The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



speaks to MARK ROCKPIT


Steve at Rock N America 2010 photo by Mark Rockpit


It's a funny old game this Rock and Roll. Since talking with Steve last month we have heard that Ronny Munroe, the replacement for outgoing vocalist for Derek LeFevre, has parted company with Lillian Axe. that news means that Steve is now looking for a new singer on the cusp of the next tour tour promote the fine new album DEEP RED SHADOWS. Any singers interested should read the press release below:


As you may have heard by now, Ronny Munroe will not be the lead singer of Lillian Axe due to prior commitments beyond anyone's control. We love Ronny and wish him the best. We remain on great terms and the band is already in auditions with several new singers. Steve has already written several new songs for the new album that we will record in 2011.

Unfortunately this means that we will have to postpone our tour to support Deep Red Shadows. We were planning to tour at the end of October - November in the USA and in Europe in January. As soon as the new singer is chosen, the band plans to record a new song for immediate download to introduce him. Then Lillian will do a string of warm up dates while working on the next album slated for 2011

In March 2011, the new Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, "Hit List" will be released and it features "47 Ways To Die" as the main opening song in the movie during the opening credits and start of the movie.

Lillian Axe is still looking for the right vocalist.

Submissions for singers MUST include the following to be considered: (1) 3 song demo CD, (2) DVD containing your recent live performance (3) 2 photos (color and b&w) and (4) your bio containing your musical resume.

All submissions should be sent to:
Love & War Records
PO Box 130
Hicksville, New York 11802-0130
Attn: A&R

****Please keep the packages at the following size (10"l x 2"w x

(All submissions become the property of Love & War Records and will not be returned to the sender).




Mark: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to us, I know you’re pretty busy at the moment. Are you still in the middle of the tour?


SB: No, actually we were supposed to be on tour, but it got moved back to the end of October into November. It’s a bad time of the year to go out at the moment, so we’re just taking our time, it’ll be a better opportunity and give us more chances to get promotion and everything together for the tour if we wait until October.


Mark: Sounds good, and I suppose you’ll be doing a lot of that yourself, with the new record label and everything, you are a busy man!


SB: Yeah, I’m always busy with lots of things going at the same time, and that’s the way I like it. The albums been out about 6 weeks now, so we’ve been doing a lot of press and interviews, and that’s starting two months before the album is released. It’s been a pretty good promotional campaign so far, and hopefully we’ll keep going for another 6-8 months, as we go in to the tour, and then hopefully go to Europe at the beginning of the year.


Mark: That would be great, have you got that lined up or are you in negotiations?


SB: It’s being worked out with our agent right now. I’d love to come to Australia man, I really would!


Steve Blaze live 2010


Mark: Yes, we’d love to have you over here as well!


SB: It’s a financial thing, it’s always about money! It’s about getting enough dates and trying to make enough money to get over there. It’s not about making money, it’s about having enough to make it financially possible to get there and pay our expenses.


Mark: Australia is always hard, people used to tag it on after Japan, and now the only way is a quick in and out, and a few shows on the East Coast.


SB: That would be great too, we have been to Japan and that was amazing, so it would be great to do them both at the same time.


Deep Red Shadows the new CD (c) Love and War Records


Mark: If we could begin by talking about the new CD, which I picked up at Rock N America. I know it was only supposed to be an EP. When did you get the idea to put acoustic songs on there?


SB: It started off as an extra bonus track, and as a fan appreciation thing, to give people a little something extra, and then there were so many songs that we wanted to do acoustically, and before long you’ve got a full length album. So, it started as an EP and became something bigger, and we were able to put songs on there that schematically fit with the rest of the record.


Mark: It does work really well, because the new stuff that’s on there is pretty dark in tone and then you’ve got the counter balance there with the lighter acoustic sound.


SB: It does work well and that’s the reason we kept going with it, we found by adding the acoustic stuff it enhanced the record, as opposed to just throwing on some new tracks just to fill up space. But, I would never do that!

Mark: Yes, you can tell by the quality of the last few records. “Sad Day on Planet Earth’ is one of my favourites from the last few years, it’s a great CD and great to see it played live. I caught you at Rocklahoma in 2009, and great to see you back at Rock N America this year. It was quite sad in a way as I believe it was Derek’s last show.


