Lana Lane

June 25, 2002

I listened to your CD and I loved it. You have such a powerful voice. Itís kind of rare in a lot of female singers actually.

Oh, thank you. Yeah, thatís what Iíve been hearing.

Give me a little background on yourself.

I released my first CD in í95 and Iíve just been hitting it pretty hard ever since. My husband I usually write most of the material or co-write most of it. Weíre not doing anything groundbreaking. The style of music it is, is just kind of a combination of my roots which is Ď70s hard and the stuff that I loved listening to. Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, and Deep Purple. My husbandís influences which are everything from King Crimson to Pink Floyd to Yello. The combination of the two seemed to work in my favor I guess. Thereís also not a lot of female vocalists who do this type of music. I mean there are a lot of metal singers and the new metal scene thatís happening now and then thereís the real progressive female singers. I guess Iím somewhere in between that. Thatís about it. I havenít really changed what Iíve done over the past few years and it seems to just sustain which is nice.

Iíve heard your style of music in bands like Rhapsody and a lot of those European bands. I love that. It mixes symphonic style music and heavy metal. Thatís a very cool combination.

Right. Exactly. I think the nice part of it is itís still musical and thereís a lot of melody in the music which is really important to me.

Did you take vocal lessons?

Oh yeah. Iím from northern California and I actually come from a really musical family. My mom and her sister were singers in Europe. They were born and raised in Holland but they traveled all over Europe in a band. Then my cousin Davy Vain was a big glam metal rock guy back in the early Ď90s. I started taking voice lessons probably right out of high school. I really started getting into singing in probably my freshman year of high school. I always sang but never really thought about it as a career back then because the parents were like ďwell you need to have something to fall back on.Ē I thought well maybe if I showed them that Iím serious about it and get some training. I took some from a woman named Judy Davis for about four years who is in Oakland and she worked with people like Eric Martin from Mr. Big, Eddie Money, and Barbra Streisand. Sheíd worked with all these different people so I thought well I might as well give her a try. I studied with her for probably about four years and then I moved to L. A. and did some lessons with a gentleman by the name of Ron Anderson who is a popular voice coach down here. Basically it helps me a lot for the touring because prior to letís say 1988 I basically just recorded CDs and released them and never really went on the road much. If we did go on the road, we did maybe one show a year. Needing to build up the stamina for touring wasnít really necessary but then we started really touring in í98. It was like ďoh, I need to be able to get through more than two shows.Ē I started taking some lessons from him and it helped a lot.

Who are some of your major musical influences and why?

Well they range from singers like Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald to singers like Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and of course Ann Wilson from Heart. I think that the common thread between those singers is the way they deliver lyrics. For me anyway. Their phrasing and the way they deliver the lyrics of the song is something that is unique to them. In my eyes anyway. I think when you can understand every word someone is singing, that makes for a great experience because most of the time if I listen to singers and try to sing along I hum along because I donít know what theyíre saying. Even if I have the lyrics in front of me, Iím like ďwell that doesnít sound like that word but maybe it is.Ē

I find myself humming along to stuff sometimes too because I canít make out what that one word was.

We were laughing so hard the other day about this one old song. Itís about 20 years old and I think for 20 years Iíve been singing the wrong word.

Every once in a while on a music list people will start a thread about misunderstood lyrics. What they thought the lyrics were and what they actually are.

Oh itís just hysterical. Even like some Aerosmith songs who I also really like. I realize ďoh my God Iíve been singing this for years and thatís not the word.Ē Oh well at least I havenít been doing it live.

Tell us a little about your current band lineup.

It was always my husband and I. Then we have a great pool of musicians that weíve become friends with and Iíve met through other musicians and we just decide who we think would be best for a particular record thatís coming out and also whoís available because a lot of them arenít only Lana Lane players. They have their own projects and touring with other people as well. Weíve just become very good friends with Marc Boals. Erikís actually working on his new record as we speak and I really, really wanted to do a duet with him on this record and didnít know what to do. I was looking at doing rock songs and Erikís like ďwell you know, I think itíd be a lot more interesting if you guys did something a little more challenging because youíre both similar singers.Ē Erik came up with the idea for ďTime To Say GoodbyeĒ. I canít believe thatís in Italian because I canít speak Italian. I just tried to learn the pronunciation from Sara Brightman who did the song with Andre Bocelli a few years ago and then we have some fans in Italy who we sent the roughs to, to help them correct anything I was saying that was wrong. Then of course Vinnie Appice. Erik met him through another recording project he was doing just before we started Project Shangri-La. We were going to use the Dutch drummer that we used on Secrets Of Astrology but the September 11th thing had just happened and no one really wanted to travel which I canít blame them. We were feeling that way as well. Erik said ďwell Vinnie is really great and a great person. Why donít I see if he would be into it?Ē He talked to Vinnie and played him some roughs and some of our previous records. He said ďof course. My God itís right up my alley.Ē He joined us and then of course we have a couple of people whoíve been on a lot of my records. Don Schiff who plays stick and Neil Citron who has played guitar for me pretty much from the very beginning in some form or other. Either he plays acoustic or the sitar or rhythm or something. Heís usually involved in the record in some way. Helga from Germany who plays sky guitar. Thatís who we played with this time. Thatís who our playmates were this time. Next time, it will probably be a little different. I like to keep it a little different each time because it seems to keep the music fresh. Someone always brings something different to the table.

