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A Dirty Dozen with LU REID from ROCKBORN – June 2021

 

According to a recent press release: “ROCKBORN™ has entered the world amid the high winds of Heavy Rock on the amazing chaparrals and mesas of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Born to Rock” is a remarkably fresh album with exceptional uniqueness, creativity and star quality. Thanks to the amazing prowess, finesse and incredible recording abilities of legendary rock Producer/Engineer, Michael Wagener, the production on “Born To Rock” rises to the top tier of hard and heavy rock masters. The songs are meaningful, with thought provoking lyrics and memorable melodies that blend seamlessly with the heavy, and hard driving attitudes of the music. ROCKBORN™ is a female-fronted heavy rock band that is intense, sexy, bluesy yet edgy with raspy, sassy power vocals performed with dynamic emotional passion. Dark, tasty guitar riffs and funky fresh bass lines, are lifted up to the stratosphere by hard-hitting, solid drum rhythms and powerful, soaring vocals. ROCKBORN™ creates music with heartfelt lyrics, emotional depth, melodic intricacies that have modern, contagious hard energy, down-to-earth classic grit, heavy with mystical “Zeppelinesque” romance and enduring timeless appeal.” We get front woman Lu to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

ROCKBORN’s new single, “Rock Me Harder” is a heavy hard rock anthem that is pure, unpretentious and straight ahead ROCK.  It has a bad ass riff by John Lyell, (guitarist) that is supported by earth shaking drums by Gary Gabaldon, and heavy primal bass riffs by Dino Serna.  I try to put forth strong, in-your-face vocals to exude the power of the lyrics to the listener. They may not get that this song is about female empowerment.  The lyrics are expressing what a woman wants from her man.  I wanted to write a song to embolden women to ask for what they want.  I used to sing the song ‘Tush’ by ZZ Top (whom I have a fun story about for another time.)  I learned that song because it seemed during the time that I started singing hard rock, most men didn’t think women could sing guy songs or sing rock that convincingly or very good.  I sang the hell out of that song to prove a woman can kick ass on an iconic “dude” song.  At the beginning of that song I always said, “Women gotta get their ‘Tush’ too!” At which time all the girls would jump up and start dancing o the tables and spilling their beer!  Ha ha! Well, there are a few lyrics that suggest some playful innuendo!  Even so it is a very clean cut song, but I turned around the narrative that only men can demand what they want from a woman, (which is so blatantly exploited by many male rock songs), by writing a song from a woman’s point of view on the subject.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

When I was 5 years old I began singing and dancing every year on Father’s Day to crowds of at least 2000 people at my dancing school recitals.  I got so hooked to the applause and the audience, I knew the first time I got on stage that I wanted to be a performer!  Also, a lot of kids saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and wanted to be pop stars and rock musicians.  When I saw that Ed Sullivan clip, there were all these girls crying and screaming and pulling out their hair!  I asked my Dad, “Why are they crying?  Don’t they like the music?”  He laughed but I knew right then and there I wanted to have that kind of power over an audience.  I wanted to perform and have that kind of dynamic energy. Then I saw Dio magically dominate the entire Oakland Stadium packed to the gills with everyone chanting along and swaying with rock horns in unison! Pure power and control over tens of thousands of people all at once.  That’s what I wanted!

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

We watched a lot of variety shows in my home when I was a kid.  I loved all the glitz and glamour of the professional performers.  Especially the rock bands. I loved to watch them all and learn all I could from as many bands as possible.  I learned the good and the bad from consistently watching.  I can’t say one artist or band influenced me because I believe it was a combination of several of them.  First was Grace Slick whose deeper tone sent chills all over my body when she sang “Somebody To Love!”  I loved Heart and “Magic Man” the minute I heard it because for the first time I heard a female voice, very similar to mine singing ROCK and just going for it!  Then, I got my first Led Zeppelin album!

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

That’s easy, John Paul Jones and/or Jimmy Page.  John Paul Jones is an amazing versatile, talented multi-instrumentalist who would be incredible to write songs with.  Jimmy Page has got to be one of the best producers in the world and I will forever be enamored by Led Zeppelin and Jimmy’s prowess in the studio.  They both have the magic rock touch.  When I listen to Led Zeppelin I feel like they are conveying all my thoughts, dreams, and ideas.  I feel in sync with their music.  It’s like they descended from the heavens to teach us all how it should be done!

