DANNY REXON (CRAZY LIXX) INTERVIEW:
March 29, 2010
For several years now, I’ve been encouraging people to check out Crazy Lixx. If their full-length debut Loud Minority didn’t make you a hardcore fan, perhaps their brand new release New Religion will. As vocalist Danny Rexon explains, the band was re-energized with the arrival of guitarist Andy Dawson, who replaced Vic Zino when he defected to Hardcore Superstar. Picking up the pieces, Crazy Lixx is determined to ascend to the top of the Swedish rock mountain with a new label, new attitude, new outlook and… New Religion.
Sleaze Roxx: You just released New Religion, how pleased are you with how the new CD has turned out?
Danny Rexon: We are very pleased with the results. We set out to do a better album than the first one and I really think we succeeded. I think all the feedback so far is unanimous. I think we have done a lot better on almost all counts, so I’m really happy about it.
Sleaze Roxx: What has actually changed since Loud Minority. Why do you think New Religion is so much better?
Danny Rexon: We have all evolved as musicians and especially the song writing is a lot better, and then we have changed guitarists as you may know. I think that me and Andy Dawson are closer when it comes to musical influences than perhaps me and Vic Zino were, and I think we had a common goal on this one and I think that is one of the reasons it turned out so good. Vocally I think I’ve grown as well since the last album. We’ve been playing a lot live and naturally you get better. This time we recorded everything – recorded all the demos for the songs that were supposed to be on the album and many more as well. We kind of knew what we were after even before we stepped into the studio. There was a lot more work behind the songs this time.
Sleaze Roxx: Usually bands have a long time to write for their debut record and then their next one seems kind of rushed, but in your case it doesn’t seem like that at all.
Danny Rexon: We knew that there was no point releasing an album that wouldn’t be better than the last one. We were in a situation where we had lost a guitarist and with him, at least for my part, I felt that the music, especially the people in the music business, thought Crazy Lixx was something Vic had before he left for a bigger band and that we wouldn’t step up without him. So we knew we had to prove them wrong and really make it the best album we could so we didn’t rush into anything. We wrote songs for nearly a year and a half. Also, because of the stop that we made when Vic left we had a lot of time to write since we didn’t tour as extensively as we wanted to. I think in the end it turned out for the best this way.
Sleaze Roxx: I was going to ask that if Vic leaving gave you more incentive to show him that he was wrong for leaving the band.
Danny Rexon: I think in a sense it did. That and of course when Andy entered he had a lot of useful energy. This was his first album so he wanted to make his debut be the best he could. We were all losing faith when Vic left and when Andy entered we got back that energy and it got us going again.
Sleaze Roxx: So the chemistry within the band has changed quite a bit with Andy?
Danny Rexon: I think, at least for the song writing part, that I write a lot more with Andy than I did with Vic, especially at the end. When we started the band we usually wrote by just jamming out in the studio or something, but at the end, right before we recorded Loud Minority, we started writing more separately and then the songs were like solo efforts, mainly by me. This time, since me and Andy are closer musically, we found each other better in that sense.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there any animosity now between Hardcore Superstar/Vic and you guys?
Danny Rexon: No not at all. We still see him once in a while. He is quite busy with Hardcore Superstar of course, but we’ve played some gigs with them and there is absolutely no hard feelings at all.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s good. On the new record what are some of the songs that really stand out for you?
Danny Rexon: I think some songs are basic Crazy Lixx rock ‘n’ roll songs and I think the fans will recognize those. But also I think we have broadened the view a little on the song writing. We have a song like The Witching Hour which I feel is among the hardest things we have ever written. On the other hand, songs like She’s Mine or What Of Our Love, are very much in the other direction. Also a song like Blame It On Love many have had opinions about it being a lot more AOR than they are used to. For me a good rock song is a good rock song. I’m not really into keeping just a narrow road of sleaze rock and that is all we do. I think that may be a difference, but also I think the album is easier to listen to since there is more diversity in it. Of course there are some songs that I think are really a lot better than anything on the old album. Still the old album had some strong songs but overall I think the quality has improved on the new album.
Sleaze Roxx: I thought you were starting to sound a little more like classic Def Leppard on this album.
Danny Rexon: There are obvious connections in songs like My Medicine for example. We have also been working a lot on the backing vocals and big choruses.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve always had that, the big choruses and the huge harmonies.
Danny Rexon: We have always tried to get that and I think we are even one step closer now. Both the band and Chris Laney love that kind of sound so that was what we were going for. Myself, I’ve practiced a lot, listening to lots of that kind of music, figuring out how they did it. So that is something that we’ve tried to add to this album as well.
