LONDON: Nadir D’Priest

Known for being a “training school for rock stars,” LONDON has been together since 1979 and continues to crank out hard rock music still today. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to get the chance to talk to Nadir D’Priest. Since 1984, he has been the lead vocalist for LONDON and responsible for the band’s first album that kicked off their success. LONDON prides themselves on being “an American rock band with a British name” and has maintained their sound throughout time. For those of you who may not know of this band, LONDON has legendary status and a rich history within the 80s metal music scene. LONDON helped launch musicians such as Nikki Sixx and Blackie Lawless, but the band has paved their musical career on L.A’s Sunset Strip.

As much as I learned from interviewing one of the most influential players of 80s metal, I hope you learn even more.

Discuss your involvement in the film The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years.
"Well it's great to be in the movie. The movie was shot around 1986. I was really young [and I was] in my early 20s. It was basically like a 'no brainer' for us. We were just doing like we do all the time, which was play live, dress up, perform [and] do it in front of a camera on film. This was really our big, big debut for the band at that time. It was a big film for rock and roll because nobody else was doing this. It's a 'rockumentary', but with a lot of really funny things [and] a lot of really weird things.  It is now [considered] very tame compared to what goes on now. For me at the time, it was just a lot of fun. Sunset Boulevard was basically like Disneyland of rock and roll, so that was normal. When we shot [the film] at Penelope Spheeris' home, it made everything a lot easier for us 'cause we had nowhere to live really.  [In the movie,] that was our camper [that] we bought. We had an old bus, [but it] broke on our way to open up for Zebra in New Orleans on a riverboat. We [then] rented a motorhome from U-HAUL and at the end of the whole thing I think we couldn't afford to keep it anymore, so we bought that camper. With all of that happening, doors were opening up at the same time. Things were happening on the road, but at the same time big things were happening in Hollywood for us. It balanced things out and it made you feel really good. Things were happening, but you're out there as a band doing it on your own and nobody telling you what to do. That was the lifestyle basically. It was great. As far as the people I know that are in the movie, I do talk to some people in the movie. We actually lost Frankie Banali who was the drummer for Quiet Riot. He was actually one of the judges on the dance contest in the movie. If you look really close, you see him and I sitting together judging the contest and all that. Some of the guys from Odin I do see here and there. KISS and all those guys live their lifestyle completely different from everything. Chris Holmes I have talked to a few times. As far as everyday, I think we're like past all that. NAMM Show is about as close as you're going to get everyone together. I talked to Lizzie Grey right before he died. I actually went to see him in hospice. He still had that spirit all the way through it."

Before London was signed to a label, what avenues did you do in order to achieve that goal? 
"For me, LONDON was not new. LONDON has been around at least 4 to 5 years prior to me joining. LONDON had Nikki Sixx and Blackie Lawless was in the band. Lizzie Grey wrote 'Public Enemy #1' when [it was] Nikki and LONDON. [After Nikki and Blackie] left, Lizzie stayed and got two more singers. None of them delivered an album. When I joined in 1984, I did my first album with LONDON right away [in '85]. [We] got signed right away. I didn't really have too try to hard. People wanted to sign LONDON. I was the new guy and back then I was a pretty cocky guy, young, skinny, [and a] loud screamer. It was working with the times. I played with Metallica in another band, [opened] up for other nationals, [and] Metallica [opened] up for my band before. You never thought any of this was going to happen. A lot of these things were happening at a very special time. [This was] a time where there was [enough] opportunity, stages, space, artist relations and people out there looking for bands. As you can see, there were so many 'hair guys' that [were] pretty and almost looked alike. There was a market and that made it really fun because you got to do basically everything you ever wanted to do in a band. [We got to] dress up, play music, write, party, go out, [make] videos and do all that. It was a great time."

Since you have had so many band members be apart of LONDON, what do you consider to be your favorite line up?
"I think the line up of Don't Cry Wolf, which consists of: Lizzie Grey- guitar, Brian West- bass, Wailin' J. Morgan- drums and Me (Nadir D'Priest)- vocals.
The first and second albums [are] the line ups I would say that were really important to me at that time. At this time, I'm happy with my line up right now. The players that you saw or heard on that new album Call That Girl are: Alan Krigger- drums, Ronee Pena- guitar, Eric Ragno- keyboard, Billy The Fist- bass and Me (Nadir D'Priest)- vocals.