Derek LeFevre


SB: His last show was about six weeks ago. He let us know about a week before he started the vocals on the new record, that he just didn’t want to tour anymore. So, at that point we had to make a decision as to whether to keep him on the record, or find a new singer. But, at that point we had deadlines in place, and so we had no choice, and he did a great job. We were in the studio, with everything done but the vocals and we decided lets finish it. We did the 5 or 6 shows that were booked then we were fortunate enough to find Ronnie in a short amount of time and get him working there pretty well. It’s all about timing and what seemed like a seemingly difficult situation turned out to be of big benefit to us getting Ronnie as a new singer.


Mark: It’s interesting because when you came back with ‘Water’s Rising’ people still talked about Ron (Taylor), but now I think that fans have got used to Derek and have been won over by him.

SB: Yes, we never want our fans to be too comfortable!


Mark: So, how is Ronnie doing, it seems a bit out of left field for some people. I’m familiar with some of the Metal Church work, and it came as a bit of a surprise to hear he’d be singing with you guys! The stuff out on YouTube though sounds really good.


SB: Yes, he’s going to do a great job. The first couple of rehearsals where we were auditioning him, I knew right away it was going to be good. Derek and Ron sounded very similar to each other, and we knew finding someone else that sounded that close just wasn’t going to happen; it was a fluke the first time. But, I’m not looking for a mimic; I wanted someone who had their own style and their own way of doing things. Ronnie is a very strong singer, if you have a great song it doesn’t matter who’s singing it. He’s done a great job in keeping it as real as possible, and close to the record as possible, but he’s added his own style and flare to it. When we did the show at BB King’s, we opened up with ‘Letters in the Rain’, and after that the crowd just went crazy, and that’s when I knew this was going to be good! He’s a good guy, very passionate, professional about what he does, and he and I are very similar in thought in a lot of ways, so it’s a really good situation.


Mark: There is some great stuff on the new CD. I love the new single “47 Ways to Die”. What are you feelings about the new songs on there.


Steve: I think my absolute favourite on there is probably “Under the Same Moon”. I’m really happy with the direction the new material is taking us, and I feel that we are growing and getting better, creating more unique and thoughtful stuff, that can take us to the next level. Now that I’m working on the new album I’m feeling really excited about where things are going.
Mark: Lyrically your songs really set you apart from other bands out there, where does the inspiration come from?


SB: Thank you; I get them from many different places, from things that move me in an extreme way. I consider myself to have been born with a real emotional personality, that is very up beat, positive and strong, and there’s a side of me that is also very melancholy, and so I wear my heart on my sleeve and I feel sorry for people. Some things that are sad just overwhelm me, and I get to a point where I can’t not talk about it. Making a point, making a statement, is all I can do, so I make observations and points and hopefully move people in the right direction and get them to realise things. Even, if it’s something simple. Like treat your neighbour right! Or, picture the night time sky, with the moon and the stars, and just look at it!


Mark: Yeah, there’s lots of intensely personal stuff on there, there’s a thread of spirituality that runs through your lyrics, that I think adds another level to a band like Lillian Axe. Have you ever thought about writing a novel?


SB: Yes, as a matter of fact I have been toying around with the idea of writing a book, a sort of autobiography with observation, stories and ideas that I’ve come up with. I think a lot of the things I feel in my life, emotionally a lot of people relate to on different levels, but they are scared to let themselves go and deal with them. When it comes to my belief in God, or being sad or upset, how I view death, relationships, and things like that, I think a lot of people are afraid to come out and vocalise and admit, hey, I feel the same way about that.


Mark: It seems to me that your life and what you feel is somehow inseparable from your art and your music, which is pretty rare.


SB: Yeah, I try to incorporate that, the things that bother me in life and the things that move me in a positive or negative way, I think are directly related to the big questions that you ask about life. I think it can open up a new level of understanding of things for another individual. I’m trying to do that, for example, in the song ‘Under the Same Moon’ about a human being, being transformed in to a vampire, it’s about the emotional changes and the pain, physically and spiritually that you would go through, if that were to happen. What would that be like to never see the sun again? It’s about being immortal, but never being able to have a relationship, and you keep going and everybody else dies that you know, its heavy stuff! You have to take care of your family and your friends whilst you’re here, and the importance of taking care of your life now.


