By Jay Oakley
First off, congratulations are in order because you have My Midnight Things coming out and how stoked are you?
I’m blown away. We actually just released the video today, a song called “Long May They Haunt Us.” It’s the first video off the album. So, it just got released today and we’re having a big, giant release party in Las Vegas, where I’m at now, and that’s free to get in for everybody, it’s going to be a crazy party. So, there’s lots of things going on today and as we go along.
Absolutely, I can tell. It’s right there in your voice, how excited you are to have new music out for everybody and how long you worked on it.
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s been way to long. So, I love the whole thing about doing all of this because I miss being a recording artist. We were just touring and touring and touring and coming up with ideas to do a tour and now I have a great idea to do a tour. So, promoting albums is really the reason to tour for me so I’m excited about it.
So when it comes to the album, from my understanding, you really locked yourself away to concentrate on this record. Getting the sounds correct, getting your vocals in check as well as being the guitar player and the bass player for this record. So, I’d love for you to talk a little about stepping out of the limelight to put this album together.
Well, I have played guitar on other Lizzy Borden albums. Sometimes I don’t even credit myself; I just do it so this was not that crazy. But, for this album, I locked myself away at my studio in North Hollywood which is in an industrial area and well after midnight which is when I would start recording and writing, it would just be dark, dead silence, nothing. That kind of loneliness and angst that I had going on there, I wanted that to come out in my voice and I think I captured it. I think it’s in there and sometimes I wouldn’t see anybody for a week just being in there. So, I purposely did that because I wanted that to come out of my voice. So, that’s how I did that.
When you were putting things together and working on your vocals and guitars, the only other person that you had working on this with you and holding down the drum duties was, of course, Joey (Scott.) I’m also under the impression that the two of you produced the album together?
Yeah, we also produced the last album, Appointment With Death, as well so we’ve done a few things together. I started working on this by myself and then, as I was going along, Brian Slagel from Metal Blade (Records) came in and talked me in to recording again and then he heard a couple of songs. So, then I was like, “OK, here we go.” So, then I brought Joey in and he heard a couple of songs and just loved it and then started tracking his drums right away and we ended up putting this whole thing together.
Was it always your plan, for this particular album, to do the guitar work yourself? Did you give any thought to bringing in Marten (Andersson) or Ira (Black) or completely different players to actually do the album?
Actually, my original thought was to bring in guest musicians, all my friends, to play on it. The first on I brought in was Dario (Lorina) and he heard all the stuff because I play all the stuff that you hear and he heard it and he goes; “This is perfect for this song. Why would you change it? I would love to play on this album whatever I play is not going to fit this song as well as what you’ve got now.” Then the record label said the exact same thing and everyone was, kind of, saying the same thing. So, it made no sense to replace my parts just to have guests on there because that would have been the only reason because what I wrote for the song was perfectly suited and custom fit for those songs.
You had mentioned Brian coming in and listening to a couple for songs and you’ve got a longstanding history with Metal Blade, pretty much, an entire history with Metal Blade. So, talk a little bit about your relationship with them and the support they’ve always had for Lizzy Borden.
Yeah, Brian has been on board from the very beginning and been a big fan of my song writing and my voice. So, he’s always been on board and I didn’t really want to release albums anymore because when the industry collapsed, the music industry collapsed, I just felt that it made no sense to make music because it’s never going to get to where I want it to get to. The ears that I want to hear it will never hear it. So, he convinced me that Metal Blade has found a way and he was right. Metal Blade is bigger than they ever were and a lot of their bands are Top 10 bands on Billboard. So, it made more sense for me to do it now plus I really missed it. So, he’s been a big advocate for Lizzy Borden for over 35 years.
That’s amazing, man. That’s so cool to have that kind of support system. Especially when people talk on the regular about the difficulties behind finding a record label that will back you as opposed to, for lack of a better term, screw you. It seems that Metal Blade has been there, Brian has been the guy and been very supportive of doing everything correctly so that you feel safe and secure with what you’re putting out.
Yes because most major labels just throw the product out there or they try to get involved so much that they ruin it. But, Brian lets me do exactly what I want to do and he’s a fan of it. So, that helps so much and the company as a whole, with this record in particular, they all love this album so it’s pretty cool after all this time to keep going and keep recording and having the label so close behind you.
