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Lillian Axe

Steve Blaze

Webster’s defines a blaze as: “…an intensely burning fire…sudden burst of flame…dazzling display….” Musician extraordinaire, Steve Blaze, has undeniably earned his label “blaze.” This multi-faceted musician’s talents include songwriting, singing, producing, engineering and the ability to play several instruments; but he is most noted for his signature fiery guitar style which has catapulted him to international recognition.

Steve broke into the music scene at a very early age. He received his first guitar at age seven, took lessons for a brief time and then became a self-taught accomplished musician. He won multiple talent shows playing classical and flamenco guitar. As a young teen he was asked to perform on a local television show which aired on New Orleans’ CBS affiliate. He played in several bands while in high school and formed his own band Oz which became quite popular to the local scene. When Steve was nineteen years old Jim Dandy, the legendary vocalist for Black Oak Arkansas, asked him to join his solo band and to play on his first solo album. Blaze played on the album but graciously declined joining the band to pursue Lillian Axe.

From humble beginnings in 1983, the New Orleans-based hard rock act rose above the cream of the bands touring the southern U.S. club circuit. Within three years, the band's live show had built a reputation that could not be denied and was becoming legendary throughout the south. While performing an opening stint with Ratt, Poison and Queensryche, the guys caught the eye of MCA Records and also Marshall Berle (nephew of Milton Berle) who, at the time, was managing rock superstars, Ratt.

In August of 1987, guitarist, Steve Blaze and drummer, Danny King of Lillian Axe joined forces with vocalist, Ron Taylor, guitarist, Jon Ster and bassist, Rob Stratton of another popular regional touring band, Stiff. One month later a deal with MCA Records was in the can, and in April of 1988, the band's self-titled debut album (produced by Ratt guitaritst Robbin Crosby) was released. Spawning the MTV and radio hit, "Dream Of A Lifetime", the band hit the touring trail, supporting the likes of Krokus, Stryper and Lita Ford, as well as headlining shows of their own.

In November of 1988, the quintet re-entered the studio with legendary engineer/producer, Tony Platt, to begin work on the Love & War album - one which many hold in high regard as one of the most underrated albums of the past decade. Once again, radio and MTV hammered out the first single, "Show A Little Love", propelling Lillian Axe even closer to becoming one of the most up-and- coming and respected bands of the day. However, a fatal blow was dealt to the band's soaring momentum when the label failed to sustain the support and give the band that extra little push it needed to truly rise to the top. Radio, MTV and a huge fan base just didn't seem to be enough to satisfy their relationship with MCA, and in early 1990 the band and the label parted ways.

April of 1991 found Lillian Axe with a new bassist, Darrin DeLatte, a new drummer, Gene Barnett (Dirty Looks) and a new home with Grand Slamm/IRS Records. After releasing a successful compilation record of the first two MCA records called "Out of the Darkness Into the Light", Lillian Axe unleashed their most successful album to date, Poetic Justice, which hit the streets in January of 1992. Fueled by the hit single, "True Believer" and followed by their cover of the Badfinger classic, "No Matter What", Poetic Justice reached the upper 100 of the Billboard album charts and with True Believer hitting number 37 with a "bullet" on radio's R&R charts, Lillian Axe was well on their way to finally becoming a well deserved success story.

Spending the better part of 1992 on the road, the band criss-crossed the states numerous times and at the end of that year, finally got to meet their European fans by playing shows in the England, Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

Spring of '93 saw Lillian Axe back in the studio with new drummer, Tommy Stewart (Godsmack), in the fold. The recording sessions for Psychoschizophrenia, again with Poetic Justice producer Leif Mases (Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page), were some of the most creative to date and brought out some of the most dynamic performances of the band's career. Shortly after the recording sessions, the band once again found themselves in their second home - a tour bus. This time the tour would last for nearly three years as the band played any and every place that would have them, including yet another trip to Europe and an extended co-headlining tour of the States with Accept.

By 1995 the band found themselves to be simply worn out, as anyone would be who kept up the pace that Lillian Axe had set for themselves over the last eight years. The band had always been most at home when on the road together, but the time had finally come to move out of that house for a while and do something different. There was never a big "break-up" or typical soap opera story, the guys just took a break to do different things. Who knew the break would turn into four years away from the "old girl Lillian"?

During this new time of discovery and experimentation, Steve Blaze formed Near Life Experience with his little brother Craig (Crowbar) on drums, and explored a whole new side of his songwriting, and now, singing abilities. Ron Taylor also took on new form with his band The Bridge, with old Stiff bandmate Drew Smith. Both Near Life Experience and The Bridge can be heard on self-released CD's available over the Internet. Tommy Scott Stewart, after playing drums on most of the Bridge CD, went on to join a band from Boston called Godsmack, and is now enjoying huge success. Jon Ster and Darrin DeLatte spent their time off building new families of their own, both having children over this time.

Before the decade could come to an end, the band was contacted by Z Records, an independent European label, and Pony Canyon Records, a Japanese label, about putting out a collection of unreleased Lillian Axe songs. The guys accepted, and in the summer of 1999, Fields of Yesterday was released, giving the band's hardcore following the breath of new life they had been waiting for. Advertisements for the new CD read, "The Bitch is Back", and that statement was oh, so true. Lillian Axe was definitely back indeed. Culled from master tapes that had been waiting to surface at some point in time, the thirteen songs that comprised Fields Of Yesterday had been held in high regard by Lillian Axe fans who had passed these unreleased songs through the tape trading channels for years. Now, for the first time, fans were able to enjoy songs such as, "Pulling the Rats Out", "For Crying Out Loud", "Death Valley Daze", "Twilight in Hell" and more, on CD.