Mark: Yes, I really picked up on the whole vampire and romanticism thing on the new CD; it’s like injecting epic poetry in to rock music! For me it works beautifully.


SB: I love listening to sound tracks from movies, and I would love to do a score for a movie. It would be amazing, as you could watch a scene from a movie, with no background music, but add the proper music to it, and it just opens the scene up, and takes your emotions and senses to a whole new level.


Mark: Have you been given the opportunity do something like that in the past?


Steve plays to the crowd


SB: Yes, on a smaller level, I’ve done some stuff for a few different projects that are being shopped around. One is for a children’s movie. My bass player, Eric, and I did a low budget vampire movie, and I did all the score for that, and I’m in the process now of doing a score for a play, it’s definitely something I’d like to continue to do, and at a bigger level if I get the opportunity. I’m also doing a children’s lullaby album with acoustic guitars and strings.


Mark: Yes, I read about that, has that come about because of your new baby?


SB: Absolutely, I’ve always been a fan of lullabies and children’s songs, I listen to the lullabies with him and I cry more than he does!!


Mark: I always thought it would be great for Lillian Axe to do an album of nursery rhymes, as a lot of them come from very dark places! The whole album cover for ‘Waters Rising’ had the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme.


SB: That would be a great idea!! That’s why I want to do the lullaby thing, as everyone has kids and grandkids, there will never be a shortage of babies, and no one has done it yet! And no one would expect it from a hard rock writer.


Mark: I believe Lillian Axe was inducted recently in to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, the first rock band?


SB: Yes, the first hard rock band, and that was quite an honour, and we were shocked to find out, because quite honestly the city has never embraced rock bands, usually it’s been about jazz and blues, and whatever was tourist friendly. We were greatly honoured by it, it makes you feel that all the hard work you put in is finally being recognised, and a vindication of the lack of support we’ve had in the past from the city. It’s all about the fans; they’ve always been there for us.


Mark: That’s great, and completely out of the blue, by the sound of it!


SB: Yeah, we didn’t expect it to happen. We actually performed, we had the show where we were inducted, and there were a bunch of other local celebrities there. The guys from Toto were there and Randy Jackson from Zebra, it was a good time.


Mark: Well, it’s pouring with rain here at the moment, and reminding me of your set at Rock n America, where it poured at the end of your set! You seem to have a good relationship with the guys there, you were at Rocklahoma in 2007 and then again in 2009, and then just at Rock N America. Everyone I see, who sees you at these festivals, and it’s sad in a way as everyone says “Why don’t I know about this band?” Is that what doing the festivals gives you, the exposure to people who probably only have a casual knowledge of Lillian Axe?


SB: I think that’s been the biggest disappointment since we’ve been around, we’ve been around for 22 years and had 10 albums, and the majority of the population doesn’t know anything about us! How many times do you hear, “Well I’ve heard of the band, but I don’t know much about them”! Why aren’t they bigger and why have I never heard of these guys?! Part of me thinks it’s kind of cool, to be an underground secret, but it’s also not to realise that you are trying to let the whole world hear your music and it gets frustrating, when there are bands that are a flash in the pan, but everyone knows who they are, and they might have been around for 2 or 3 years, and here we are been around for so long and still going strong!



Steve before the rain at Rock N America 2010


Mark: You must have had a very frustrating career, if we can just recap on that briefly. You signed to MCA initially, as a lot of bands did. I first heard you when you did ‘Love & War’ and that was a great album, but to me you got better and when you released the album ‘Poetic Justice’ it seemed like then you were going to make it, you were even on the rock shows back in the UK at that time. Tell me a little about what it was like in those early days.


