“Over the years I’ve tried to align myself good people. Heart-wise and soul-wise. The talent is half the game, because the heart and soul is the other half.” – Steve Blaze
Guitarist Steve Blaze has led hard rockers Lillian Axe to great heights over the years, the New Orleans band winning over thousands of fans captivated by the beating melodic heart of the band’s tunes. Despite numerous line-up changes, including a stint with original Godsmack drummer Tommy Stewart, the Axe have managed to remain good. The hard work and dedication of Blaze’s outfit earned them a place in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame on May 16, 2010. Lillian Axe was the first hard rock band inducted into the LAMHOF, enshrined along with music greats Fats Domino, Buddy Guy, Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Allen Toussaint to name a few.
Now, hot on the heels of XI The Days Before Tomorrow (2012), with Brian C. Jones on vocals the band sound perhaps better than ever. New 2CD/DVD set One Night In The Temple is a must hear acoustic/live engagement of Axe classics played with fervor to devoted fans at a Masonic Temple.
One Night In The Temple is a treat. The concert features all the band’s hits, including “True Believer”, “Show A Little Love”, “Crucified”, “Misery Loves Company”, “Ghost Of Winter”, “The Great Divide”, “Bow Your Head”, “Waters Rising” and the crowd favorite “Nobody Knows”. Like Sevendust’s powerful as hell recent Time Travelers & Bonfires, it proves again that acoustic-heavy renditions of rock songs can work really well.
Click HERE to read a chat with Steve about the release.
How does it feel to have made this great new product that will stand the test of time? Lillian keeps going year after year and overcome obstacles.
Obviously, if we’d been in it for the money we’d have gotten out a long time ago, but one of the golden rules is “youg get what you give”. Over the years I’ve tried to align myself good people. Heart-wise and soul-wise. The talent is half the game, because the heart and soul is the other half. If you have that, the heart and soul will expand your talent and magnify your talent. We have great people working with us that I trust and who care aboutthe product as much as we do. We have a great production team, the people who were there in attendance, the editor, the set guy, my engineer. We were all there for the same goal – to create something spiritual and magical for the people that care about our music. It came out better than anticipated, not that I didn’t think it would be good. But you kind of have an initial vision of how you think something is going to be, but when you take into account a live acoustic show and all the things in six hour event, the human elements and little details that if one thing goes out of whack can effect the whole project…I was amazed it went off without a hitch! It was a blessing all the way around. When we got into editing and mixing we saw everything had really fallen into place.
The packaging is amazing and the DVD with 2 cds of material…it’s also interesting to hear how “Death Comes Tomorrow” could work in this context.I’m friends with the progressive band Three and Joey Eppard uses his guitar in a percussive manner acoustically often. A kind of similar thing worked here for the heavier riffs. It was a great listening experience.
Appreciate that. In the past, we did a lot of acoustic shows. We’d run through the set or just myself and the singer ourselves. We’d play acoustic for everyone from labels to one stops to record stores to manufacturing plants. We did a lot of these. Sometimes 3-4 a day. It got to be really fun. It could be twenty people or a few hundred…sitting around singing and it was just guitar and vocals. A different type of dynamic. You do 5 songs and run out of tunes and they start yelling out “Fool’s Paradise” or “Crucified” or something. Heavier songs. We would try them out and adaptations. The song still comes across. It may not have the dynamics and layers but the stripped down layers still work. So when we do something like that we still are able to maintain the depth of the song on acoustic, but that just comes from years of playing them. At the core if you have good melody and vocals and lyrics, it should still come across. And people like to hear different versions of songs…like, I’ve always listened to covers by other bands where they change things. A Perfect Circle did an album of covers and the majority of the stuff, I really liked the way they changed things up.
They did “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Yeah, they mixed it up. We didn’t know how “Death Comes Tomorrow” Was gonna come across, but we did it. And it really worked.
You can hear the confidence right out of the gate on this stuff. You could throw this album on and it sounds really unified.
I even tried to play some of the solos really close. Doing that on acoustic guitar was really challenging (laughing). It really is. I’ve been playing since age 6. So my fingers are just rubbery. But with the acoustic thing they start to get hard again. But the night we did the recording, at the end I was about to start bleeding.
