Gary threw a few questions at local-to-him band Lixx, whose new album he reviewed recently. Let’s see what stuck…
The band was formed in 1982 in Dundee, played extensively throughout the UK then relocated to Edinburgh in mid 1985 after being signed by Fast Forward Records. American label Demon Doll Records signed the band in 2018 and re-released the back catalogue, sparking a whole new chapter in the Lixx story.
Describe your music?
Straight between the eyes rock and roll with a touch of glammaramma swagger!
Where does the band name come from?
The band were huge fans of Marc Bolan and T-Rex. As a nod to this we liked the idea of a 4 letter name with ‘X’ at the end… so ‘Lixx’ was born.
What are your influences?
The band grew up as kids during the golden age of rock and roll – Slade, Sweet, Iggy, Alice Cooper, Bowie and of course T-Rex were the soundtrack to our youth. As the band formed the background influence changed to The Cult, Pistols, Motley Crue, Girl, Zodiac Mindwarp . . . you just can’t help but soak that up!
As a nod to our influences, the title of our album Loose on You is a line from Iggy’s song “Death Trip”. Our new album title Diamond Star Halo is a line from Marc Bolan’s “Get it On”.
Recently you released your new album “Diamond Star Halo”, how does it feel to get the new album out there for people to hear for the first time and how have the reviews been so far?
There was a lot of interest in the band from people who knew Lixx from the 80s/90’s, but we were surprised at the level of interest coming from people who were newly discovering Lixx. We’ve seen a lot of ‘first time’ Lixx people at the gigs and it’s brilliant to see them getting into the show. Reviews for Diamond Star Halo have been amazing … ’Stunning – emerges roaring from the speakers like a low flying jet fighter!’ … ‘no filler, this has 9 killer tracks’ … ‘an album of total sonic satisfaction’ … ‘100% rock perfection!’ “It’s hard to pick out highlights as the whole album is a highlight. Strong right the way through from top to bottom”
How would you say Diamond Star Halo compares to Loose on You and do you think you have found the sound you were looking for?
Both albums have the same foundation – big choruses, big riffs, big back beat . . which really is what the band is all about. Loose on You was a product of our late 80s set list, there were certain songs we knew the audience reacted best to at gigs so it was an easy decision to choose the tracks to record. We were constantly writing songs during that period and LOY is a line in the sand of what we were about at that moment in time. If LOY had came out 6 months later it would probably have had a completely different track list!
We were very specific with Diamond Star Halo, both with the sound and the overall look and feel of the album. Before recording we sat down as a band and looked at classic rock albums such as Iggys’ Raw Power and used that kind of stripped back, short, sharp approach as a benchmark. When choosing the track listing and throughout the recording our mantra was ‘Would we skip over this song if it was playing in our car CD?’ If so, the song wasn’t used. We worked with producer Dave Paterson (The Darkness, Biffy Clyro) who gave us the balance of classic and current we were after.
How good would you say the current UK Rock/Metal scene is?
The whole UK rock and metal scene is huge, just a glance down the running list for big festivals such as Hard Rock Hell shows the range and diversity of what’s out there.
Before this virus, how often were the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio? Where do you get together and record?
Rehearsals were once per week, and twice per week prior to a gig or a recording session. Rehearsals are in S2K studios in Dundee and recording at Eastlakes Studios in Perth
How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Lixx a band where all members contribute to the songs?
Songwriting is very much a four-way band thing based around a big guitar riff, and Nazz is the Riffmaster! Generally Nazz sends me a set of new riff ideas which I arrange into a song structure and add the vox melodies to. We jam through the rough arrangement in the studio and we all add/take away/contribute to until there is a ‘that’s it!’ moment where the song clicks. The process is fluid and we all come up with ideas and suggestions.
Is there a main lyricist within the band? What are the lyrics on Diamond Star Halo based on?
I’m the main lyric writer. I love the interplay of feel and narrative and using specific themes such as ‘Thrill of it All’ being about Johnny Thunders, ‘Like About You’ is a celebration of our glammaramma roots, ‘Come On’ is about the power of the media, ‘Long Way’ is about the ups and downs of getting to where you want to be . . One of my favourite lines from the album is ‘Got a head full of whiskey, a heart full of ice, gonna have the best damn day of my life!’
Being a four-piece band and having different musical influences within the band, is there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?
We’ve always been fortunate that the record companies we’ve been signed with have allowed us complete freedom to take the band in the direction we felt worked best musically. Bringing our different influences into the studio is something we’ve always encouraged, throwing in a bit of something extra and unexpected into the mix can be the difference between a so-so song idea and a fully finished album track. We’ve never had a problem to take a song way out there to see what it sounds like, it keeps things fresh and exciting.
How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs? Do you have plans to go on more bigger tours and further afield in 2020/21 if things get better?
Gigging is the best, it’s probably the single biggest kick there is with being in a band. With a bit of forward planning we’ve never had too much of a conflict of interest with day jobs. We are involved in the Hard Rock Hell set up (playing the rescheduled HRH Festival in November) and also have the Scotland Rocks Radio Festival in November… all pending news of Covid 19 lock down of course.
How hard is it for a band like Lixx to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?
We sell a lot of CDs, it seems our fan base prefer to access what we do this way rather than digital streaming. We set up our own label, Gathering Storm Records, so we can directly take care of all merch, printing, production, distribution etc. – it means we can control the costs of what we produce and how we spend in the best way. Kind of dull money stuff but it all needs to be looked after!
Before the internet, magazines and fanzines were the places to find out about new bands and trends. Now publications are replaced with thousands of websites catering for all genres. Do you think that some of the passion has been lost or do you think that the internet has been a good thing for music and far from refuge?
I think it’s great, it’s almost like the early days of punk when home made fanzines were cropping up everywhere. There are masses of incredibly passionate people who love their music out there, and their enthusiasm to help and promote bands shines a broader light on who’s doing what, where and when.
Unfortunately due to the virus situation, are you looking at new ways of getting your music out there?
If the lock down eases so small groups of people can get together and rehearsals resume, we plan to try out live streaming virtual gigs from the rehearsal room.
Being from the Edinburgh area, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would recommend and give a shout out?
Our upcoming gig at the Scotland Rocks Radio Festival event is featuring some great local talent. Swampborn Assassins, Medusa Touch, Last Alibi, etc.
A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
Great question! We decided we’d all bring 1 CD each and an overall band CD
- Robin: Ramones – Alive
- Nazz: Masters of Reality – Blue Garden
- Steevo: Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
- Joe: T-Rex – The Slider
- Overall album: Iggy Pop – Raw Power
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Ah! This was so difficult!
Love to be supporting Foo Fighters as a current band, and Marc Bolan as a past band
Love to be supported by Hands Off Gretel, though we feel they are destined for far bigger things!