20 Questions w/ Lillian Axe guitarist Stevie Blaze.
Stevie Blaze of Lillian Axe
Well kids here we go again. Sludge has interviewed hundreds of band guys, but never a member of Lillian Axe. Until today that is. They got a new CD coming out, and Stevie just became a Father last week to a baby boy. Let us let it rip with Stevie Blaze guitarist and founder of Lillian Axe. Enjoy.
1. What’s up with you, cds, projects, websites, tours, etc… Plug away.
Lillian Axe just signed a new deal with Blistering Records for 4 albums and worldwide release. Sad Day on Planet Earth is being released in June. We are recording it now. 14 tracks, 71 minutes. Near Life Experience, my other band, is 2/3 finished a new album. Hopefully it will be out this year. We start the Lillian tour on June 16th, the tentative release date, in Austin, TX. We plan on touring heavily all this year and next, including Europe and Canada and Japan. Our site is www.lillianaxe.com, and of course we have a myspace page, several actually.
2. The band is back on the reunion trail. Many have done so with good and bad results. (Last year with Warrant comes to mind) What do you expect for Lillian Axe?
I don’t consider this a reunion at all. We took a 3 year break and started playing again in 1999. However, it really has only been in the last 2 years that we have fully gotten back in the swing again. What I expected has actually happened. We toured with the Waters Rising album pretty heavily. It was a re-emerging where it took time to get the public to realize we were in full force. The reaction was amazingly positive, especially since we had a new singer Derrick LeFevre. The funny part was that the only handful of people who were negative were people who we knew personally and were friends. But even they wound up giving in. I see how many things have changed but I feel that Lillian is a band that has not become a caricature of itself. We have always been about the music and although we have not received the commercial success of some of our peers yet, we have always been well respected. We get stronger every record. The new tour will have us play the fan favorites from the last 6 albums and a lot from the new one.
Lillian Axe with the chain link fence and always cool Port o’ Potty background.
3. What are the best & worst things about having been based out of NOLA for your career. Secondly, how did Katrina affect you and your life in the recent years?
Being from NOLA has good and bad points. The good being that people love that city and there is no negativity with dated stereotypes to pin on the bands there. It is also a place where fans are very loyal to us. The negative is that there are very few rock venues and no rock radio except classic rock. The local papers and magazines have never supported the rock scene. Bands like Lillian, Zebra, Crowbar, etc. have had long careers and helped build the rock scene years ago, but the press has never been there. The covers of the music rags will put a 95 year old blues player on the cover every month who has sold 25 records which is fine, but they will ignore the successes of rock bands that deserve recognition, especially from their hometown! It has been very disappointing.
The hurricane wiped out a lot. Eric and Sam lost a ton of gear. The experience made us all very appreciative of our lives and the things in life that are very important. It also showed a lot of greed and corruption in the city. My mom and sisters lost their homes, and we all lost a lot of personal stuff. I lost about 300 vinyl albums from when I was a kid! It was emotionally staggering to see the devastation laid out before me.
4. Tell us the first 2 hours of how Stevie Blaze starts his day?
The first 2 hrs. are the hardest. Always hit the snooze. 9 extra minutes of sleep. Straight to the whirlpool tub and start it up. I am such a creature of habit, I swear. Then its 10 minutes of brushing teeth, face creams, shaving, etc. I am sorry to admit it, but I am a hygiene fanatic. My bathroom looks like the counter at Sephora. Then I marinate in the tub with the jets on high. There’s a half hour. I own my own company as well so I get to my office and answer all band related emails and conference with my manager. All business. On weekends it’s straight to lunch and shopping. I am a shopping junkie. Sorry, no drinking or drug binges.
Lillian Axe does dualing banjos back in the day!
5. Rate a guitarist 1-10. A 1 being someone who sucks bad and a 10 being a virtuoso.
Eddie Van Halen = 9
CC DeVille =7
Zakk Wylde = 9
Tracii Guns =8
Scotti Hill =7
Warren DeMartini = 8
Slash = 8
DJ Ashba =8
George Lynch =8
Buckethead = 9
They are all very good. These are ratings by what I know of them.
6. If you could smash your guitar over any rock stars head, who would it be and why?
Jani Lane. To wake him up. He and I almost teamed up together before we each had our first deals. He was really alive and fired up. He is a very talented guy, and it really bums me out to see him now. We did a few shows together 2 years ago, and he stared right through me with a trancelike look. I wanted to shake him up, but I don’t think it would have worked. We played together in Rocklahoma and I was really upset that he was still the same way. I really pray for him and hope he gets some help. He is a great guy and truly talented, but I don’t want him to become another casualty.
7. You’ve got a solid 25 years under your belt and have seen some cycles in the industry. What new bands, or music has inspired you or impressed you in the new millennium?
