RockUnited had a chance to chat shortly with Lillian Axe in Germany's Bang Your Head-festival. Satu caught the guys before the interview already roaming around the festival area, so no introductions were needed when vocalist Ron Taylor, bassist Darrin DeLatte and guitarist Steve Blaze finally sat down in the backstage together with Satu. The nice bunch were on a good mood and would've talked even longer, but time was yet again limited. The night before the guys played in Pratteln together with Sebastian Bach and Angel. Lillian Axe played their first live show with a new singer, Derrick LeFevre, on New Years Eve in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Derrick will also be singing on the next Lillian Axe album.

RockUnited - You did a show last night in Pratteln. How was it ?

Ron - It was an absolute blast. We had such a great time and we're just thrilled to be back in Europe after so long. I think the last time we were here was in 1992 or...but we've been waiting so long to come back to Europe. We got a chance to go to Japan, but we haven't got to come back here, so we're thrilled to come back. Wish we could stay longer, only two nights.

Darrin - We might come back soon, sooner than you think, you never know. Strange things do happen.

RockUnited - But you've never been to Finland, that's a shame.

Darrin - Finland, Finland, Finland...we love Finland.

RockUnited - That's next to Sweden.

Darrin - Yeah, Sweden's good too.

RockUnited - Have you been to Sweden ?

Ron - No, we've never been to Sweden either.

Darrin - Saw it on the Travel Channel once, it was cool. (Ron laughs)

RockUnited - There's blonde girls in Scandinavia...(the band laughs)

Darrin - Are there good places to play ?

RockUnited - Yeah. Like in Finland there's a club called Tavastia. The last show I saw there was Brides Of Destruction.

Ron - Ooh, how's that ? Was it good ? I'll interview you now...hah ! We would love to come to Finland, Sweden, everywhere. All over the world. That's why we're in this. We wanna play everywhere we can.

RockUnited - I think this was the last show from you with Lillian Axe ?

Ron - Yes, I'm gonna try some new things for a while. I'm not retiring, I'm not going to stop singing. Darren and I have a new project we're working on, so you'll be hearing from us real soon.

Darrin - We're definately continuing on. No matter what.

Ron - We're writing a lot of music and playing shows around Dallas, so...we're very excited about our new project.

Darrin - Oddly enough I'm the guitar player in that project. It's a total new experience and we're into it.

RockUnited - Can you tell me about the project then ? It's a secret ?!

Darrin - It's a big secret ! Right now we're just playing acoustic shows, just to kinda get the feel for it. We're probably gonna go to the studio and start tracking. And then what we're basically gonna do is shop around for some management companies and try to get representation. And continue writing. I mean, we're happy to just play acoustically in Dallas for now, it's all about good music. And that's what we wanna try to do, write and continue writing. And eventually we'll write some songs that people dig, you know. Then we'll go from there, you never know. And as far as Lillian Axe, it's the same with Lillian Axe, you never know what's gonna happen. It's one of those things we've been doing so long, we're not gonna give up. It's like we always get these walls built around us, but we'll get over them. One way or the other.

Ron - Never say never with Lillian. You just never know what will happen.

Darrin - Someone might call us and ask us to do another tour and it might be financially right and everything might be good about it and we might say yes.

Ron - A lot changed in the years that we were off between '95 and '99. A lot of us went home and got families and settled down and were fortunate in good and bad.

Darrin - We had our ups and downs at home. Some of us got married and divorced and had kids and jobs. And this is Steve Blaze (joins the interview).

Ron - Have a seat.

RockUnited - Actually I was coming to Steve.

Ron - Right on time.


RockUnited - How did you end up playing with Angel ?

Steve - A guy named Gordon Gebert was writing a book on rock'n'roll war stories and he called me. He wanted to get some Lillian Axe stories to put in his book and he said he was playing keyboards for Angel. And that Punky Meadows wasn't gonna be doing any more playing or touring with them. So I said I'm a huge fan, give me the gig. So he talked to him and I flew to New York into the audition and got the gig the same day.

RockUnited - Were you nervous at all when doing the show here with them ?

Steve - No. I don't get nervous anymore. Haven't been nervous for long. I get more nervous playing basketball back in the States than I do playing the shows. I have confidence in the bands you know. I know when I go on stage that everybody's gonna be there.