As a predecessor to the album's release, the quintet finally returned to their old stomping grounds, the clubs that they had regularly toured for years during the early days, and were met with overwhelming response from old and new fans alike. Make no mistake about it, the fans, as well as the guys in the band, were very happy to see Lillian Axe back. And, for the first time ever, their longtime Japanese fans would finally get their chance to experience the magic of a live Lillian Axe show when the band hit the Land Of The Rising Sun, in April of 2000.

In May 2002, Lillian Axe recorded a much anticipated live CD in Houston, TX to a packed house filled with fans from all over the world. In August 2002, the long awaited Live CD was released and with drummer Ken Koudelka and guitarist Sam Poitevent on board, the guys set out in support of “Lillian Axe: Live 2002.”

Summer 2004 saw Lillian Axe return to Europe for the first time in nine years, playing to a rabid throng of 27,000 fans at Germany’s Bang Your Head Festival. The overwhelming European response ignited the band’s yearning to return to Europe for a more extensive tour in 2005.

However, fall 2004 brought the resignation of vocalist Ron Taylor and the introduction of new vocalist Derrick LeFevre. New Year’s Eve 2004, LeFevre was introduced to the world for his first appearance as the new Lillian Axe vocalist to massive acclaim. According to Blaze, “There are very large shoes to fill with Ron leaving the band. He is a great singer and a great performer and he will be highly missed, however, Derrick is the most incredible replacement we could have found and I am thoroughly convinced that the fans will be highly impressed. The new album will take Lillian Axe into a new chapter of the band’s history, which we feel will be the most exciting yet.”

Three years in the making, due to the horrific tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Lillian Axe's new album, "Waters Rising" was released in 2007 to the masses featuring the new line-up of Derrick LeFevre on vocals, Steve Blaze on guitar, Sam Poitevent on guitar, Eric Morris on bass and Ken Koudelka on drums. Lillian Axe hit the road in support of "Waters Rising" to critical acclaim and the fans embraced Derrick LeFevre as the voice of Lillian Axe. Lillian Axe was invited to be the support act on Alice Cooper's Psychodrama tour.

In 2008, Lillian Axe began the search for a new record label to release their most dramatic album yet. Lillian Axe signed a 4 album deal with Blistering Records.

Often regarded as underrated and an unknown gem, Lillian Axe are the consummate hard rock band that understands the important aspects of music are song structure, melody and a heavy edge as well as being modern and mature, while never forgetting your past.

In December 2008, Lillian Axe entered Sound Landing Studios in Covington, LA with co-producer and engineer, Rob Hovey, to begin recording Sad Day on Planet Earth. They entered with an unstoppable work ethic and musical vocabulary that stretches from face ripping metal to soulful, stratospheric melodic rock music to the fist raising arena rock sound for which they are known. In January 2009, Lillian Axe moved their recording process to Talent Gone Wild Studios in Mandeville, LA to continue the recording under the guidance and hard work of co-producer and engineer Rob Hovey. Finally, on April 14, 2009, Lillian Axe completed the recording and mixing of their ninth album.

Fifteen songs in length, this album packs more dynamics and diversity than many bands do in their entire career. Not surprising is the fact that the five individuals that make up Lillian Axe have spent a lifetime honing their craft to reach this point. During the recording sessions, Steve Blaze, Derrick LeFevre, Sam Poitevent, Eric Morris and Ken Koudelka pushed themselves to the proverbial limit, living in the studio, isolating themselves from family and friends, committing themselves to the physically demanding sessions that producer Steve Blaze put the band through. Steve Blaze said, “They were the most intense recording sessions we have ever undertaken, but in the long run, I feel we are much stronger as a unit for putting in all the hours.” The members of Lillian Axe rose to the occasion and created songs with hooks, texture and atmosphere. Songwriter Steve Blaze, draws his inspiration from raw emotion, spirituality, what is going on in the world around him and his love of classic horror movies. Steve may be soft-spoken in real life, but the music Lillian Axe creates is his outlet for what he is feeling.

Lillian Axe’s studio performance is only one piece of the unique puzzle. Lillian Axe loves to tour and play live. Whether it is on their own, headlining or sharing the stage with a national heavyweight such as Alice Cooper. No matter what size the stage, Lillian Axe have the presence and drive to make it theirs. They also have the musical muscle to win over any audience within an earshot. When you get down to it, Lillian Axe is a really personal band, offering a one-on-one connection between the fans and the members of Lillian Axe. Whether you are watching them in front of 1000 people or 5000 people: Steve, Derrick, Sam, Eric and Ken will always make time to spend with their fans. The fans are what is really important to the members of Lillian Axe.

“This band does not take anything for granted, with every new song you write, you have to keep winning over your own fans. I want every song to be amazing” says lead vocalist Derrick LeFevre. Drummer, Ken Koudelka adds, “We don’t compromise the music we play because of the relationship we share with our fans.” “The initial purpose and sound of this band has not changed since the early days, we just went with the flow, keeping our integrity as Lillian Axe” adds Steve Blaze. “You don’t see us all over TV or in the music magazines because we never wanted to become something we are not” says guitarist, Sam Poitevent. And finally bass player, Eric Morris adds, “I guess as an obsessive compulsive perfectionist, I try to give our fans the best at all times as do my fellow band mates. Measure twice and cut only once.”