by Deb Rao
– Senior Columnist –
Lillian Axe is gearing up for the release of acoustic album One Night In The Temple on May 27. Founding member guitarist Steve Blaze tells Hardrock Haven what started out to be an evening of 20 friends turned into this mega event. Steve Blaze commented, “It was a very spiritual experience recording the album.”
Steve Blaze has a lot to look forward to this year including his own signature guitar line plus a regional TV in the South where he hosts a ghost hunting show. In this exclusive interview for Hardrock Haven, Steve Blaze talks about Lillian Axe’s latest release One Night In The Temple.
HRH: Steve, welcome to Hardrock Haven. Tell us what inspired you to record an acoustic album?
Steve: It started off as just an idea. I wanted it to be very simple. I wanted to get the guys in the band and about 20 people and play a bunch of our songs acoustically. We have recorded so many songs over the years. I always like to hear heavy hard songs done acoustically. It would give a whole different appeal of what the song is about. As we started to put it together it sort of blossomed and took a life of its own. First thing we know we are having a contest and there is a hundred people in the crowd. We have PA Production and a whole catered event. We did it at Sound Landing Studio where the Masonic Temple still is. That is where we did the last three records. Footnote, a month ago the studio moved from that Temple. That was one of the last things ever done in that studio.
HRH: It must have had great acoustics there?
Steve: It did. That was part of the mindset. What better place to come and sit. It really worked out well. We decided we wanted to reflect the history of the band. We picked songs from the band that not only would we be able to effectively communicate them acoustically but we also did our staple songs on the Top Ten list as well.
HRH: Was it hard to rework the songs acoustically?
Steve: Not really. We just played them on acoustic guitars. I had to alter some of the solos. Obviously soloing the way I do on the electric guitar is not easy. I kept a lot of it pretty accurate form. It made us realize that we had to even sharpen up a bit. On the acoustic guitar you hear every detail. You can’t hide behind volume when you are playing acoustic.
HRH: Was it kind of a spiritual feeling too recording One Night In The Temple?
Steve: It really was. I kind of was just exhilarated. It was not only spiritual fore myself but for the people out they’re in the audience too. I saw tears during some songs. You would just see true happiness and true emotion. That is what I wanted to bring out in the whole room. That is why we did the question and answer segment. During the DVD the show is actually more like a documentary than filming of the concert. There are backstage rehearsals. It was us setting up and preparing. But the Blue Ray Disc has the full question and answer on there. They both have bonus features. The actual documentary is 2 and ½ hours long. So it is very interesting. It was spiritual. I have heard over the years how people have emotionally been affected by our music. When we can emotionally charge or effect an individual that spiritual reaction that is what we are looking for. The acoustic approach really strips it down and makes things completive. More volume in the amps seems to drive out more primal instincts. Where as when you are playing acoustically it tends to be a little bit more relaxed. I heard this from several people. Even though it is acoustic the songs still rock. When we play “Crucified” it is not coming out like a love ballad. We were careful not to turn every song into a ballad. We kept them true to form on the albums.
HRH: What kind of acoustic guitar did you use?
Steve: Well I am endorsed by Peavey. And they just gave me a brand new Composite Acoustic guitar. It is an amazing guitar. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that to after the show. So I played my Taylor.
HRH: The band has been together 30 years. Members have come and gone but do you feel that Lillian Axe is the strongest today?
Steve: I really do. The strange thing about it is, you never know what the future will bring. If anybody in the band left in the future it is a part of life. You try to hang on to certain things. But it doesn’t work like that. People change. I can count on one hand that bands that have been around twenty plus years and still have the original members. It is a rarity. Although I miss the guys from the past, line-up is solid. I think the band is fantastic right now. If we ever had to replace a member, we would still be fantastic and solid. We put that much work and effort into making sure that it maintains. There are a lot of great musicians on the planet. We have been fortunate to play with a lot of them. You try to keep the core of the band together but it just a part of life. Things come and they go. It is how you handle it and pick up the pieces and move forward. I have been fortunate to find great guys. Lillian Axe is about the music and not about the individuals in the band.
HRH: Will you be touring this summer?
Steve: We are doing a couple spot things. We are doing in FYE and show in Illinois. It is acoustic with Eric Martin, Ted Poley, and us. We like to go into places and play acoustic. But when we do the rock shows, we have so much adrenaline onstage that we are not going to slow down and sit in a chair to do acoustic.
HRH: Lillian Axe is like one of the first Hard Rock bands to be inducted into the Louisiana Hall Of Fame. Tell us about this.
Steve: It was a great honor. Over the years, I felt the local music scene and the press throughout the state never really supported the rock scene. A band like Zebra and us paved the way for everyone to play Hard rock here. We never got the respect from the press down here. All the press worries about down here is the blues, the jazz. But give credit where it is due. When we inducted it was a huge vindication of all the hard work that we put in over the years. Soon after us Zebra was inducted. They deserved it as well. All the heartache that you go through, you can sit back and look at that and say they can never take that away from you. It was an accomplishment. This band worked really hard to get where we are over the years. It is a testament to a lot of people not just to me. It is the band, the crew, and the fans. I look at it as a big giant worldwide team on our side and they helped get us that recognition.
HRH: How is the music scene these days in New Orleans?
Steve: The music scene is terrible like it is everywhere else; there are a few clubs here and there. It is not like it used to be where there were twenty or thirty clubs. It has a lot to do with the economy. A lot of people being spoiled by the Internet. They are not going out to see bands. They just pop them up on the computer screen and watch them. It has gotten to be a lazy society.
HRH: Well the band has got to play Vegas soon!
Steve: We would love to come to Vegas. Vegas is one place I don’t think we have ever played. Or maybe it was one time 15 years ago.
HRH: Is there anything else you want to say about the album?
Steve: I honestly think it is a fantastic package. You get two CDs. The sound of the CDs came out so well. The guys played so well that night. The DVD is so cool. It shows a side of truth about the reality of the band. It is a very emotional record feeling power and strength down to humor. There is a lot of interaction with the fans. There are a lot of tear moments. It shows what a great bunch of guys I have in my band. It is very entertaining. The fans are going to appreciate it.
HRH: How are you doing after the car accident?
Steve: Prior to this we hadn’t played in eight months because we had our car wreck in August. It was in Texas. 3 out of the 4 of us in the wreck got hurt. It did a number on us. We didn’t play at all for eight months. We were physically and emotionally kind of stunned. Even now Eric freaks out when he is driving at night. It was kind of one of those things where we felt we needed to sit back and breathe. It allowed us the opportunity to get our heads back together and focus on getting this album out. Now we are back. We have done four shows in the last month. The last show we did, we felt tighter and better than we did in five years. But now I have a new guitar line coming out with a new company. I am starting to write the next album. I think there were three or four months during that time period where I didn’t pick up the guitar. I needed that mental space. But the other night onstage I felt like I am playing better that I have in my life. I always try to take bad scenarios and turn them into good ones. In June, I am going to start filming for a TV show. I host a ghost hunting show. I am going to start filming the first 13 episodes in June. It is going to be aired on a regional broadcast network in The South. I will be keeping myself busy.
Visit the band online: www.facebook.com/lillianaxemusic