Lana Lane

June 21, 2007


Photo Credit: www.lanalane.com

Last night I had the opportunity to cover Les Claypoolís show. Heís the vocalist from Primus. Oh my God, that was just so fucking awesome.

Oh, how nice.

It wasnít really his normal fare of music but he had the whole crowd dancing and at one point during the show in that funny voice he has, he asked if everyone was waiting to hear some Primus songs. ďWell, you got screwed.Ē I burst out laughing. Hell, this wasnít a Primus show. It was a Les Claypool show.

Right. At least he had a good sense of humor about it. It sounds like the audience supported him.

Absolutely. I donít know why it is that when somebody does something thatís a little bit different from their normal fare, people always ask if theyíre going to do this song or that song. No, because this isnít that band. This is something else.

Iím very familiar with that because of my dealings with Rocket Scientist and Erikís solo stuff. A lot of times itís the same with me. Itís like ďarenít you going to do any Lana Lane stuff?Ē No, because itís a Rocket Scientist show.

Exactly, thatís what makes it so cool. The last time I had talked to you, you had released Project Shangri-La.

Wow, thatís been a while. A lot has happened since then.

Tell me what has gone on the life of Lana Lane since then?

Well, we did Winter Sessions and weíve done two covers collections. Yeah, a lot. Not to mention stuff with Rocket Scientists. We try to keep busy.

Thereís some Lana Lane stuff that I need to get into my music collection. On Wednesdays I do a gig on www.rocknationradio.com and itís called Twisted Metal. The first hour is hard rock and the second hour is metal like anywhere from power metal to death and black. Whatever just turns my crank at the time. Iíve played some of your stuff on my show and people absolutely love it. They ask who it is and I tell them they have to check this lady out.

Oh well, thatís great.

Sheís got one of the most powerful voices in metal.

It must be fun to have your own show like that. You get to totally play what you want and expose people to stuff that they normally might not listen to.

Exactly. My friend owns the station and told me the format of my show was whatever I wanted it to be.

Love him.

Thatís what makes it so fun. I was looking at your website and I noticed that your five favorite vocalists are Ann Wilson, Glenn Hughes, Ian Gillan, Tony Bennett, and Joe Lynn Turner. That is such an eclectic collection of people.

It is and Ella Fitzgerald is missing from that list too.

That is so awesome. Your favorite albums are anything from Heart to Deep Purple to Styx to Harry Mancini to Ella Fitzgerald to Chris Cornell.

Yeah, I think for me the jazz influence and the big band influence is pretty big with me basically because thatís what my parents listened to. My parents were way into that kind of music while everyone else was into Elvis and what have you. My parents were into the big band swing and I notice that a lot of the phrasing that those singers used, I totally use in music because I think itís important that the lyric gets across. For some reason those singers really delivered lyrics and I totally respect that and try to use it as much as possible. I think itís important so thatís why theyíre influences and thatís why I listen to them on top of liking the music. I know it is kind of weird and eclectic when you read the list that way.

Itís awesome though because I just recently did an interview with Glenn Hughes and he is the most amazing person to talk to. I always love it when I get to talk to him.

Not to mention an amazing singer. He did a vocal track for one of Erikís records and I was there when he was doing the recording and he has to be one of the most powerful singers I have ever had the honor of being around. Itís amazing what power comes from that man.

Oh, I know. For some reason I donít really like the style of singing that these big band singers did but I tell you what, Gene Krupa is my ultimate favorite drummer of all time.

Wow, there are a lot of rock people who like Gene Krupa.

He was the man who took the drums from the background and put them in the forefront.

Yeah, there are a lot of innovators like that. Thatís why I like Frank too. If you listen to the phrasing of the lyrics, there isnít anybody that can do it like that. Thatís why he was so smooth.

I was doing an interview with a hardcore band one time and I asked the vocalist who some of his influences were and he told me Frank Sinatra. He thought Frank Sinatra was the ultimate showman.

Yeah, it is amazing. Itís so different now. Eirk and I had Tivoíd a Frank Sinatra show. I think it was live at The Sands and speaking of owning the stage, him and his glass of Jack Daniels, his cigarette, and just standing there by himself. It was just amazing what command he had.

He still does because even though heís dead, heís immortalized on film.

Thatís for sure.

Thatís one of the funniest jokes I have with some of my friends. When some performer dies that I think sang horribly, I always wish that you could just bury everything with that person. Or theyíll find the lost recordings of some person and put that out. It seems to me that if that person wanted to release those recordings while he or she were alive, they wouldnít be lost.

Yeah, they would have done so.

Because everybody, no matter what a wonderful performer they are from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Kurt Cobain, they knew that there were times that they recorded stuff that was absolute shit. They knew it.

Of course.

