ock n roll is all about resilience. Even in a time when it's visceral sound seems to be upstaged by something that is going to get the judges on THE VOICE going, it's sound can blast through the speakers and let you know that this is a music that isn't going quietly into that good night. Resilience is something that a band like LIVESAY knows all about. Formed in 1991 by guitarist and namesake GREGG LIVESAY, the band proudly boasted a glorious melodic rock sound in a time where rock music was getting a severe make under thanks to Seattle's grunge scene which ended up setting the tone for the decade to come. Despite such a shake up, LIVESAY stayed on track with a guitar heavy rock sound that boasted melody and even some more progressive rock flourishes in later releases. Despite numerous lineup changes throughout the years, LIVESAY's mission has continued undeterred. Now, LIVESAY has signed to the fledgling RFL RECORDS label and is kicking off the singing with the release of their career spanning retrospective compilation CHRONICLES. In addition to select cuts from the band's catalog, CHRONICLES also features three unreleased demo tracks and the new single INTERNATIONAL MAN featuring new lead singer MIKE GILL. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with guitarist GREGG LIVESAY regarding the new release and their plans for a new, forthcoming album with all new material. Here is how the interview went.
The album CHRONICLES is a rarity here at ROCKWIRED. It is in fact a BEST OF collection with a new single and the album shows the evolution of LIVESAY. Now that it's out there for people to hear, how do you feel about the finished work?
It documents many years of work with this band and highlights the many different musicians that have come through this band. I'm very proud of it. It contains the best songs of our albums and I'm hoping that that this collection is a convenient way for the people for fans to access our music and that it is also an opportunity for some of the people that we missed along the way to catch up with who we are as a band and hear the best that we have to offer. I'm pretty excited about it.
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The collection also has some unreleased demo material from early on in the band's history as well, right?
That is correct. There are two songs on there. One of them is the song FALLEN NIGHTS and that was being played in Europe and New Zealand. When I did an interview with a New Zealand radio station over there, they said that it was really popular song. That song had never appeared on a record before so we decided to add it to CHRONICLES as well.
This collection also marks your first outing with the record label RFL RECORDS. Describe the relationship between the band and the label.
RFL RECORDS is a somewhat new label. I believe that they've only been around for a little over two years now. They are a great team of people. They're very proactive and very supportive of the band and they work really hard to promote us. It's something that has been very refreshing for us as a band. We've been signed in the past and we've been promised a lot of things in the past by various record companies that we were signed to and they had fallen short on them, but I think we have a very positive future with these guys and I really like working with them.
What inspired the move to release this retrospective after all of this time?
When we had been playing some of the festivals we had been doing, we found that even though we were supporting our new album at the time which was FROZEN HELL from about a year and a half a go, a lot of the people would come up to us asking about our older records and where we could get them. We decided that even though they are available on all of the major websites like ITUNES and AMAZON, we thought that maybe it would be a good idea to take the songs from those albums and make a BEST OF collection and that would make it more convenient for them as well as put a new song on there that would showcase the new members of the band - specifically MIKE GILL, my new drummer KEITH MICHAELS and my new bass player RICH ANDREWS.
The one new song INTERNATIONAL MAN is the single for this new album. What went into the making of it?
INTERNATIONAL MAN was inspired by a fellow musician that I've been friends with for over thirty-plus years. He and I were out in Illinois for a festival and in hanging out with him, I got the idea for the song. I've known him for a long time and he's got a lot of stories from the road. It just inspired me to write about the rock n roll lifestyle, about a guy who is always flying around from gig to gig and from country to country. That is where the inspiration came from. He is a very funny guy with a great sense of humor and he's got a lot of great stories to tell. Just as we were rehearsing in our hotel room for our set, I said to the band that I was going to write a song called INTERNATIONAL MAN. I wrote it in about three days. That was where the song came from.
Bring me back to the beginning of LIVESAY. How did this enterprise get off the ground?
This band was formed out of my own personal frustration of not being able to stay in a band for very long. I was always auditioning for other people's bands. I would get the job and maybe a year or a year and a half down the road, the band would fall apart. This happened to me over and over again. I was putting a lot of time and effort into other people's projects just to watch them fail. Finally I got so frustrated that I just didn't want to do it anymore. Some of my friends and fellow musicians said to me that I should just start my own band and do it my own way. In the beginning, I was skeptical as to whether I could pull it off. Luckily I was able to find some really good people really quickly and that was how it started and I've been doing it ever since. It's all that I ever really wanted to do.
The band was launched in 1991 and that was an interesting year for rock music. You guys were a melodic hard rock band and almos overnight, the music scene changed into something more angsty.
Yeah, the Seattle scene was starting to take over. It was all flannel shirts and no guitar solos in songs anymore and nobody cared what they looked like. I wasn't cut from that cloth. I took a lot of pride in my music and I was a really hard working guitar player. I take a lot of pride in my playing. I didn't let that bother me. I continued to do what I do. As a band we continued to be very busy. It didn't effect us in terms of records sales or shows. If anything, the national acts were suffering. They weren't playing stadiums anymore and they were starting to play the same venues that I was playing. It gave me access to a lot of the major bands that I had enjoyed throughout the mid to late eighties and I'm speaking of DIO, VINCE NEIL, SEBASTIAN BACH, LYNCH MOB and RATT. I could sit here and rattle off all of the names of the bands that we had played with over the years. For me it was great. For those bands, I'm not so sure. We were always busy and the changes in rock n roll really didn't effect us at all.
From this album are their any songs from the band's past that you would like for listeners to reconsider?
You can definitely hear the transition in the band's songwriting and get a sense of how we evolved over the years. I would say that one of the highlights off of this collection would have to be DARKEST HOUR. That's a great song. I think the instrumental APHASIA really showcases the band's talents as musicians. I think there is something on there for everybody. There is a ballad on there and there is some melodic rock and songs taken from our third album that had some progressive flourishes. I think there is a touch of everything for everyone.
Talk about the current lineup of the band and what it is that you think each member brings to the table that makes this thing work.
MIKE GILL is our new lead singer. He has a phenomenal voice and he's a great guy. He's hungry and he really wants it. He can literally sing anything. He knows how to take care of his voice, which is a refreshing thing for me. I've had a lot of singers that have burned themselves out in the past so to have a singer that is on top of it is really great. My drummer KEITH MICHAELS was with me for the first eleven years of this band. He did two records with me. He's a real seasoned pro and he's been out there for a long time. He's a great drummer. RICH ANDREWS is our new bass player. He's played around locally, and he's a great guy and a great bass player. He brings a lot to the background singing and the songwriting. TONY STAHL is my keyboard player and he's been with me for forever. He's been with the band ever since 1996. He's both a gifted writer and a musician and he's just amazing in the studio. He has been the balance to my scale. He keeps me sane.
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Now that you guys are signed to a new label, are their plans for a new album with new material?
We're going to have a new full length album featuring the current lineup out sometime next year on RFL RECORDS. We are going to go out and support this record. We have a show next Saturday with ZEBRA and KINGDOM COME. We're just going to go and support the record for the next several months. That is what we need to do, but we will have a new album featuring all new material out next year in 2019. That's the plan. We already have material ready for it and we're gonna be on a role soon as far as recording goes.
What is it that you hope people will take away from listening to this collection?
I think what they'll come away with is how we've evolved as musicians and songwriters. You are going to hear drastic changes in the music from the start of the album to the end of the album. I think they are going to come away with the fact that we are a great band and that we write great songs. I think they're going to enjoy it. For guitar fans, there is plenty of guitar work in there and vocally, there are three different singers on there. I think there is something for everyone.
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