The Cramps are long gone. The White Stripes no more. So who do rock‘n’roll-loving wildcats go to for their fix? The answer is His Lordship and they have come to inject the authentic sound of back-to-basics, raw, high-octane garage meets rockabilly into your musical veins. We logged onto a Zoom call with guitarist James Walbourne in London and drummer Kristoffer Sonne in Copenhagen at the very un-rock‘n’roll time of 10am.
Congratulations on selling out your first Brighton gig and adding a matinee, an event that really seems to be taking off in Brighton post-lockdown. Have you played a matinee show before?
JW: Not with this band. It’s almost like harking back to the old pub gigs. It’s a good thing to do because weekend afternoons, especially Sundays, are notoriously boring.
How did the two of you meet?
KS: We met via Chrissie Hynde. She did a solo album in 2014 called ‘Stockholm’ and James was already in The Pretenders at that point, but she wasn’t going to use The Pretenders, she wanted a different band, which I joined. She ended up firing everyone except for me and brought in James and the bass player and that’s where we met.
JW: Chrissie keeps texting me right now while I’m trying to do this interview. But that’s spot on and we’ve been solid friends ever since.
What prompted you to form a band together?
KS: It really was. It was just before Covid and we just wanted to do something that wasn’t like singer-songwriter you know, we’d just had enough.
JW: We’d spent a long time playing the game and we just wanted to do something that was completely on our terms and not give a fuck about anyone else really. As far as we were concerned, as long as we liked it that was great and that’s the mantra we’ve carried on ever since.
You’ve got a great sound, very raw, early rock‘n’roll. Who are your influences?
JW: I grew up on rock‘n’roll, really early stuff, and my dad used to take me to go see Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry and all those sorts of people. Elvis was my hero, still is.
KS: Yeah, mine too. We had the idea of doing His Lordship plays 70s Elvis but in the old 50s style!
JW: But that early stuff was the nucleus of the sound and where we get the energy from, but as we progress and write more other stuff comes into it from Beck to The Ramones, even Paul McCartney. It could be anything really. We could go and make a dance album tomorrow. Our ethos is we’re not just a rock’n’roll band because that’s boring in itself. The songs have just got to work as a three piece.
His Lordship will be playing as a trio with bass player Dave Page on this tour…
JW: The live show will be us three on stage, very back-to-basics and hopefully will be wild enough for people. We think it will be.
You’ve put out a couple of EPs so far, were these all recorded live?
KS: Yes, we always record live with maybe a few overdubs, but essentially everything is live. We found that as there are only two or three of us in the studio there is more room for the performance. We’ve gone the opposite way to recording with computers, trying to get a great performance that tells a story.
JW: The album is finished and we’re just waiting to see what we’re going to do with it. Four tracks were recorded and mixed by David Wrench (Audiobooks) who’s a great producer and Tchad Blake who’s worked with The Black Keys and Los Lobos. They both helped us out and got us on our way and we’re very grateful to those guys.
Are you focusing on His Lordship full-time now that you’ve finished touring with The Pretenders?
JS: Well the album is coming out in September hopefully and we’ll be touring it a lot more next year. There’s also a new Pretenders album coming out, also in September, so we just kind of juggle it and whatever happens happens.
Is the album all original songs?
JW: Yes. Twelve songs in thirty minutes. The whole idea is for us to have a good time and hopefully the audience will have a really good time.
Are you conscious of continuing the history of duos in the vein of The White Stripes or currently The Courettes, who have a similar sound?
KS: I think by adding a bass player we were trying to move away from that a little bit. We did record some of the early songs as a two-piece but it was very easy to fall into that drums/guitar sound and James couldn’t really play solos without a bass player so we’re more of a trio now. It’s still me and James writing the songs, but Dave is an honourable ‘Lord’.
JW: Dave’s amazing and a great addition to the band. I met him a long, long time ago when working in a guitar shop in Angel and his first guitar was one of my old ones. The shop was the kind of hub where you would meet lots of different musicians which doesn’t really exist anymore.
You’ve both played with some musical icons, including James with Jerry Lee Lewis (on his final studio album) and Kris with Willie Nelson. How did you get those calls?
KS: I first moved to London with a Danish band and when we broke up I stayed on and worked at a studio called Kensal Town with a Swedish producer. I was in his house band for eight or nine years and I was lucky enough to be the drummer when Willie Nelson and many others came in to record.
JW: Working with Jerry Lee is still the best thing I’ve ever done and probably ever will do. An old friend called Steve Bing, who died during lockdown, was an American producer and got me that session in Memphis. I was blown away – Kris Kristofferson was there, Jim Keltner was in the band, as was Ben Keith from Neil Young’s band and Rick Rose. It was quite a thing to be involved in. I still can’t really believe that I did it and then they asked me to play a gig with Jerry Lee at The Forum in Kentish Town. It was very poignant when he died because that really was the end of that era.
Have you played in Brighton before, aside from the recent Pretenders show at Chalk?
JW: Not with this band, but loads of times with others. A few times with The Pretenders, a show with Ray Davies and a long time ago with Van Morrison. I know Brighton well and there’s a great scene there with bands playing all the time. I almost moved there in the early 2000s, but realised I could never leave London even though now there’s no Time Out magazine I miss loads of gigs.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
JW: We’re going to write another album, the writing part is great fun. We’ve got a string of Pretenders dates and a few His Lordship shows through the Summer, then we’ll be gearing up for the album release in September. We’ve also got a couple of David Wrench-produced singles coming out. ‘Buzzkill’ is coming out on the 3rd of April and there’ll be another before the album. There’s also a new Pretenders album out this year.
KS: I think we’re going to do another UK tour in September/October when the album comes out.
Good luck with the tour and record releases and we look forward to seeing you at The Prince Albert on 15th April. Thanks for chatting with us.
JW: Thanks, see you there.
His Lordship play two shows at The Prince Albert on 15th April, with support from Aircooled.
Tickets for the matinee are available here.