Then you wait until theyíre dead and then you bring this absolute shit out to everybody.

Thatís so evil.

Iím Native American and I believe that spirits are earthbound. You do this stuff and these peopleís spirits are floating around.,p> Going ďwhat the hell?Ē

Word to the wise. If you ever record anything that you know is absolute shit, burn it. Burn it.

Yeah, get rid of it.

You did a CD called Gemini and itís covers of a bunch of different songs. You have one of my favorite songs on there.

Which one?

ďWhite RabbitĒ by Jefferson Starship. I absolutely love songs like that. Like ďLucy In The Sky With DiamondsĒ by the Beatles. Itís a drug song. Iíve never taken drugs but I love songs about them.

I know what you mean. I have to say it was one of the most fun ones I had on the record. It was the most fun to do because itís pretty much out of my comfort zone. The just really uninhibited singing but it was like you know what, got to be true to Grace and just do it so I did.

Tell me a little bit about Gemini and why you decided to cover some of the songs that you did. Plus I love the artwork. Your CDs have the most awesome artwork.

Yeah, heís a good artist that guy.

I wish I had a house that looked like that.

Yeah, I know. Heís just so innovative. The story behind Gemini is that the first covers collection that I did, a lot of the songs were suggestions and picks from fans and business associates and the record companies and ones that Erik and I liked too. That was kind of a melting pot of songs as it were.

So everybody had input.

Yeah, everybody had input on that and some songs that I wanted to put on didnít make it because they felt other ones would be better. So when we did this covers collection, Erik and I decided no one was going to pick the songs but us and theyíre going to like it and thatís what we did. Iíve always covered one song at least on most of my studio ones. Number one I think itís fun and challenging and number two, I think you may be exposing people to artists that maybe they wouldnít otherwise listen to. When we did these songs, we were going to pick the songs we like and go back in because some of them were on the list from the first covers collection. We did them and so far the reaction has been unbelievable. The saying is true that youíve got to follow your heart because people walk into it for sure.

Yeah, because you pick such cool songs and they were such a variety.

There are a lot of them too that have been covered before but not like Iím going to do them.

You put your own mark on it.

Yeah, I was really excited to be able to do a couple of Heart songs too. I wanted to do Heart songs for a long time but didnít want to do the normal ones that everyone always does like ďBarracudaĒ and stuff like that. I wanted to do the songs that I really loved growing up. The ones that I really locked into so thatís why I chose ďDream Of The ArcherĒ and ďJohnny MoonĒ.

One of the things I like to do on my radio show is sometimes Iíll play the songs that made it on the radio.

The hit songs, yeah.

A lot of times I like to play that one song that really never made it on the radio but damn it, I liked it.

Yeah, that was a great song and there were many like that. There are many songs like that. Some of them when you listen to an album from back then, now most of the time you get one good song and the rest of the album is the shits, but back then there were many great songs on an album. Sometimes it was weird to me what songs they chose to be the ones that they were going to push so hard and these other diamonds sat there. Thatís why I like covering the weird b-sides too. I used to do it in my live shows too. I used to cover popular artists but songs that werenít on the radio from them.

You also covered ďWhite RoomĒ.

Yeah, because I love that song.

Thatís always been such an awesome song. Itís really funny. My dad listens to an oldie station because heís like old.

Heís an oldie.

Heís an oldie but a goodie. This is so funny because this is a song Iíve known about ever since I was a kid and that he had just recently discovered and that was ďHotel CaliforniaĒ by the Eagles.

What?

Yeah, and heís just so totally intrigued with that song. My dad is late on a lot of things but itís better late than never.

Oh, that is so funny.

He is so intrigued by that song and of course it came on the radio last night when I was driving home from the Les Claypool show. That has always been an intriguing song because it puts your imagination into overdrive. What the place is like.

Yeah, itís great.

Iím the same way. I grew up with a lot of bands but there was so much stuff on the radio that I didnít have time to really take it all in. I find myself reaching back into the past pulling out stuff. It was a few years ago that I built up this Deep Purple collection. I knew there had to be more than ďSmoke On The WaterĒ.

Of course.

I started buying their CDs and listening to them and Iím totally hooked on that band now.

Yeah, itís one of those things where you also reach back because you see and for me too just how artistic bands were back then. Now theyíre a little homogenized I think. Especially the ones that are played on the radio for the most part.

The Clear Channel bands.

It wasnít that way back in the í70s. You had time to develop as an artist and it wasnít like ďokay, if you donít sell a million copies youíre dumped from the label.Ē They cultivated relationships with artists and gave them a chance to become better. Better songwriters, better singers, and so on.

As one musician put it to me once, there used to be a time when record labels were run by people who loved music. Now theyíre run by accountants in business suits and Gucci ties.

