American rock group Lillian Axe, led by guitarist Steve Blaze, have been around for more than 20 years. In the wake of their fantastic performance at Firefest 2012 – the first Lillian Axe show in the UK for some time – Paradise Rock’s Hamster catches up with Guitarist Steve Blaze to talk about Firefest, their new album, and what the future has in store.
Hi Steve….Thanks for doing this interview with me.
Steve – “Thanks for taking the time to send it.”
Firstly; you’ve just performed at Firefest (in the UK), of course. How was this experience for you and the band, and what do you think to UK crowds?
“I was amazed at the UK crowd. It’s been many years since we have been there, and we felt so warmly appreciated! Kieran and the crew from Firefest were fantastic; it’s one of the best run festivals I have ever been a part of.”
Your performance has become a highlight of this year’s festival for many. Can I ask you; out of your setlist on the night, which was your favourite song to perform, and did you manage to take time out to see any of the other bands?
“I have to say that “Ghost Of Winter” was a highlight for me, due to the emotional dynamics of the song and the response. I always love playing it, as it has become one of our most endeared pieces. Also, being on the “Love And War” album makes it very special in the UK.”
Brian Jones has been with the band for a while now, did you already know each other before recruiting him for Lillian Axe, and how has he settled in over this year? Also, having had different singers front Lillian Axe over the years, does this create complications when picking a setlist, for example do you have to consider things like vocal range and pitch?
“We have had 3 vocalists in a 24 year period, so, in the grand scheme, its really not so unusual. I don’t ever have to adjust the setlist, because Brian can sing every song, as his predecessors did, with great justice.”
Steve, you’ve been quoted as saying that “XI – The Days Before Tomorrow” is the best record you’ve written for Lillian Axe – which is quite a statement considering the quality of previous Lillian Axe albums such as “Love And War” and “Poetic Justice”. What sets the new album apart and makes it superior from your previous work?
“I say that, even though I feel equally proud of every record we’ve done, because there existed a fluidity and real power that came with this record. Stuff like including my son’s vocal tracks, for example! The recording process just felt amazing, and the songs flowed from my heart effortlessly. Emotionally, it was a turning point.”
The new album took 7 months to write and record, were there any particular challenges or good memories from that time and do you have a favourite song from “XI – The Days Before Tomorrow”?
“My faves are “Death Comes Tomorrow” and “My Apologies”. I enjoyed every part, especially working with Sam and Eric on the basic rhythm tracks. We all played together this time, which was different to what we normally did in the past.”
How have album sales been so far?
“Pretty decent. Obviously, it’s not what we have been used to in the past, but that is due to the ever-declining music industry and difficulty in deterring illegal downloading and the stealing of music. We are happy, yet we really want to take Lillian to the world; to the people who don’t know about us.”
With so much material behind you, have you considered releasing a greatest hits album in the near future?
“Yes, we are planning that in the New Year!”
I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, what made you first pick up the guitar and start playing, and what has been the highlight of your career so far?
“I was 6 years old, and my parents gave me an acoustic guitar for my birthday.
A major highlight was being inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010!”
Do you plan to return to the UK soon, and what does the future hold for Lillian Axe?
“We so badly want to return to the UK in 2013. We would like to start coming twice a year, so requests from the fans for that would mean a lot to us. We are recording a double live unplugged show and DVD in January, 2 videos by March, and that best of album I mentioned, so there’s three reasons already!! And, I have started writing the next album as well, for a possible summer 2013 release….?”
Thanks again for speaking to us, is there anything you’d like to add or to say to your fans here in the UK?
“Thanks so much to all of our UK fans! The experience at Firefest was a highlight for us as well. Please reach out to all venues, promoters, magazines and radio, and request the Axe! We hope to come back to Firefest next Year!!!!”
After their performance at Firefest, we think many others will agree with us that we need Lillian Axe to return to the UK soon. Steve’s guitaring on the night was sensational. Why not drop us a comment below to tell us what you thought of their performance at Firefest, or tell us what your favourite Lillian Axe song/album is.