Wanna Rock your Radio... Lee Aaron Speaks Out.
Canada's Metal Queen 'Lee Aaron' was a name that everybody knew, no matter where in the world you lived Lee like Lita Ford and Doro Pesch were the 3 female fronted vocalist that many respected and idolized. 3 female rocker's that shock the world with their strong and and unique vocals that were easily identified.
Lee started her music career at a very early age just like Doro, at the age of 15 in 82 her self titled debut album was released as a project. In 1984 her 2nd album 'Metal Queen' was released and what a great album that is, certainly packed a punch and is highly recommended.
In total Lee has recorded a total of 12 previous albums, her last studio album prior to the new release 'Radio On' was Diamond baby Blues' released in 2018. I managed to chat with Lee to talk about her career as young lady and to talk about her new stunning album which is set to be released shortly.
Here is what Lee had to say, what a lovely lady to chat too. Check out her new album and let that radio play Rock!!
Hey Lee, how are you? I'm doing good. Thank you for taking your time out and doing the interview for Friday 13th, this is the 1st time I have actually interviewed you so it's an honour to speak to you finally. I'd like to ask you firstly some warm up questions. Growing up at home was there any family members that inspired you to become a singer?
"Hi Jason, how are you? It's great to speak to you and I hope you are well. To answer your question, in my mothers and fathers extended families we have are very much musical. I have a cousin who is a Opera singer in Canada, and on my fathers side there are a few who musicians, not so much professional but have done recordings in the Christian movement, and there are some guitarist on my fathers side of the family.
On my mothers side, my mum sang in a choir at a church so my roots are I would say Gospel in some respect and my mum sang religious songs all her live and when I was a very young teen I would go through my parents records, my mum loved Ann Marie and when I was 10 I discovered in her records she had a Dianna Ross and the Supremes record. I thought it was a great record and I realized that music doesn't have to fit in a small square box, so it kind of snowballed from there."
Can you remember the 1st real Rock singer who inspired you?
"Yes it was Ann Wilson from 'Heart', and when I was younger my parents both worked in the local college and my father saw a huge pile of records in the hallway and the collogue radio station made the fatal mistake that vinyl was done and they were going to switch to 8 track instead of carrying on with vinyl. So my dad came home with a load of records and Heart was one of those records I also discovered The Runaways, Girlschool, and I was obsessed with the song 'Little Queen' by Heart and if it wasn't for the song 'Barracuda' there would be no 'Metal Queen'.
I didn't really discover Rock music until I joined a band at 15, I was also into Fleetwood Mac, I loved Stevie Nicks and when I joined the band the guys were listen too more male orientate stuff so I was exposed to Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Who, So I was getting into Robert Plant, Rodger Daltrey, Ronnie James Dio, in the early stages of my career, I was just blown away by the sheer power these singers had. I think you can hear these influences on the 1st couple of records I recorded."
Was it difficult at the start for people to take you serious with a bunch of male musicians?
"That is a great question, I have been asked that every once in a while and the 80's was really a sexist time especially if you are a girl in Rock because all the male bands like Motley Crue, it was a real a gender who have some really good looking girlfriends hanging about in their videos and on their arms to make them look more masker ling, that was the deal!! So the record companies thought if you were a girl who could sing and sang well you were remotely good looking and exploit your looks and to wear as little as possible which I was fighting against all the time when I was young and I hated that. So as a result of my early photos people were not aware that I wrote my own songs and I was involved with the production of my records.
So in the beginning there was this girl that sang pretty good but there certainly was a degree of 'Eye Candy' which is totally wrong. Artists like myself and The Runaways, Joan Jett, Lita Ford and the female rockers of that era paid the way for girls to pick up a guitar and write angry songs bands like Garbage, Hole were girls could could be taken seriously doing that. We back then always took ourselves serious, but it was defiantly a era of sexism."
Your 1st album which was self titled was also called a project, was it meant to be a one off album?
"It was called a project because when I was recording it I was 18 and I had only been in a Rock band for 3 yrs and the year I turned 18 I played my 1st summer concert and a local manager saw my band and he was impressed by my voice that he picked us up and signed the band and he worked to make the debut album. At that time I was playing the keyboards must of the time and the other guitarist George Bernhardt who played on my 1st 2 albums was singing before the album.
So our manager said I would front the band as he thought it was the best thing for marketing and and he connections with a bunch of Canadian musicians and he put together a band with Mark Santers, Rick Emmett from Triumph, Frank Soda and I co-wrote a bunch of songs with them and as there were a lot of Canadian musicians on that record we decided to call it the 'Lee Aaron Project' even though I was involved with the majority of the writing on that record. It was a big learning curve for me but I learnt a lot and I got to work some some really experienced musicians back then."
When you look back at your 1st 4 albums which one would you say is your favourite? Or which one sold the most?
"Well I would have to say that one of my favourites is 'Metal Queen' because it is just raw, and it wasn't the 1st album that was put together with pro players it was me and my band and I was writing song mainly with George Bernhardt we and had worked together since I was 15 yrs old and it was the 1st album that we had written together. We were young and I wrote 'Metal Queen' when I was 21 yrs old a real raw energy to that album and I would have to say that song 'Metal Queen' a lot of people are unaware of the fact that I stumbled through a lot of acquired stuff, like my manager would say I should wear red spandex and I was so young that I didn't have a clue of the power of my own sexuality at that age.
Then after that I was trying to push back that and so the song is really about a feminist statement and empowerment about taking your power back. A lot of fans still embrace that song as a anthem. I think my next favourite album was the 4th album which was self titled 'Lee Aaron', as I got to work with Peter Coleman who produced Pat Benatar, and I learnt so much from him with pitch he taught me how to be in pitch with the music so I would go back and correct things I did wrong, he certainly knew what he was doing and he taught me well. That album was more of a departure into modern Rock realm and it has always been my agenda to write good melodic songs and my material is melodic with big guitars and to embrace a new direction to the album 'Body Rock' which is my 5th album and that album was huge in Canada."