Thatís right. The ones who are running it donít care about the music anymore.

They care about dollars.

Yeah, they care about the bottom line which is very, very sad.

Somebody was telling me about how in Iraq they should be glad to get the capitalist system there. I thought to myself what has the capitalist system done for us except make people greedy. Why do you want to take a system that clearly in my opinion doesnít fucking work and impose it on somebody and tell them this is how they have to be now.

I totally agree.

I find the older I get the more my bullshit radar just pings constantly.

Yeah, it does and you find you have less tolerance for it. I have the same thing.

So itís not just me.

No, no. Itís you, me, and Erik.

Iím an over the counter pharmacy manager and itís so funny. Theyíre pushing this diet pill called Alli and one of the side effects of it is that if you eat anything that has grease in it, it makes you have the shits.

Whatís it called?

Itís called Alli. Theyíre so excited about this diet pill and theyíre pushing it. As someone who has a parent with irritable bowel syndrome, thatís a really, really horrible pill and all they care about is how much money itís going to make. Not the horrible position that it puts people into.

Wasnít there one, Alestra or something that they used to put in and maybe they still do, they made potato chips and stuff with it. It was the same thing where you had loose stools as it were.

This Alli thing used to be a prescription diet pill. According to someone I know they said it didnít sell then.

So the idea is that you wonít eat things with grease in it because if you do youíll get the shits. Thatís how you lose the weight.

Letís say you go to a restaurant and you donít realize something was cooked in grease. You canít even go out to eat. I canít see myself pushing this pill as the next best thing. But itís all about ďdo you know how much money weíll make off of this?Ē I donít care. If a friend of mine or a relative of mine thinks about that, Iím going to slap them across the face and say no, you donít. Thatís what it comes down to. Money is important and the human condition doesnít matter.

Thatís right.

You did a record called Lady MacBeth and I was curious about that. What does that record entail?

Well, I have this strange obsession with some of the Shakespeare stories and in particular Lady MacBeth because sheís just so vilified and rightly so. Erik and I thought it would be interesting to write an album from her perspective as opposed to the way stories are usually written about her by a third party. I thought what if I wrote the song from her perspective and tried to give her some sort of humanity. Not to justify her actions and things like that. Just to make it interesting. So thatís what we did and weíre really proud of it. Itís really musical and itís basically the story of Lady MacBeth from beginning to end with our own adaptations of how we think things turned out.

Everybody is human. My mom grew up in post WWII Germany and she said that even Adolph Hitler helped a little old lady cross the street once. They all suffer from the human condition. Some people choose to walk into the light and some people choose to walk on the dark side. I think itís interesting what you did with Lady MacBeth. Of course youíre not excusing what she did but at the same time youíre pointing out that this lady was actually human.

Yeah, and she killed herself because of her guilt. Obviously she had some remorse for what she did in her life so thatís what we did. It was really, really fun I have to say. It was really fun to play a character like that.

Yeah, I can imagine. Youíre putting yourself into somebody elseís moccasins.

Yeah, it was very cool. Iíve had a lot of people ask if Iíve ever thought of bringing it to the stage.

Lana Lane goes to Broadway with Lady MacBeth.

Not yet.

Thatís an intriguing idea, my dear.

I know. Not yet. I havenít reached that part yet in my career but it may not be too soon off.

Itíll definitely take a lot of production work and a lot of planning and thinking.

Casting.

And Lana Lane can play Lady MacBeth.

Thatís right.

Now that youíve done this cover CD, are you working on any studio stuff?

Yeah, we are. We actually have started writing for a new album that I think we need to deliver for the Christmas season. Erik is just finishing up some video editing for the Rocket Scientists box set thatís going to be coming out. When thatís finished weíre going to resume the new Lana Lane record. Itíll be a studio album. It wonít be covers of course.

Do you have any idea of what direction thatís going to go in?

Yeah, but itís going to be a surprise. Itís a surprise. We absolutely do. Weíve got our theme going on so it should be fun. The specialty records that I do like the Covers Collection and Winter Session, we usually do those every couple of years because my Japanese fan base loves those.

It keeps you out there.

Yeah, and also I certainly love to honor and give back to them because theyíre really the fan base that made it happen for me. That gave me the chance.

Yeah, thatís so crazy. Everybody always talks about America this and America that. Why doesnít America do something really cool like support American musicians.

Yeah, exactly.

Isnít it sad that your largest fan base is in Japan and Europe? Here I play a song by you on my show and everyone is like who is that. God damn, get out from under a rock.

Yeah, and itís thanks to people like you because otherwise weíd still be under a rock.