You talked about today being the release of the first video. Have you put any thought into how many videos you’re planning to record for this album?
I guarantee that every one of them will be a lyric video. The label’s already green lit a second video besides the one we just did and I’m hoping there’s two or three more, that would be really cool. But, you just never know. It depends on the audience response, it depends on all of that but I love doing videos and this video (“Long May They Haunt Us”) was really fun to do. So, to do more and make these songs come alive in a video is a whole other piece to the puzzle that I love. You put that with a live show, you put that with a studio recording, all of those pieces fit together not only to promote but also because they’re artistic and fun.
Oh, absolutely. Obviously, it’s been quite a moment since you put out you’re last album but the dark, broodiness that you put behind “Under My Skin” I thought was very cool. I really enjoyed the video and I really liked the way it seemed that you designed the video as almost a support video for the youth of the nation.
Yeah, what I was talking about was something that is a problem. The director really wanted to go over the topic and try to use it as a platform to bring awareness to certain things. I was alright with that, I was writing about it so I might as well so that’s what we did there. But, that video, even that song, when I wrote that song I was like, “OK, I’ve got something here because of all the songs off that last album, that was the song that I really gravitated toward and it felt like the stuff I was doing off Master Of Disguise. So, when I started this album, I wanted to continue that way of thinking, that way of songwriting.
I wanted to jump back to My Midnight Things when it comes to the talent and the musicians you had playing. Not only just yourself and, of course, Joey but you also had Marliese holding down the keys for this album.
Yes, Marliese Mildenberger, she’s a good friend of ours. We met her when she was the second engineer on the Visual Lies album. We’ve known her all these years but she’s an amazing pianist. She actually played the piano on “Under My Skin” so when I came to do this record I asked her if she’d be interested in playing a song and she said, “Yeah.” So, I sent her a song and she loved it. She played on it and she was amazing and she was like, “I want more!” [Laugh] She almost did all of the keys. I did some but she did most of them.
When it comes to getting out and hitting the road, you’ve got that enthusiasm of getting to play these songs live and finally getting to be a recording artist again. I can imagine your juices are really flowing to get out there on the road but have you put any thought into your band? I imagine it might be a little early for that but would you be eyeballing someone like Marten and Ira, who I only bring up first because they’ve been longstanding mates of yours when it comes to the records and tours or would you maybe be consider a fresh taste or open to everything?
I’m going to go with a fresh new band. Every time I have a new lineup it adds so much dimension and everything. I’ve had a different lineup, pretty much, every record or, at least, a few member changes. So, I’m going to go with that. Plus Marten is in another band, Steelheart, and Ira is in about two or three bands [Laughs] so, they’re working and I’m proud of them, they’re doing really well. But, I’m going to find fresh new faces for the My Midnight Things tour and every time I do it its really fun and exciting and it’s fun for Joey and I as well because you bring in new people, they have a different way of thinking about things. So, you bring that to the table and we have a really great show.
Is your current plan for the drumming to stay as Joey, though?
Oh, of course! [Laughs]
When it comes to the live show, you’ve had a longstanding history of having THE live show. I’ve seen it myself and you’ve had it documented not only with The Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years but, of course, The Murderess Metal Road Show. What are your thoughts on making this tour the big show you’re known for because I imagine you’ve already started piecing it together a little bit.
Yeah, I’ve been working on the show already. So far just the production alone is feasible to do again. The biggest show we ever did was the Visual Lies tour. We had two giant TV sets on stage and when we went to Japan we couldn’t ship it there at that time so they ended up rebuilding the whole thing. But now, it’s a different world. You can build a whole production and take it all around the world so that’s, kind of, what we’re working on right now. So, I’m working with people who can do that, I’m working with special effects guys and I’m working with a lot of different things to make this the biggest show I’ve ever done. So far, all the things we’re talking about, I’m blown away by it because I want to make it all happen and I want to make it amazing. Every show that we’ve done, in its own way, has been a really cool show representing that album. But, this one, I think is going to go off because of technology and all the other things, it’s going to go ten steps further, I think.
That sounds great. We’ve got to get you on stage. Biting necks, blood, your mask changes and plenty of axes, dude.
[Laughs] I’ll bring everything.
I do like to talk a little bit of history and the one thing I’d like to ask you is what would you say is the one thing that has made you the proudest about watching the progression of Lizzy Borden? Everything from the beginning to up to what you thought would be the last because of the industry collapse and now having this resurgence and this fire again. What’s your proudest part of building Lizzy Borden and what it’s given you?