Honestly, the new stuff is the old stuff on Pro Tools. The bands I love now are Muse (the greatest band around), Alter Bridge, Chevelle, My Chemical Romance and Avenged Sevenfold. All influenced by the ones who started it off.
Eddie Trunk and Stevie Blaze.
8. What rock band should pack it in and call it a day once and for all?
I honestly feel that any band still flying the flag should keep it going unless they lose the drive to make the music and the show come first. Changes will come and go but if the essence is there then do it. For example, I love Chris Cornell as a singer. He has a new record I have been waiting for, but when I heard it, I wanted to cry. It received a lot of harsh criticism from diehard fans. My initial instinct was "It’s over." But when I thought about it, because it is so much different from what I expected, I tried to put myself in his shoes. If he really feels that this record is true and something he needed to express, then I am in his court. If he did it for any other reason, such as to try to be in with what he thought might be hip, then I would be bummed. He’s such a great talent nonetheless.
9. Tell us about your involvement with the band ANGEL. How did that come about and what’s the status of that now in 2009?
I have always been a huge Angel fan as a kid. The keyboardist at the time wanted to interview me for his book. We got to talking and he mentioned that Punky Meadows was not going to rejoin the band and asked if I was interested. I said absolutely. I flew to New York and auditioned. 2 songs in I knew they were happy. I knew more songs than they did!
From then on we only occasionally toured, and to be honest, it’s in Frank Dimino’s hands. We have material to do a new record, but I can’t seem to get the rest of the band to get going. We are spread out everywhere and we are all doing other things as well. It is a huge blast to be in Angel.
Lillian Axe an 80s hair band or metal pinup?
10. In an interview with Rock N’ Roll Universe back in 2005 you said:
“I hate the term “80s” and “Hair Band,” it makes me sick to hear that.”
Do you say this as a shame to that style, time, a distaste for the whole “era” or more of an “anger” towards the people who want to label it as such & not respect it?
The anger is for the term. It is an ignorant attempt to put a label on a music form so that it is easily palatable for the public. It seems that so much is lost when a term has a connotation that makes no sense… Don’t people realize that the fashion of today will be silly looking in 3-5 years? That’s just the way it is in a society that only judges from the outside. As you well know, bands that started in the 80′s worked their asses off, and it was the best of times in the music industry. Just look how screwed up it is now. Is there even a style of rock music to be labeled? Everybody wants to be Nickelback. Seriously, there are no true new great bands or stars anymore. Why? The press killed them.
11. Touring memory of the following cities: What do you remember about…
Dallas = One of the best cities in the country. Use to have the most thriving rock scene and radio with ZRock! We played so many times. A lot of very wild memories. Dallas City Limits was the best.
Milwaukee = We stayed in the hotel where Jeffrey Daumer brought the last victim that got away. This place was severely evil. You could feel it in the air.
Cleveland = The Agora…Played on the river also and met a guy who lost his fiancé, she passed away in a car accident. He told me that I and Bob Dylan kept him from taking his life. That shook me up and I still remember that particular story.
Tampa Bay = Robbie from Kansas had a new band that opened for us there. Also played Livestock, I thin it was called. Flew there from N.Y. in the morning, played, flew back to N.Y. after in time to play in Brooklyn that night.
Nashville = Playing with Keel when our first album came out.
N.Y.C. =So many great things. Especially playing the Limelight! Lamour in Brooklyn was the best.
Las Vegas = I was amazed at the casinos. They were miniature countries. You could live in one and never be bored.
Hollywood = Thinking it was so huge and amazing and special. Had lunch with Milton Berle twice right after our signing to MCA. Spent lots of time there.
Minneapolis = Great city. The best promoter in the world took us to his cinema after the show. At 3 a.m. we had the entire place to ourselves to watch whatever we wanted with open snack bar. It’s the little things that I remember.
New Orleans = Where it all started. Used to have a thriving rock scene. Not any more. Only if you play jazz, blues, or covers. Great food.
Modern day Lillian Axe live shot.
12. Name the 3 high points and the 3 low points of your music career to date?
High points—1. Going to Japan
2. Seeing our video on MTV for the first time with my Dad.
3. Signing my first deal with MCA.
Low Points— 1. Signing my deal with MCA
2. Getting screwed by Z records in England
3. The 3 year hiatus after Psycho
13. Tell us about bad luck. What is the most unlucky thing that happened to Lillian Axe while on the road back in the day?
I can’t pinpoint the most unlucky, but I can tell a few. The fact that several of our record labels and past managers have totally done wrong to us is an understatement. I realize its part of the business and that every band goes through it, but it has been ridiculous. I look at it like this: God has a plan and things are in His time. I will keep dealing with bad luck because it makes me stronger. We have had many a broke down bus, a bus driver who got drunk and pulled a gun on our manager, sniff dogs on our bus many times, crazed fans impersonating me several times with one going to great lengths to meet girls (I think the FBI is checking into this guy), labels going out of business, and many other tales of woe too numerous to mention.
