An Exclusive Interview With:
John Lawton [in case you're lacking a pulse -- ex Uriah Heep, Lucifers Friend, Zar, Gunhill... singer] has a brand new CD out with THE JOHN LAWTON BAND. It's a great rock recording, and can be purchased at the band's official site: www.johnlawtonband.com
Thanks to John for his time to answer my questions where he discusses the new album and his possible future plans!
Q] Sting In The Tale is very much a rock album, following a bluesier release and acoustic recordings. Was that what you'd set out to record this time around and what inspired or influenced the heavier approach?
JL: Oh I think after 2 or 3 gigs with the present line-up, before the recording procedure began, there was a feel to the band, that was going to take us in that direction....I had put a live set together for the MBP last year, where we special guested with Heep, that included a couple of Lucifers Friend songs and the way the band played, particularly these songs, I knew we were heading the right way
Q] This is very much a 'band' album, with everyone contributing to the writing and you producing. How did the process work and how difficult was it to narrow it down to 12 songs? [Was there an abundance of songs?]
JL: Actually it went quite quickly, I had a few numbers on the boil, Steve had given me a number of choices, aswell as Erol......We spent a day round at my house, picking the songs we felt would suit the project and bingo!! we had an album....Okay the songs are varied in style, from Erol's more Gothic kind of approach ;-) Steve's rock pieces and my, more melodic stuff.Leon came round one afternoon and we spent the time sifting through his abundance of "riffs" and out of it came "Give It Up"..... Benjy gave me song he had co written a while ago and we changed it around quite a bit and that's where "Dog House" came from....I have to say, I had worries about putting the varied styles down, but once I got a feel for the drum & bass sounds and their "togetherness" it felt right.....yes we still have some unused tracks, not recorded, but in the archives ;-))
Q] You wrote [or co-wrote] 5 songs here, any comments on what inspired a few of them? and do you have any personal favorites?
JL: At the present time it's "Lately" and "I Will Be Here" basically, because they turned out exactly as I wanted them too.The longer the writing of these 2 songs went on, I just felt they had to be combined somehow and it worked...I like all the songs on this album and some days a track will jump out at you, next time it will be another track, it changes all the time....
Q] Of the songs the other guys wrote was there any that you particularly enjoyed singing?
JL: I can't pick any individual song, they were all a pleasure to sing in one way or another...maybe "Dog House"........I had this idea of kicking it off, as if we were playing in a bar somewhere, so I got Steve, Erol and Leon to just pick out a blues riff on the accoustics and we did it, just like that....it works I think..
Q] It sounds like there'll be a lot of good 'live' rockers to play from Sting In The Tale.Have you planned out the new live set yet and how much of this album do you see including in the live set? [any tours lined up?]
JL: Oh as much as possible and the thing is, we can play it live. There are no studio induced effects that would require tapes for a live show, it is, as it is.....;-) The live set will include again, the Lucifers favorites.....Ride The Sky, MoonShine Rider, Heartbreaker, they worked so well last time, they have to stay in. As far as tours go, we have some stuff planned for later in the year. Erol is still getting over his back operation and Iam in the process of moving house, so everything is being planned for the back end of 2003.....
Q] In the past 10 years you've had quite a lot of output with the Gunhill stuff, the solo stuff, the acoustic releases and the reunions. Sting In The Tale seems to have brought you back to the hard rock circle. What else would you still like to accomplish in your career? any musical goals or recordings you'd like to try?
JL: There are a couple of things in discussion, first of all the projected Lawton/Shaw album. After the MBP, when Bernie and I duetted together, there was a lot of interest from the fans, asking if we would record together.Originally we were asked to do album of Heep songs and to include a couple "classics". Both Bernie and I have said, if we are going to do this, it should be, original material plus maybe a couple of Heep songs....Hopefully, if it all works out and in between Heep's and JLB's schedules, we will get round to doing this, it is something Iam looking forward too.Bernie is a pleasure to work with and the voice blending, is magic.... Secondly, Lucifers Friend has been approached to do a new album and that looks like it could take place in the New Year. Again, we are in discussion with a label, so we will see how that goes...At the moment though, all attention is being focused on "Sting In The Tale" and getting it out there... As far as goals go and before I hang up the mike, I would really like to do a soul album......complete with brass etc...hows that for a change of direction...;-))
Q] Any commentaries or stories you wish to add pertaining to the new album, band or to fans?
JL: I think a lot of respect goes to the guys in the band, the way they approached the recording, very proffessional and disciplined.Benjy is such a good drummer, no time swings, he is like a metronome with attitude :-))) he laid down all the drum tracks live, in a day and a half and believe me, there are no overdubs....What can you say about Steve's ability, his guitar and bass playing are second to none. In fact, on all the tracks that were written by him, he played the bass parts, the rythm guitar parts and the guitar solo's.This doesn't take anything away from Erol, it's just I felt Steve had the right feel for these particular songs...Leon is a joy, nothing is too much for him and he is also, a damn fine guitarist. He is a very shy person and does not like to push himself forward, but his abilities, are without question. Erol :-)))) he is just Erol. Good song writer, excellent guitarist but tends to get nervous, if it doesn't happen straight away.I did wind him up one day, I told him that I had erased (by mistake) all the guitar work he had done the previous day and it was a lot..well his face dropped, he went very pale, but like the trooper he is, he was set to do it all again, but after 10 mins, I let him in on the deal.....:-))))) We did wind him up a lot, but he is a good guy and a great axe man....
To the fans (friends), if you get a chance to see these guys live, don't miss it.... John
Interview: © Kevin J. Julie, August '03