SB: MCA was a big disappointment to us. When we first started, they told us how amazing and wonderful things were going to be, and we ended up not getting the support, compared to what other labels were doing. But, compared to right now, I would love to have that power of a major label behind us at this point. Back then it was great, MCA released the first two albums, and the label did a hell of a lot for us, and it showed on ‘Poetic’, as it was our biggest selling record, and ‘True Believer’ was all over the place. They continued to push, I think mistakes were made, and they didn’t put a video out for a song that was our biggest success, and grunge was starting to kick. So, we were having our biggest record right when the style of music we were associated with was at its worst, it was in the process of being crushed by this grunge movement. It was a weird environment at the time, but people loved the record, and I think honestly people jumped too soon, with us going in to Prychoschizophrenia. They should have pushed ‘Poetic Justice’ longer, more singles, should have done a video, MTV should have had one for ‘True Believer’, to push us forward a little bit longer. But, they were good times, we had a lot of momentum going, we sold our records and crowds were good, and I think if we hadn’t have had to fight with grunge, that album would have been huge! That was a big obstacle for us to deal with at that time.


Mark: I think two of my favourite songs of that time, were ‘Living in the Grey’ and ‘Dying to Live’. I can’t believe that songs that good, people didn’t get to listen to.


SB: Yes, it is upsetting, ’Dying to Live’ is one of my all time Lillian Axe favourite songs.


Mark: I’m so glad you said that! It’s definitely one of my favourites from that period.


SB: Yeah, it’s definitely in my top 5, and I think it’s a shame when I think about how many songs we’ve had, that should have had at least the opportunity for the world to hear them. I still keep trying though, and eventually new people will get turned on to the old records and we’ll just keep on moving.


Mark: Are you ever tempted to play all those songs live? Or, bring back an older song, and mix the set up a bit?


SB: We run in to the problem all the time of which songs we should play live, because the more records we put out, the bigger the pool we have to get fish out of. It’s so difficult, because there are songs we just have to play, to be crowd pleasers, and there are so many that we would like to play, but we don’t! I think ‘Living in the Grey’ might get pulled out of the hat one day, and sometimes at our acoustic shows we might play songs we haven’t played before. Sometimes having so many records is a curse, people don’t have the attention span for a 3 hour set!!


Lillian Axe Live


Mark: I have some of your acoustic sets from the radio shows when you were doing the ‘Poetic’ promotion, was that the first time you went over to Europe?


SB: Yes, it was, before poetic came out, we went to a few different countries to do a few radio shows, acoustic sets, TV appearances, and it was a strange experience for me at that time.


Mark: When you came back with the ‘Water’s Rising’ CD, there was a real shift in sound, is that the sound of the real Steve Blaze, or something that was there, but was always hidden? Or, was it a conscious effort?


SB: No, none of it is ever a conscious; I never do anything purposefully that is not true to myself. It’s always been there, but over the years it’s developed. If you look at the early records and all those dark songs, they’ve always been there. I’ve just been more in tune with taking those dark songs, and making them less one dimensional, and more what people expect, and fortunately it comes naturally to me to do this. The new stuff that I’m writing now is very natural and just flowing out of me; it’s all powerful, grandiose, heavy, dark stuff that I am personally a fan of.


Mark: Are we going to get any epics in the new stuff, like my stand out track from ‘Waters Rising’ ‘Fields of Yesterday’?


SB: I think so, yes, I’ll tell you what pulls me in different directions, the album, ‘Sad Day on Planet Earth’, is 76 minutes long, with 15 songs, and there is everything on there, short songs, long songs, rock, Pink Floyd stuff, there is everything! But, for some reason, I had complaints from fans that the record was too long, and I don’t understand it, because I was giving them their money’s worth! You don’t listen to a song and look at how long it is, listen to it and see what it does to you. I don’t think about times when I’m writing.


Mark: Do you think that says more about people’s attention spans these days, than it does about how good the music is?


SB: Yes, it does, so I think the next album will be 10 songs, each four minutes long!! I like big epic songs as long as they don’t get boring and tedious, and I make sure that they are not.


Mark: I love the video for ‘Mega Slow Fade’. It must be expensive these days to make a video, are you planning on shooting anything else?


SB: That video was done by us, at no cost! We did it all ourselves, Eric, our bass player directed and edited it, he and I collaborated on the idea and we had a lot of help from people, and we did it ourselves.


Mark: It’s a funny video too!

SB: Yeah, it’s crazy, wild and out there! But, yes we will probably do our own because of the costs involved, and take the money and put it towards touring, or something promoting the album.