I remember watching you on a UK TV program in the mid 80's called 'ETC' with loads of bands on it like Venom, Girlschool and many more acts. Do you remember that show?
"Yes I remember that, I remember playing right after Venom played their set and I was trying so hard to get into the start of my 1st song when Venom guys were pulling their pants down out at me (laughing) I tried so hard to concentrate on what I was trying to do, those jerks and it kind of worked (laughing)."
You released a live DVD from a show in London, have you ever thought of re-releasing that?
"That is an interesting question, I don't have a copy of that and there are so many copyright loops you have to jump through. I don't believe we own it so I don'' think it will be re-released."
What about re-releasing the 1st 4 albums?
"That is also a good question, in Canada I don't own those masters and my 1st 6 albums were released through Attic Records who emerged with another company who became another company and then got bought out by another company and so on.. They all went bankrupt and so all my masters are in a warehouse until a company called 'Unidisc' bought those masters. So when those masters were sold they were bought with the Attic contracts and this is a catch 22 situation, they bought my original contract I renegotiated my contract in 1992 before I left the label and all the masters were suppose to come back to me in 2007.
However my 1993 contract has long been shredded by my former lawyer, so to cut a long story short I had been in touch with 'Unidisc' to collaborate a huge Lee Aaron box set which consist material from my 1st 6 albums as well as 10 albums past the 1st 6 albums that I own, which would be super cool."
Before we talk about your new album have you ever through of doing a collaboration with Lita Ford & Doro? What would be the greatest Metal/ Rock song. What is your views on this?
"Yeah that is something that would be really cool, I wouldn't say I am a control freak but I have produced my last 6 albums and I think I would want to produce it. Lita I just love her guitar playing she is so amazing and I think Doro and myself would sound really cool don't you think? It is certainly something to bare in mind for the future!!"
OK now let's talk about the new album 'Radio On' so why the title? Did you have any other titles in mind?
"Well the song 'Radio On' is about the fact that I grew up in a time when radio mattered and music mattered and when DJ's had the power to make or break a band or artist they would play the song to death so it would reach their listeners. I so miss times like that, so it was a combination of embrace that kind of of way of thinking and about 4 yrs ago we were loosing rocks starts after each other in passing away and that would really hit me. Our time here in earth is very limited and music is a legacy that any artist can leave and so the song is a combination of those 2 things, music is timeless!!! Music lives on well after the artist has gone.
We were thinking of calling the album 'Soul Breaker', which is also a song on the album."
The album was produced by yourself with the mixing by Mike Fraser who had worked with AC/DC, Aerosmith and many more artists, had you worked with him before?
"No I had not worked with Mike before, and when we started talking we realized that we had been working in the same circles for so many years and our paths had never crossed. He had always wanted to work with me and I had always wanted to work with him too. He is such a nice guy and an amazing mixer."
How long did it take to record this album what with us been in lockdown?
"Well the bare tracks took 4 days we had booked in the studio. What happened was in the 4 days we had the studio booked it was the same week that Covid had 1st been reported on the news, so we went in the studio for 4 days and cut the bare tracks in 2 days and on the 3rd day Sean Kelly our guitarist had to fly home as some of his family members were sick. So in 2 days we layed down the tracks for the album and the vocals tracks and harmonies were finished over that summer."
Do you have any favourite tracks from the new album?
"Well I love 'Soul Breaker', 'Cmon', I love the ballad 'Twenty One', 'Vampin' I wrote that song on the piano, I also love the song 'Wasted', that song is a very personal song for me it reminds of the Zeppelin song 'Over the hills and far Away', these are some of my favourites."
How many promo videos do you think you will do for this album?
"Well I have just been asked from some social media sites for clips and we are making a video for the song 'Vampin', I love that song and the next song we will make a video for will be for 'Cmon', I think there will be 3 videos for this album, which should be out by the end of May."
How would you see your music these days, is it more Hard Rock then Metal?
"I think it in capsulate all my influences and it's still Rock, it is a loud guitar based album and I challenge myself with my writing every year I just think my lyrics and melodies are getting better, I love harmonies and big choruses, maybe that's an 80's. I also love big nasty guitars. It depends on what your definition of Metal is? Back in the 80's Bon Jovi was Metal, and to some people Metal is Slayer, and I am not Slayer. I would say that I am heavier than Bon Jovi but it is still Rock!"
What have the reviews been like so far from the press?
"Really good actually, they seem to like the material and you have the odd Metal fan who are disappointed with the lighter songs and I like to make albums that are colourful and do we really need to be hit with an album that is at full volume? I don't think so, but general the reviews for this album have been really good."
Before we finish the interview, when do you think you will be touring?
"When does anybody think they will be touring? All my dates for touring have been push back to 2022 and I am hoping we will be back on the road by the summer of 2022 I miss Europe and the UK, (Ed: I have never seen you live) Are you kidding me? Wow well you are in for a treat I can tell you I have an amazing live band and we don't use back tracks, tapes and if you want to be in my band you have to be able to sing and play!! We are 100% in your face Hard Rock band."
Well Lee, thank you for doing this interview, I want to wish you all the best, be safe and I hope we get to finally meet one day, it would be nice. Do you have anything to say to your fans and people reading this?
"Yes I love my UK fans, I can't wait to come back there and to Europe too. I want to go to a British pub and have a pint for 2, also thank you for the interview Jason, be safe and I'll speak soon."
Thank you to Nathan @ Suspicious Activity & Lee Aaron for the interview. Interview conducted 4th May 2021