HAVING spent most of the year touring with The Pretenders you could forgive James Walbourne for wanting taking it easy.

But no. He’s straight back out on the road with his ‘other band’ His Lordship who play Manchester ‘s Deaf Institute next Friday.

Lancashire Telegraph: His Lordship - James Walbourne and Kris Sonne a- nd (below) their debut album, out in January

His Lordship is James on guitar and vocals and drummer Kristoffer Sonne - also of The Pretenders - plus for the live shows bassist Dave Wrench.

Don’t be fooled by the lack of numbers. His Lordship play loud, in your face rock and roll with a rare raw feeling that also captures the spirit of punk.

It’s a sound that has captivated audiences - His Lordship had a series of sold out dates earlier this year and the Deaf Institute is part of a headline tour around the UK. The band’s debut album is due for release in January.

With so much going you, you wonder if James ever gets to take a day off.

“Of late, quite frankly, not really,” he laughed. “But to be honest I’m just grateful to be able to do what I do.”

With The Pretenders - he’s been at Chrissie Hynde’s side for 15 years - James played a number of small venues this year; part of a deliberate plan by the band to get back to ‘up close and personal’ live shows.

“We ended up doing far more of those smaller shows than we thought,” he said. “As well as in the UK we did them in America. One night we’d be playing with Guns n Roses in an enormodome in New York and the next we’d be playing to 150 people. It was quite a change but we loved it.

“Chrissie is amazing. She’s still got more energy than the rest of the band put together. I don’t know what she’s made of.

“But that’s the thing I enjoy most, playing live. Don’t get me wrong I also enjoy the whole process of making records but nothing beats playing live.

“I just consider myself very fortunate to be able to do it. There was a time during lockdown when it was looking decidedly dodgy. No-one really knew if we’d ever bet back out there again.”

It was out of lockdown that His Lordship was born.

“There was no touring going on and to stop the boredom we started a rock and roll covers band and played in my local pub on a Sunday,” he said. “But we got bored of rock and roll covers and started to write original songs.

“We realised that it was good and it might make something. It was a bit difficult to sort the recording process out.

“Kris lives in Copenhagen and whenever they opened the gates for 10 minutes he would fly over. I’m still impressed by that. He was so gung ho about it. He’d just fill in all the forms you needed and he’d be here. I don’t think I could have done it going the other way.”

James admits that His Lordship’s unique sound just came together naturally.

“We didn’t think ‘let’s go mad for an hour’, it just sort of happened,” he said. “We just played and then realised we wanted to try and bottle that energy. We didn’t want to be seen as being a retro band in any way, we just wanted that rawness which actually isn’t that easy to record.

Lancashire Telegraph: His Lordship debut album, out in January

“We did take time over the structure and the meaning of the songs but when it comes to playing live you need that little bit of weirdness to creep in.”

As anyone who has seen James live knows, this mild-mannered, well spoken, friendly guy becomes a complete monster with his trusty Gibson SG in his hands.

“I suppose I’ve always been that person on stage, although it’s probably taken me a while to realise it.” he said. “I think meeting Kris and just playing for the fun of it has allowed things to develop naturally.

“We’ve gone back to the grass roots and it all dates back to those nights playing in the pub. The reaction we got from people then showed us we were on the right track.

“It is all so natural. I honestly don’t really think about it when I’m on stage. You just get into this natural state which means you can just enjoy it and go wherever it takes you.

“And now with His Lordship a lot of the show is improvised. It really can go anywhere. We’ve often said ‘we shouldn’t be doing this, it’s too much fun’. The shows are exhausting but it’s good exhaustion!”

The band name came about through an in-joke between James and Kris.

“We’d been calling each other His Lordship for ages,” said James. “We spent ages trying to think of a name for the band and I just thought, that’s it, why look any further.

“It still makes us laugh. When we turn up a venue or a festival they say ‘His Lordship is here’, we just laugh like schoolboys. I suspect we might get fed up with it eventually but then again, probably not!”

As well as his work with The Pretenders and His Lordship, James is also one half of The Rails along with wife Kami Thompson.

“With The Rails we reached a point where it felt right to take a natural break for a while,” he said. “Having said that, we have a live acoustic album that’s nearly ready to go and hopefully that will be out next year.”

So not a lot going on then?

“Oh, I’ve also got a solo album which I’m just getting to the end of the mixing process with,” he said. “It’s a bunch of songs I wrote over lockdown which are a bit more experimental.

“I recorded them at Edwyn Collins’ studio up in Scotland. I’m not sure where it will end up but hopefully it might see the light of day next year, that’s the plan anyway.”

But before then, James is concentrating his efforts on His Lordship.

“I can’t wait to play the Deaf Institute,” he said. “I love that place - it’s one of the great music venues.”

The Pretenders played a sold out show there earlier this year.

“We’re so looking forward to the shows otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “It’s great when people come out to see us. We have been shocked at the response to this; something we’re having so much fun doing.”

His Lordship, Deaf Institute, Manchester, Friday, November 10. Details from www.thedeafinstitute.co.uk