banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

A Dirty Dozen with STEVE MANN from LIONHEART – March 2024

| 20 March 2024 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Today, melodic hard rockers Lionheart reveal “Little Ships,” the third and final single taken from the new studio album The Grace of a Dragonfly, set for international release on February 23rd via Metalville Records. The songs on The Grace of a Dragonfly are sensational, with Lee Small’s emotional lyrics reflecting not only the pain and grief inflicted by war on ordinary, innocent people in every conflict zone, but also their strength, resilience, and determination. Supported by Lionheart’s superb songwriting, soaring backing vocals, beautiful twin-guitar harmonies, and atmospheric keyboards, Lionheart’s sheer power shines brightly from every one of the eleven songs, culminating in a heartfelt prayer for peace in the world. Each new Lionheart album has brought with it a leap in the quality of the songwriting and production, and this album is no exception. The Grace of a Dragonfly is nothing short of epic and is, by far, Lionheart’s finest work to date.” We get guitarist / keyboardist Steve 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?

Our newly released album, The Grace Of A Dragonfly, is essentially about war, specifically World War II. However, even though it honours the men and women who fought for our freedom, it could be that some fans miss that it is essentially an anti-war album. Funnily enough, on our album from 2017, Second Nature, we put in a little hidden secret message. Unfortunately, it was so well hidden that no one discovered it! On the last album, The Reality Of Miracles, two of the songs were based on pretty famous classical pieces by Rachmaninoff and Mozart, but not a single person noticed! So, for the new album we gave up on the hidden nuggets.

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

I was born into a very musical family. My mum played piano. my dad Hawaiian guitar and my elder brother plays bass and church organ. A lot of my relatives were musical too, so we always had music in the house, either on the radio or playing ourselves. I had 7 years of classical piano lessons, which I hated funnily enough. But all that changed when I was 15 and I bought my first electric guitar. It was a very cheap Stratocaster copy but I adored that guitar and played it for hours every day. I jammed along to old Cream records and wanted to be Eric Clapton the second. By the time I was 16 I had decided already to become a professional musician, and wild horses wouldn’t have stopped me.

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

There are way too many of those to mention, but if there was one album it was probably the Layla album from Derek and the Dominos. There were so many great things about it. For a start Clapton was baring his soul with his love for Patty Harrison. Clapton’s vocals and guitar playing just screamed with the emotion of unrequited love. The solos on “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” and especially “Little Wing” just tore my heart out. Ever since then I’ve wanted to try and create music which approaches that level of expression.

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

I like to work with singers, and I’d be torn between Robin McAuley and Lee Small. I’m very lucky to have worked extensively with both. They each have such an individual style, and both are unbelievably creative. I think it would depend on the type of song as to which of those two guys I’d pick at the time.

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

I love to sit down with a great book, and I also listen to a lot of classical music, although I do both of those on tour as well. I have also in the last few years discovered gardening and the sheer beauty of nature. Hiking is also a great way of relaxing, especially in the Harz area of Germany.

6.How would you describe your music to someone who had 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 Lionheart music as melodic and powerful. We put a huge amount of importance on writing and recording great songs with big singalong hooks. The lyrics are also especially important. Our singer Lee Small is a very poetic writer and writes what I call “big and bold” lyrics. We also love guitar harmonies and they have always been a very integral part of our sound. Arrangement wise I usually make small changes to each verse bridge and chorus, so the listener gets a feeling of the song constantly in motion, constantly progressing. All the reviews of The Grace Of A Dragonfly have understood the message we were trying to put across, except for one guy who said it just didn’t work having such upbeat music to something as sombre as World War II. What he just didn’t get was the fact that we were trying to put across a feeling of positivity – the fact that there is another way apart from war, a way for all of humanity to come together in peace. Unfortunately, this reviewer completely missed the point and we only got 3 stars from 5. It was pretty frustrating.

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?

Unfortunately, we don’t get the chance to hang much these days, but when we do, it’s either Rocky or Dennis who handles the cooking and Dennis will be the one to get the drinks in, including a nice cup of tea for me. For a singalong we normally improvise a 3-part harmony a Capella as that is one of our specialties! We would often go through the whole range of Beatles and Eagles songs.

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

I think it must have been back in 1988 when the McAuley Schenker Group were recording the Save Yourself album in LA. The drummer Bodo Schopf and I used to go quite regularly to the Baked Potato and one night Steve Lukather, Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Porcaro, and Lenny Castro were jamming. Being a tiny club, we got there really early and had a table about two meters from where Lukather was playing. In the interval I was determined to go over and say hello to the guy I considered to be the best guitarist in the world, and who funnily enough kept looking over, probably wondering who the new faces were. Well, my legs just refused to walk and to this day I never had the opportunity again.

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 best part without any doubt is the exhilaration of being able to express yourself either on record or on stage. The feeling of playing to a receptive audience is such a high – and must be extremely healthy as there are only good vibes pumping around your body! It’s the same with recording – when you get a part down that is straight from the heart and which sends shivers down your spine, and you feel so good you punch the air. These are the greatest bits of being a musician. If I could no longer do it, I would be a computer programmer. Seriously – I love it!

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?

I’ve always wanted an interviewer to ask me what question I’ve always wanted an interviewer to ask – and at last you asked it! Seriously, I think I would have quite liked the opportunity to talk more about my own philosophical views on life. Since I was a kid, I’ve been on an eternal quest to work out the meaning of life and my answers would probably take in everything from Buddhism through near death experiences to Quantum physics. The question I get tired of is the one which asks me what the most embarrassing thing was that ever happened onstage.

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?

Around 1979 I was between bands and looking for a new gig. This was just after Liar and before Lionheart. There was a music paper called Melody Maker in which every band who were looking for musicians would place ads. So, I would buy it every Thursday and turn straight to the “musicians wanted” section. I saw a box ad from a semi-pro band with gigs and management who were looking for a lead guitarist. Everything seemed perfect except they were based in East London, and I was living in West London, and I decided it was just too far to travel for rehearsals, so I gave it a miss. Bad decision because I just threw away my chance of playing with Iron Maiden.

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?

That would have to be a Beatles record, and I guess the one I would choose would be Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I am an unashamed fan of technology in the studio and the innovation which went into producing that record was just ground-breaking. The experimentation and the results they got from that experimentation were just sensational and I would love to have been there and experienced that actually taking place. I have always been a massive Beatles fan and any Beatles album meant the world to me back in those days. I guess they still do.






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.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad