Holy Grail’s James Luna Talks About the Art of Singing Metal
Holy Grail‘s James Luna has one hell of a singing voice! Check out his arena ready vocals on ‘Immortal Man’ if you don’t believe us. The California musician formerly fronted White Wizzard but he recently formed Holy Grail and quickly landed a deal with Prosthetic Records. Since the lost art of clear and powerful metal singing is making a comeback in the States, Noisecreep spoke with Luna about his performance style and some of the guys who influenced him.
When did you start singing and were your parents supportive?
I started singing in my elementary school’s church choir. I started a garage band in junior high with my best buds but I was a guitarist then. All through high school, I did acting and theater so that’s where my stage presence came to play. I was still always a guitarist in jazz and school band. It wasn’t until after high school that I became a frontman for a band. It was more of a hard rock ’70s band in the vein of Budgie or Deep Purple but with poppy overtones.
Who were the first vocalists that you gravitated towards?
Well the first CD I ever bought was the ‘La Bamba’ soundtrack, and man did I sing the hell outta that! My other early favorite was Bruce Springsteen‘s ‘Born in the USA.’ My dad always played the Beatles and ’60s and ’70s classic rock. Led Zeppelin, Montrose, Van Halen, etc. So my roots in metal really started with more of the hard rock stuff.
Holy Grail’s bio states that you are classically trained as a vocalist. What exactly does that mean?
I’m not sure where it says that, but I do have vocal training. I guess ‘classically trained’ would mean opera, and I’ve had lessons in that style before, too.
Did you have trouble projecting your voice when you first started gigging around?
The first time I was frontman for a band, it was really rough for me. The vocals were never heard over the rest of the band, but I learned to work around it and it gave me a chance to focus on the stage presence to back it.
You recently provided the vocals for a ‘Brütal Legend’ commercial. How did you get that gig?
These guys the Wojahn Bros are a team of songwriters and musicians that write for TV and film. Game Stop wanted an old-school heavy metal singer so they got a hold of me through the L.A. grapevine of bands. They then heard our tunes on MySpace and they hired me as a session guy to come in and belt out a few lines for them. It was pretty fun.
What other newer vocalists are you into right now?
My favorites are old school dudes, but I do like Cam from 3 Inches of Blood, Olof from Enforcer and Brian Allen from a band called Last Empire. The original Powervice singer rips, too!