record. So many wonderful changes in my life are happening. My girlfriend, Robin Beck, is having a baby, and low and behold I'm the Dad, and I am very excited.

Tell us something about the Jasper Wrath compilation. (Featuring yourself, and other AOR notable Jeff Cannata).
I heard that you and Jeff were writing together. The Jasper Wrath record is something I did 20 years ago, My God!! Jeff Cannata is a fabulous producer and good friend, but we are not working on anything at the moment.

Do you know when any of these projects might see the light of day?
I really don't know when any of these projects will come out. Time will tell.

Looking back on 'Rude Awakening', are you happy with the result?
I was very happy with Rude Awakening. I got a chance to wear all the hats, and be responsible for it all.

You had some great songs on the album, it's one of my favourites.
I'm very proud of Rude Awakening , I agree, I thought there were some great songs on that CD.

Both House Of Lords and your solo record have that big, even huge, stadium rock sound. Does that take some doing, or does it come naturally?
It's very natural, that's the school of music I came from - 'Big And Natural'!

How about the decision to play a lot of the instruments yourself?
I decided on this project to play all the instruments because a lot of what is on the CD was created as it went down. I liked what I was hearing at the time.

Demons Down is one of my all time favourite CDS. What is your favourite House Of Lords record, and song?
Demons Down was one of my favorite Cds also. But Can't Find My Way Home was my all time favourite song to sing.

Before all this you were in a couple of very notable L.A hard rock bands in L.A Roxx and Eyes. Any comments on being in either?
I have no real thoughts on LA Roxx or Eyes, one must just look at those times as 'Paying Your Dues'.

Something I have noticed in your songwriting, tracks like 'Oh Father', 'Demons Down' and 'The Warden' have a distinct similarity in their theme. Is there an ongoing battle happening there?
The Battle is an ongoing struggle to understand life. Do we ever really understand why things turn out the way they do? So many questions, so little answers.

So is songwriting a good way off letting out these emotions?
Songwriting is great for the soul, even if you suck at it! When you put something down on paper or on tape, it lives forever. I like that.

Are you involved in anything else at the moment James?
I'm involved with working with my girlfriend Robin Beck, and doing some tracks with her. I also love working with computers and I'm getting ready to be a dad. 'Lord Have Mercy'!!

Do you at all see Marcie (Mark) Free these days?
I don't talk to Mark Free. The last time I saw him was at a party given by Judith And Robin Randall.

Okay James, thanks for the time, and good luck with becoming a Dad!!
Okay Andrew, thanks for the interest in what I'm doing.



James Christian (2004)

James Christian: Meeting the man again....

James Christian talks about his new solo album, a follow-up to the highly regarded Rude Awakening CD.

James, Meet The Man comes several years since your last solo album. Earlier in the year the House Of Lords album was released - what else have you been up to in the time since Rude Awakening was released?
I have been very busy during that time. I have gotten married and I am now a father of a beautiful little girl. I have also been producing music for other artists. So 10 years goes by rather quickly.

Meet The Man features songs from your vast catalogue of music - a choice was obviously made to record tracks demoed in the past - where any newly written tracks included, or are they all from the catalogue?
All are from the past catalogue. There is so much great material that was never recorded and really deserves it place on a CD.

Why look back in the first place? What was the criteria for a song making the final cut for this release?
The reason why we look by is to take a glimpse into one of the greatest eras of music ever. Why listen to old Led Zeppelin, or Beatles. We see bands re-recording old songs all the time. That really shows an appreciation for the music I grew up with.

Were there any songs that didn't make the cut you were hopeful of including?
No I will leave that for another CD. There is much more material that I have done in my career that I would like to see on CD.
Does this mean I will never write anything new? No. I have plenty of ideas for new material, but I still have a desire to get the material from my past out there. It's so important to me.

What time frame do these songs come from?
A span of 12 -15 years. That seems like a lifetime but it also feels like yesterday.

Can you offer a comment on each of the songs:
After The Love Has Gone - This was done a Bruce Gowdy's studio with Chuck Wright and myself. We did this song so fast that I was not sure if was even a good song. I realized after I heard it years later that it was actually very good.

Know You In The Dark - I did this song for Judith Randall as a demo at Curt Cuomo's studio. I hated the demo as I thought the recording was very poor. I thought the song was good and that is why I recorded it.

