Questions asked by Jon Wilde, added to Rock Realms 7th March 2012.
Legendary American rockers Lillian Axe have just released their 11th studio album "The Days Before Tomorrow". It was one of their finest LPs to date, so it seemed rude not to have a chat with guitarist and heart of the band Steve Blaze.
Hi Steve, thanks for taking a moment to answer these questions. Hope you are well?
Steve: Doing very well. Thanks for having me.
How does the 2012 incarnation of Lillian Axe compare to that of the 1980s? I’m not talking line-up, I’m more interested in your approach to the music industry, to song writing, and the way you interact with fans.
Steve: My approach to the fans has always been the same; very approachable and appreciative. The industry has changed a lot, so we spend much more time networking with social media than before, when it didn't exist. My song writing approach still stays the same as well...ruled by my emotions.
Back at the start would you have imagined the band still going in 2012? Was there a master plan behind the band or did you take each day as it came?
Steve: The plan was to make the best music possible, forever. There is nothing that will hinder us hopefully, short of death! I always knew I would do this for a very long time, but I do take things a day at a time too.
How would you describe the Lillian Axe sound? I really struggle to put my finger on it – you sound like nobody else to my ears...in a good way.
Steve: It’s a difficult question. We are a mountain of power, passion and dynamics! We are a hard rock musical machine with no boundaries or musical limitations. We write songs driven by every human emotion, with an underlying message of hope and power.
When did you start working on new album “The Days Before Tomorrow” and how easily did it all come together?
Steve: It came together really smoothly, in a non-rushed method. The pieces just fell into place on all levels, even when it came to mixing and sequencing the album. There were a lot of people who worked very hard on this, and the end result exceeded my expectations.
How do you think it compares to your past work in terms of style and quality?
Steve: Well, our quality has never been less than 100% of our ability. But I do think this is the most cohesive and best sounding record yet. It is a continual growth in our natural progression..... I personally think it is our best collection yet!
The album features excellent, new-to-the-band, singer Brian Jones. How did you get him on board and what do you feel he has brought to the band dynamic?
Steve: Brian has been a fan since his early teens. He and I became friends and he contacted me when he found out Derrick had left. We spent months working with him before we informed him that he got the gig. He has infused a shot of adrenaline and passion into the band. He is a great vocalist and front man, as well as a very hard worker with a huge heart.
How do you go about writing your songs? Talk us through the construction of a typical track...
Steve: The writing has no typical formula, so that’s quite hard to do. I may get inspired by something I read or see on TV. It may come from a dream, or just a phrase or lyrical idea. I go to my studio and construct piece by piece, until the arrangement is perfect. The lyrics usually come last, even though the theme may be in place. The music creates the lyric in my head. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to write a song, sometimes it's weeks. However, it is very torturous, until the song is done because I can’t get it out of my head, even when I am asleep! I take the demo to the band for their input when it’s ready.
Do you use any special playing or recording techniques in the studio to get your sound?
Steve: We experiment with sounds and layering..... If you listen carefully, you will hear things in the background every time you hear a song. There's always something unique to discover. There’s no real trickery, it’s just working with sounds to create the most powerful dynamic we can. We use lots of ‘guitar layering’, especially with acoustics and clean guitars. The most important element is the performance.
What are your favourite moments on the album?
Steve: “Bow Your Head” and “My Apologies” are 2 great moments, and that’s due to the sensitivity and passion of the content. These songs are dynamically very powerful. I love when my son speaks at the end of the album especially......!
What are your current touring plans?
Steve: We are playing shows locally until May, when we play ‘Rocklahoma’. Then we have tentative dates with Alice Cooper in June, before 4 weeks with Great White, Faster Pussycat, Bulletboys and Pretty Boy Floyd. Then it’s Europe in September and October.
What should UK fans expect when you hit Firefest in October?
Steve: That’s right. Firefest will mark our return to the U.K., with songs from every record; especially the first 4, which are very popular in Europe. We are very excited and plan to blow the roof off!
Any question you love being asked that I’ve missed? If so, what’s the answer?
Steve: “What’s the highlight of our career so far?” We always get that one... Answer; being inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
What are you up to once you’ve finished answering these questions?
Steve: After I finish this, another interview!!!!!
Anything else you would like to mention?
Steve: Thanks so much for this interview! Check out http://www.lillianaxe.com/ and http://www.guilfordguitars.com/.... And, for those who don’t have the record, pick it up! I promise; if you love Lillian you will love this. If you are a new fan, you will be very happy as well! See you in October!