"I want foot on the gas, fist pumping music!" Danny Rexon from Crazy Lixx Describes Life on Riot Avenue...

Metal as Fuck chews the fat and has a little quiz with the affable Swedish rocker...

When the international phone line crackles into life Crazy Lixx frontman Danny Rexon is a bit miserable. I’m excited – excited as fuck, you might say, to be able to talk to him about his band’s utterly stellar new album, Riot Avenue (out now on Frontiers Records! Buy or die!). But as he reveals almost immediately we begin talking, reaction to the new record that’s been brought to his attention thus far has been, to put a brave face on it, mixed.“I can see why some people are saying they don’t like it compared to our first two records I guess. But reaction to the record here in Sweden has been harsh.”

This is strange to me. Most of the pre-release reviews I’ve come across (Metal as Fuck’s included it must be said) have been positive, and many have highlighted the addition of a second guitarist (Edd Liam now augments the six string assault of Andy Dawson) as being vital to the band’s development on Riot Avenue. Would you agree, and is the second guitar a sticking point in some of these lukewarm reviews? “I definitely agree that the second guitar is an important step for us. But that hasn’t been mentioned in the bad reviews. This is the first album we’ve produced ourselves, which was much more relaxed. When you work with someone else you can get rushed you know? But this way, we recorded on our own, in studios close to home, and you could just go back in and redo stuff if you had new ideas or you just forgot something. But I guess for the people judging us who perhaps don’t have the same influences we have the music might not sound produced enough, you know? We didn’t master it, so not every instrument is cranked right up in the mix, and that’s not good for people who judge it like a modern record.”

But for me one of the highlights of Riot Avenue is its authenticity, and the attention to detail. It’s the best record of its kind to my ears for the last decade and a half, and much of that comes from the sound of the record. There’s a key change in the song Heatseeker that takes me back to 1989! “I guess it sounds to me like you have the same kind of influences I have! I’m glad you get that, but it’s been difficult for some people.”

You mentioned influences – what got you into this kind of music in the first place? “I got into hard rock at a very early age, and the band for me that started it was Iron Maiden. You can still listen to them today and it never gets old. It’s classic. I listened of course to harder stuff like Metallica, but Iron Maiden for sure.”

Riot Avenue can broadly be described as a hair metal album. Does the advent and success of a band like Steel Panther make it harder for bands like Crazy Lixx for whom this is a serious business – its your life, or certainly your career after all –or does it open the door for you to an audience that might not have listened to your kind of music at all? “I can see why people do think that our kind of music is perhaps not as serious because of that band. Or maybe they don’t take it seriously enough themselves anyway. But for me, and I guess for a lot of other people, this music isn’t serious. When most people press ‘play’ they want to be entertained, you know? They don’t want to hear about how hard people’s lives are, or be preached to. I want foot on the gas, fist pumping music! But yes I can see they might be responsible for making people think it’s not a serious kind of music in a bad way.”

This style of music is coming back though, yes? “Definitely. And it’s worldwide. We sell as many records in Japan as we do at home, and we’ve never been there. We’ve done a couple of interviews and that’s all! But it’s picking up in America too.”

And England, I’m told too. “Yes. We did a few shows there with a Swedish band called Hardcore Superstar, and it went really well.”

So any plans for touring this album abroad? “No, none at the moment. There was some talk of Japan, but nobody could put the money up. I guess we might have to put some money upfront ourselves to make it happen, but it would be worth taking the risk.”

For sure, Japan just goes mad for this kind of music. “Haha yes it does! If I could I would make the band’s career overseas. There are too many bands in Sweden; I read somewhere we have the highest concentration of pro bands per capita anywhere in the world. One band for every 1200 people or something like that. And everyone hates everyone else! It’s crazy! But I would really love to tour in America, Australia, Japan…”

Are any promoters reading this? If so you know what to do. Anyways, it’ll be time to go soon, and I just wanted to give Danny a little quiz before he goes. As something of a hair metal bore I like to think of myself as an expert on these matters, and I think In detect a few influences on Riot Avenue. So I ask Mr Rexon if he’s up for answering my probing about what goes on in the background of his songwriting. “Sure, yes! What’s the first one?”

I’m detecting a little Kiss on the record. “You’re detecting a lot of Kiss on the record, especially on the choruses! Paul Stanley is a genius!”

Marvellous. I’m shooting one for one. Okay, a bit more obscure maybe, but I’m hearing a bit of Krokus here and there? “Who?”

Krokus. Th- “Oh! The Swiss band, right? Well, I don’t really know them apart from their hits, so I wouldn’t say they were an influence. But that’s not to say that you don’t hear something there.”

Bugger. Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here and throw in another lesser-known name… Kix? “Yes, well… the first song I ever heard by them was Don’t Close Your Eyes, which is a pretty good power ballad, and I guess you could say the last song on the album (the utterly brilliant Only the Dead Know) is that style of song.”

Yes! That’s exactly what I was thinking of! Two to me! But my joy is short lived. “But I would say that their usual kind of music is more straightforward AC/DC type stuff. Not saying I have anything against that, but I’d rather listen to AC/DC doing it myself."

Okay. But I’m still claiming a half point there. Next up, Dokken. Rexon starts laughing. “Again, I don’t really listen to Dokken. But in one review we got they said there’s a lot of George Lynch in Andy Dawson’s guitar playing. And he said 'I hate George Lynch'! He really doesn’t listen to him, but I guess again if you hear something in there, there must be something in it!”

I’m claiming that. And finally, what about a bit of White Lion? “They’re Danish right? Or a least the singer is? Maybe there’s a bit of Scandinavian sound there that you pick up on. They really aren’t an influence, but that’s probably there. I’m pretty sure I can hear that in a band the first time I hear them. It’s like German bands. There’s always a ‘Germanness’ about them that you can pick up on. So maybe that’s it.”

A shame to end a poor note for me, but it’s been great to chat to Danny, and, as the last grains of sand drain through the egg timer there's just time to say goodbye and thank the man for foisting a great album on us. And maybe we’ll get to have a beer in Australia one day! “I hope so! That would be great! And I’m glad you like the album!”

Oh we do, Danny, we do!