Thatís just absolutely crazy. Stop listening to this generic shit thatís being churned out by Clear Channel. People have access to the Internet. You can find out anything you want to from obscure musicians to whatís going on in the world around you. Use that as a tool for information.

Itís so interesting that the Internet has been such a double-edged sword for us because people use it of course to illegally download things but also weíre exposed to hundreds of thousands of more people than if it were done in the traditional publicity and marketing ways which we couldnít afford being a small label like we are. Itís kind of hard but weíre not going to look a gift horse in the mouth for sure.

Absolutely not. I think one of my radio shows is going to be about chick singers.

Good one!

And youíre going to be on it.

Yes, I better be.

Damn straight or youíre going to hunt me down and kill me like the dog I am.

Thatís right. Yeah, the chick singers need to have some more exposure in a good way. Not as a lot of people like to talk about a chick singer.

Yeah, people complain that there are all these chick singers in metal bands. Do people honestly think you have to have a penis attached to your body to be able do something worthwhile? I donít think so.

In the music business?

Or in anything. We all know that everyone is born female and that for some people something horrible happens and they become guys. We know that.

Exactly.

Youíve also released some live DVDs.

Yes, maíam. I had my 10th anniversary concert in Japan in 2005 so what we did is, we basically took Iíd say probably two songs from each of my records of the past 10 years. From 1995 to 2005 which was not an easy feat in itself because it was a lot of material to go through. What we tried to do was also choose songs that werenít on my Storybook DVD because I hate when bands keep putting out DVDs and itís a lot of the same songs. Itís like okay, weíve heard these already. So thatís what we did and it was really, really cool and had such a great time. It was full circle for me to be able to celebrate 10 years which is a big deal for independent people like us to be able hang in there that long. And two years past that I might add currently. And the DVD was a learning curve too because Erik does a lot of the editing or all of it actually so itís been a really good move for our company too. We now can do professional looking DVDs which is great.

Heís a pretty talented guy.

Yes, Iím afraid he is. Iím not going to trade him in yet.

What kind of future plans do you have like touring and whatnot?

We just got back from a European tour in April. In that particular concert I did the entire Lady MacBeth album as my part of the concert because it was Rocket Scientists and myself. The first half of the concert was Rocket Scientists and the second half was the entire Lady MacBeth album. Hopefully weíre going to make that into a DVD as well which will be very cool.

Weíre almost on the way to the Broadway musical!

Thatís right. See? Weíre starting small. Weíre going to see how it goes. And the new Lana Lane studio album which weíve started working on. Thatís enough for now.

I just absolutely love your album covers because they are so unique. Nobody else does anything like that. Nobody comes even close to that.

Yeah, that was something Erik and I had decided very early on in the development of Think Tank Media was that back in the í70s when you had albums from Yes, you recognized them because of the artwork. That has been lost along the way so we really wanted to bring that back. So I feel really good when people compliment us on the album covers because I think you do recognize a Lana Lane album now if you see a series of CDs sitting out and then you see a picture thatís on the cover of one of mine. You know itís a Lana Lane CD.

I think one of the things that was lost going from vinyl to CDs was that when you had vinyl records you had this huge palette to work on.

Yeah, a piece of art.

You could get all of this stuff on there. Now that everything is a little bit smaller, itís a little more difficult to do that but I think it can still be done. You guys do it.

People choose not to do it because they think whatís the purpose because the surface is so small. There is a point because itís all a part of the music as well. Itís a whole package.

It gives you an idea of what to expect. Itís something I look at. I look at album covers. Iím a very visual human being.

I think itís a very good pairing when the artwork matches the music. Itís a whole sensory part of recording.

Your album covers give me an idea of what Iíd like to do with my new house. When I get my new house together Iím going to credit it to you.

Yes, go ahead. Actually credit it to Jacek Yerka the artist. Itís really his visions.

It gives you so many ideas because it looks so cool. You donít know where the house ends and Mother Nature begins.

Yeah, and each time you look at it, you see something new. He puts all these little secret things in that you miss the first few times that you look at it and then youíre like ďoh, whatís that little creature over there? What is that?Ē

Exactly. I love that. Back when I was a kid, the guy that used to design the Dallas area phonebook cover would design it the same way with all sorts of things to look for and youíd study it for days on end.

A phone book.

There were all these little things on there and every time you looked at it youíd find something new.

Thatís cool.

Itís too bad that they donít do that anymore because that used to be the highlight. Getting the phonebook. The new phonebookís here! Whatís all on the cover this time?

The new phonebookís here!

Yeah, Iím crazy like that but I love stuff like that. I love to be able to look at something and say ďhey, I didnít see that before.Ē Any other thoughts or comments?

It was a pleasure to talk to you again. I hope it wonít be another five years. We did cover the gamut and itís been a while. We went over some old and new things.

Lana Lane