LIZZY BORDEN - Embracing The Midnight Hour
June 11, 2018, a year ago
It’s been 11 years since masters of theatrical rock Lizzy Borden have released an album onto the masses. The Los Angeles rockers, fronted by the enigmatic and bombastic vocalist Lizzy Borden himself, are set to release My Midnight Things through their longtime label Metal Blade on June 15th. Borden caught up with BraveWords to discuss the state of the music industry, his long awaited return to the studio and embracing the art of the performance.
BraveWords: My Midnight Things is your first studio album in over a decade, but it’s not like you’ve been sitting on your hands in stasis. You’ve maintained a pretty consistent touring schedule.
Lizzy Borden: “We’ve put together multiple big shows, some of the biggest shows we’ve ever done and we’ve toured all over the world in places that we’ve never played. All this time it’s been really fun touring places like South Korea, South America and all through Europe. The last show we did was Russia, and the first time we’ve ever played there. It’s been amazing, but I did miss being a recording artist. I’m happy to be back at this side of the fence.”
BraveWords: For My Midnight Things, you opted to produce the record yourself alongside Joey Scott, with Greg Fidelman mixing and mastering by Tom Baker. Was it a case of wanting to take control of your own vision in the studio that convinced you to self-produce this record?
Lizzy Borden: “We produced Appointment With Death as well. I’ve been involved with producing every album that we’ve done. Whether I take credit for it or not I’m still a major part of it. Taking over the reins on this one, I couldn’t see finding the right guy and trying to convince him of the kind of record I wanted to make. I decided to do it myself and then Joey came on board. It was flowing quite easily, like what we did with Appointment With Death as well. We took what we did there and extended it, even though this was really different.”
BraveWords: When you’re envisioning what a 2018 Lizzy Borden album should look like and sound like, what is that blueprint?
Lizzy Borden: “It was easy to figure out because when we were on the road in Europe, and everywhere we toured besides North America, it was all young kids. I had that same feeling of 1985, 1987 again. I was going wow, this reaction is crazy and so amazing, because young kids react differently than an older audience. We were getting that whole thing happening again. When I knew I was going to write songs, the way I’d do it is when I put out an album I play that album, or at least seven or eight songs off the album. I knew I wanted to play, but we had reached that status where I had weeded out through that catalogue of the best reaction songs. I needed to add to that show with reactionary songs. That’s what I was thinking when I was writing, that this would fit in perfectly with the way they were reacting. There were lots of things that I was thinking, but that was one of the elements, that I wanted to make a record for all these young kids that discovered Lizzy Borden just now.”
BraveWords: Thematically and conceptually, where were you trying to go with My Midnight Things? Is it the case of the songs dictating the album or the album, and an overarching theme, carrying through the songs?
Lizzy Borden: “I knew I wanted all the songs to stand up on their own. I knew that if I was only going to release a single that I would have been proud of any of these that I’m going to pick. That was my main first goal. I always do themed albums. I kind of pick one thing and I write and make all the songs about that in some way. Deal With The Devil was about religion, Appointment With Death was about death and this one was about love. I wanted to see if I could mine that field and see if I could do something in there that hasn’t been done to death. I think I did. Songs like ‘Long May They Haunt Us’ are about the people no longer in your lives but they haunt you every day and you think about them every day and you don’t want it to go away. A song like ‘Obsessed With You’ is about a whole different kind of love. I kind of went through each song lyrically to find something that would connect them under the same umbrella, but at the same time stand up individually.”
BraveWords: You guys have been with Metal Blade for decades. They always seem to have their finger on the pulse on the heavy metal scene and what the fans want. What are your thoughts on having a label like them back you for all these years?
Lizzy Borden: “Because it’s an independent label they don’t have an enormous amount of money. What they lack in marketing and all the other stuff they excel at in knowing what the fans want. That’s why a lot of their bands, like 10 or 15 of their bands are top 10 bands on the Billboard. That’s amazing for an independent band to pull off. It’s unheard of really. They know what the pulse is out there and they see when it changes and what changes they have to make to keep up with everything. They’ve done a great job.”
BraveWords: Correct me if I’m wrong, but hiatuses notwithstanding, 2018 marks 35 years of Lizzy Borden. That’s a hell of a run. What are some of the major changes you’ve seen in the industry since you broke in? Particularly with respect to rock and metal?
Lizzy Borden: “For me, I always watch and see what’s going on and see what bands are doing well and what fans are attracted to. It went really extreme and then extreme became mainstream in a weird way. Not in a real way, but in a way that the flow of all the bands collectively worked together. The bands doing really well in a medium sized venue way, are the extreme bands. That’s kind of why I wrote this record in a certain way. I didn’t want to try to compete with that. My voice doesn’t work with that kind of music. I purposely went out of my way to go in the opposite direction. I always kind of do that, but this even more because almost all the bands, if they’re not extreme they’re playing extreme guitar in a regular song. There’s pieces of extreme music in so many different types of bands, but I didn’t want to go down that road at all. I went in a different direction with it. I think it’s opening back up in that direction, but I’ve never been one to keep up with the Joneses. I just do my own thing.”
BraveWords: I think that’s one of the reasons why fans have stuck with you for all these years, because you’ve stuck true to your sound and haven’t given in to changing trends.
Lizzy Borden: “I think they do too. The new fans who discovered us, they go crazy over certain songs. We really tapped into something we released a long time ago. The way I’ve always taken this thing, some people call us a glam band, some people call us a really heavy metal band, but I’ve never been into labels. I never had any interest in that. My songwriting is the way I feel at the moment and those are the songs that I write. I don’t pick a side, I just do what I want to do. There are fans out there that love that. That’s our fans.”
BraveWords: Lizzy Borden has always been known as a must see live band, putting performance and theatrics as a high ranking priority. When did you realize that you wanted the band to excel and push it over the top in a live capacity?
Lizzy Borden: “At the beginning of the ‘80s, the first lineup I had together, it was all about theatrics. I said I want to do theatrical rock; that was my whole thing. I didn’t want to say we didn’t have to concentrate on our playing or songwriting, I wanted to do both. I wanted to make both of them rise. I’ve seen bands that just didn’t interest me live. They might have been good, but they just didn’t hold my attention. The bands that I always loved put that extra effort into the live show, and they still had great songs. It’s always been connected and it’s always been there. Even when we’ve done stripped down shows where there’s been no makeup or props or anything, it’s still a theatrical venture. I can’t get away from it, but I wouldn’t want to.
BraveWords: What do you think My Midnight Things says about Lizzy Borden and where you are as a band right now?
Lizzy Borden: “I’ve never had a response from the press like this in my life for any record. It’s been such an overwhelmingly positive response, people love this record. I did not expect that. I thought it was going to get mixed reviews. That’s the one thing that’s changed in such a positive way. I don’t know if it’s the press that’s changed or I’ve made a good record that’s hitting at the right time, but I’m loving it. I did push the restart on my career with this thing. I hadn’t recorded an album in so long, so I wanted to do it right and the way I wanted to do it. I just kind of did that, pushed the restart and said I’d approach this whole thing in a little more unique way and try to make sure my presentation is exactly what I want it, and I don’t want to compromise that. I’m working on the Midnight Things live show now. After I get the show all written I’ll find the right musicians to go on the road with me and tour.”