You played your ass off! How did you choose to start the set with “Waters Rising”? It was a great choice.
You know what? I’m really not sure. I guess it’s an innate thing I have. I pick the orders for all the records. It’s a very important thing for me. I don’t think some people realize the importance of the order of a record. Every record we do I start thinkin’ of the flow and dynamics. I look at every record like going to a movie or a novel. One work with different chapters. key changes and how much space and timing is between songs. There’s times where you want to keep it on the beat or times when you want a four count. on this record, with twenty songs…from the beginning I just ad this thing nagging me that “Waters Rising” would get the blood flowing but we were confident with it as well. On this record I spoke between every song. There was a minute or two between each song, so I just had to find what ws gonna work as far as keeping the crowd upbeat or the flow moving. As soon as they start to get teary eyed (snaps fingers), back up again. It’s got a rollercoaster effect.
I was impressed with how you could keep the momentum of the release going while still telling stories. I remember watching VH1 storytellers with Brett Scallions and Fuel doing “Hemorrhage”, which was cool. But a lot of times these things are meandering. You keep it engaging.
That’s one reason why on the DVD I had segments between songs of set up footage, backstage footage, interviews. I saw the Rolling Stones twice as a kid. Fell asleep both times. 80,000 people! Great band and show. How do you fall asleep during that? Human beings have a smaller attention span than we realize. You can get bored easilly, especially these days. I didn’t want people to think ,” Love the band and the music, but how many times do I have to look at this dude’s face?” (laughing). So let’s keep it interesting and show different aspects of the show and the band. Give them something else to break them up. I think it worked. That’s why we added the violin player to come in, had the crowd singing. We had Johnny Vines come in to do a few songs. Everything… we tried to add little things so that we weren’t losing people by the end. I saw the Scorpions do something like that and they didn’t talk a whole lot about the songs between, but it worked. I didn’t compose or wrte anything I said that night. I wanted it to be like a real conversation. I even caught myself stumbling at times. I wanted it to be real and natural. If I made an ass out of myself or said something stupid…
It’s there for posterity.
Right. I just wanted them to understand the truth in what we are doing.
Sometimes people don’t like live albums because they own the album already. I liked Metallica’s Through The Never movie. They are presenting things in a different way. Just because I own the Black Album doesn’t mean I have heard every version of those songs, you know?
Yeah, I never got to see that. I need to check that out. I heard it was really good. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t like live albums. But I’ve heard so many live albums without a good mix. The original Kiss live album, which everybody knows was recorded in the studio, pretty much…it sold because nobody had done something like that at the time, but in retrospect…it didn’t sound that good. But it was about capturing the moment. If you can capture the moment and make it sound sonically pleasing, that is the key. We made sure when we multi-tracked that we had good sounds. We spent a lot of time on that. We knew going back int he mixing that we had live mics in the house and if anything wasnt captured or went wrong, it would be very difficult because that was gonna be the blueprint for every song. If one mic went bad, we’d be screwed. And I wanted it to sound good, warm and pleasing. Not tiny drums and irritatinf high end acoustic guitars. We had good people on it.
There’s warmth to it and body. Plus the people singing along at parts is really moving.
We had crowd mics and we had to worry about the crowd mics picking all of them up but also the soudns from the P.A. When you listen to “Nobody Knows” with the crowd singing, we had to use a little different mix. But we got lucky.
Is there any one record that you guys all, as a band, agree on?
No. We never agree on stuff like that (chuckling). Um, I personally think that our last record was our best record. I tend to think that about every record. A lot of people think Love & War was our best record. A few records always come to the top of conversation with anybody. Whether fans or crew or band. But our drummer Ken, his taste in music is completely different. He always tells a story how he traded all of his Rush records for one Kiss record. He’s a simplistic bass and three chord kind of guy. I’m completely the opposite. But I still love listening to our stuff over the years. It’s not an egotistical thing. I write the music I wanted to hear. If you can listen and still like your own stuff…you’re being true to yourself.