Every time I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns. Usually I’ll let the band, kind of, go and do what it does and then I see it getting out of hand or going in a direction I don’t want so then I grab the bull by the horns and I change it and I make the direction go in the way I want it to go. I did that for Visual Lies, I did that for Master Of Disguise, I did that for Deal With The Devil and I very proud of all three of those albums. So, with this album, the story stayed the same. I didn’t want it to be watered down, I didn’t want a bunch of shredding guitars, I just wanted songs. I wanted songs that could stand up on their own. If it was the only song I released then at least I could say, “OK, I’m proud of that song.” I’m also proud that I’m able to do albums and instead of just putting out singles, that’s kind of cool too. So, I think the longevity of sticking to my guns is what I’m most proud of.
You’d mentioned before about you not thinking you’d put out any new music but had you put any thought into maybe just doing small things? A lot of bands from these genres as well as bands in general because of record sales versus the internet but what were your thoughts about doing a series of EPs or did it really not seem like the way?
I definitely considered all of that. When I thought the industry was going to go that way, where it’s just going to be singles or EPs or whatever and I had no choice in the way that music’s being consumed with the internet and everything and when I thought that was going to happen I had no choice. So, I did consider it for a while but the longer I sat on it the more I wasn’t interested. We were touring and playing in front of a young audience all around the world so I was performing every night, all around the world and playing crazy places like Russia and South Korea and all these cool places and to go back to just do one song didn’t make all that much sense to me because I love doing the full albums.
Something else I read that I thought was very cool was the support you said you were getting from a younger crowd. It was cool the way you said it, almost like a chuckle, because you were playing songs for them that they knew and knew all the words to but were older than them.
Yeah, the last tour we did, which was in Europe, was mind-blowing, the audience and how young they were and they were screaming and jumping around like it was 1987 again. It was one of those things where I was like, “Wow, I love this!” That was one of the main reasons why, that was one of the other reasons why I decided to record another album because I wanted them to have an album that was released while they were a fan instead of before they were born. [Laughs]
Lizzy, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of great things on the horizon. I’m super stoked for you, man. I really am because you can hear the enthusiasm in your voice. The tone in your voice really does blow my mind about how stoked you are for your upcoming shows, the production of your tour and the release of My Midnight Things.
Yeah, I couldn’t be more excited because I didn’t think it was going to happen. I just had it in my brain that I wasn’t going to release any more records because of the way things were and I couldn’t work in the old school way of doing things. When you think that way and that I’m just going to be touring, I’m not going to ever release another album and I’m not really interested in doing singles that was it. So, having this all turn around, very quickly too, it is exciting and I’m so excited that I’ve already started working on the next record. It’s such a fun thing for me to create these things from nothing.
In your time off, when you were just touring and not really doing much in the way of new music, did you or have you put any thoughts into producing other bands?
I did. During the 80s, I was thinking about going off into that. I think I could have helped, especially since I’ve met producers that I wasn’t that impressed with but I just got to the point where I could see how hard it was for them to make mine. It almost has to be. That’s why I didn’t find a producer for this album because it’s like, “We’ve got four weeks to record this whole album. OK, go!” So, it doesn’t matter how it works, it’s kind of cookie cutter and I didn’t really want to have to do that. If I’m going to work on something I want it to be great and I don’t want to have the time run out on me and just say, “Well, OK. It’s done.” So, that’s the only reason I didn’t get involved because I didn’t want to be involved in the cookie cutter, kind of, mentality just to make money.
Lizzy, thank you so much for taking some time and I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. My biggest thing and what I feel matters is that you feel respected and you liked the questions that were asked.
Oh, I loved it, man. It was awesome. It was great talking to you and I want to invite you and everyone else to the release party we’re having in Vegas. It’s the night before the album release so June 14th. It’s free to get in and at Hard Rock Live. It’s going to be a loud party, the first release party we’ve had in years. We haven’t had a release party since Master Of Disguise I think. The best one we ever had was Visual Lies in the Orchestra Room at Capital Records and that was amazing. It had five or six hundred people there. It was all industry people, it was great but this one we decided to open to the public as well as the industry. It’s going to be a wild party and a great way to kick off the release.