For a long time, we wanted to arrange an interview with the mighty Lee Aaron but for one reason or another we couldn’t make it happen…until now, that is! In the wake of Lee’s new album “Radio On”, we got in touch with her and we had a really interesting chat via Skype, as you will read below. Ladies and gentlemen, straight from Vancouver, Canada…Lee Aaron! Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Hi Lee! How are things in Canada? You are calling from Vancouver, right?
Lee Aaron: Hi Sakis! I am doing great…yes, I am calling from the Vancouver area. My husband and I live just outside Vancouver. We are kinda on the verge of going into lockdown again because…well, people are being stupid really (laughs).
Rockpages.gr: It’s the same thing all over the world, more or less, so I know what you mean. How are you coping with this whole pandemic thing?
Lee Aaron: I feel that we are coping as a family pretty well…we are kinda private people. I am not like a social animal (laughs). Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of friends but I love spending hours on my own, down in my recording studio, coming up with sounds and working on songs…stuff like that. We live in an area where we can go hiking almost every day as there are many parks nearby. We also have a massive movie library with a huge projector so we are watching lots of films. So yeah…movies, hikes, music. That’s it (laughs)!
Rockpages.gr: Speaking of music, you have a brand new album out called “Radio On”. Let me say that I absolutely loved the cover photo with the cassette player and all the stickers on. It was like watching a 80s cover sleeve.
Lee Aaron: Thank you! You know what…I haven’t seen the finished cover yet but I know how it looks pretty much. I was talking to my manager this morning and I asked me where I could get some vinyl copies so I could give my friends.
Rockpages.gr: Lee, I gotta say that the new album picks up from where the two previous records stopped although it has a more spontaneous feeling that maybe has to do with the way that you recorded the new material, right?
Lee Aaron: That makes sense…yeah. It’s a continuation of the creative flow, right? And you know what, if you get that spontaneous feeling, if you hear that energy, this raw approach in the songs then my mission is accomplished. That’s exactly what we were aiming at right from the start. I said that to a couple of interviews so far…I worked hard for many years to find the right musicians for my band and I am having a great time with them as they are super talented and bring their own unique ideas to the table when we are writing new material. There’s something really magical when we all get together in the studio and start writing songs. So, what you described as a “spontaneous feeling” is exactly what we were trying to achieve. Instead of sending back and forth files with music ideas, I said to the guys: “let’s get in the studio and work around those new ideas so as to catch this energy of a jamming session. Let’s pretend that we are 18 years old and we are in our garage again. Let’s just write a record that our friends will absolutely love. That was our goal and that’s exactly what we did. After all, this is the way we used to write music and we didn’t really care what people think.
Rockpages.gr: I wanna talk a little bit about my favorite song on the album called “Soul Breaker”. It’s like hearing something in between Pat Benatar and classic Heart. What do you think?
Lee Aaron: I love “Soul Breaker”, too and I am glad that you noticed those influences because I grew up with Pat Benatar and Heart. As a matter of fact, I was a huge Heart fan when I was a teenager…Ann and Nancy Wilson were responsible for my decision to become a female rock n’ roller.
Rockpages.gr: The lyrics of “Soul Breaker” are kinda vague meaning that you are leaving the interpretation of those lyrics to the listener. It’s something that you like to do from time to time with your lyrics…
Lee Aaron: Sometimes lyrics are more specific but generally my style of writing is to capture a feeling but also leave a lot of things open to interpretation. The truth is that when I wrote “Soul Breaker”, America was…well, it still is…in a state of unrest. I don’t want to do political statements or anything like because I know that my fans are on two different sides of the table. It’s not my objective to polarize anybody but when we were working on that song America was on a state of severe unrest with all those protests, “Black Lives Matter”, mass shooting…it was hell, really. It doesn’t matter who has the power. There’s always some corruption on some level when you get the power. It’s the way that the system works. So, “Soul Breaker” can be interpreted as the little guy fighting the man who has the power or a bad relationship. All in all, it’s about a bad guy.
Rockpages.gr: You know what I also loved about the new album? Apart from the songs and the overall performance, I gotta tell you that I loved Mike Fraser’s work on the mixing of “Radio On”. How did you end up working with Mike?
Lee Aaron: Isn’t he amazing? I love working with Mike. He was responsible for the mixing of the new album and I produced the whole thing. I’ve done a research when I was looking for a mixer for the new album and Mike’s name always coming up on the very front. So yeah…sometimes your dream is just a phone call away. My bass player has done some sessions with Mike and he gave me his number. So, I thought that I should give him a call and say: “Hey, dude…this is Lee Aaron. Would you like to work on my new record” (laughs)? And you know what? I called him and he was so excited to work me. He said that he always wanted to work with me on an album. So there you go. We got along like a house on fire! We also talked about engineering and mixing the next record, too. I am pretty excited.
Rockpages.gr: Next record…? You are already thinking about the next record?
Lee Aaron: Oh yeah, I got almost half the songs already written! What else are you gonna do during Covid, right?
Rockpages.gr: How do you come up with a song? Do you work on your own and then present the song to the guys or is it a product of a jam session?
Lee Aaron: You know…there’s no specific formula. Everybody contributes in his own way on the songs. Maybe, it has to do with a riff, maybe some lyrics, maybe a rhythm. Everybody is a part of the team. It’s a complete democracy.
Rockpages.gr: Lee, I’ve been following your career since the mid-80s. You have played hard rock, alternative, jazz and now a modern rock meets power pop style. So, what’s your favorite style of music?
Lee Aaron: (laughs) That’s a hard question. I like all those styles that you mentioned…I also like blues-based rock. For me it’s a matter of good music and bad music. I always allow myself to be a huge fan of music. I still listen to new music…for instance, I love Billie Eilish. I think that she has an amazing voice and a rock edge to everything she does. There are a lot of artists that are 100% true to what they used to in the past. Like…AC/DC. They are great, of course. But I see myself like David Bowie or The Rolling Stones where they used to reinvent themselves. They played different styles but you knew exactly that they were them.
Rockpages.gr: When you started back in the 80s, you were only a handful of female artists…Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Doro, yourself. Nowadays, there are more female artists in the music business. If you started your career right now, would you achieve the same commercial success? What do you think?
Lee Aaron: That’s really hard to say because with the digital age and the social media, I think it’s even harder to make noise and get noticed. There’s such saturation…there are so many artists. On one hand, it’s easier for a female artist to pick up the guitar and play hard rock music and on the other hand it’s harder for fans to distinguish an artist. In the 80s, there was a huge marketing plan from the recording company. The labels invested on an artist and people knew us and bought our records. Nowadays, you release an album and everybody seems to have forgotten all about it after two days or something.
Rockpages.gr: You’re right. That’s sad…
Lee Aaron: It is. But my plan is to carry on releasing good albums. I believe that good music will reach anyone who still loves albums and wants to support artists.
Rockpages.gr: You are absolutely right. Like now…you are living in Canada and you are talking to a guy from Greece who follows your career since the mid-80s. How about that?
Lee Aaron: (laughs) Exactly! That’s what I am talking about.
Rockpages.gr: Last question: let’s just say that there’s a guy out who hasn’t ever listened to one of your songs. Which one would you put as the most representative one of your entire recording career? Would it be the obvious choices like “Metal Queen”, “Whatcha Do To My Body” or anything else?
Lee Aaron: As an artist, I always feel that I am writing my best material right now. Probably, it would be “Diamond Baby” because that song says a lot about who Lee Aaron is…it’s a song about empowerment, taking your power back. It also has a tough, bluesy type of riff and a big chorus. It’s classic Lee Aaron.