- - - - - -

Lana Lane Interview

Lana Lane Interview
By: Rick Harper
With: Lana Lane - Singer, Writer - Lana Lane

Interview Info
By: Rick Harper
With: Lana Lane - Singer, Writer - Lana Lane


Rick:  You’ve said that your mother is your biggest musical influence. Could you explain how your mother shaped, and encouraged your early involvement in music? 

Lana:  The reason that my mother is my biggest influence is because her 'singing' voice is the first thing I remember as a very small girl.  She was ALWAYS singing.  The radio was on non-stop at our house, and I think that I knew how to sing before I could really talk.  From the time I was a little baby my parents exposed me to music.  My mother was also a singer as a young woman in the 1950's.  She and her sister were in a vocal group called "The Vocal Touches" in Europe (my mother is Dutch).

Rick:  Ella Fitzgerald is a vocalist that you always seem to site as an influence.  What is it that you take from Mrs. Fitzgerald, and how do you apply that influence to your own voice?

Lana:  I hopefully am successful in applying her finesse with melody and lyrics.  She always sang lyrics so you could understand every word without detracting from the melody line.  The two were always equal - one never overshadowed the other.

Rick:  You surround yourself with a plethora of highly skilled and accomplished musicians; do you consider your band to be a solo effort, or a collaborative project? By changing the mix of musicians, are you in a sense keeping the creative process fresh?

Lana:  It seems a little arrogant from me to say that Lana Lane is a solo effort because the songs would not sound the way they do if it wasn't for the talent of each musician and, of course, the arrangement and production. However, that is one of the main reasons why I don't have a set "band".  Each album has a slightly different flavor because there are always new musicians added in the mix.  So, yes...the creative process stays fresh.

Rick:  You are in a pretty unique position musically, being married to Erik, could you explain your song writing process to us? Do you use a piano or guitar when composing new song ideas? Do Erik and yourself write together, or do each of you start out with your individual concepts, and work them before taking them to one another?

Lana:  Some songs I write on Piano, and some songs I write on Guitar.  I am more familiar with the Piano, so those songs seem to sound a little more sophisticated.   I'm really starting to enjoy playing the Guitar as well, so I'm hoping that with practice I will get better.  As far as the songs that Erik and I write together...we usually start out with our individual concepts and work them a little before taking them to one another.

Rick:  How has your personal relationship & marriage to Erik effected your career, both musically and professionally?

Lana:  Well, any relationship whether it's professional, musical or personal requires a lot of hard work to be successful.  Over the past 13 years of our marriage we have developed a very strong trust in one another along with a mutual respect.  We try hard not to let the professional relationship (Erik as Producer/Arranger, me as Artist) affect our personal relationship. It has proven to be a very good union.  I am very proud of what the two of us have been able to accomplish together, especially in the music business where it is so very difficult to succeed.

Rick:  Fantasy and mythos play an important part lyrically in your music, what literary influences play a part in your lyrics? How does your interest in fantasy effect, or contribute to your songs when you are composing music?

Lana:  I love short stories by The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Arthur C. Clarke.  I also love Sci-fi and ALL the James Bond movies.  My interest in Fantasy helps me take everyday situations and color them with fairytale-like qualities.  That way the listener can interpret the song in whatever way he/she wishes, without the subject matter being forced down their throat.

Rick:  There is a very high standard for Lana Lane music, how do you keep up a consistent high quality of work, and keep the music evolving? Your style is very familiar from album to album, what in your view keeps it from becoming contrived or premeditated?  Where does the passion in your music come from?

Lana:  Erik and I try very hard to be 'better' on each album.  We believe that the moment you stop trying to improve yourself (not only as a musician, but as a human being) your voice in music (and the world for that matter) is silenced. There is always room for improvement.  That's where the passion comes into play - passion to be a better musician and artist automatically extends into the albums we make.

Rick:  Is it different for you to perform vocals for Rocket Scientists, Ayreon, or on Erick’s solo stuff? Is your approach the same to performing on another artist’s album, as opposed to your own band’s album? Is it as easy to fit vocal lines to songs that you have not written yourself?

Lana:  I don't have any problems performing vocals for other artists as long as it is a well-written song and the song makes sense melodically.  I have had trouble early on in my career when I worked with musicians whose writing skills were still developing (like mine ;-).  Sometimes their songs didn't have clearly defined sections, etc.  But that has been some time ago.

Rick:  Your music is a little hard to pin down with one descriptive word; it combines elements of heavy metal, hard rock, progressive rock, and symphonic rock. How has this wide range of styles affected your ability to be accepted within fans of each genre? When writing a song do you ever try to put more influence of one style into the song as opposed to the others?

Lana:  I'm always hopeful that the inability to pin 'Lana Lane' into a genre makes the music that much more interesting.  However, I do understand that this may not always be the case.  When I write a song I envision it a certain way, but it doesn't always turn out that way.  I am good at writing mid-tempo songs and ballads (like most girls ;-), but not very good at writing fast, hard rock songs, which I REALLY enjoy singing. So there may be times when we think we need more up-tempo songs for a certain album, but choosing a certain genre for those songs doesn't really enter the picture.

Rick:  Do you ever second-guess yourself? Have you ever been listening to one of your old songs and thought to yourself, “if I had only…?”

Lana:  Not really.  All the songs I sing and write are my 'children'.  They each have their own identity.  I'm sure if I wanted to I could sit back and second-guess certain performances, but the song/performance has been completed and it is what it is - it is what it is supposed to be.

Rick:  How do you reconcile your success in Japan and Europe with your relative obscurity in your own home country of The USA?  Does it seem to you that the female vocalist in hard rock, heavy metal is becoming more widely accepted in the USA, and the rest of the world for that matter?

