LIZZY BORDEN INTERVIEW:
October 11, 2010
Websites: www.lizzyborden.com – www.myspace.com/lizzybordenband
Interviewer: Dirk Ballerstadt
My entire life, I wanted to meet one of the idols from my wild teenage years, and for me it was mostly musicians from bands that rocked the Los Angeles scene in the glory years between 1981 and 1992. Sometimes, if you want something so bad, that little dream can come true many years later… and on a day you least expect it.
Back in 1983, there was a sampler named ‘Metal Massacre’, released by an independent record label called Metal Blade — and on that vinyl there was thesong “Rod Of Iron” by an unknown band named Lizzy Borden… a shocking and theatrical melodic power metal act from the fast growing rock scene of Los Angeles. Besides their classic songs, for me it was “Love You To Pieces” that rocked me the most because of its high and clear singing style and the attitudeof Hannibal Lecter or Freddy Krueger going opera. Lizzy Borden regularly released an album per year until the epic masterpiece ‘Master Of Disguise’ hit the record stores in 1989, when the band consisted of singer Lizzy, drummer/brother Joey Scott and several guest musicians. After close to eight years apart (and eleven years after the ‘Master Of Disguise’ CD) they came back with ‘Deal With The Devil’ in 2000 before another break. The band released their last recording ‘Appointment With Death’ in late 2007, a horror-meets-metal two-fists-in-your-face album that showed that some L.A. bands survived it all.
This summer Lizzy Borden toured Europe with performances on big festivals such as Wacken (Germany), Alcatraz (Belgium), Leyendas del Rock (Spain), Elsrock Festival (Netherlands) and Stockholm Rock Out Festival (Sweden) and also did some club shows throughout Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. During one of those gigs, in my hometown of Berlin, they did a fantastic show in a smaller club that was as big as Lizzy’s living-room… or the cellar from the movie Silence Of The Lambs. After the show and the meet-and-greet with the fans, Lizzy Borden took some time to talk with Sleaze Roxx.
Sleaze Roxx: What was it like being in a band during the beginning of the west coast metal explosion back in the early 1980’s, and how was the so calledfamous L.A. scene?
Lizzy Borden: Back in 1983, as I formed the band with my brother Joey (drums), there was more unity between the bands in L.A. We played a show together– for example on a six-bands-a-night-battle — and after the show we all had a beer, discussed when that bass player joined what band and so on.Most of the bands knew each other. We were all a part of the L.A. rock scene with all the Hollywood clubs and bands that wrote good songs.
It was an exciting time back when we had that song “Rod Of Iron” on the sampler called ‘Metal Massacre’ by Metal Blade Records, then released our first EP ‘Give ‘Em The Axe’ before we came out with first full-length LP ‘Love You To Pieces’. Until that time we were the greatest local act in Los Angeles before we started touring nationwide with the following records ‘Menace To Society’ and ‘Visual Lies’, but every time when we returned to L.A. periodically we gave shows in our hometown and sold them out. It was a great time.
What I probably miss the most of these times is… the unknown. As a young band you’re lucky to play a 600 or 700 seat club and dream about performingat arenas or festivals, so you climb up with every little success. And with every further step everything’s new to a young band as we were.I wrote the song “American Metal” in 1983 and the L.A. scene was totally different, then in 1987 a lot of bands immigrated to Los Angeles to havea little piece of the glam-metal cake — standing on Sunset Strip Blvd. and posting their band flyers in front of the hottest clubs in town.You can watch all this in the film documentary ‘The Decline Of The Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years’ where we opened the movie with theSteppenwolf classic “Born To Be Wild” and it shows that we were always a theatrical band and have been for the last 27 years.
Sleaze Roxx: It was a wild time, and brings back lots of good memories, but is there a rock scene in L.A. today?
Lizzy Borden: It’s not really a scene anymore. We have clubs like the Key Club or the House Of Blues, but no club scene or circuit like it used to be in the 1980’s.We play more shows all over the US and do only headliner shows in L.A. with a package of bands to draw more people and get the costs under control.That’s why festivals are so popular and also successful in handling the costs.
Sleaze Roxx: Around 1992 Lizzy Borden broke up and for a couple years… I missed your band being around. What was it like in the 1990’s?
