2014 in Review: Lord's LT - "Steel Assassins knocked it out of the park!"

One of Australia's iconic metal musicians tells us all about his last 12 months!

Australia has more than it's fair share of heavy metal legends, but they don't come much more legendary than Lord Tim - LT - of Lord/Dungeon fame. So why wouldn't we want to include the man in our end of year roundup when there's been so much going on in the LT camp? Read on to find out just how much, like you didn't know already...

So, has it been a good year for the band? What have you spent the year doing? "It’s been a crazy year for Lord. We spent the last eleven months working on an eight-album box set marking the twenty fifth anniversary of “The Dungeon Era” of the band, complete with over two hundred pages of bio material and rare photos and artwork. In the end it worked out to be close to eighty songs that were either remixed or re-recorded from scratch. Somehow in the middle of that we still ended up touring. Insane!"

Insane yes, but a strangely pleasant strain of insanity, surely! When you look back on 2014 personally, what things stand out for you as highs and lows? "Highs? Getting that damn box set finished! Lows? I was getting somewhere on average between three to five hours sleep for most of the year, being recording engineer, producer, performer, historian/writer, artwork guy… you name it, I was involved in every part of the process and it was a lot of work with very little sleep and social life".

Who needs a social life when you've got heavy metal? That's what I tell the wife, anyway. But we're not here to talk about me - how was 2014 for you musically, aside from any projects you’re involved in? "I managed to produce a couple of other great albums here in my studio but other than that, I’ve been pretty closed off to the world this year".

Bearing that in mind, could you give us your best album(s) of the year? "For me, Ultraviolet by Pseudo Echo. I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager and this album to me was such a return to form. I had to laugh when I heard it because every time a new song started, the melodies and sounds and vibe of it all just made me think “Yes! That! That’s what I would have wanted to do if I was writing a Pseudo Echo album!” – they absolutely nailed it. It was also great supporting the guys through their Kickstarter campaign so they could keep it all in-house, and keep creative control over the entire process".

Ah the blessed kickstarter campaign! It's certainly changing the way we perceive the music making process. Now, we’re not going to ask for your worst album of the year, as people always say they try and stay away from bad music, but did you feel disappointed by any album that came out this year that you were looking forward to? "Honestly, with the bubble I’ve been in this year, I couldn’t give you one that I care enough about that has made me take notice of it".

Fair enough. 2014 Was a momentous year for you. What does 2015 hold in store for the band? "Call me insane, but I’ve been formulating something fairly interesting in my head all year while I’ve been working on The Dungeon Era box set, and literally a day after we signed off on everything, I knuckled down to start writing it properly. I’d say that, in some shape or form, will surface in 2015. Of course, we’re back out on the road again as well with a couple of festivals locked in already".

You are, indeed, insane. Although as we know the Devil makes work for idle hands so you're probably safer keeping up the workload! On a wider note, how healthy do you think the extreme music  scene is where you are from, looking towards 2015? Any bands we should be looking out for next year that we might not already know about? "The scene ebbs and flows, and I think the Sydney scene especially is on a bit of an ebb stage at the moment. There’s a lot of apathy out there for local events, which is sad when there’s so much amazing talent on offer. Every now and then a show will knock it out of the park, like Dave Balfour’s Steel Assassins festival  - that was a great success (and why wouldn’t it be with such a strong lineup?) but overall I think the Sydney scene could do better and be a bit more proactive.Band wise, again I haven’t heard too much this year, but I think I predicted in 2013 that Troldhaugen were really going to go places, and sure enough this year they went on a huge European tour with Alestorm. Look out for those guys; if they keep it together, I reckon they’ll be one of the next wave of marquee Australian metal bands".

