Louisiana hard rockers LILLIAN AXE released their latest album "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow" , in Europe on January 27, 2012 via AFM Records. The band has recorded an impressive amount of songs, blending catchy melodies and sleazy lyrics with an equal amount of classically inspired acoustic pieces and great songwriting, they developed a loyal fan base that support them to this day. New vocalist Brian Jones brings an incredible vocal range to LILLIAN AXE. His vocal style complements Steve Blaze's songwriting and in turn has inspired Steve to write some of his most passionate, deep and soulful new songs to date. LazyRocker.com caught up with founding member, songwriter and guitarist Steve Blaze a few hours before the first gig of the European tour to talk about the band.
LazyRocker.com: Welcome to the South of The Netherlands. Were you ever in the Netherlands before?
Steve Blaze: Yes, we’ve been here before. In Amsterdam a few times and Eindhoven if I remember well. I don’t remember all the names or the venues but I know we’ve been here 4 or 5 times before. Ten, twelve years ago.
LR: For your latest album "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow" you worked with a new label and a new vocalist (Brian C. Jones). Do these factors create a freshness factor even for a band that's been around since the early 80s?
SB: In this business things are always changing. As a band you can do two things: roll with the changes or stick to your guns. We went rolling with the changes. Because there are so many differences between the older Lillian Axe and this new Lillian Axe album. We found a new label here in Europe and one in the USA, and a new frontman. Things always keep on changing in the music industry. We just try to keep up.
LR: Were the songs of "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow" already written, or did you write these songs especially with Brian's voice in mind?
SB: Some songs were already written ("The Great Divide", "Lava on My Tongue" and "Bow Your Head") for this album. When I write the songs I don’t have a singer in mind. I know how the vocals should sound on the song, but no, I didn’t write songs with Brian’s voice in mind. I don’t have to write a song in their vocal range. Vocals is one thing, I prefer to spend more time on melodies. The singers we had in the past and now with Brian they adapt sort of to my writing.
LR: What can you tell us about "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow"?
SB: I think this eleventh album is the best we ever done… it all comes together this time. Powerful songs, killing riffs and so on and so on. Brian did add a new flavour to the band still his voice fitted perfectly on the older Lillian Axe songs. He was a singer in a local cover band. Covering everything from Journey to Guns “n” Roses to Black Sabbath. So he knew how to adapt to Lillian Axe.
LR: But Brian can’t be here tonight?
SB: No, unfortunately Brian is on a leap of absent right now. He has some personal stuff he needed to take care of. So instead we are going to do these first shows with our previous singer Derrick. I know it is a little strange situation for the fan, but hey… that's the way it is.
LR: Where are you getting the inspiration in 2012?
SB: On this record it comes from many different places. I wrote the song "My Apologies" for my three year old son. He and my wife are both a huge source of inspiration. On the end of the cd you can hear my little boy saying “the impossible is born”. A track like "Babylon" is inspired by the conspiracy theory and the end of time. "Death Comes Tomorrow" is like a Cohan The Barbarian song. About a man on his own, fighting the elements. You can place that song in any time. It could had happen in the middle ages or present time or even in the future.
LR: Can you tell us the meaning behind the title of the album, "XI: The Days Before Tomorrow"?
SB: Haha, my wife provided me the title. I don’t know where she came across it but she mentioned it to me and said "that’s a great song title!". "The Days Before Tomorrow". So I was thinking about it and thought that is a cool title indeed. We never know when tomorrow will come so we all live in the days before tomorrow. It also reflects on the band… what we did in the past is history now. Tomorrow is the future. So I said to my wife: “I’m using the title, but I am taking the credits for it …haha"
LR: When I listen to the new album the following songs are highlights to me: "Babylon", "The Great Divide" and the super ballad "Angels Among Us" (European bonus track).
SB: "Angels Among Us" track is a real grower… I was messing around in the studio and at that point my friend Ronnie Monrose came in and ask me if I could make a instrumental song for a friend of him. He was making a Broadway show or something. So I went to work and did the track in one night and when people heard the track they loved it.
LR: I know it’s a corny question but what are your album favourites?
SB: There are songs that are close to me: "My Apologies" which was written for my son, "Bow Your Head" and probably the fan favourite "Death Comes Tomorrow".
LR: Tonight is the first gig of your European tour. Is it hard to find the right balance in the setlist between the classics and the new tracks?
SB: Yes… haha. We've been here in a long time so we want to try to please everybody. So we hope that we have a good mix of the old stuff and spice it up with the new.
LR: You are also playing Firefest this year. Any surprises we can expect?
SB: That’s going to be a fun show… they asked us to play more early Lillian Axe stuff. We haven’t decided yet what tracks we are going to play, but I can assure you it’s going to be great! We are there for the very first time.
LR: What I like about Lillian Axe is that you can't really put a label on you. You play various styles of hardrock. Even with progressive elements. Still it can confuse your fans. How do you see that?
SB: In the early days the American press labeled us as a glam rock band. I don’t think we ever were a glam rock band. Poison, Pretty Boy Floyd, Kiss, they were glam rock. If you listen to our new album it is everything but glam rock. We are progressive but not like Dream Theatre, we are melodic but not like Journey. Yeah, Lillian Axe isn’t easy to put a label on. I consider us as a heavy rock band.
LR: What do you choose? First reaction!
Studio or stage? Stage… I love to be in the studio, but sometimes it’s torture… haha.
The 80's or the current decade? 80’s, just for the all the fuzz around it. Concerts were amazing, people met on parking lots talking about their band …cool times.
Angel or Lillian Axe? Ohh, come on man, I love Angel but Lillian Axe is my baby!
Guitars or keyboards? Guitars, no question.
LR: Thank you for the interview and enjoy your tour!