By Christopher David
As legendary metal artists go, you’d be hard pressed to find a more immediately recognizable figure than shock-rocker Lizzy Borden. A pivotal artist throughout the 1980s and into the present, Borden’s brand of horror-laced rock anthems have evolved over the course of seven studio albums from crunchy, speed-metal tinged rockers about murder and mayhem to artfully constructed, fist-pumping anthems while still staying true to his roots. A tough feat, for even an accomplished artist, but last year saw Lizzy Borden return with My Midnight Things, which is arguably his best album yet. Currently on a ‘comeback’ tour of sorts opening for the acclaimed Demons & Wizards, we caught up with Borden after their set at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall.
In the Loop Magazine (Christopher David): Great to have you back on the road! Let’s talk about My Midnight Things – track for track, maybe your best record, and it was a long time coming after Appointment With Death. With eleven years in between those two records, what all went into making this record?
Lizzy Borden: Thank you! After we did Appointment With Death, the album didn’t do that well, and we thought we made a great record. And I got kinda soured on the whole thing after that, and thought, well, what’s the point if no one’s going to notice? So we ended up just staying on the road, touring and touring. And finally, I reached a point where I just thought, I have to make another record, and I don’t even care if no one notices. So, I decided to just sit and make a record that I liked, and that hopefully, everyone else would like. I isolated myself, and just worked on those songs until l had what I wanted. Now, My Midnight Things has the most positive reviews of any record in my career, and it’s our first album to chart since Master of Disguise (1989).
A lot of it was timing, and that’s the reason I did another record. Brian Slagel from Metal Blade Records came to me and said, ‘look, it’s a different time, and while the music industry essentially collapsed, we’ve figured out how to do this, so trust me, if you make another record, it will not only chart, but it’ll do what you want it to do.’ And he was right. It came out of the box screaming. We just put out a new lyric video, and after this tour, we’re doing two more videos.
ITL: It is really ironic how the music industry did essentially collapse, but the metal genre in particular has seen this massive resurgence in terms of sales and interest. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork with phenomenal new records.
LB: That’s a big part of it, too——it seems like everyone’s coming out with great records. And I think this record is one of my best records, if not the best I’ve made, and people are taking notice, which is great. It’s happened with a lot of my favorite bands.
ITL: It feels like a very cohesive record, much in the same way that Master of Disguise was. It feels conceptual, in that same way, even though it’s not a concept album, per se.
LB: Yeah, all of my records are conceptual, they’re just not ‘concept albums.’ I don’t like to be tied to a story, because I want my lyrics to be open to interpretation. If you’re telling a specific story, you’re locked into one interpretation. A lot of people do seem to be relating My Midnight Things to Master of Disguise, which is really cool, because I wasn’t really thinking about that when I was making it.
ITL: I think the tone of the record and the sweeping, epic nature of the songs is what really connected those for me.
LB: I do have a certain style, that sort of approach. I think you could relate Deal With the Devil (2000) to that, as well.
ITL: So how long did My Midnight Things actually take to put together once you had it in mind that you were working toward an album?
LB: The start process was long. I didn’t have a record deal, and I was just kinda messing around and experimenting with things. The first six months, just about everything I did during that time, I didn’t end up using any of it. I just played around with things, but then once I re-upped my deal with Metal Blade, then I really went in there and seriously put things together. But it was just me in a room, getting it all figured out, and toward the end, it all started coming together very fast. At the beginning of the process, I knew I didn’t want to do the same old things with the guitars, the chuga-chuga rhythm guitars, I didn’t want to do the obvious. The only thing I did know is that I wanted to go in a different direction. I let the melodies rule.
ITL: It’s a very melodic record. It has some of the most memorable and immediate hooks you’ve ever written.
LB: I think so, too. We play “My Midnight Things” and “Long May They Haunt Us” in the show this tour, and everyone says they can’t get those songs out of their heads.
ITL: What does putting together a setlist at this point look like for you?
LB: This one changed a lot from the start of the tour and what I had in mind. The majority of the setlist was going to be from My Midnight Things, a full “Midnight Things show.” And then, I realized that it’s been quite a while since we’ve played North America, so I thought I should at least play one song from each record. So that’s what we did, and I’m hoping that I’m at least making everyone happy in some way!
ITL: And you’re already talking about coming back next year with the full Midnight Things show you originally envisioned?
LB: Yeah, we really want to take it around the world. We’re getting offers from South America, we have an offer from South Korea, Japanese markets, some in Europe. Right now, we’re just figuring out what we want to do first. We want to add more new songs, and when we do a headlining show, we’re going to be doing some more dramatic stuff in the middle. This tour is a little more bombastic since we’re just doing 45 minute sets. We have a lot of options. The first order of business was just getting back out there in North America!
ITL: It’ll be amazing to see what you have in store for the full production of the new record, as your theatrics have always been a key part of the live show. And your set at Concord was a killer—the masks and costumes on this tour are really cool, and the ‘three faces’ monster-head is really creepy!
LB: It freaks people out! I’ve had people come up and tell me they were going to have nightmares, and they were totally serious. It does make a statement. Apparently, shock rock is alive and well!
For more on Lizzy Borden, click here
For photo’s of the Lizzy Borden show in Chicago, click here