Sleaze Roxx: This is the second time you have worked with Chris Laney. How important is he to the Crazy Lixx sound?
Danny Rexon: This time we recorded a lot of demos. We had a somewhat clear view of what we wanted. But then of course a lot of things change when you go into the studio and his input I think is what makes the songs really stand out for themselves because we had more of a common sound on every song – just plug in the electric guitar and put on some distortion and then we started playing. When Laney starts to work with it he finds all those special sounds and clean guitars and all those things and harmonies, so without him it wouldn’t be the same album – no doubt about it. I knew that before we went into the studio there was going to be some big changes as well. That’s not always an easy thing to handle because we listened to the demos probably hundreds of times and after a while you get used to how they sound. But now when I’ve listened to the finished product for so long that I don’t miss what we had on the demos that we left out. Sound wise of course the album is way better.
Sleaze Roxx: Does the title New Religion have any special meaning?
Danny Rexon: For us we left our old label, we changed the line up and we have a somewhat new view on song writing as I said, and going into a new decade, so we wanted to make a statement that this is what we believe in now. Also, a bit away from the sleaze rock genre that we were placed in before. The religion is the same as it was before, just writing great rock songs. We are still trying to do that, but perhaps now we have a different view on it.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you get connected with Frontiers records?
Danny Rexon: It was through our management here in Sweden. We started looking for some Swedish labels. To be honest we didn’t know where we stood because we left our former record company, which was Swedmetal, and we were without any label and didn’t have management. So we started looking for that first and we got some deals from a couple of minor Swedish labels as well. But we didn’t feel like any of them were good enough. Then our manager found this Italian label that we had heard of, but we thought they were a lot more into more melodic AOR stuff. Then the deal turned out very good and I think they have done very much for us so far. I’m really happy with the corporation. Now they are releasing the new album in the US and Japan, for real this time, so I’m really happy about it.
Sleaze Roxx: They are a lot bigger label than Swedmetal so they should be able to able to give you that extra push that you need.
Danny Rexon: Definitely. I think it was a natural step forward for us. But then again, as I said, when we left the old label we didn’t know what we were able to get label wise. So we were starting new, and that’s some of the meaning behind the New Religion as well. We were a clean sheet and starting all over again basically.
Sleaze Roxx: What plans do you have for filming a video for the new CD?
Danny Rexon: I would like to do as many videos as I can, but naturally there is also the money issue. There is a problem getting air time for videos, especially in Sweden and Europe. I don’t know how it is in the US, but usually you can put down thousands of dollars and basically what you are left with is something you can put up on youtube. There aren’t many channels playing that kind of music anymore. For me, growing up with MTV and stuff like that, I feel like the band is not really fully real until you get that video out. I guess in the kids view that is not the case anymore. They watch youtube a lot more and personally I watch youtube a lot more than I do those channels. So I would like to record a video, but as of now there are no real plans for it. We will see how it turns out in the future.
Sleaze Roxx: How about touring plans, is there any chance of you coming over to the States?
Danny Rexon: We would very much like that of course, but there is always the problem of the Atlantic ocean and there is a big cost involved. We would have to book a couple of gigs or festivals to make it worthwhile. We are focusing on Europe first of all. For a band from Europe or Sweden to come to America or Japan, it’s one of the big steps that you want to do in your career. So we are very much looking forward to it and we hope we can come there this year.
Sleaze Roxx: I first heard the band back in 2004 on the Hollywood Hairspray CD. Did you ever imagine back then that you would be as popular as you are now in such a short time?
Danny Rexon: Actually when we were approached by Perris Records I was all psyched out about it. I was like, ‘oh man an American label wants to release our stuff’, and back then you were kind of naive and didn’t know what to expect, so I thought our break was just behind the corner. But then you realize there is a lot of hard work behind it and I’m quite happy that we have reached this far in the time that we have. The first album, as you say, you have a lot of time to write the songs. Usually you put out a good first album and the second one becomes a disappointment. I think we have grown since that first album into a stronger unit this time. Hopefully we will just carry on and I see a big difference between now and when we released the first album in promotional stuff and all the feedback that we get from everywhere, so I’m really happy about it.
Sleaze Roxx: Another Swedish band Vains Of Jenna just announced that their singer was leaving. How difficult do you think it will be for them to replace him?