Ron - This is what we do. We don't even think about it, we just get up there and do it. Except when there's steps from over the monitors down to the platform. That gets a little scary. (laughs)

RockUnited - The stage wasn't the best, it was so high that the fans didn't see you that well. So I think you should be closer to the audience. What do you think about it ?

Darrin - I agree with you one hundred percent, but that was an awesome stage to play. Maybe if they let the people come up a little closer.

Ron - It's nice to be able to get some hands and touch the people.

RockUnited - Do you prefer club shows to bigger shows ?

Ron - We will play any place in front of ten people or ten thousand people or twenty thousand people. Once we get up there and the music starts it's in our blood and it makes us feel great. And as long as the people are enjoying themselves and having a good time, we're having a good time and that's what we're here for.

RockUnited - I've heard that you have really energetic shows. You have everything going on onstage. Are you normally like that ?

Darrin - Are we normally crazy you mean ?

Ron - Yeah...

Darrin - Probably so. Probably in a different way though. I mean, when we get on stage there's a lot of audience, interaction and stuff, they're singing and screaming and stuff. But I don't know, some of these guys are crazy. I'm really calm when I get on stage...(band laughs)

RockUnited - I saw you doing the thing with the guitar down there and...

Steve - Yeah, it gets a little hacked...

Darrin - Like when we're at the grocery store we just buzz into the microphone...come on ! It doesn't matter.

Ron - Usually during the span of one show you go through so many peaks and valleys and different emotions. And you bring out the emotions in the crowd and we feed off of them, we see what they're feeling and it makes us feel the same. And sometimes we have a little too much fun, but it's always good time.

Darrin - But you see the truth of it is that's the beauty of playing. Everything up to that moment is really not that easy, it's not really a cakewalk. And last night we were pushed into like broom closes for bedrooms (laughs). It's one of those things, so that's why we take advantage of that moment, because that moment, that's what we're here for. Everything around it is not that easy.


RockUnited - I think you haven't deserved the success you should've. Your band has never gotten that big around Europe or maybe States either.

Darrin - That's a record company thing. They're predetermined about who they're going to push and who they're not.

Ron - There are so many bands out there who deserve more success. And if you think we're one of those bands then thank you very much for thinking that. We really appreciate that. We work hard. We could sit here and cry all day long about "ooh, we should've had this and we should be big and the record company should've done this and should've done that". If it's in the cards for you, it's in the cards for you. And if you work hard...maybe you won't ever get anything...(laughs)

Darrin - If you work hard you might end up like Kenny Rogers.

Ron - We love the music and if we get succesful doing it, fine and if not, we still love the music. And when I'm fifty years old I'm still gonna be singing and when I'm sixty years old I'm still gonna be singing. Succesful or not. As long as I have two or three people, maybe my mom, dad and my children will be watching me in the living room and that's fine..(laughs)

Darrin - Success is relative. I mean we have been very succesful. I mean here, look at the five hundred people standing in line (waiting for us) to sing a freaking book or cd's. I mean that's more success than most musicians will ever think and that they dream about. Yeah, I agree with you, we have every bit of the makings of having been had the success of any huge band. But those things happen like Ron was saying, there's a lot of bands that deserve a lot more success than they have. But you can't replace the hundreds or thousands of records you've sold and the e-mails you get and the appreciation you get. When some guy from Check Republic comes to me and says "thanks for writing "The Needle And Your Pain", it helped me get through a bad time", you realize how wide reaching, your music touches people worldwide. That's a great success in itself.

RockUnited - You really had a short show here. It was way too short actually, 'cos it only had one of my favourites, though I like all of your songs. I love "See You Someday" and all the stuff from "Love And War"-album. I think you should've played two hours at least.

Ron - With only 45 minutes and how many albums do we have, it's hard. I was e-mailing Stevie "I don't know what songs to play. What do you guys want to play ?".

RockUnited - Did you pick up the songs differently for European fans than what you're usually playing in the States ?

Ron - I think today we played a little heavier than we normally would, just because of the atmosphere. It's a heavy day. Plus not having long to play. That put a lot into it too.

RockUnited - When RockUnited went to see Whitesnake in Florida, I noticed they played different songs thaN in Sweden. The American fans like a bit different music that Europeans.