You work with producer Erik Norlander who I suspect is your husband. Tell me a little about his work.

Yes, youíre suspecting right. Heís done a lot. He of course has his own project which is Rocket Scientists and heís currently working with Marc Boals and he has been working with Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult. Theyíve been writing some songs together. A lot of people lately have been hiring him to produce because heís been doing it for so long. Heís just able to make records sound really warm without sounding dated. I think itís something that people are really getting into and understanding that everyone is not a producer. I know artists like to think theyíre producers and they go in and they record an album. They produce it themselves and they donít know the first thing about producing. Itís an art in itself. Itís not something that everyone can do. You have to able to see the bigger picture and make the whole album sonically digestible for people and not just have it be a big wall of sound. There have to be parts that you can hear. Everything needs to be clear.

I think also when youíre making a record you need to have somebody thatís not so close to it. Someone who can be objective about it. Some bands run into that when they produce their own records.

Erik, even on his own project, approaches it as a producer and not the artist. When heís recording his parts heís the artist, but when heís producing it and mixing it and arranging it, heís the producer. Heís able to separate which I think is something that not a lot of people have which is why thereís not a lot of great producers. I think you have to be strong in many areas to be a great producer. For us, weíve been married for 12 years and I just learned over the years too, to trust him. When weíre recording my vocals or I submit songs for a record, I donít take things personally. Itís business and I am close to the songs and I am close to my vocals of course. Sometimes heíll say ďwell I think the lyrics here could be better.Ē Iíll go back to the table and work on them some more. Then Iíll realize that he was right. I could have said it more clearly. Itís the same with my vocals. If I disagree with him I say it and sometimes Iím right but most of the time he let me do what I do and makes corrections where he feels theyíre necessary. Otherwise everythingís cool.

Project Shangri-La is your sixth release. Tell us about the album and some of the tracks.

Yeah, sixth studio. I have 14 CDs. As it says in the liner notes, we started recording demos for this, September 10th. Then September 11th happened and we didnít do any recording for days. Of course like everyone else, we just sat in front of the TV and didnít feel like recording either. It was like ďwell this is really insignificant.Ē Then we went through what everyone went through too. First youíre horrified and then youíre unbelievably sad and then angry. I just reached a point where I was like ďwell this is what we do and if we donít continue to do it, theyíve truly won.Ē We just got back to it and I think those incidents made the album have a particular tone. I think it changed the outcome of a lot of songs. I think theyíre more introspective then they might have been had those things not happened. I wrote a lot of songs about things. Like ďBefore You GoĒ. I was watching a documentary one night and it was about a girl and she was, I donít know, maybe 19. Sheíd just started college and had found out that her father was dying of AIDS and she didnít really have a relationship with him. She documented the last three months of his life and got to know him through that. The title of the documentary was Before You Go and I was just like ďmy God, thatís just so intense to me.Ē Just how she overcame that fear and that grieving by being able to get to know him even though it was only three months. Just what a strong person. I wrote ďBefore You GoĒ because of that. Erik and I went to his sisterís high school graduation and that of course was more touching then normal because of September 11th and so I wrote about that. I just think the album just has a deeper tone than maybe it might have if that hadnít happened.

Weíre definitely shaped and influenced by current events. Who designed the album cover?

Heís an artist that has done every one of my covers except for Secrets Of Astrology. Heís Polish. His name is Jacek Yerka. I didnít want to just have a picture of me on the front or just choose pictures with every release. I wanted there to be a theme and a connection that went with each record. I wanted to find an artist that I thought fit with the music and would be with me through all the releases and that has been him. Heís just such a talented artist. His work is surreal but itís also a lot of fantasy. You can look at it once and see things and then if you go back and look at the pictures again, you see other things that maybe you missed. I think that thatís all a necessary part of the package when you buy a CD. Thatís how it was when you used to buy the records. When you got the LPs you got this big piece of artwork so I do something a little similar to that without being too dated.

Tell me about the bonus track ďRomeo And JulietĒ. I liked that song.

I actually wrote that as a bonus track for the European version of Secrets Of Astrology and we wanted to add songs that have never been released here and probably won't be released here. We wanted to add a bonus track like that for the United States because the Japanese always get a bonus track because their product is so much more expensive and thatís how their marketing is to get people to buy their version. So weíll do the same thing.

You seem to have a stronger European and Japanese following than you do in America. Why is that?

Yeah, yeah. I donít know. I have no idea. I think itís definitely been changing for me over the past few years. Iíve gotten a lot more fans here in the States. I think thatís because the music is changing here as well and even though Iíve done the same type of music for years, itís becoming more accepted here now. In Japan and in Europe, theyíre just a little bit more open to unknown artists and theyíre not sucked in by the whole radioÖradio forces so many different artists down your throat and thatís all you hear. You never hear anybody new and if you do, theyíre usually not around very long. The Japanese and the Europeans are more open to hearing new people and giving them a chance to build a following because here in the States if you donít sell 30,000 copies or even if you do sell 30,000 copies, itís not enough for the United States. You need to sell millions and sometimes itís just not possible to compete against the Britney Spears of the world. Itís an entirely different type of music. The people who buy CDs are the 12 to 15 year olds really. In the millions anyway. I havenít had enough exposure here but hopefully thatís changing. It seems to be changing anyway. Especially this release has gotten some more attention.

