'Get the record and live with it before you become the World's greatest critic' - Steve Blaze of Lillian Axe talks to Metal as Fuck

And Steve's got a bone to pick with us...

Those of you who pay attention to such things will remember that about a month ago Metal as Fuck ran a review of the new album by Lillian Axe, XI: The Days Before Tomorrow. I remember because I reviewed it, and I had a few reservations about the way things in the ‘Axe camp seemed to be going a bit ‘modern’ for my liking. Anyway, sensible man that he is, Lillian Axe mainman Steve Blaze was reading MaF and came across my review. He vented his frustrations on twitter, declaring in no uncertain terms that he was disappointed with my review. Well, we here at MaF are nothing if not fair – and I must be honest and say Lillian Axe are one of my favourite bands of all time and I didn’t want them having the hump with me- so we immediately presented Mr Blaze with a forum to discuss his beefs with us, in the form of an interview. Here’s what went down.

Before we get down to the ‘nitty gritty’, tell us a bit about the recording of XI – how did you find vocalist Brian Jones for instance?  Did your decision to go for a more modern sound influence your decision to select him ahead of someone who might have been more in the vein of (original LA vocalist) Ron Taylor? “Brian became a friend over the years after being a huge fan of the band. He had been attending Lillian Axe shows since he was 15. We spoke every now and then, and I heard he was quite a good guitarist. When the singer position opened, he called me to tell me he wanted an audition. I asked him to send me some stuff, and I began studying him for months. I had no idea he was such a great vocalist. After 6 months of hanging out, rehearsing, recording and getting to know him, we realized he was the guy. There was no decision to ever go for a modern sound. That element just occurs as the band evolves. He just fit us perfectly”.

How did you come to hook up with German Label AFM Records? And were you worried about signing to a label with such a ‘metal’ rep? “Well our publicist hooked us up with AFM and they have been outstanding so far. I had no idea who they were at first, but they could have been a rap label as far as i was concerned. If they believed in us, then so be it”.

We are longtime fans of Lillian Axe at Metal as Fuck, and despite the fact I thought we gave XI a broadly positive review (despite my misgivings about one or two aspects of the record), you felt that we didn’t ‘get’ what you’d done. What do you think we missed out on? “First off, I appreciate you guys very much, but I felt that the album wasn't given proper understanding. Of course, everyone has an opinion, but I wanted and expected the album to be understood more because you guys are very knowledgeable in what you do. I didn't mean to come off so harsh. It was the "county fair" remark that bothered me. Enough said. I feel that we made one of the best if not our best record ever, and there are those that will agree and some that will not, but it is still very genuine and we worked very hard on it”.

I don’t doubt that, and to be, um, fair, the ‘county fair’ remark actually said (or at least intended to imply) that it was good that Lillian Axe wouldn’t be on the US Summer nostalgia circuit, but never mind! Obviously long term fans such as me are often eager for their favourite bands to keep a little element about their sound connected to the time when we first fell in love with any band we feel connected to. How constricting is that for you as a songwriter? Or is it up to us as fans to progress with musicians rather than expecting them to keep churning out the same old same old? “No matter how I might ever try to make a cognizant effort to make sure we still sound like Lillian, it doesn’t  matter because it always will. It’s in my DNA. I think it’s great that fans cling to the old records and want for nostalgic reasons to have things stay the same, but I feel they should be a part of the band and grow with us together. If a fan really gives it a shot, 9 out of 10 times, they will realize that this is just a growth and an evolution. I don’t feel one bit that our albums are all so drastically different whatsoever. I just feel that more of a chance should be given to grow with the band. Look at the Van Halen song. My God, people hear 30 seconds and they are ready to crucify them! It's ridiculous. Get the record, and live with it before you become the world's greatest critic”.

He’s talking of course about the worldwide outpouring of revulsion that followed VH’s release of the Tattoo video clip into the wild. Anyways back to the subject in hand - You definitely seem to be on the upturn at the moment with the band – any plans to tour for this record? “Yes, we are working on U.S. and European tours now. I really want to go to Japan badly!”

And are you already collecting material for the next album? How quickly do you assemble the material for a new release? “I’m working on new material as we speak! I don’t slow down.”

Finally – anything else you’d like to bring to the attention of the Metal as Fuck readership? “Honestly guys, thanks for the support. I really appreciate it. We just want to make ya proud! And thanks to the fans. This record is really a true representation of Lillian Axe. Listen to it from front to back LOUD!”

You can’t doubt the man’s sincerity, or his ability as a magnificent guitarist and songwriter. Me? I’m just glad we’re friends again. Like Steve says – go out and give the album a go, and make your own minds up.