What album are you most proud of and why?
"I'm proud of having my first album, our first album. That I am proud of. I am proud of Playa Del Rock, which is [a] big album for us. It came out in 1989 on Noise Records and was distributed by BMG back at the time. For me, I was [really] proud [as far as] production value. It was really great getting to work with Richie Podolor. He produced so many amazing artists [like] Steppenwolf and has worked with Journey. It's an older production style. For me, I learned a whole lot because of that album. I was able to create better music throughout time because of what I've learned. That would be one of the big ones. I like 'em all."

Do you feel like there are misconceptions or misrepresentations surrounding your band's genre of music? 
"Back in the 80s, they used to call you all kinds of names when you had a lot of hair, were in a band like that, dressed it, [and] lived it everyday. 'Hair metal' came later after that time period. I think it came out later in the 90s or something. Back then, they just called you [a] 'fucking long haired f*ggot', 'gay rocker', [and] 'bitch'. They'd call you names, but not in your face. They called us 'hair care farmers' too. [This] was very endearing to me. I liked that because I did have the best hair in the scene actually at the time. Not now, but back then. For me, [the term] 'hair metal' bands came later when all those angry 80s guys that didn't get to do nothing moved on and got to talk bad about other musicians. What do you call a bald headed guy? 'Bald metal'? [These terms] are created. It's a buzz word, but it's been around a while. There are so many kinds of metal. Where the fuck do you choose? I like just heavy metal, nice and clean. To me, heavy metal, hard rock, and rock and roll are [all] flexible names there. Everything else is just an additional thing they add."
Photo credits: LONDON
Do you feel like your musical identity has changed over time?
"Yes! I started to write new songs. Do you know what I mean? The people who wrote the songs are right here. Other than that, no. The only thing I think that I have done is I've toned myself down. I'm not the screamer I used to be back in the 80s. You out grow that because I could have screamed my way through the whole fucking 20-30 years of it and it would've absolutely done nothing musically for me. I have gone different ways in music. I've gone into funk. I was in a funk group for a while singing for a large 10 piece band. I'm about to release a Latin album in Spanish. A lot of this was [built] up over what happened back in the 80s [and] then working for the Rolling Stone for 3 years learning to meet other people with other ideas. The vibe [with London] is there. The sound is really what the markets are now. You're either up to speed on what's happening now or you're just a 'hair band.' My new album that you heard is not a 'hair band' album. That's a hard rock album that's got at least 3 radio hits on it. Right now, I'm working on more material and more songs right now."

On your newest album "Call That Girl," which song did you like the most and have the most fun with?
"'Call That Girl.' That song makes the girls pull out their tops. When I go up on stage, I don't have a whole lot of time. I'm not the top act on the bill, so I have a certain amount of time. [It's] usually 30-45 minutes. I have to make that show and milk the audience as much as possible. For me, fun songs [and] songs that are a little more danceable with the girls like 'Call That Girl,' 'It's so Easy', [and] the first song on the new album 'Far Away' is a beautiful song. We have flexibility. [This album] is a bit of a lot of different things."

What artists did you listen to growing up and how did they influence you to want to be in the band LONDON?
"British rock [and] the first Black Sabbath album did it. Tony Iommi's guitar I think did it for me [too.] The others [like] Led Zeppelin and also the obscure metal bands at the time [including] Judas Priest and Iron Maiden when they first started. Paul Di'Anno and [their] very early, early stuff. I was really into a lot of harder stuff. As a kid I heard the typical stuff my older brother Ramsés played me, which was Black Sabbath, Focus, Uriah Heep, and King Crimson. It made me hear tones, guitars, basses and drums a certain way. [It] gave me the opportunity to refine my hearing [in order] to be able to choose the right guys and be able to play with the right guys. That's basically how it started."

What artists do you listen to now and how do they play a part in developing your music currently?
"I continue to listen to music, but what I listen to is not [the] radio. I listen to a lot of the older players. There's a lot of super talented musicians that nobody knows about out there. I really enjoy the blues. I listen to things that affect your state of mind because there's a lot of sad things that happen. Sometimes you go into that whole world of sadness of [the] blues and it brings out things, but [then] out of that brings you a great song because of what you heard or [sparks] an idea. The song has to affect you emotionally in order to be effective for people when they hear it."
Newest Album from London (2019)
Top photo credit: LONDON

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