As you might not be that known to most people a short introduction might be in order.
-LIGHTNING STRIKES originally formed in the mid 80’s in Los Angeles, CA but broke up a couple of years later. I started to get the itch again about 5 years ago and got together with Cat Tate who was the bass player for a brief period back in the 80’s. The rest of the original guys either weren’t interested or couldn’t deliver so I began looking for other players. Through Dean (Roberts) from Leatherwolf, whom I had directed a couple of videos for, I met Rob Math, our guitar player, and Roy Z, who ended up mixing the album. Roy also turned me on to our singer, Nando Fernandes. I contacted Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Kiss, Billy Idol) about playing keyboards and he agreed to play down the tracks. I knew Tony Martin from Black Sabbath from another video project and when I asked him if he’d guest on a couple of songs he graciously said yes. Noah from Avanchick, the other guest vocalist, is someone I contacted via e-mail – I’m a fan of Japanese visual kei and wanted someone from that world on the album. As far as recording the album goes, some of the guys were with me locally here in L.A. – others sent me their contributions over the net. In the end it all worked out and we managed to make a pretty cohesive album I think.
How does your latest recording compare to the previous ones?
-There is really nothing to compare this album to since this our debut. The original LIGHTNING STRIKES line-up did record a 7” single back in the mid 80’s but that is hardly a valid comparison.
Was it hard for you to come up with a sound you all could agree on?
-There was really nothing to agree on as far as sound and direction is concerned since LIGHTNING STRIKES started with myself working on songs by myself. So the blueprint was pretty much set before the rest of the guys came into the picture, with the exception of Cat (Tate) who co-wrote some stuff with me. Of course, everybody had plenty of creative freedom to incorporate their personal style. I mean, I’m not gonna tell someone like Tony Martin from Black Sabbath what to do. I was more than happy to get input from all the guys and make it as much of a band as possible.
How important are the lyrics to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Lyrics are important but the music comes first. We touch on a variety of subjects, from the serious to the not so serious, personal stuff to historical events. Like, ‘Kamikaze’ is about the Japanese pilots in WW2 that committed suicide for the Emperor, ‘301 AD Sins of Our Fathers’ deals with an event in Armenian history; ‘Death Valley’ is a metaphor for Silicon Valley and technology run amok. ‘Stay With Me’ is our ‘love ballad’ so to speak and ‘We Don’t Rock Alone’ is about the power and spirit of rock’n’roll.
How important is the cover art work for you? How much do you decide in choosing art work?
-Artwork is important, especially in metal, because the fans love great packaging. In our case, this being our self-titled debut album we just wanted to make a simple, in-your-face statement with the cover art. That’s why we chose to go with something where the band logo is front and center. Attila Juhasz, the guy responsible for the artwork, was Rob Halford’s art director and website guy for many years.
Where outside of your country have you had success?
-This being our first international release there is no previous success to point to. Hopefully a lot of fans will get turned on to this album though – I know there are metalheads around the world that dig the kind of style we play. It’s just a matter of getting their attention. Doing this interview with you is part of getting the word out on LIGHTNING STRIKES. So thank you, Anders.
Is it harder today to get noticed both nationally and internationally than it was 10 or 20 years ago? Is the competition tougher today?
-Yeah, it’s way tougher to get noticed nowadays simply because there is an incredible amount of competing bands out there vying for attention and labels no longer have the budgets to do big promotional campaigns to get bands noticed, especially newcomers like LIGHTNING STRIKES. But, it is what it is – there is no point in complaining about the situation. All you can do is do your best and do as much as possible via social media, YouTube, etc. to get your name out there.
What is your local scene like? What status does your band have in the national scene?
-I’m not really keeping up with the L.A. scene that much these days but it’s safe to say that L.A. today cannot be compared to its heyday back in the 80’s when it was non-stop action on the Sunset Strip and bands were packing the clubs and getting signed left and right. As far as traditional metal goes, there are a few newer bands from the SoCal area that most fans of underground metal probably know about, such as Night Demon, White Wizzard, and Holy Grail. And some of the old school bands, like Armored Saint or Leatherwolf, are still around.
What is the general population’s opinion on playing music? Is being a musician a respectable choice?
-I wouldn’t want guess the general population’s opinion whether being musician is a respectable job or not. But Southern California being the entertainment capital of the world, there have always been a ton of people making a living as musicians, actors, writers and artists in general. So being a musician is probably viewed by many as perfectly respectable career choice around here. And why not with the kind of success L.A. bands like Van Halen, Motley Crue or Guns N’ Roses have had over the years.
What does the future hold for you?
-To keep the metal flowing.