Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Joakim Stabel at Triada Communication for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Triada Communication for the promotional pictures of James Christian
Promo pictures taken by: Richard Jones
Legendary James Christian (House Of Lords) has finally released a solo album. It took him nine years to finish LAY IT ALL ON ME and is long waited for by the fans and myself. Since I think Mr Christian is an amazing artist I got in touch with him in order to get to know a little about the new album and the story behind it. Read and enjoy what the master of AOR music has to say.
Hi James, its an honor to be interviewing you. Thanks for taking the time making this interview with metal-rules.com and me. Are you ready to begin?
Your brand new solo album is called LAY IT ALL ON ME. How long did it take to record the album and how long did you worked on the album?
I wrote album in three months and recorded in another 3 months, so six months total.
I know you have written the album together with many well known names like Tommy Denander, Jimi Bell and Jeff Kent amongst others. How was it to work with them?
They are all fantastic to work with. I have a really great team to work with. It makes writing a pleasure when you enjoy the company of the people you write with.
What are the lyrics about, and where do you find inspiration to write lyrics?
On this cd the lyrics are very personal. I have had a really rough year in terms of health, so I wanted to make sure I made a strong statement in the lyrics i sang.
Were there many songs that didn’t end up on the final edition of LAY IT ALL ON ME?
One 1 or 2. If I feel a song is not working, I usually know that inside the writing process, then I just stop right there and move on.
Your previous solo album MEET THE MAN came 2004 when did you feel it was time for a new solo album?
Well, I never intended to so it now. My record company requested that I record a solo cd. I am glad that I did.
Where does the title LAY IT ALL ON ME come from? Does the title mean anything special to you?
Yes, When I found out about my illness, I really just spoke to the sky hoping someone was listening. I then said, OK, you have given me Cancer, what else could you possibly do. I remember say, Whatever you wanna do, just do It”Lay It All On Me” The idea came from that experience, but the final lyric took a different turn, so that I could make it more universal. It is still personal.
Who did the cover art work and are you happy with it?
Richard Jones. He runs the website for both Robin Beck and I. He is amazing. I love his work, very creative.
How come you have taken on playing guitar, bass, singing both vocals, as well as backing vocals and produce the album?
Because I am a bit of a control freak. This time around I had a vision and I wanted it done just the way I heard it in my head. I don’t often get the chance to be self-Indulgent.
How did you choose studio musicians to the album?
Was it an easy choice? Very easy, when I hear a player I like I usually connect with them and make sure I can contact them. Then when the time is right I call them.
Your wife, the legendary Robin Beck, sings backing vocals on the album. How is it to work with your wife? And how does she think it’s to work with you?
We have been working together for many years I can’t imagine not working with Robin. We get along very well in the studio. Yes we have our moments of disagreement, but that is a normal creative process. I think she is one of the greatest female singers of our generation.
Are there any plans on shooting a video to any of the songs on the album?
Yes for “Day In The Sun”.
Do you think old fans of James Christian are going to like LAY IT ALL ON ME?
I hope so. Sometimes, you just have to write from the heart and not worry if the fans will accept it. In the early days, I wrote stuff that I loved, I was never thinking if the fans would love it because I HAD no fans, no-one knew I existed. So now that they know who I am and know my music maybe it is better. If I like it first then like before they will love it to.
Does your new solo album have any similarities with the older ones?
Just my voice everything else is pretty much different sounds are different production and musicians.
Have you read any reviews in the media, what does the critics think about LAY IT ALL ON ME?
And do you care about what press have to say about your work? Yes I read reviews because I am always curious what people think. I would say 95% positive. Do I care what a reviewer thinks? Only when I know that the reviewer has a knowledge of music. To be honest, there are so many people with a keyboard and internet connection and NO qualifications to review a cd. It really bothers me when a reviewer starts talking about what the artist is trying to say. Especially when it is so far from the actual point. It sometimes gets comical. But when you get the guy who knows his stuff then I listen and Learn.
What do you think is the biggest differences with recording solo albums and record with House Of Lords?
Doing the CD on your own makes you responsible for every moment. I like the responsibility.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Yes very much. Are you?