Lillian Axe guarding the "Music That Sucks Vault" It must be full of Nelson tracks.
14. What Lillian Axe song should go in the ‘Music that Sucks Vault’ never to be heard again?
If I had to pick one of my least faves it would be Daddy Long Legs, a demo which appears on Fields of Yesterday, strictly because of the blatant sexual analogy of the spider and the fly. I think that 4 of us wrote the lyrics on the spot as we were recording. I even cry on a few lines.
15. Word Association: We mention a name and you give us a quick comment or thought.
Ron Taylor = He’s a great singer. Many good times with him.
Frank Dimino = Another great voice. He and I room together on tour. I make him laugh so hard all the time. We have a blast together.
Leif Mases = I miss him. Haven’t spoken to him in 10 years. What a brilliant engineer. Leif, call me. Did 2 records with him and enjoyed every second.
Robbin Crosby = He had a great heart. I loved the guy. He didn’t have the rock star head. He always just wanted to have things be down to earth. I think he got messed up with the wrong elements because he couldn’t find what he was looking for. He was the best. R.I.P.
Gene Barnett = Class clown. Always into mischief. Great drummer. Had a style different from other drummers.
Tommy Stewart = I have always been blessed to play with great drummers. He was very solid and reliable. Great guy to tour with.
Brian McEvoy =He worked very hard for us. Called me a few months ago and wanted me to start a country band. Other than that, he was a great guy and lived for his label.
Tony Platt = Tony was cool. Also a great engineer. He made Love and War unique and working with him jumpstarted my abilities to produce.
Jim Dandy = Jim was great. I played on his Ready as Hell album when I was just a boy. I remember going on his tour bus and thinking it was the greatest thing to ever occur. His band was amazing and his keyboardist Billy Batte changed my life by turning me on to classical music. He would say, “You and me like Dave and Eddie." I think David Lee Roth learned a lot from Jim.
Derrick LeFevre = The man. Great voice, so natural. This guy is a machine. Very laid back. We toured a straight 2 months with about 5 off days and he never lost a note. 12 days on, one off, 9 on, one off, etc and never lost his voice the slightest. He got stronger. It was a blessing to find him. He’s the best.
Bandana = Check
Cross necklace = Check
Leather jacket = Check
Hand on knee pose = Check x2
Cowboy boots = Check x3
Hairband = Check
16. Of all the bands you’ve toured with, who were the absolute coolest and who were the biggest dicks on the planet?
The coolest was Alice Cooper and his band and crew. The biggest pricks were the Outfield. We only did one festival, but what a couple of tools. I never liked them, but Ron Taylor did. We walked up to them, Ron complimented them, and they didn’t even acknowledge us in the least. I can’t stand arrogance and rudeness. When pricks like that exist and then you meet a true star like Brian May from Queen and he’s the nicest guy on the planet, it makes you realize that there is no room for jackasses in this world.
A Sludge friend to the masses Chip Z’nuff & Stevie Blaze.
17. Kill, fuck, marry. You kill one, fuck one and marry the other. (Angelina Jolie, Amy Winehouse, Avril Lavigne )
Metaphorically speaking, I kill all 3. Just to keep myself from having to hear unimportant bullshit about them on a daily basis. This would probably save them as well from being slobbered on by the media and not allowed to live their lives like a normal human. Already married, so no sex or marriage allowed unless I can come live at your house.
18. Hair Band Mix n’ Match: Put the letter with the correct number.
(No cheating with Google either)
A. Steve West 1. Is the singer of King of the Hill
B. Frankie Muriel 2. Is the bassist in Motley Crue
C. Kevin Steele 3. Plays drums for Danger Danger
D. Frank Ferrano Jr. 4. Played guitar in Faster Pussycat
E. Greg Steele 5. Sings for Roxx Gang
19. What is the biggest musical related check you ever received and what did you buy with it?
$22,500. 15k to tour support 7500 to myself and the other related parties
Lillian Axe with Alice Cooper
20. The last of Stevie Blaze….
Last time you puked from drinking = on tour when I was 23–mixed about 5 different drinks.
Last type of strings you put on your axe = S.I.T.
Last time you cried =Shed a small tear at Benjamin Button…last hard cry when my Dad died.
Last famous person you shook hands with = Alice Cooper
Last time you had a q-tip swab jammed into your dick at the doc =absolutely never.
Last cover song you jammed on live =Tush
Last fast food drive thru you hit = McDonalds for a large sweet tea, my poison.
Last time you had a clean shaven chin = First Angel tour
Last time you were in hand cuffs = HARD N HEAVY VIDEO INTERVIEW
Last time you heard someone mention the name Metal Sludge = At Rock the Bayou
Thanks Sludge for the interview. It was a pleasure. Take care. sb
We thank Stevie for his contributions and a huge congrats on the Little Blaze.