Lords are a trio from Nottingham. They've been gigging for what seems like an eternity, but only released their debut album, This Ain't A Hate Thing, It's A Love Thing, through Gringo earlier this year ("Fucked-up punk blues" said Kerrang!, slapping four Ks beside its cover; Uncut called it a "high-volume grunge-jazz hybrid"). That said, members' previous bands - details will be revealed below - have enjoyed many a release and also a fair amount of critical acclaim.
They are, in short, shit hot; so shit hot that they found themselves on the bill at this summer's first-ever Latitude Festival. So, DiS being the on-the-pulse online being that it is, we decided to fire one Lord, Lord Christophe Gordon Sumlin (aka Chris), some questions about himself and his fellow Lords, Lord Elvin Beetham Wallace (aka Elvis) and Lord Philippe Jean Welding (aka Phil). He answered them. Look, below! The proof...
Righto, the album: it’s been out a while now, and you must’ve received a degree of feedback. Happy with its reception? Listening back to it, is there much you’d do differently if you were able to go back in time and start from scratch?
I've been really happy with the reviews it has got. We never thought we were a difficult band to get your head around so it's really nice that more mainstream reviewers seem to like the record for different reasons than might have been expected before we put it out. Deep down inside it's nice to get some recognition for something, especially when it takes so much time and effort to make.
I guess there's always things we'd change about the record, but when I think about making it, I just think of having an absolute blast. It was so much fun to do and relatively stress-free, too. I don't like to think about what you could change about things that are done and set in stone, as if you start second guessing things you never get anything done. So, no, I wouldn't change a thing about it.
Have shows been any different since the record’s release? Have you noticed any increase in audience size, or in the way songs are recognised? I see you’re playing a date with the Archie Bronson Outfit soon – do you often receive offers from ‘bigger’ bands, to play support slots?
We've always been lucky in that we tend to play gigs in smaller places anyway as it suits us. We usually play to pretty full rooms, so I don't know about an increase in size of audience - it's just more that it seems people come to see us play specifically. But people shouting for certain songs is weird as hell - mainly because we don't know them by the names on the record! 'Pint Of Wine' is still 'Led Zep' in our heads, or lots of the songs are still 'New One' or 'Old New One' or whatever, so people shouting for songs always takes a moment to register. It's nice, though; I think we'd encourage that. If someone wants to hear a song we'll try and play it.
We get lots of gig offers, the Archie Bronson one was a no-brainer for us. They're a really good band and they seem to be from the same school of thought as us, so playing with them is always going to be fun. I guess playing something like the Latitude Festival is a step up for us, though we treated it pretty much the same as a normal gig. But with camping.
The band’s style must see you approached by promoters wishing to put you on a myriad of different bills – what sort of bands are you most comfortable playing with, and which have been the weirdest to share a stage with? During the band’s career, have you had the opportunity to play with (m)any bands you truly admire?
That's been the most fun part of doing Lords, playing these varied gigs from one week to the next. We played a fairly mainstream gig last night and then next week we're playing a psych' night.
Quite often we're playing on bills with bands we've never heard of, so the pressure is off and we have a good time. Plus, we try and be sociable so it's cool to make new friends when we play. We've played with so many bands we really really love, like The Magic Band, PW Long, Ted Leo, Hoover, Dead Meadow, The Fucking Champs and so many more. Sometimes playing with a band you really admire is stressful because, for me, I would love to say I don't care about what the other band thinks but deep down it affects me and I wouldn't like a band I really like to think we were shit.
I suppose Latitude was weird, and Dot To Dot in Nottingham, because we were mixing with that other world of managers and crew and stuff. So to be there on our own, and deal with everything ourselves, put us in the minority but then again, that's fun in itself. I suppose I am saying I like playing gigs no matter who they're with.
Speaking of all things ‘style’, just how have critics/promoters categorised you for the sake of simplicity/posters/etc? Blues must be well mentioned, likewise punk… but, y’know, how would you pitch yourselves if a single-sentence summary was required?
I really don't know is the simple answer! When we started out we wanted to do something that was like Beefheart and stuff like Kid Commando and Arab On Radar, but when we started jamming it just morphed into (what we thought sounded like) Thin Lizzy or The Groundhogs, or AC/DC and Led Zep but... bendy (!).