One of Derek's last performances with lillian Axe 2010


Mark: One of my mates, Michael T Ross, played on the ‘Sad Day’ album, how do you know him?


SB: Michael was in Angel with me, we are good friends and he is a great player, and a great guy, and I wanted him to be involved. So, he played on ‘Within Your Reach’ and ‘Reach Up’.


Mark: That’s something people might not know about you, the Angel connection. They haven’t really done a lot over the past 10 years; it seems to be a project there in the wings, waiting for it to happen!


SB: It really is, and it’s up to Frank Dimino, the singer, to get it together, and he’s very jaded by the music business, and realises it’s difficult to get a band like Angel off the ground again. They were one of my favourite bands when I was a kid, and when I was asked to do that, it was a great honour. I’d like to do it again, and I keep telling them, “Let’s do it”, but we’ll do it when it’s right for Frank.


Mark: So, have you been out and bought a white suit??


SB: Yeah, man, I got it from the big ladies section at JC Penny’s!! It’s all white!!




Mark: I also believe you have another project, a CD, “Near Life Experience’ that you are releasing with your brother?


SB: Yeah, my brother, formally of Black Label Society, Craig, started the band with me years ago, actually it’s a mis-quote, because he’s not doing it anymore, he just left Black Label, and he hasn’t been in Near Life for a while. We have a record that we’ll probably release at the beginning of the year, but with the resurgence of Lillian, I haven’t had much time to do it. It’s sitting in the wings waiting to get released. Lillian takes up all my time right now.


Mark: You started playing the guitar at a young age. Can you remember the moment when you thought music would be your life?


SB: The moment I wanted it to be my life, was when dad and I were watching TV, I was about 10 years old and saw Alice Cooper in concert, I realised I wanted to be in an insane rock band!


Mark: If you could have been involved in the creation of any piece of music, or album, at any point in time, what would it have been?


SB: Probably the Queen 2 album, which is probably my all time favourite record! Any of the first 5 or 6 Queen records, unbelievable!!


Mark: I don’t think there will ever be a band like Queen around again.


SB: You’re right. I have a funny, quick Brian May story. When I was in my early twenties, I was in New Orleans, and he was there doing a seminar on Gilt?? 40.25 guitars, and he asked if there was anyone out there who was a bit on the small side who wanted to come up and play the guitar. Everyone looked at me, but I was a bit too shy, and I said, “No man, No way!” After the crowd dispersed, Brian was talking to some people, so I went over to one of the guitars, picked it up and started playing. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he had looked over, and then he excused himself from the conversation, and he knelt down on one knee right in front of me, and I looked, and there was Brian May, down on one knee watching me play, and I got a little nervous. But he said, “Keep Playing” so I did, and he kept complimenting me on my playing, but I got so nervous, that my legs started shaking, and the guitar was bouncing of my leg, so I had to stop and apologise to him. So, as he was being dragged away by his publicist, he said “I really like your playing are you going to be here tomorrow?” Unfortunately, I was going out of town, so I wasn’t able to be there the next day! But, he was a very kind, wonderful guy; he is a true star in my eyes. It was a great moment, I wished I’d had the opportunity to go back and talk to him again.


Mark: That is a great story. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you was because we are doing a guitar month this month, and we all sat down and talked about who our favourite guitarists were. Your name came up on all our lists!


SB: That’s awesome, I really appreciate that!


Steve ready to field questions at Rock N America 2010


Mark: I always imagined that you’d have a pretty eclectic taste in music, what are you listening to at the moment?


SB: I’m always listening to my soundtracks; I listen to a lot of children’s music at the moment. I also love listening to the great songwriters of the seventies like Elton John, Bread, Don McLean; that whole decade was a decade of great songwriters. As far as rock is concerned my favourite band right now is Muse, I love Muse. I’m also still a big fan of all the great eighties rock bands: Scorpions, Van Halen, Alice Cooper is my favourite, Queen, Aerosmith, Sabbath. Of the new stuff I like Chevelle, Avenged Sevenfold, but there are not many unique bands anymore. Part of the problem for us is that we don’t sound like anyone else; we don’t sound like the Nickelbacks, the Breaking Benjamins, all of those bands that all sound alike and have that radio friendly rock sound that is prevalent at the moment. We just sound very different and that hurts us sometimes because radio stations don’t care about you they just care about their sales. Anything that might be older that five or six years old is out and you are largely left alone, they should be playing more by bands that have been around a while!


