KE: Hi Steve! I wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to call in today and chat with use here on backstageaxxess.com.
SB: Oh, it’s my pleasure. No problem at all.
KE: Your new CD , “XI:The Days Before Tomorrow, “ will be released soon and I had the opportunity to listen to it and it really blew me away. Can you tell us a little bit about the CD and the recording process?
SB: Yeah, we actually spent about eight months recording, mixing, and mastering the album. We really took our time. Obviously, we were working on the change of lead vocalist to Brian Jones. So, we were kind of getting him comfortable, rehearsing, writing as we were doing the record. We’ve always tried to come up with better methods of recording the record where we have more time to be able to sit back and be objective and not rush into decisions too much. Which is kind of hard to do in the early days because you booked the studio for two months and you were in the there and it was like an assembly line. Over the years I’ve kind of changed that whole operating system and we work more now on a song by song basis. This allows us to concentrate on the actual song and tracking it and getting it where we’re comfortable and then being able to come back, ya know let it sit for awhile and then move on to the next song, listen to the roughs of it and then come back and make changes that we wanted. If you do it in 45 or 60 days, you’re on deadline and you got to get mixed and mastering and production. That takes any of the afterthought out of it. This way if we take our time we can always go back after several weeks of listening to it, go back and tweak and redo some of the things here and there. So it was a good pace we were able to do that with and all the while we were breaking Brian in and getting him acclimated to being the lead vocalist.
KE: Well, he sounds like he is a great fit for the band. His voice is just awesome and so powerful. Did you have to change anything with the addition of Brian as far as the songwriting for the record? Did you have to tweak anything specifically for him?
SB: Not really, ya know I didn’t really have to. You know when I was writing, I write in the matter that a composer would write an orchestral piece. I hear all the sounds and all the elements at one time. I don’t just write a riff and then try to fit something. I hear everything going at the same time. I really got acclimated to Brian’s voice so whenever I was writing these songs I could hear how he would be singing these lines. So that made it easier. But the great thing about Brian is he’s got such a good range. You can hear on “Bow Your Head” and “Death Comes Tomorrow” he really just has a really nice rich, low register and then he can belt it out and scream. He’s got just a really wide range. So I really wasn’t limited and didn’t have to think is this out of his range or too high or too low or what not. I just know that he sings with so much passion and emotion that anything that I came up with was go do it and put your heart and soul into it and he delivered, heavily.
KE: I was amazed at how he fit right in with his first time in the band. Was there anything specific done during the recording process to ease him through?
SB: We had a really good engineer, Rob Hovey, who has worked with me on the last four records and then we had Sylvia Massey and her team mix the album. So it’s a real group effort. The guys in the band really played well. They always do but you know sometimes it just really all the pieces of the puzzle just fit together and it’s one of those things like the stars were all aligned properly. At the end of the day, we look back even down to the artwork and the way the setup has been with the labels, you couldn’t ask for much more than what everybody’s put into this so far.
KE: From the opening strains of the first track I was hooked into it and it led me all the way through. And you touch on some really emotional things in this cd and some more difficult subjects. Was that something that you set out to do or just something that evolved during the writing process?
SB: No, no. It does evolve. I always set out to write things that are going to be emotion provoking but I didn’t at the beginning set out and say I’m gonna write about this guy or this situation. When I sit down or I experience something that moves me it just pushes me to write something about that. And it kind of all happens at one time, like I get moved by an experience and I pick up a guitar or I listen to some of the my demo recordings because when I come up with an idea I always put it on my iPhone or my little digital recorder and leave it in there because I know I need to come back to it. A couple of songs, the main riffs were written while we were recording some of the other tracks on the record. I would be getting sound or what not or a really cool idea and I’d say hang on one second and pull out the song and record the riff and then go back to what I was doing. It’s not any kind of real pre-determined thing it just happens like that. And I guess as I get more life experiences that move me in different ways. But even from the first record until now, the same types of emotional elements always inspire me to write things. I write things that are sad sometimes but I always put the silver lining and the positive message in. I write about things that I want people to pay attention to. Ya know, the first couple of records, I was in my twenties and I wrote some lighter type stuff, a few love songs here and there because that was what I was starting to learn about. As I get into it now, I need the lyrical content to match the intensity of the music. They work hand in hand so I write about love but it’s a little different. I write a song about how much I love my little two year old and how much I love my daughter and my wife and it’s personal for each individual.
KE:Are you gonna take this new CD out on tour at all?
SB: Oh absolutely. We’re right now there are two different tours that are being set up right now. Probably starting like in March or April and go probably through July. Then we’re going back to Europe and playing a festival in October. But we’re in the process right now of letting the agents get the tours together. We should now more in the next couple weeks.
KE: Well, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you live if the location permits.
SB:We’re looking to go up and down coast to coast at least once or twice this year.
KE: I can’t wait. I saw that you did an album release party for your fans in New Orleans. How did that go and what was the fan reaction to the new music?
SB:Yeah, we did a free show the other night. It was our first show and introduced the songs and the album comes out in a week but people could buy the album that night. So a free show in New Orleans, our hometown, and we played, “Babylon,” “Caged In,” “ Take the Bullet,” “Death Comes Tomorrow,” “Bow Your Head,” and “My Apologies.” We did six tracks off the record and people really seemed to take to it. It was great and I really just can’t wait to get out there.
KE: Are you involved in any side projects right now or are you keeping the main focus on Lillian Axe?
SB: Well Lillian’s always been my main focus, always will be. But I have another album coming out. The band’s called “Circle of Light” and the album’s called “Rebirth.” It’s kind of funny, it’s related heavily to Lillian because the very first four members of Lillian Axe, when I first started the band, we reunited. Now when I first got signed to MCA the lineup changed but we were a four piece before I got signed to MCA and those four guys including myself reunited about a year ago and we have the record coming out in two months. And it’s all songs that I had written for Lillian Axe that never made any of the albums. Old school rock and metal like when I first started writing songs but the great thing about it is they all really stood the test of time. It’s really cool, it’s like early Lillian Axe stuff.
KE: Can’t wait for that to come out. I hear you have a guitar line out as well. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
SB:I have a new guitar line. I have two models, one is called the Blaze model and one is called the Redeemer. And people can go online and check them out. The company that makes them is called Guilford Guitars and you can go to guilfordguitars.com. People should check it out, they are amazing guitars. People who are looking for the perfect guitar, this is the guy to go to.
KE: Any final thoughts for the fans?
SB: Stay in touch with us on Lillianaxe.com and let us know what you think. We’ll be on the road in the next few months and we’re the kind of band that after every show we come out and we want to meet everybody. So we look forward to that and I appreciate you having me on the show.
KE: It was my pleasure Steve. Good luck with new CD and the upcoming tour.
We would like to thank Chip from Chipster Entertainment for setting up the interview with Steve. For more information on the new CD “XI:The Days Before Tomorrow” or Lillian Axe in general, please go to: Lilian Axe.