Lana:  Many people ask me if my "obscure" success in the US bothers me...of course everyone likes to be embraced by their own country, but truthfully the US market is so fickle, (not to mention that I'm not in my early 20's anymore which seems to be a prerequisite here) that I'm not so sure it would be all that beneficial for me.  It's clear to me that the US is more interested in manufacturing Pop stars than truly developing a talent.  Since 1995 I have enjoyed moderate success in Japan and Europe, which I am very thankful for - no regrets.

Rick:  Think Tank Media is Erik’s, and your own Production Company and record label, could you please explain the reasoning and rational behind the recent re-issues of your earlier albums?

Lana:  We released my first album, Love is an Illusion, by ourselves back in 1995. We went through several pressings and finally licensed it to a label in Japan who took over the manufacturing. We never had US or European versions of my 2nd album, Curious Goods. My 3rd album, Garden of the Moon, was released in Europe in 1998, but after our contract with the Euro label expired, it was Erik's decision to move that album to the company that we were working with on the rest of the back catalog. As my success grew in Europe and the Americas, we wanted to release my complete back catalog there. So we decided to make the back catalog editions as special as possible with deluxe packaging and whatever bonus tracks we could find from that time period. So the first three albums as well as the 2CD Ballad Collection are now printed in Europe, the US and South America as "Special Editions". I think it's an elegant way to offer the back catalog.

Rick:  In having your own record label, aren’t you in a sense responsible for your own career path and your level of success? Is this more of a benefit or hindrance to your music career? Do you enjoy the business aspect of your music career, or would you prefer to focus solely on the music?

Lana:  It is definitely a little of both.  We are more responsible for our success and we own everything we produce, but it all comes at a price.  It is much more stressful to do it all yourself.  There are times when you need to be the 'bad guy’, which neither of us is very comfortable doing.  And over the years we've learned that maintaining our integrity and expectations of musicians helps produce the quality of product that we want.

Rick:  I noticed that on your homepage you specify that Think Tank Media is not accepting demos for bands that are looking for record deals. Is this a result of being overly bombarded with material, not being in a position to sign a band, a lack of interest in signing other bands, or a result of your high standards? Do you have any plans to expand the Think Tank label beyond the projects that you are involved in?

Lana:  Think Tank Media was created solely as a vehicle for Erik's and my releases. We have sold CDs from our collaborating musicians, Mark McCrite, Don Schiff, Neil Citron, Arjen Lucassen, etc., but that really just to help them. We don't have any interest in becoming a huge record company. We just want to make our own albums -- that's quite enough work right there!

Rick:  Do you feel any sort of allegiance or connection to other female vocalists, or are you indifferent to a vocalist’s sex?

Lana:  I feel allegiance to any vocalist that moves me.  Their gender plays no part in my appreciation for them. Neither does their age.

Rick:  I’ve read several articles and interviews with you in which you’ve been asked, “What is your best album?? Surprise! Your answer is always consistent; your favorite album is the most current album. So, if I ask, excluding Project Shangri-La, which is your favorite album, what would your answer be? Excluding Project Shangri-La, which is your strongest album lyrically, and likewise musically? Why do feel that way?

Lana:  I would have to say "Secrets of Astrology" is my favorite.  I find that out of all of my albums, that is the one I listen to the most. The sound is a little different as it was recorded in Europe -- perhaps a little colder than my other albums -- but it is very engaging musically.

Rick:  I’m sure like most other artists you feel that your last album Project Shangri-La is step forward for your band. What aspects of your newest album contribute to the progression of your band and yourself musically?

Lana:  I think that my writing is getting better with each album, and I was able to write or co-write most of the songs on PSL. That definitely moves me forward as a well-rounded artist, which in turn moves the project forward.

Rick:  When you started working on Project Shangri-La, what were your goals, and/or expectations for the album? Were you able to accomplish those goals in their entirety?

Lana:  The main goal is to always keep the albums of high quality, with good songs, production and arrangement.  If you have all those elements you (hopefully) end up with a successful album.  So far I think we have been able to accomplish these goals, but music is subjective so what one-person likes another may dislike.  Staying true to yourself as an artist is always the best way - no one can fault you for being honest.

Rick:  I can only imagine that you have started work on a new Lana Lane album, new side project, or new Rocket Scientists album. It doesn’t seem to me that you lie dormant for very long, what are you currently working on, or what are you involved with?

Lana:  At the moment, Erik and I working on our upcoming European Tour.  We will be supporting Erik's new double CD "Music Machine" and my recently released "Covers Collection" and "Project Shangri-La".  Then when we return Erik will be going on a US tour with a singer named Kelly Keeling (he's one on the main singers on "Music Machine") for 2 1/2 weeks and I will use that time to get back to my writing for the next Lana Lane album.  Then in October we go back to Germany for a series of shows with Erik and I playing as a duo opening up for some other bands.  Then, hopefully, we can take some well-deserved R&R over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays :-)

Rick:  Final question, I’ve heard, and read that Lana Lane is “The Queen of Symphonic Rock”, are you The Queen of Symphonic Rock? (We think so at Sonic Cathedral.com)

Lana:  In the beginning I didn't know how I felt about that label, but it's starting to grow on me.  So if Sonic Cathedral thinks I am "The Queen of Symphonic Rock" than I must be! :-)

Rick:  Thank you. We sincerely appreciate your time and effort in completing this interview with us. We will support you until? The end.

Lana:  Thank you so much Rick. I really appreciate the hard work and support that Sonic Cathedral gives to new and upcoming artists.  You've helped expose my music to people who may normally not find me, so thank you!


Lana Lane