Mark: Something really interesting on your website is the whole ‘create your own song’ thing which is a great idea. Tell us a little about that.


SB: Well it’s kind of hard to get that noticed as I don’t have advertising for it. There’s no budget; it’s just word of mouth. But what it’s designed to do is to make music for people who can’t write songs on their own. They may have an idea, or they may just have lyrics: I can help them create their own song.


Mark: it’s one of those those things that is such a great idea that I’m amazed that no one has thought about it before.


SB: Well it’s not a cheap thing, it costs around $1500, but when you think about the work that I put into it. I take the idea, I write the song, I arrange it, produce it, I do all the instrumentation, I pay the singers to sing on it, I take care of getting it published. I make sure it’s registered with the proper agencies and then if anyone ever covers it or uses it, I split the publishing. You end up with a song that is unique for whoever they want to give it to. It’s just a hard thing to get people to understand it and as I said it’s not cheap.


Mark: I just have a couple of final questions and they are pretty big ones. The first is when you finally stop playing, if you ever do, how would you like people to look back on your body or music? How would you like people to remember Steve Blaze?


SB: Honestly I feel that I’m fortunate in that it has sort of already occurred. I didn’t give up; despite the industry I never gave up giving to the fans. I always tried to write the best material I could to move people and I hope that I maybe changed some lives. I hope I’m remembered as someone that wrote and performed with passion; that didn’t compromise and wrote some music that transcended all the barriers and obstacles that were put in front of me.


Mark: One of my favourite images of you is when I looked up at the hill after you had played at Rock N America and you were just sat there in the crowd listening to the bands. It looked like you were having a great time.


SB: That’s one thing I wished I’d had the opportunity to do, to connect and perform with a few more bands. But you know this is a very clique-oriented business, and you know that is one thing about Lillian, we never lived in California when the whole genre came out of L.A. We weren’t a part of it; we were our own unique kind of bastard children! We worked hard and we did it our own way. We never stopped. You asked what will I do when I stop playing, well that will never happen. I might be 80 years old and I will still be doing something musically. You might have to push me around to push me on stage but I’ll be there!


Mark: I hoped you would say that!




Mark: And the final question; and I am particularly interested in your answer is: what is the meaning of life?


SB: Well first of all I’m smart enough to realise that none of us on this planet remotely has a clue as to what the meaning of life is! All we can do is take what our brains allow us to comprehend and try to make sense of it. That’s why we have so many religions and we have so many beliefs, and everyone thinks they are right, but really none of us have a clue. But I can break it down into a simple positive and negative, yin and yang, good and bad, light and dark. The meaning of life? I think that every one of us has whatever you want to call it; a soul or a spirit that is on a never starting, never ending journey that will always be there. Every move we make whatever we are, whatever parallel universe, or planet. or life, whatever we are doing is all part of growth to continual perpetual light or happiness. Every move that we make is either moving us forward or backwards wherever we are. Like on planet earth for example, every thing that we do, every good deed, every gesture moves us forward and every time that we falter or don’t ask for forgiveness is moving us in the opposite direction. And it’s a constant movement for a soul that will never stop growing and moving. I can’t even begin to comprehend where we will go when we leave here but I think it is all designed to go to either a Heaven or a Hell, but that’s just the terminology we use because we don’t have the ability to mentally picture or to really fathom what Heaven and Hell really are, so we just call it Heaven and Hell. I just think of it as light and dark.


Mark: I knew you would have thought of that before. I might need some time to digest that answer! For me personally Lillian Axe has always been one of those bands that are so different, so unique that more people should listen to you and if in reading this only a handful do we all win.


SB: Thank you my friend, goodbye.



Website: Go there to buy Deep Red Shadows now!

Lillian Axe Myspace:
Steve Blaze myspace:


Mark Rockpit



all images by Mark Rockpit except where otherwise noted