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Anything artistic and creative, from playing guitar and singing songs that I don’t usually get to sing, so I like to go sing at karaoke. Then there’s painting, drawing, graphic arts, woodworking, making jewelry, sewing quilts and writing poetry, lyrics, music and prose.  I’m also a committed and avid photographer as well. I love to garden. I find that pruning roses, flower bushes and plants is so cathartic.  Then picking them and arranging them fulfills my feminine artistic side.  So I have a lot of silk arrangements in my home.  It makes my heart feel soothed to create and enjoy those arrangements.  Soon I’ll have my own yard to grow flowers to pick and arrange.  I can’t wait!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?  What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would describe it as Neo-Classic Heavy Hard Rock.  We have the soul of the ’70’s and the gritty energy of the ‘80s with a unique and heavy modern millennium twist.  There are genuinely meaningful lyrics combined with heavy guitar riffs and licks and an amazing bass and drum backbone driving the rhythm.  Some of the songs are deep and atmospheric while others are sassy and in-your-face. Haven’t really seen one… yet!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

We love to hang out after band practice and bring or order up pizza and gab about lots of things like music, bands, gigs, food, and ask Alexa a bunch of questions!  Gary’s wife Franci, makes us lots of great cookies to munch on fresh out of the oven, so while we are getting sugar rushes, we like to hang out and drink beer, wine or cocktails!  Usually, Dino or I will want to jam on some Zeppelin since we do cover quite a few of their songs on the side and hope to play with some other local tribute bands.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I auditioned and got selected to sing with Sammy Hagar when he did his Marching To Mars tour at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.  My knees were shaking uncontrollably.  When I met Sammy, he was so animated and joyful. He reached out his hand to me as far as it could go and smiling from ear to ear said, “I’m so happy you’re here!  Thank you for joining me on stage!  Isn’t this exciting?!” I was so overwhelmed by his sheer kindness, approachability and pure joy that all the jitters quickly faded away.  When we got up on stage, it was all about the music.  It was a dream come true and I was so euphoric.  It took me weeks to come down from that natural high!

9. What is the best part of being a musician?  If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The excitement of creating music that expresses my innermost feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, bewilderment, wonderment, triumphs and failures.  It is incredible to share that with other musicians as well.  With ROCKBORN, it is so easy to create and work together when everyone is of the same mind and caliber.  It’s a blessing beyond what anyone could ever ask for. I don’t think anyone knows this but, I always wanted to be a fashion designer.  As a kid, I drew models in outfits I designed.  I was very prolific about it too!  First I started making outfits for my Troll dolls.  I even sewed up some of my designs for my Barbie dolls with fabric scraps my mom gave me.  One dress has a full 9 inch zipper going up the entire back!  Haha!  I made do with what I had.  I also wanted to be an actress and took acting for the camera and did some modeling when I was dancing in a San Francisco repertory. For a time I considered being an architect or a lawyer.  Other than that, all I ever really wanted to do is perform live.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer?  Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