Lizzy Borden: After the release of ‘Master Of Disguise’ in 1989, more my project than a band project, I did some touring. The album did well, but the videos for that record, “Love Is A Crime” and “We Got The Power”, were banned from MTV and around that time it was important to get a video on the air.We had a break, then in 1993 we formed that punk metal band Diamond Dogs, but released no records and didn’t tour. Then we reunited in the late 1990’s, around 1997, and did some shows in 1999 and then recorded the comeback album ‘Deal With The Devil’ which lead us to the next level in the band’s history, and then did some touring throughout the world.
For the 1990’s, it was a bad time for metal but a great decade for the world. Then there was something missing in rock entertainment that the ’90s did not have… no rockstars and no big shows.And eventually the people got tired of not being entertained and that door opened again as bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden once again played with those bigger stageproductions.Then there was another break, and in 2004 we formed a hard rock piece called Starwood and released an album named’If It Ain’t Broke, Break It’ before doing another reunion in 2006 and bringing Lizzy Borden back finally with the latest output ‘Appointment With Death’ in 2007.
Sleaze Roxx: Is it hard for an artist to watch the old fans go crazy when you’re playing the classic songs like “Red Rum”, “American Metal”, “Give ‘Em The Axe”,”Me Against The World”, or “Master Of Disguise”, and when you play the new tunes they go “…oh… okay”?
Lizzy Borden: Exactly. With ‘Appointment With Death’, when the first single came out, “Tomorrow Never Comes”, we had some airplay on MTV and finally gotnominated for video of the year (Heavy Metal) and our next single, “Under Your Skin”, was also highly aired on MTV and younger metal fansdiscovered us and so we mix old and new songs in the songlist. But yes, the classics are the songs the fans want to hear and more and morekids see us on festivals like Sweden Rock, Wacken or Balingen and get in touch with Lizzy Borden and to them it’s like, “Wow, I heard about that band who played 20 years ago, like Motley Crue or so, and they’re still around”. It is their kind of rock rebellion like we allhad when we were kids. And it’s hard to say to the old fans, but it’s judged by the sales of our t-shirts after the shows… small or medium sizes are sold out on the recent tour.I think it is a phenomena that belongs to all bands who are in the music biz now, and then… like Kiss or Iron Maiden, and so is Lizzy — 27 years around!
Sleaze Roxx: How was touring Europe in 2010 and how were the fans?
Lizzy Borden: We had good experiences because of touring over Europe the past few years. Because with performing on big festivals like Balingen or Wacken in Germany,Sweden Rock, or Leyendas del Rock in Spain, you can reach so many people… you can’t get that from playing in clubs. But we do also like to play the clubs onour days off and have that intimate contact with the fans… face to face, you know?
The European fans waited so long to see Lizzy Borden live on stage, back in the ’80s record companies gave no support for touring Europe becauseit was so expensive. Now it’s a bit different when the bands keep their eyes on the money. Every night I hear how the old fans missed us playing in their countries, so this time, aside from the festivals, we play smaller clubs so that the fans can party hardy with us.I just love my job when I hear that fans travel a long way to come to our shows and see what Lizzy Borden is all about… the Murderess Metal Road Show from 1985 transferred into 2010 and so we brought the blood back!Touring Europe is so cool, because travelling by bus you can see a lot of the places we play and we do have spare time to do sightseeing… to me it’s country-hopping, I love that.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s time to focus a little on upcoming plans, what comes next?
Lizzy Borden: In November we are going to tour Japan and after that probably South America and Europe again.Right now we are writing material for the next album being released in 2011, and it’s gonna be more song orientated and I wanteach individual song to really have something to say. I always like to sing about the darker side of life — it’s just more interesting to me than… happy things.And through all the years, and after several recordings, I can say I’m a better singer and a betterperformer than back in the ’80s because I’m more open-minded to all different styles of music and my way of singing.Nowadays I’m able to sing more the full range and it sounds good to me. And when you want to know the reason for my high and clear singing… it’s the P.A. system of my band that is much too loud that I have to sing over (laughs).And back to the new songs… all I want is to come out with the record of our lives!