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London
Heidi Horvath

London's Calling: Nadir D'Priest Looks Back on a Career of Highs and Lows

You kinda have to feel for London frontman Nadir D’Priest a little bit. He’s had to watch while one member after another passed through the London ranks and achieved bigger things elsewhere, people like Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, WASP’s Blackie Lawless, Guns N’ Roses’ Izzy Stradlin and Cinderella’s Fred Coury. Even founding member Lizzie Grey, who co-wrote Crüe’s “Public Enemy #1” with Sixx, is currently earning rave reviews with his Spiders & Snakes band.

As a result of all that, London have long been seen as a feeder band. A group that prepares players for the big time, a bit like a minor league baseball team. D’Priest could be forgiven for feeling a little bitter about it all. After all, the first two of the band’s three albums, Non-Stop Rock and Don’t Cry Wolf, are gems that should have been heard by far more people. He could be bitter, but he’s not at all. Rather, he’s pragmatic and even positive about the situation, enjoying the extra publicity and elevated place in rock & roll history London have gotten because of their high-profile ex-members.

“It’s been a feeder band only because the band have been used like a breeding ground of what you’ve seen — multiplatinum players,” D’Priest says. “I don’t need to sell it too much. You can obviously see by the people who have been in it in the past, I don’t need to repeat their names, but it’s been great. I have nothing negative to say about it. The band has done well in that sense.”

Still, by 1990 things had gotten messy for London. The Playa Del Rock album came out that year, but some versions were released under the band name D’Priest. Something had to give, and that meant ultimately meant a hiatus for the group.

“We had a very destructive ending to the tour for Playa Del Rock, and toward the end it was like everyone for themselves,” D’Priest says. “Around 2007, I did D’Priest on my own. I happened to drag my old drummer, Alan Krigger, from London and we talked. It’s a thing where we had to work to get everyone there. It took us a few years and it happened again in 2012 when we played the Roxy Theatre. Everyone had to go live their own lives. We had a crazy-ass ending, and you’ve got to continue and move on. People have children, start businesses, get married or do different things. That’s basically what happened. We all went off and lived, and then we decided to get back.”

That makes sense, and isn’t an uncommon rock & roll story. People get older and the decadent Sunset Strip life isn’t quite as appealing. But still, the many people who have been in London can look back on some wild experiences. Not least the time that infamous producer Kim Fowley worked on the sophomore album, Don’t Cry Wolf.

“It was a thing where Kim basically was getting paid really well,” D’Priest says. “We were making payments to him in brown paper bags. We gave $30,000 to Kim Fowley. Back then, that was a lot of money. Kim was great. He was very quirky. Kim co-produced the album with us. The songs were already written. I basically paid Kim Fowley to sit there and say things like, ‘Yeah man, that’s Hollywood shit, man. That’s urine-stained, man.’ He was pretty intense. He was hyperglycemic, so a lot of the time we were just watching him eat on the floor of the studio. Once we were done, I never saw him except for maybe from far away, until 2000, when I saw him at the Key Club and he was kinda bizarre. The last time I saw him, he was in a hospital bed dying. It’s been quite a ride.”

D’Priest doesn’t know if the band’s three albums have been underappreciated, but he does know that he couldn’t have personally done more to get the band going, at one stage taking a bus north with a backpack full of masters in order to get a record finished. But as he prepares to officially release London’s fourth full-length album, Call That Girl, the first since 1990, and reissue the debut Non-Stop Rock album, the singer is both realistic and hopeful about what the future holds.

“The music industry has checked themselves out,” he says. “I’m used to a label and a deal, you get it going, put the record out, go on tour, play, sell records. Now, there’s so many things going on online that it’s a complete expertise world. You have to know how to navigate through all that. For London, this record has been the primary thing. It’s finally here and I look forward to launching it. It’s already available online and we’re getting a great response from it. We had to mature and change, and get that niche together where it’s comfortable but also sounds right live. Right now, the record is what we’re focusing on.”

To celebrate the new album, London play the Whisky this week. D’Priest says the show will be a lot of fun, with surprise guests planned. After that, the frontman wants to shoot a video, while London also will feature in a documentary about the life of Hustler's Larry Flynt.

Some things never change.

London play with John E. Love & the Haters, From the Ruins and Do It Like Erny at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Whisky A Go-Go.