The last couple of years have seen almost every band from the eighties and nineties that were even half decent (and many not even that good) reforming for another go at stardom. Is this a reflection on the state of the music industry as it stands, with labels unable or unwilling to nurture young talent and punters forced into going out and watching something more tried and trusted? Or is it simply a reflection on the laziness of those same punters who’d rather watch a bunch of old blokes performing in their own tribute acts rather than risking a tenner on new music? "I think it’s just the cyclic nature of the music industry in so far as the style that those older bands played is coming back into vogue a little more, coupled with the fact that the traditional model of how bands used to release things – get a huge record deal, record an album on their dime and release it – has changed. Now artists are able to do this all hands-on themselves and put out music that they want to put out rather than doing what some marketing department is telling them will sell records to kids. I’ll refer back to Pseudo Echo again – no label in 2014 would seriously take a risk on 'that Funkytown band from the 80s” over any of their current stock of Nicki Minaj clones and yet here they are, putting out a very honest album because they simply want to and they believe in it. There’s obviously money in the nostalgia aspect of course, and I have no doubt a lot of bands are seeing other artists reform and cash in on it too, but I think there’s also a growing movement of a lot of bands who have had albums out in the past on labels and are basically seeing fuck-all money from it because of who owns the rights. A lot of bands (us included) are revisiting their back catalogue and putting fresh takes on things and focussing on that era so they can get control of their art back into their own hands where it belongs'.

Interesting - that's an angle that I hadn't considered, and I see your point! As an extension to that original question, and nowithstanding what you may have answered to it is there anyone who hasn’t reformed that you might like a sneaky look at should they get back together? "I think all of my favourite bands are either still together or they’ve broken up for a reason and reforming would just be a mistake (and thankfully they know this too)".

Lets keep the old fart theme running a little bit longer – what did you make of the U2/Apple business? Great piece of marketing or appalling imposition on individual privacy? "I didn’t ask for it so I don’t fucking want it, simple as that. I don’t even care what the album is like – give me the option to download it for free if that’s what you want to do and if I decide I want it, I’ll grab it myself; don’t just put it on my fucking device and then give me no way (at least until everyone complained about it) to get it out of my cloud storage.  It’s like waking up and finding someone has laid a massive shit in your spare room. I’m sorry, “close the door if you don’t want to see it” isn’t good enough. But annoyances aside with that aspect of it all, I’m not entirely sure what message that’s sending to the general public about what music is worth. Not only can U2 afford to give an album away, they were paid a massive amount of money by Apple to make this happen. Now put that next to an emerging artist who relies on any merch or album sales to make ends meet, and you get people telling them “well U2 gave their album away, if you love what you do you should give yours away too – it’s art, you shouldn’t be doing it to make money.” That’s all good and fine except that literally every other process costs a shitload of money to record and successfully launch an album, to even get the attention of those people who say it should be just given away in the first place. I have no doubt the model we have at the moment isn’t working, and there’s a big likelihood that music will be given away in the future, but it has to be subsidised by something else so the artist can keep working and keep paying those people around them to make it all happen, no matter how much they’re “doing it because they love it.”  U2 sets a very poor and potentially damaging precedent with how they went about it, I think".

Absolutely! Next up is an Important lifestyle question – vinyl, cd or mp3? "I’d like it to be all of the above for different reasons. There was always something really special about holding a 12” record in your hands and looking over the artwork and sleeve, and the experience of just letting it play from start to finish, but I’m definitely not one of those guys who is nostalgic for the noise, crackle, reduced audio bandwidth, and the amount of space owning hundreds of records leaves you without. I do still like buying CDs for the tangible product aspect, but I think if I had to pick one, I’d have go with lossless audio (FLAC rather than MP3) and have some great digital content (bio, lyrics, liner notes, photos, etc.) to go with it. Three hundred CDs or records are fine until you want to take them with you for a drive in the car or a long plane trip somewhere".

You're clearly a very practical man! Finally -  Anything else you’d like to bring to the attention of the MaF readership? "Buy our new box set! Help us get out of the hole we dug ourselves(laughs)! Seriously though, support your favourite artists, especially local artists. We all rely on you to keep doing what we’re doing and in turn that helps keep the scene strong, which is a good thing for all of us; artists and fans alike".