“What are the not-so-fun things that you didn’t realize you’d have to do when you were dreaming of being a rock star?” All the work that goes into creating the “magic”.  First, the cost and time it takes for lessons.  Which entails years and a lot of sacrifices like not being able to go out with friends all the time because you’re learning your instrument and/or new songs.  Missing going to concerts on the same nights your cover band is playing. The time and frustration of auditioning and interviewing players to find the right chemistry with band members.  They also have to have the same vision as you and be of the same caliber and dedication as everyone in the band. Then the hours and hours of writing songs and hammering them out at practice.  Putting your whole life, good and bad, joy and pain on display as you relive those experiences over and over every night, to create relatable songs for your audience.  Then getting the right effects and equipment to emulate those emotions with your voice or instrument. Once that happens then you have to pay crazy amounts of money to get a great studio and producer/engineer to record your music.  And if you’re able, then create a great video to go with it.  Then paying for creating CDs, LPs and other merchandise, like tee shirts, all of which need artwork. The amount of money it costs to get the ball rolling, just to advertise for players, gigs, buy and set-up and maintain equipment, and the leg work it takes to get people to show up to your shows.  Selling tickets in advance and sometimes having to pay to play.  Talking to bar owners and managers as well as finding a booking agent that actually finds you gigs and doesn’t just put you on a shelf as a backup band when their other bands flake. Sometimes, just trying to get PAID for a gig!  And the ongoing interviews, radio shows, media and self promotion.  Answering and writing thousands of emails to keep engaging with the fans. Advertising, merchandise, gig clothing, website creation and maintenance, social media and the costs for all of this is pretty astronomical.  Setting up copyrights, CD Baby, BMI and ASCAP, Licensing and multitudes of ongoing legwork that has to be secured and set into place before even being able to release the music.  Just so that four band members can share .000001 cent per stream! “How long have you been playing and who are your influences?” Because ROCKBORN is a culmination of four members with very diverse musical backgrounds and likes, AND because they are going to tell you who you sound like to them anyway.  With time, we are a culmination of everything we have been subjected to, studied and learned from, or have experienced.  We may hear something in our sound or try to unconsciously emulate things we like in the styles of the artists we enjoy, but really we are all a culmination of thousands of influences and experiences between all of us and when we put it together it becomes what it is with all those influences combined.  So our music to us, sounds like everyone and no one at all.  Please tell me who YOU think we sound like.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Well, I did lose a lot of money to shysters that made promises about distributing my music overseas among other things that seemed viable at the time.  Needless to say I got hoodwinked even after going to an office in New York City to pay thousands for one particular deal.  It looked legit but was far from it.  Then after we asked for proof of his services, (he ripped us off essentially), the ‘President’ of the company threatened to sue US! HA!HA!! Lesson learned!  No more fake promises for this girl!  As a single woman, circumstances required me to work full time to survive.  I had a job at Apple Computer, Inc for 14 years or so.  But all the while, I played, wrote music and sang in an all original band called ‘Angel’s Dream’.  Working full time and practicing three times a week was daunting.  Mainly switching gears from my geekness to my creativeness with not enough hours in the day.  After winning the San Jose Battle Of The Bands promoted by the local entertainment magazine (The Metro), my friends there found out that I was in a band, and they would say, “I thought you just worked at Apple.”  To which I always replied, “Well, I’m a musician, but I work at Apple ON THE SIDE.”   So as a “do over,” I would say that I wish I’d have had the luxury of not having to work full time to support my habit of being a full time musician.  But having had the corporate job, I was finally vindicated to my family, (who were not really ever supportive of my musical endeavors) that music was my TRUE life calling.  I then decided, NO MORE corporate jobs!  So I don’t really view it as a misstep.  No “do overs” because I believe everything happens for a reason and it always falls into place if you’re patient and give it time as you learn and gain experience. The rollercoaster of life has brought me to this moment and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Led Zeppelin IV, without a doubt! To be there to experience the massive amount of creativity writing those songs, and then to be there when it all came together in the recordings and mastering would have been epic!  To see Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham come together as masters of musicianship, to create this otherworldly masterpiece is beyond my wildest dreams.  I believe this is the album where Zeppelin finally came together with their most iconic sound.  They didn’t fuss with it or force it out.  It seems to have come together organically as a great melding of styles from the three previous albums.  I think being in the spooky Headley Grange house listening to Bonham masterfully creating the epic, booming drum parts for “When The Levee Breaks” by the staircase which accounted for the natural echo effects would have been life changing!  When you think about it, many cool sounds happened by accident or had to be pure luck since no digital effects could be had back then.  But Page had creative genius ways to make unique sounds in analog. That warmness and virtually live three dimensional audio, along with the band’s creativity and stunning musicianship, making it sound as if the mighty Led Zeppelin are playing in your living room and is absolutely a brilliant experience.  Especially on headphones.  The inspired layered keyboard of John Paul Jones together with the guitar of Jimmy Page is very incredible to me on “Misty Mountain Hop.”  The entire song of “When The Levee Breaks” is slowed down to give it a more heavy sound. Plant just got bluesy all over it and the result is mesmerizing. This album checks every box for me. Every song captures and inspires me, lifts me up, makes me visualize and dream, and brings my mind out of the droll everyday life stuff.  “Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself it’s not as hard, hard hard as it seems”…Just WOW! “The Battle of Evermore” satisfies my need for mythical romance and fantasy and yet it makes very poignant statements.  It takes me to another world on a plane that is so far beyond ordinary music and makes me feel like a tiny astral creature in the vastness of the universe.  “Stairway To Heaven” brings back a dream I had of angels ascending and descending a cloud-like staircase when I was twelve years old.  I feel I’m right there with Robert “waiting for the angels of Avalon”.  And the sheer rawness of “Black Dog” made this girl “sweat and groove” as I learned to sing it.  “And the boots of those who march through the roads of time so long ago” reminds me of the invisible spirits of those people walking past me on the cobblestones of Istanbul.  This definitive album will be in jukeboxes forever into the future, and will “Bring it back!”

ROCKBORN LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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