Surrender Your Love - This was the last song I chose. Someone gave me a CD about three years ago when I was producing a Shanghai CD. I did not listen to it till just this year. There were about five very good songs on the CD. I felt this was the best of all of them. The writer was Rick De Paoli.

Meet The Man - One of my favorite songs. This is a track that my wife Robin Beck found for me. I glad she found it.

End Of Time - I recorded this song originally for an artist named "Pata". He is very famous in Japan. I wanted to re-record it for my CD as I really loved the song.

Love Looked Into My Life - Very nice song by both Judithe & Robin Randall. A thoughtful ballad.

Leave Well Enough Alone - Another one of my favorites. This song was written is a females key and although I could have brought it down a few keys, I wanted to keep the energy of the song so I left it up there.

Strong Enough - Written by Stan Bush. Great songwriter. One of my favorite songs I did with HOL was "Love Don't Lie"

You Should Be Blue (All I Could Feel Was Blue) - I thought this was an interesting track when I did the demo. I always thought that with a heavier band track it would pop out.

Circle of Tears - Another Judithe & Robin Randall song. Those girls could really write. I am fortunate to have had their input.

Hold Back The Night - This song should have made it onto an HOL CD but never did. It was written by Lanny Cordola, Chuck Wright and myself. I think it was one of our better songs. What a mood it has.

The House Of Lords album was recorded in LA, while your vocals were recorded in your studio in Florida. The same again with Meet The Man. This time with producer Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi involved. What did you think of the idea for Fabrizio to handle the music, leaving you only to worry about the vocals?
I never worry about vocals. I know I will be able to accomplish what I set out to do. There is no difference by me being in their studio or mine. I don't punch-in a lot so once the record button is pressed, I sing the song through. Then after I have three or four tracks, I put together the best performance. I can do that myself.

How do change your thinking and the way you work to create an atmosphere that will reflect the energy of the songs when only working on half the project yourself?
Well even if I was with the whole band in the same place, I would still be in the vocal booth by myself. I have a great imagination. Getting inspiration is so easy to do when I am singing.

Do you put some degree of faith in the team at the other end to do justice to your performance?
I have faith in talented people. I listen to their work first and then let them do their job. When I am asked to do a session for someone. I appreciate the same courtesy.

Dare I say it - could one afford to do such a thing based on your life outside music and the costs of gathering everyone in one place?
The costs are insignificant when you realize that most musicians have their own studios. We have a luxury that was not available 15 years ago.
Then we were ripped off royally at 100 dollars per hour in most studios. Now with technology the way it is, we have do our tracks in the comfort of our homes. You still have to have some talent mind you.

What is the difference in the scene now, compared to when House Of Lords broke through and also when your first solo album came out?
When House Of Lords broke it was a wonderful time for music. Fans were coming out to concerts in record numbers. Great music was being recorded and most musicians generally had some real talent. Things today have gotten much better but there was a period from 1990 to maybe 1999 where some of the garage bands should have never made it out of the garage. Now we are seeing much more quality in the musicianship, vocals and songwriting.

I know you have a wealth of unreleased tracks still sitting in the vaults - is there any chance more might see the light of day - even as possible Internet released tracks for willing fans to purchase?
Yes I have many unreleased tracks that go all the way back to Jasper Wrath.

What's next on the James Christian calendar? Another solo album in time?
Right now I am working with Robin Beck for her new Frontiers CD. It will be a great one.

Yeah, I had heard Robin may record a rock album next! I do like her Wonderland release!
I happen to love the Wonderland CD. Again, I am a believer in strong songs. Every song on her CD is quality songwriting. My only regret is that the record company was actually living in "Wonderland" I can hear them now. I "Wonder" how we should promote this record? They never did.

Any possibility of working with House Of Lords again?
I love the HOL boys and would work with them anytime.

You work long and hard in the studio - do you miss performing live at all? Is there any chance that might still happen again one day?
I love performing fist and foremost. If the opportunity arises, i will be there.

Anything you would like to add?
Yes Andrew, I would like to say that although you were very hard on my performance on the last HOL CD, I still think that people like yourself are responsible for keeping MelodicRock music alive and kicking. I do appreciate it.

Thanks for not kicking my ass James!


Subscribe to James Christian