I shy away from the blues tag because it makes us sound like something really boring because most white-boy blues is. It's just really plodding. But we definitely are a blues band in the strictest sense, in that we're entertainment; we're a jukebox replacement or a good night out (hopefully). The 'blues' was never about the artist and the audience, like even Led Zep were. It was less about a spectacle and more about just getting sweaty and not worrying about your hassles for a night and that's definitely a part of our gameplan.
We all come from a more punk rock background as well, so that's a part of it too I think, though I don't know how much comes through. We're massively into Lungfish and Circus Lupus and the later Chris Thomson bands like Skull Kontrol and The Monorchid, and maybe that comes through a little in our approach but it's hard for me to say.
I'm waffling because I don't know how to describe us. "A good night out, no fucking about. ZZ Top but bendy. Loud." How about that?
When can we expect new material, i.e. recorded material? Were the songs that made up This Ain’t… rather old, at all? Often debuts are comprised of songs that the band’s been playing for a fair while, of course… Is the next release to come via Gringo?
The album is stuff between late 2003 and early 2005 so it's actually from a pretty compact period. We recorded an album's worth of songs the day after our first gig and they came out on compilations and seven inches. So we're pretty prolific, though less so at the moment due to geography. It was something we wanted when we started the band, that it could be pretty instant, as me and Phil had spent time in our previous band mixing EPs for the best part of two years and, like I said in the first question, you can arse about forever perfecting things but, really, who cares? As long as it's okay it should be put out and then crack on with the next thing.
So we're playing a couple of new songs in the set at the moment and working them out and arranging them at soundchecks and stuff. It's tricky but then again we're never the tightest band so no one seems to be noticing! We're hoping to record as soon as we have a few songs together and then push on with getting it out. We're not signed to Gringo, or anyone, but they'll get the finished album first and if they want to put it out they will.
Do band members still play in a variety of side-projects/other acts? If so, do you want to run through some of them? Do you see Lords as the ‘main’ band? Was it always this way (if t’is even true)?
Lords seems to have become our main band by default almost. Wolves Of Greece split about a year into Lords, as did Reynolds, so it became me and Phil's main concern early on. Elvis plays in Twinkie still, but they've cut down on the gigging as Debs has just become a mum (congratulations Debs and Alex!), though they rehearse loads and have a million new songs every time I see them play. We're all super busy musically. Elvis plays in Development Of Shape and then me and him also play in the band Felix when we are free to do so. And we've all played together in Damo Suzuki's band, too.
I do solo stuff under the name Last Of The Real Hardmen and I also play more improvised stuff with lots of different people around Nottingham, most recently with The Good Anna. I also do a Stooges tribute band for weddings and birthdays which is just a total fantasy thing for me.
Phil just does Lords pretty much, though I saw some pictures of him wearing a wig and singing 'The Final Countdown' with the band Trydent so I think he leads a double life...
You’re off to Ireland pretty soon – have you had many opportunities to play overseas as yet? Also, you played Latitude this year: how was that? Is it the largest festival you’ve played to date? Are you keen to play at more festivals, seeing it as a good way of attracting a wider audience?
We get offered lots of gigs abroad but it's just not feasable for us to do them - Phil is a teacher and Elvis does workshop things with kids so in term time we're really restricted. While we're still doing it all ourselves the financial weight is too much to take time off from people's jobs, so it's frustrating but understandable. We chatted about going to the USA next Easter as lots of people have asked us to play out there and we have lots of new-found friends from doing the band. It looks possible if we can raise the cash and get the album released there officially. Festivals seem like a completely good idea to me. I'd do as many as possible as I like camping, the outdoors, big stages and I especially like the catering tent. Best meal I've had in about five years. (At Latitude, DiS presumes.)
Finally, is the live scene in Nottingham fairly rocking as of NOW? I know band member/s are involved with promotions, so… any awesome shows coming up?
No! Nottingham is one of those cities where there's a nucleus of good bands just consistently doing good stuff and no one cares. You read the music papers in the city and they're full of bands who never gig, never get involved in the culture of the city and look like they spent a lot on their image. Fair play, but to me that's not what the city is about. It's really vibrant but on the face of it it's hard to see that.
I am involved in Damn You! and we have some killer gigs coming up though. We managed to get Carla Bozulich to play, and we also have Comets On Fire, Bardo Pond, Six Organs... loads of stuff. Click here if you live in Nottingham.
Lords' forthcoming tour dates, including their tour of Ireland, can be seen here. The band's This Ain't... album is out now on Gringo (DiS review); click here to buy. Also available through Gringo is the band's ten-inch split with Part Chimp, Todd and Hey Colossus, reviewed here.