Danny Rexon: They have a strong hold in the US so I would imagine they will look for an American singer. But then again there are some good singers in Sweden as well. Given the status they have, they won’t have a hard time finding people who want to sing. But of course finding the right guy that goes well into the group and has a good voice, that is another question. I hope for their sake that they do find someone.
Sleaze Roxx: With so many bands in Sweden at the moment is there a lot of competition between them all?
Danny Rexon: There is extreme competition in Sweden I would say. We are 9 million people here and sometimes it feels like when you are doing a gig probably half of them in the audience are people from other bands. So you do get the feeling there is a lot of competition. Right now we have bands like Crashdiet and Hardcore Superstar here and also, even if they are a bit different in the style, bands like HEAT for example, they are all bands we have known since they were demo bands and they have grown quite big in a short period of time as well. At the same time it’s cool to be part of the movement because when you do interviews with people outside of Sweden and Scandinavia, people often talk about Sweden as the leading country in this new wave.
Sleaze Roxx: It is for sure right now.
Danny Rexon: It’s cool to be a part of that but at the same time I think the competition might have something to do with it because I know a lot of bands that are good by international standards but in Sweden you have to be very good to make it because there are a lot of bands about. That is the reason also that Sweden might be on the front line of this new movement because of the hard competition.
Sleaze Roxx: Why are there so many bands coming from Sweden these days?
Danny Rexon: I don’t know. Music has always been a big export for Sweden. Not only rock, but pop music as well. There have been bands like Europe to look up to and try to make it as big as they did. So why, I’m not sure really, because I wouldn’t say there are more opportunities for education or anything like that. Of course I don’t know how it is in other countries but I didn’t see a lot of support when we were starting out as a new band. You just had to work really hard and play those small gigs for 10 people or something and slowly work it up. Of course we have had a renaissance of new festivals which I think helped a lot. When the Sweden Rock Festival for example started to bring in the old bands in the same style I think people really got the attention that there are still good bands around in that style of music. I think that the festivals might have helped a bit. The hard rock community in Sweden has always been strong no matter what trends are going through.
Sleaze Roxx: The Sweden Rock Festival always seems like it would be the best one to go to. I don’t know if you would get away with a festival like that in America because it has so many diverse bands
Danny Rexon: Obviously it has worked. It’s been around for very long time. This year they have booked Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith as two of their headliners. I know that they are very expensive bands to book, especially for a country like Sweden. Sweden Rock has perhaps 25,000 people coming so it’s not like a really big festival, but in Swedish measurements it’s definitely the biggest. I know it attracts people from all over Europe. Somehow they managed to book all those great bands. Really they get all the audience every year, year after year. I hope we get to play there this year as well. We played there once before and that was on a very small stage. Hopefully we will get to play one of the ordinary stages this summer.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve always felt that Crazy Lixx, Hardcore Superstar and Crashdiet are the bands to watch in Sweden right now. What do you think of that, would you agree?
Danny Rexon: That would probably be right. If you ask people in Sweden they would probably not say Crazy Lixx as often. But I hope after this album that we are among the three big so to speak. Vains Of Jenna of course are always in there but truth to be told they are a lot bigger in the US than they are in Sweden.
Sleaze Roxx: I know it’s early, but do you already have new ideas for songs?
Danny Rexon: We do have some new ideas but right now there is a lot of promotional stuff to be done and there hasn’t really been much time to write. I think we will get through it as soon as we can because I know if this album goes as well as I hope we will probably have to release an album shortly again. There are still some songs that we didn’t record for this album but they may get real good if we just re-work them a bit. So there is still some material left that we can do. Our target for the next album is to be even better than this one.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you plan on putting out some of those songs, maybe as B-sides?
Danny Rexon: We have had some thoughts about it but there is always the cost involved in recording and you have to take some time off and do it. We have one bonus track that will be released in Japan because they always demand some kind of bonus over there. Apart from that we haven’t recorded anything else, so to be able to release something extra we would have to re-record it again. But we will see, maybe.
Sleaze Roxx: Anything else you want to say to the fans?
Danny Rexon: We hope to come to the US this summer, or maybe this fall. One of the big festivals would be great. We were booked on Rock Gone Wild last year, which didn’t turn out very good, but hopefully we can get some real booking this time.
Sleaze Roxx: Hopefully you didn’t have to spend any money for that festival.
Danny Rexon: No, we kind of figured there was something fishy going on so we cancelled it about a week before it all unfolded that there was a scam going on. So we didn’t lose anything. If anything we actually got some free promotion because they wrote about all the bands being booked over there on the forums and stuff so our name was mentioned on quite a few forums.