Steve - Every situation's different. When you have 40 minutes you get eight songs, when you have eight albums you gotta be selective. We figured in the middle of the day we don't want to do any ballads, "World Stopped Turning" was the ballad we did today. We wanna rock 'em hard and heavy and because being out in the scorching sun like that. Although when we did "World", they really got into that too. I don't think we have any songs that are better or worse. We could've done any eight songs and it would've gone all well. We just try to keep it..'cos it was a short set, just keep it rolling and pumping the whole way through. We change the sets night to night. But we always play those songs live every night, we're just able to play twenty-twenty one songs if it's our own show.

Ron - We'll try if they let us go back up and play again tonight...


RockUnited - Maybe after Iced Earth (laughs). I heard you have a new album coming out, is that true ?

Steve - Yes, we do. It's three quarters of the way finished. We're hoping to get it finished by the end of the summertime and then we'll shop at the labels and see what we come up with. Because we like to come back here and tour again, when it's a little cooler, hah.

RockUnited - In the winter.

Darrin - Last night was pretty cold though.

Steve - But we're gonna be coming back. I think this is gonna open up...because just like for example Angel got asked to come back and play next year at some festivals already, so I'm sure we'll be coming back with Lillian as well next year. Meantime we'll get this new record out and it'll be very good and I think everybody will dig it.

Lillian Axe waited to complete the album "Water's Rising" by year's end. It will also feature keyboardist Michael T. Ross (Angel, Hardline) and the new singer for Lillian Axe. At this point of the interview drummer Ken Koudelka peeks in to the hut, but decides to quietly draw back. The guys laugh, since he seems to not want any part of this.

RockUnited - So, can you tell me about the new songs, are they still going to continue the old style ?

Steve - I think every record has changed a little bit. I think it's the next step from "Psychoschizophrenia". You know what, we've always tried to be a little conscious of what we thought would be of radio oriented songs. I figured on this album we're just gonna write some good, dynamic, interesting different things that we've done before. It's always gonna be Lillian Axe, because of the elements you know, the chemistries. It'll always sound like Lillian Axe, but it's gonna be a different thing. It's a pretty heavy, deep record. Probably deeper musically than anything we've done so far.

RockUnited - What do you think influences you nowadays ? Do you think any bands influence you ?

Steve - I think every band influences you. I'm still influenced by Alice Cooper from 1976. After a while you don't really get influenced by bands, but you get influenced by ideas and just little things. Because every band that is coming out now is basically just another version of stuff before us. All the new bands group up on the bands that started playing rock. You just get different chemistries. Every band has a different chemistry. There's thousands of great singers out there, you can't say one's better or worse. Each band has a chemistry.

Darrin - It's all about good music.

Steve - So who's to say who's better between Beethoven and Mozart ? Who's a better painter ? You can't really tell, it's just a matter of flavours.

Ron - And the longer you're out and the longer you create, you should get more and more popular. That's why I feel we have such a large catalogue, we've actually put our own little piece of history in place. After you do that for so long people start thinking about Lillian Axe instead of thinking of a record, one or two albums. It's like an little empire of its own.

Darrin - It's part of many people's lives. Including ours. It's a trip. We've been around for so long. We have such a variety to music.

RockUnited - Where do you think you have the most passionate fans then ?

Ron - Looks like Germany today !

Darrin - Everywhere, it's like we have this cult following of unbelievable fans. If we had millions of those, we'd all be living in big houses. (laughs) They're extreme fans, they're all the way or they haven't heard of us yet. And when they do hear us they're like "damn, where were you guys at ?". It's because our record company didn't promote us right, but you know. But there's hardcore fans.

Steve - They're outside of the States, because of the fact that we don't go that much anywhere outside the US. And the United States people are so bombarted by everything in the media that they don't really take things so special. People out there (Balingen) haven't seen us in ten-eleven years and they don't have the ability to come and see us play every year.

RockUnited - The Americans probably see a lot of bands so they might not get that excited.

Darrin - He (Steve) lives in New Orleans and we obviously live in Dallas and he's got another band called NLE and they play all the time as well. And me and Ron are always doing something as well too, so our friends get to see us, they're like tired of us. But it's a thing for them to come, have fun and get out.

RockUnited - Some of your lyrics are kinda religious. Is Lillian Axe a religious band somehow or are you personally religious ? You (Steve) have a cross there...

Steve - I guess everybody's religious to something. I mean, everybody has their own beliefs, even if it's believing in nothing. But spiritually I have a strong belief, I'm a Christian. I think that our lyrics are more less in religious, like organized religion in nature, but more like spiritual and just trying to get know, if you believe in Buddha, Allah, Jesus Christ, just stick to it. All religions are based to give people rules to follow so we don't all go nuts. And hopefully one of them is right, or maybe none of them is right, but they're all pointed in the right direction and I think that's what I write a lot about. I've written some cheesy love songs in the past too (band laughs), but the majority of the things...As you get older you realize when you listen to the lyrics that people get moved by and they're all the ones that have great depth and soul to them. The older you get you want to say something, gotta let everybody know what the hell I got to say and that's the best way to do it. But to a certain extent I would say it's spiritual and hopefully uplifting and moving. But it's not like Christian rock or anything like that.

RockUnited - But of course you should never admit if you were religious heavy metal fan.

Ron - Actually they get pretty popular these days. There's a lot of bands having a lot of success with that. Maybe that's the angle we should go for.

Darrin - Obviously Creed seemed to do well with that. Yeah, they broke up. No, they just fired the singer, because he was like bullshitting everybody.

RockUnited - Did you ever like Stryper ?

Ron - We played with them a few times, they're really good guys. Good people. Did you like Stryper ?

RockUnited - Yeah, I have all of their albums.

Ron - Fantastic band.

RockUnited - If you're leaving the band, what do you think about the future, what are you going to do ?

Ron - I'm going to continue singing, writing music and continue playing. You'll be hearing more from me and us.

RockUnited - What about the side projects, Near Life Experience. You have some shows ?

Steve - Yeah, we play all the time and we're basically shopping for a deal right now. We put records out ourself and self-promote, but we get ready to get a management deal, and that's gonna be designed to shop. And got some new label that's interested in signing the band. Juggle all the bands, you know. We got some other things going on as well. They started out as side-projects, but obviously I'm doing Angel, doing Near Life, Lillian Axe. They're all important. There's a lot of players out there doing multiple things. I can do that and I have more things coming too.

Ron - Music is part of our very being, it's part of our souls. And like I said before I cannot imagine any of us in this room ever not playing music and not putting everything we have into the projects that we're in. And we really enjoy it. And no matter what the project is I'm sure Steve has just as much fun in Near Life Experience than in Angel as he does doing the solo stuff and Lillian Axe. It's all part of him and the things that we're doing, we just love it. We love playing music.

RockUnited - What about "Water's Rising" ?

Steve - Actually "Water's Rising" is the newest songs. Probably about a year and a half old. But we're toying around with that being the title of the record. We would've played it today if we had more time, but we wanted to play stuff people were familiar with. That's the newest thing that we've done and it goes over really well. It sounds like new Lillian Axe. It'll be on the record.

Ron - One thing people don't realize is we don't get to rehearse together. Steve and Sam live in New Orleans and Darrin and Ken and I live in Dallas, so we just saw those guys yesterday, saying "hey Steve, what's going on ? Haven't seen you in six months". No rehearsal, no nothing, just played. I actually asked Steve on stage today "you wanna play "Water's Rising" and he looked at me like "NO !".

RockUnited - How do you rehearse then ?

Darrin - We don't. We rehearse separately and when we get together we just go to soundcheck and make sure everything's right and that's what it is.

Ron - Darrin, Ken and I play together in Dallas all the time. So we rehearse to Lillian songs on our own. With me playing Steve's guitar parts (making guitar sounds) with my mouth. And that gets the foundation of the band. And Steve doesn't need to practise. (everyone laughs)

Darrin - Steve really doesn't practise, he never practises, ever. He's automatically that good.

Steve - I only practise the rhythm session, it only takes one time to through stuff if it's material we've been playing for a while. Just to freshen up on little things. And that's one of the reasons I didn't want to play "Water's Rising", 'cos I always have to sit down to kinda remember the solos, one time and then I'm good you know. But it works out well, people can't tell.

RockUnited - Do you want to say something to the European readers ?

Steve -, we will be putting out a new record, hopefully we'll come back and tour. It's been amazing, the response from Europe, only the couple of times we've been here and toured. We promise whatever happens we'll still be back and we'll have a new record out and we'll tour here again. I promise.

RockUnited - Hopefully we'll see you here.

Steve - Absolutely. Thank you very much.

RockUnited - Thank you very much.


Interview by Sat Reunanen
Photos by Kari Helenius

The BYH live review, feat. Lillian Axe