HOUSE OF LORDS has a new album Saint of the Lost Souls (out now, Frontiers Music) and it’s another fine addition to the band’s legendary catalog. On a day that we were both snowed in here on the East Coast I had a chance to sit with guitarist Jimi Bell to talk about the record, what was different this time around, tour plans, and more. This interview was also conducted the day after the upstairs bathroom at A&GS HQ leaked and flooded the living room and basement, so I had to hide in the one corner of the house where a million industrial strength fans and dehumidifiers weren’t making a racket. I recounted this chain of events to Jimi and we both had a chuckle over it. Check it:
Amps: before we get to this new record, now that I have the chance to get one of you on the phone, Indestructible…OH. MY. GODS!! Incredible album, sir!
Jimi: Thank you. I really like that album a lot. It was cool because when we went out on tour, usually we pick two or three songs from the current album every time. So that tour we played “100 mph”, “Go to Hell”, and it was so much fun.
Amps: When I got that record I was working a HORRIBLE job where I had to go and dick around on a loading dock for hours, and Indestructible and (TRIXTER’S) Human Era were the first two albums I put on my phone to pass the time. And those albums will never leave my phone…NEVER.
Jimi: Oh thank you man, thank you.
Amps: I really feel like Precious Metal and Indestructible were very guitar-driven, with the keys in more of a background role. Like you had more riffs than usual.
Jimi: Yeah, right from Precious Metal we decided that we wanted to get a few more uptempo tracks into the records, you know? So “Battle”, that one just came to me. I was just playing around. And that track has a gallop beat to it. It’s very rare that HOUSE OF LORDS has that kind of track, and we still do it live. We do “Go to Hell” live, too. That’s one of my favorite songs to play live.
Amps: As far as Saint of the Lost Souls goes, it’s more keyboard-heavy, and you took a little longer on this one. Why was that?
Jimi: Actually, the reason for the time lapse is that James (Christian, vocals) took a year off. He wanted to catch up on family and personal things, which wasn’t a big deal because we write constantly. We kept writing songs throughout the year, so when it came time to do a record we were prepared. We blew ’em out pretty quick and setting stuff really fast.
Amps: After one listen my favorites are the title track and I really love the groovy bop of “Concussion”. What about you?
Jimi: (Laughs) yep, two of my favorites right there! The title track I love because it’s a great, uptempo tune, and I really like the solo section a lot. And “Concussion” is a song where I was influenced by another song. I’m not gonna tell you what it was, but it was from another artist. And I said, “I love that groove, I’ve never written a song with a groove like that. So I’m gonna do this.”
James’ vocal line on that one is fabulous, it really is. My other favorite is “Hit the Wall.” I absolutely love that tune and the way the chorus sounds with that layer of harmonies. The keys on it are beautiful, too. And “Reign of Fire,” there’s something about it I really, really like.
Amps: The thing about “Concussion” is that it really felt like something different for you guys, you know?
Jimi: Yeah, well we always try to do something a little different every record no matter what it might be. Whether it’s a different beat of a song, a different feel, a different vibe, anything. This record, like you said, is more keyboard-heavy, which is something we were going for. We wanted to bring back the sound of the old band a little bit, you know?
Amps: And rightfully so. At this point you’ve earned the right to do whatever the Hell you want, I say. the thing is, no two HOUSE OF LORDS records sound the same. And as much as I can say the last two albums were very guitar-driven, it’s still the HOUSE OF LORDS sound we all know and love.
Jimi: Absolutely. you know, we always try to do a little something extra on each record, and we’ve done that since I joined in 2005 when we did World Upside Down. There’s a lot of great songs on that record, then when we did Come to My Kingdom I started experimenting with even lower drop tunings. That’s a big change for HOUSE OF LORDS, having a guitar player doing that, it really changed the sound of the band, but we always still had the keyboards which always kept the vibe of the band, you know?
Amps: On a day like today when we’re both trapped in the house, what are you listening to?
Jimi: (Laughs) you’re one of the only people who’s asked me that! You would laugh. I don’t listen to a lot of music but my favorite band is AC/DC. So if you were to ask me what I’m listening to at any given time, it’s them, or DEEP PURPLE, or WHITESNAKE. I love WHITESNAKE, and we’re very blessed to have Michele Luppi on our record. I became friends with him two years ago. He’s a huge, huge HOUSE OF LORDS fan. I said to him half-joking, “Would you like to do a keyboard intro on the new record?” and he was all over it! He then wound up playing on the whole “Harlequin” track and being in the video! Of course he had to get David Coverdale’s blessing, and I thought it was very cool of David to do that.
Amps: What’s happening tour-wise? Anything you can announce?
Jimi: We do have a European tour starting in August. The agency we just signed with, Ashley Talent International, is getting everything together, so we’re all set.
Amps: Away from music, what do you like to do?
Jimi: Honestly, I just love playing guitar and doing nice things for my fiance, Mandy. I love going out to dinner with her, and going to a movie once in a while. She’s an amazing cook, but we love to go out to dinner. But most of the time it’s guitar, guitar, guitar all day long. I play a lot, but you never know when you’re gonna write a riff for a song.
Amps: So writing is something you’re doing all the time, then.
Jimi: Oh yeah. We were talking about “Battle” before, and that came from me hitting two chords, and next thing I know the song was done. And that happens a lot with songs I write. I start with one little thing, then I put it all on my iPhone so I don’t forget the riff.`Then I go back and start adding to it and before you know it I have a complete track. Then I’ll go over to B.J.’s (Zampa, drums) house and work with him on it, and then we record it, and then we send it to James. And then he does his magic, he’ll either pass on it or accept it, put the keys and vocals on it, and we have a HOUSE OF LORDS song. It’s that simple. We give him about 16-20 tracks every record for him to pick 10-11 from, whatever he decides.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the HOUSE OF LORDS fans out there in the world?
Jimi: We truly, truly appreciate all the support you have given the band throughout the years, and we appreciate your continued support. And we cannot wait to see all of you on tour. We’re getting ready to head out and we wanna see every one of ya!!
At this point Jimi and I had a good laugh about the snow that was pounding both of our cities as well as, again, my toilet-leaking woes, because let’s face it, if I couldn’t laugh over this, I’d probably cry. Jimi Bell is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing, and quite frankly, my conversation with him turned what should have been an awful day completely around, so thanks for that, Jimi! Saint of the Lost Souls is available everywhere now, so do yourself a favor and GO BUY IT!!