Lana Lane, the acclaimed 'Queen of Symphonic Rock' , has been thrilling rock fans worldwide since her 1995 debut album Love Is An Illusion, and after a break of four years since her last release Red Planet Boulevard, Lana returns with the powerful El Dorado Hotel. This new collection of songs, which also features her husband Erik Norlander and a stellar cast of musician friends old and new, sees Lana deliver a melodic mix of progressive rock, metal, hard rock, and tender ballads. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with Lana recently to talk about the new album, influences, and live plans.
SoT: El Dorado Hotel comes 4+ years after Red Planet Boulevard. Did you intentionally plan to take so much time off between releases, or was the extra time needed to kind of recharge the batteries and give some attention to Erik's projects and live shows?
Lana: As an artist, you hope that you have something new to say with each record. This became harder and harder to do, especially when during some years, there were two or more new Lana Lane records released. I only want to release top-quality, sincerely crafted albums rather than putting out an album just to release "something." After nearly 15 years of working non-stop, it was time for a little sabbatical. I wanted a break from the pressure and time to gather some perspective on my craft. An on top of that, my father became very ill and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with him. Consequently, we gave more attention to Erik's projects over the past few years.
SoT: On the new CD you are working with some old friends as well as musicians who have been working with your husband in recent years. Can you talk a little about some of the players on the album and how you decided to work with them for this release?
Lana: Both Freddy DeMarco and Mark Matthews did some fantastic work on Erik's solo project, "The Galactic Collective." I then had the opportunity to play with them both during some live appearances in 2011 when I sang with the band as guest vocalist. After having played with these guys and getting to know them, I knew that I wanted them to be a part of this project as well. Then for John Payne, Jay Schellen, Guthrie Govan and Bruce Bouillet, as you know, Erik has been playing with John Payne for about 5 years now in the band ASIA Featuring John Payne. They have played over a hundred shows together and are working on some new recordings, too. Jay is the drummer in the band, and both Guthrie and Bruce have been the guitarists. Bruce is working with them currently. Since I've of course gone to a lot of their shows, I've become friends with all of them. It's a great group of people and they are all very talented musicians. So it was only natural to work with them on my new album. Finally, for Mark McCrite, Neil Citron and Don Schiff, all three of them have been on so many Lana Lane albums going all the way back to my very first album in 1995. It's great to continue working with them through all these years.
SoT: There's a nice mix of material on El Dorado Hotel, such as hard rock, symphonic metal, prog, pop, etc. Is there any specific style you are most comfortable in, or do you like to mix it up and show your voice in a variety of settings?
Lana: I definitely like mixing styles. I would get bored having to do the same genre all the time. It's part of my creative process to combine styles and make them my own.
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the lyrics to some of the songs on the new CD? Any that are really personal and special to you?
Lana: The lyrics on this album are quite special to me. During the writing and recording of this project, I was going through a lot of personal issues. My father had recently died, and I was coming up on a milestone birthday and feeling my own mortality. Songwriting is very personal and emotional for me. Writing songs does not come easy to me, and I feel all of those "emotions" in this album from beginning to end. The most personal song to me is "El Dorado" because it was the first song I wrote after my father died. When I first started recording it, I couldn't get through the chorus without crying, but soon I was able to get a handle on my feelings and got through it.
SoT: You've toured all over the world, yet here in the US it's still a pretty untapped territory for Lana Lane. How do you explain the lack of success here on the home turf, and have you thought about just 'going for it' and taking the Lana Lane band out on the road here?
Lana: As far as any popularity overseas, it must be because foreigners have REALLY good taste ;) But on a serious note, I actually do okay in the US and am happy with my career. I haven't really toured in the US, though – I've only done some one-off shows here as part of European or Japanese tours. But I've also never really wanted to be a "road warrior" either. If the right opportunity came along, I'd certainly consider doing a US tour, but the idea of playing night after night in clubs and bars is not too appealing to me considering how grand and symphonic the Lana Lane music is. It works so much better in a theater environment than a club or bar, and that's a much more difficult kind of tour to undertake.
SoT: It's nice to see Bruce Bouillet's name again appearing somewhere-how did you and Erik meet up with him and get him to work with both your band as well as Asia?
Lana: I met Bruce through John Payne and Erik. John brought Bruce into his band, and so Erik has been working with Bruce quite a bit of late. It was the perfect opportunity for me to hire him for El Dorado Hotel. His uniqueness truly adds to the songs and makes them something special. Bruce is a really fantastic guitarist and brought something new to the album. His style is such a nice contrast to other guitarists, Freddy, Mark and Neil. I think you can really pick out each guitarist quite easily on the record, and I love that.
SoT: Back to live work-are you planning on any major shows or tours internationally to support the new CD?
Lana: No tours are scheduled yet, but the album just came out. Usually venues want to see how sales are before they commit. I am VERY pleased with the sales so far, so we are looking forward to to doing some live shows in the US this year.
SoT: I hear some influences of some classic bands on the new CD, and you've done some covers albums in recent memory that touch on some really good bands. Who are some of your favorite bands or singers from the classic era as well as today?
Lana: My influences run the gamut of styles. But I'm partial to bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, Heart, The Eagles, Styx and ELO. All the lead singers of those bands are awesome, but my biggest influence is Ann Wilson. From artists today I like Lady Gaga. Her voice is very full, and she can sing any style and does it well. I also love Chris Cornell from Soundgarden. My guilty pleasure is Nickelback.
SoT: Any last words you'd like to say to the SoT readers?
Lana: Many thanks to all my supporters -- past, present and future!
I'm honored to be able to continue making music and I truly appreciate the openness of those music lovers that give independent artists like myself a chance...and a listen!
(Click here to read our review of El Dorado Hotel)