Lillian Axe is proud and excited to release its first new album in ten years, From Womb to Tomb, worldwide on Global Rock Records, on August 19. It’s a concept album and continues to show artistic development for a band that has a strong personal following and has been going since the hair metal days of 1988, playing a brand of progressive melodic rock.
The current line up of Lillian Axe, all of whom played on the new album, includes lead guitarist/songwriter Steve Blaze (who wrote all the songs on “Womb to Tomb”) and bassist Michael “Maxx” Darby (both of whom remain from the band’s original line-up.) The current line-up is completed by Brent Graham – lead vocals, Sam Poitevent – guitar / vocals, and Wayne Stokely – drums. This is also, for the first time in 29 years, that the band is heading to UK shores for an August 2022 tour, hitting the UK hard for a week. A US tour is also a strong possibility.
Rock the Joint Magazine met up with founding member Steve Blaze, an interesting man who also does a paranormal investigation show and has a passion for Vikings (getting down and dirty with the history). In an interview that often threatened to descend into tales of ghosts and pillaging warfare, the new album, songwriting, and touring were all discussed.
We began the interview proper by talking about songwriting, and I noted a book called Myth and Magic in Heavy Metal by Robert McParland, about how myth pervaded heavy metal music with visual elements drawn from horror cinema and with the themes of chaos and dissidence. The lyrics of Lillian Axe do pull from myth, and I asked Steve to comment, we all evolve as songwriters and many Lillian Axe fans who look back at the first albums and the lyrics about girls do comment on the difference.
Steve- I’ve always been fascinated with the unknown. For eight years now, I’ve been ghosthunting. I have my own team. We shot a documentary that I am editing now. I’m fascinated with the history of mankind, and when our first record came out, I was in my mid twenties, and these are things I’ve loved since I was a child, but I also had other things in my scope I wanted to write about. Some of that was about young relationships, but even on the first album there are songs like “Waiting in the Dark” about my fear of getting older and empathy for the elderly. This rubbed shoulders with “Show a Little Love” about relationships. So those things were in mind then and we evolved. The thing is about Lillian Axe. We’ve been around for 30 something years, I formed the band almost 40 years ago. Do you really think I’m the same person? I’m still young at heart, but I’m wiser and I’ve experienced more. But the same elements that made people like us in the beginning, the melodies and the guitar work, the harmony and choral arrangements, are all there and better. And I can say that as I wrote it. I can still love all my children, but this one is new…Each album is new in sound and in essence, but it still sounds like Lillian Axe. We still play those songs and they resonate… Queen are one of my top three bands of all time, and I was amazed at what they did on those first two records; they were a prime example of writing great songs. You can listen to “Bring Back Leroy Brown” or “Love of My Life” or “Ogre Battle.” That is my mentality, at the back of my mind when I conceptualise what we do. I have no limitations and this is the best example of what we do, a belt up from the one before. We grow and evolve, but I’m the same inside as I was when I was 12.
We are growing more cynical, I think, speaking personally anyway.
Steve- I think so. But I’m also more dead set on not allowing that cynicism to take me over. That’s one of the things about our music. Someone mentioned that we write on the fall of the human condition; it’s like a doom. I’d say read the lyrics, I bring these things up, but I’m also writing about overcoming the doom, and in my eyes, the good always overcomes. The bad is weak, there is a silver lining and we need to approach it this way.
I touched on a track called “Water’s Rising” from the album “One Night at the Temple.” an interesting album played to around 100 friends in a still functioning Masonic Temple. It’s a great album, and this is a track to catch.
Steve-I wrote that in the mid to late nineties. The funny part is that people felt I’d written about the hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and the flood. But there was no Nostradamus prediction. It was (I think) about handling building pressure, the realisation that things were not getting better. Is mankind getting worse? But it is also about being strong and rising above, not letting the wrong path take you over.
But does it matter if people get your lyrics wrong? Who owns a song, after all—the writer or the listener?
Steve- Yes, already on this album “From Womb to Tomb” some reviewers have said how this song is about this, and I would say, hmm. I look at it this way. It is a creation, a song. You see a Van Gogh and you will interpret it differently to me as your life experience is different. Those images and memories will be triggered by something. We all have different reasons for an interpretation. I create and say this is what I meant. But if I write about the fall of mankind and how human beings are taking a step backward, my examples of man and society are different from someone else’s. I want people to interpret, but the message will hopefully remain the same.
The new album is out very soon, and listening to it through the magazine “Golden Dragon,” was the song that jumped out. It has a strong main riff, and you quickly get a Wow feeling from it!
Steve- The album is conceptual; it’s something that’s been in my being to always write this record. It is from womb to tomb in that the first number is “breath” and it is about the birth of a child, and the first thing you hear is the child’s heartbeat, not the traditional boom boom, more of a swishing sound. This is the inception of the soul, and the child is born. The album is over an hour, it is the lessons and comprehension of life, ending up with the spiritual release after the body dies and the lessons in between. “Golden Dragon” is a child, maybe aged eight or nine. We touch on the introduction of evil into a child’s world, the expansion of the mind, and the fall of the human condition. We have a beautiful world, created for perfection. But we messed it up so badly. How do we get out of this. “The Great Deception,” that song, touches on these things…But everything was created out of love, and we have to understand that. We recorded it chronologically, and for the most part, it was written chronologically.
It was great talking to Steve Blaze, and this is an album well worth exploring. They are known for killing live too, so the UK has got a treat in store at the end of August.
It’s the return of Lillian Axe!
By E.M. C. Chambers