I think people are pretty much getting over their angst and gloom and doom.

Yeah, yeah. Thatís getting old. Iíve never thought that that had a place in music anyway. I think to me music is supposed to be uplifting and sort of fantasy because thereís enough shit in the world already. I donít need someone to tell me that theyíre going to go out and kill their mother or kill themselves.

Rock and roll has always been an escape for me. Thatís what itís supposed to be and I donít really feel that people in this country for the large part have it that bad. I donít know where all these angry people are coming from. I can understand it if you live in Israel or Palestine where life sucks pretty badly. I think for the most part, people here have it pretty good. I donít know what theyíre bitching about.

Exactly. I donít know and Iíve just never bought into it. Iíve never interjected any of that negativity into my music because I think that thereís too much of it already and I donít need somebody to tell me how horrible their life is because you could be struck down tomorrow and I certainly donít want to waste my energy and the time that I do have here lamenting those types of things. Itís changing so hopefully theyíll buy some more Lana Lane and just be happy.

Be happy. Donít worry.

Thatís right. Iím not being unrealistic either. I know horrible things happen to people and people die and you lose people. Thatís not all of your life either. Thereís also great things that happen to people and I think those are things that people should concentrate on.

You definitely donít need a constant reminder of negative stuff. I was very impressed with the duet you did with Marc Boals on ďTime To Say GoodbyeĒ. I must say, it sounds like you pulled off that off pretty well.

Yeah, we were surprised ourselves. Weíre like ďshit! Thatís great!Ē Not to toot our own horns but itís hard. Iíve developed a new found respect for opera type singers because even though I wasnít singing opera, just the phrasing and the pace of their songs is really something that I had to work up to. I had to do it towards the end of the recording of the record because I needed to really have my chops up for it because itís hard.

I can imagine it was. You speak Dutch.

Yes, I do because my mom is Dutch. My brother and I really didnít speak much English until we started school. My father is American but he was stationed in Germany through the Korean war and met my mother. She was singing at an officerís club and then they got married and they moved to the States. My dad for some reason picked the Dutch language up really, really quickly and so they just spoke Dutch to us while we were babies and little children. When we started school of course that changed but we still speak Dutch at home and when we tour Europe and we have shows in Holland itís always fun for me because I always say to people ďnow you canít talk badly about me or say anything mean because I know what you say.Ē

You had some special guests on the album.

We did. Marc was a special guest and Vinnie Appice was a special guest. John Wetton from Asia actually wrote the bonus track for the Japanese version of Project Shangri-La so I consider him a special guest. Helga Engelkey and his sky guitar solos. Thatís about it I think on the special guests.

Where do you get your musical inspirations from?

On Project Shangri-La I got some of them from short stories by Arthur C. Clark that I was reading like Before Eden was a short story that I had read that inspired ďTears Of BabylonĒ. Hans Christian Andersen, ďThe NightingaleĒ is a song actually that I took almost all that whole song, not the exact words, but the story is from a story called The Nightingale by Hans Christian Andersen. Itís usually from some kind of fantasy short stories that Iíve read or like I was mentioning earlier, the documentary. Something that touches me because the minute that documentary was over I sat down at the piano and just started writing and crying and feeling horrible for that girl and her father too. Usually short stories because my attention span is short so I donít do well with really thick books except for Harry Potter. Those I can get into but normally itís fantasy short stories that I get my lyrical inspirations from.

Curious Goods and Garden Of The Moon have been reissued.

Yes, they are. Weíve done them as special editions which means theyíre double discs and you get the original version and then you get the remastered version that has additional mixes. Different kinds of remixes and then in the case of Curious Goods I resang all the vocals on that particular record. There are different versions and maybe even a new song or two. Those have never been released in the United States so we thought well what a nice way to do it. You can get both for the price of one.

Thatís a pretty good deal. Are you doing that with all of your stuff?

Probably not. Definitely not with the ones that have been released in the United States which would be Secrets Of Astrology and Project Shangri-La. Weíve done it with all the earlier ones like Love Is An Illusion, The Ballad Collection, Curious Goods, and Garden Of The Moon. Weíre going to do a live compilation as well.

That should be very cool. Any touring plans?

We just got back from Japan and we need to start recording another record for them so probably not anymore this year. Next year weíll go back to Japan and Europe but probably done for this year because we have some more releases and we just released Curious Goods and Garden Of The Moon as well. Kind of busy doing press and things for those.

Any other comments or thoughts?

I just think this is so exciting that youíre an American and weíre speaking English and itís not via e-mail. Iím not going to get a copy of the interview in German or French or Dutch or Spanish. Itís really, really nice and Iím honored that people are liking what Iím doing and I hope it definitely continues.

Lana Lane