Interview: Boardwalk Isabella

 Hey guys,

lately there is some kind of an interview marathon going on behind the scenes of house in the sand.
And those of you who know me a bit know I absolutely enjoy interviews! 

Today James from Boardwalk Isabella was here to answer a few questions I had.
Boardwalk Isabella is a rock band from Devon, UK formed in 2011. 

In the interview James tells us everything about getting inspiration for the debut album, the recording process, influences, Britney Spears and even more.
You shouldn't miss this!

house in the sand: You wrote, recorded and produced your debut record yourself. Can you tell us a bit about the process? Where did you find inspiration for it?
James: Life, the Universe and everything. I was living in France, a stranger in a strange land, learning a new language, trying to find ways to communicate with the old one, thinking about new beginnings in my life and closing other chapters. I had been traveling for some time around Europe before settling in Nice.
Once there I bought a guitar and invested in some recording equipment and set about responding to this keening, painful desire in me to be creative and write some songs. I knew from the first chord of the first song I wrote down there (Ressurrection Man) that I was going to harness all that yearning frustration, desire and powerful build up that was whriling around inside me. I quickly realized, too, that my main job was to get out of the way of it and let it happen.

Once I had finished the songs that from the basis of our debut album, Headed For The Promised Land, a series of events both positive and life changing occured that meant I had to return to the UK. Once there, I gathered my momentum again and began recording the songs in earnest in a studio room set up in my new home (euphemistically called Morwenna Sound Studios on the album credits), laying down guitars, bass, pianos, keyboards and programming the drums. Locally, I found our lead guitarist, Nathan Porter, and Gospel backing vocalists, Sarah Devonshire and Marie Thorpe to complete the album. When the recording was finished I had the great good fortune to be introduced to Peter Maher who also works with U2, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, etc. He mastered the album and together we found the finishing 'sound' that we now know is Boardwalk Isabella. So, within the space of 18 monts, a big idea, born of desire, frustration and the need to express myself became a thrilling reality ready for the world.

house in the sand: Do you still remember the first time you were fascinated by music?
James: Yes, very cleary. Three decisive moments allied with some pivotal early influences. My mother raised me on the sound of her beloved country and western, especially Johnny Cash, and music was a constant in our household growing up. Her record collection contained not only Cash, but also Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Rock and Roll and Irish rebel songs. She had a profound fondness for lyrics and the stories contained within the very best of them, and could recite them like poetry - a trait that has been passed down to me.
So, I was already primed for music and it's appreciation, when I heard Mony Mony by Tommy James and the Shondells on the radio, whilst on holiday with my grandma in Ireland. I gave her quite a shock when I suddenly leapt up pretending to be the singer at top volume! I was literally 'transported' by the thrill of the music, the sound of the record, it was totally involuntary, I was no longer the king of my own limbs, but it felt amazing to ride on the current of electricity that I was experiencing.
Similarly, hearing Alright Now by Free in Carnaby St, London, completely blew the doors off my world right there and then, so much so, that in an instant, as that guitar, bass and drums pounded out that beat and the bluesy soul of Paul Rodgers vocals commanded my undivided attention, I knew what I wanted to be and do for the rest of my life. The rubber stamp for that new life in a imagined future was provided by seeing David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust perform Starman. Here, at last, was the alien I was looking for, and I realized that I was not alone in feeling and looking different and that I could combine it all in one package and was feverishly inspired to find my way within the world of music.

house in the sand: What keeps you going during downs?
James: Anger, frustration and generally lashing out at the world until it passes, whereupon I become a playful teddy bear again. No! I am jesting. Although, maybe I should just stop there, hold my hands up, and admit that is the case. Ha!

Seriously, the short and brutal answer is Faith, Belief and Fear - all songwriters, I am sure, have that quiet desperation knowing in their heart and soul that whatever they write and whatever it's perceived worth and value to oneself or others, that nothing is guaranteed. That their labours and lifeworks could be ignored totally leading to the gnawing uncertainty of whether they will ever find an audience for their creative work. It is in these dark moments that my belief and acceptance kick in and helps me remember that, despite all these incredible odds and sometimes bleak forecasts, that there is nothing else that I would rather do, than serve the song.

house in the sand: What is the first song you'd like somebody, who's not familar with Boardwalk Isabella, to listen to? And why that song?
James: The answer to that is our debut single, Ressurection Man. It contains all the elements of power, of groove, style, rock, funk, glam and glitz that make up the unique sound of Boardwalk Isabella. It's redemptive and positive lyrically and has a special place for me being the first song I wrote for the album.

house in the sand: A song, nobody would expect you to like? 

James: I am really not sure that I should even admit this (laughs out loud) but Hit Me Baby One More Time by Britney Spears (second round of laughter). I am not even sure I like it, but I appreciate very much the absolutely certain 'sound of a hit record' being delivered to you with such confidence. It's sly and knowing musically and the elements are very cleverly and discreetly portrayed to make an irresistible pop package.
I still can't hit the high notes of the 'Still Believe' backing vocals though.

house in the sand: Which artist/band is the most played on your music player?
Hmmm, there is no clear winner here, but shall we say a three way tie between 1970s era Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and checking out new music.

house in the sand: What was the best feedback you've ever gotten for your music?
James: We have been truly blessed with some amazing comments since we came on to the scene three months ago. A few I like very much are the following:

1. 'These guys are from Devon in the UK but they sound like a mix of T Rex and Funkadelic straight out of Harlem' (Las Vegas Radio Station)

2. 'Oh Yeah! That record makes you want to shout out a gospel-style Hallelujah when you hear it. Just phenomenal.' (BBC Radio)

3. 'This record is just perfect music for driving across the Nevada desert at 3 o'clock in the morning with the top down doing maybe 110 or 115 miles per hour with the stereo blasting - it is just excellent and I love it.' (Radio Host Florida)

house in the sand: Any new year's resolutions for Boardwalk Isabella?
James: Our resolution this year is to stretch every sinew and nerve end to bring about complete and utter world domination! For Boardwalk Isabella to break through live and on record and meet and greet as many people as possible worldwide with our music.

house in the sand: Is there anything else you would like the house in the sand readers to know?
James: I would like the house in the sand readers to know that they are welcome to join us, to feel part of this thing happening with Boardwalk Isabella. We are independent in spirit but collective in our soul. We love and need the support of the people, we hustle, but never hassle and the exchange is fair - we get you, and you get great music.

house in the sand: Please complete the following sentence: We are Boardwalk Isabella and we ...
James: ... are the grooviest rock and roll band in the world.

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed this very interesting and clear interview.
I did.

Boardwalk Isabella online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud

Thanks for reading!


  1. "I hope you enjoyed this very interesting and clear interview. I did."
    So did I! Great! x

  2. Thank you for this interview. Great job! I have been using every fibre of my being to get this band noticed, they are simply fantastic and I am glad you are one of the first to feature them!! x

  3. Hi, I am Thom Frazier a music journalist from the US. I want to thank you for the incisive questions in this interview. I boast on my Twitter feed that I am a stuck record for Boardwalk Isabella, and so it is great to find out some background on these guys. If anyone among the current crop of new independent artists deserves to break through, then it is these guys. Awesome. Thank you for this piece and for what you do for Independent Music and Artist. Bravo. TF

  4. Love this interview, love this band!! Thank you for posting


Let me know what you think! :)