You sing like a god and have managed to keep your voice intact for many years. What are the secrets?
No secrets, I have been singing all my life. I have learned a lot of things about voice preservation. I don’t smoke now for over 17 years and I drink only Red Wine. I live healthy and love my family. I sing in praise of everything I have to look forward to in life.
I’ve read the following lines in your bio – LAY IT ALL ON ME is a strong personal statement from James Christian – do you agree with that?
In what way is it a statement? Yes I do. I am saying, that whatever comes my way in life good or bad. I can take it. “Lay It All On Me”
Studio and production
You recorded the album in your own studio in Florida, was all of the album recorded there? What’s the name of the studio?
The studio is called “Voice Print Studios” and yes the majority was recorded here in West Palm Beach Florida.
Did the members recorded their parts together in the same studio or in separate ones?
The guitars were recorded somewhere else. In Spain, Sweden and New York
You also produced the album, how is it to produce your own work? Is it hard to stay objective?
No, Because I have to like it first so If passes me then I am pretty sure the fans will like it as well. But everyone is a producer in their own mind. always hear I would like to hear more guitar more bass more vocal. It is a matter of preference. To me if you have a great song then everything else will fall into place.
What do you think is your strongest feature as producer?
I can be objective to what I do personally. I know when I suck. As a Singer if I don’t believe every moment that I sing then I keep singing till I do. I am very critical of my vocal tracks. I know my capabilities and I never settle for just good enough.
Who did the mix and mastering and where did it take place?
I mixed the CD but this will most likely be my last time to mix. Because of many different circumstances I may need to use outside mixers but I will always produce my CD’s. The mastering is done by Curtis Key.
You can play a lot of instruments like keyboard, bass and guitar. Which instrument do you prefer to play?
Guitar, acoustic to be exact.
Are you the kind of guy that always have inspiration to a song in your head or do you close the doors and sit down and wait for inspiration to come?
I take it wherever it comes. Inspiration is a gift from above it comes at the strangest times.
You followed Robin on a short tour throughout Europe last year and you played the bass, was it fun to be out together?
I love playing in any capacity. But playing with Robin means we get to be together. What could be better?
Both you and Robin work with the Swedish Tommy Denander; how is it to work with him and how did you guys end up working together?
I have worked with Tommy on many projects he is simply one of the best players in the business and I look forward to doing projects with him.
I read on your website that the fans could interact with you on your Facebook site, is that something you do regularly?
Well, I should do it more but I am getting better. I am just so busy that by the end of the day I am pretty wasted emotionally and physically.
Which album is your favorite one from all the ones you’ve recorded?
DEMONS DOWN is my personal favorite.
You have been in the business many years now. What do you think of the music industry now compared to then in terms of downloading etc. Has it changed a lot?
I don’t mind downloading. I think the music business stinks. I think there was a time when record companies use to stick with their artists if they believed in them. That does not happen in the business today. Now they want instant gratification. Very sad.
Is it possible to to purchase your two solo albums RUDE AWAKENING and MEET THE MAN today?
I know they are really hard to get a hand on. Yes on my website www.jameschristianmusic.com. There are promotional copies that I sign personally.
Are there any plans on doing any solo shows now that LAY IT ALL ON ME is out?
Not right now but maybe in the future.
It took you 9 years to release a new solo album, do you think we have to wait that long to find the next James Christian album out in stores?
Much sooner. I really loved doing the solo CD.
RUDE AWAKENING is considered as a modern AOR classic today, how do you feel about that?
I never thought about it while I was recording. I just thought about writing songs that I love to sing. So now you see what happens when you love what you do.
Do you think it’s important to be active on the various social forums today?
I am not really active in the forums but I imagine it could help.
What are the plans for James Christian during the rest of 2013?
New HOL CD and tour to follow.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy LAY IT ALL ON ME?
I think they should listen to the samples and make up their minds from there. I am a terrible salesman.
Well that was for me this time thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview. I really hope that you or House Of Lords are coming over to Scandinavia soon.
Thank you for all the good questions.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
All I can say is to “live every day like it’s the last”.
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