Lucifer’s Friend’s brand new album “Black Moon” is out! [see my review], and fans of this well aged German band [fronted by an English singer] will be happy to hear it! Fan and album artist Damian Bydlinski [of Lizard] also gives us a few words on how he got involved and his favorite LF songs!
Singer John Lawton was with the band in the beginning and has sang on all but 2 of the band’s 11 albums. Here John answer questions regarding the band’s brand new album and updates on members and future Lucifer’s Friend plans.
LF has been back together for 4+ years and Black Moon is the bands 4th release. Did you forsee the band being so busy and are you happy with the reception overall that the bands return has received?
John: Yes I think so. After such a long time away fans of the band were naturally curious to see what we had to offer. That we could play Sweden Rock festival made it easier to reach quite a few new fans. Overall the reaction has been good plus the fact that it gave us the push to write new material.
The first thing that stands out on the new album is the artwork. I like how it ties in with the bands debut from 1970. Can you tell me a bit about how that piece came together and if bandmembers had much input (idea wise)?
John: Actually the artwork was put together as a backstage pass by Damien Bydlinski the singer with our support band Lizard on our Polish tour. He is not only a good musician but also a graphic designer. We loved the idea and after a few tweaks we had it…..
How do songs for LF come together nowadays – pieced together through emails or is there a time where you’re all in the studio together?
John: The days when bands spend time in the studio rehearsing before they record I think are gone. Firstly, the logistics of spending the amount of time it takes to go through say 10-15 songs arrangements, keys etc. is really time consuming. These days with so much computer stuff available to musicians, it’s easier to sit at home and fine tune everybody’s parts…..
It the same with LF, Peter Hesslein or Dieter Horns will forward to me the basic track which I can the add the vocals too. I record my vocals in peace 😎😎here in the UK and then via the wonders of the web, they are sent back for the guys to work their final parts. The only time we spend together apart from gigs is in the rehearsal room before the live stuff. But even when we are not recording or gigging we are on the phone to each other at least a couple of times a week…..
You write the lyrics – what sort of inspires you for ideas and topics these days?
John: A lot of the lyrics are based upon stories I hear in the news or read about. For instance on TOO LATE TO HATE some of the lyrics relate to the thousands of refugees trying to get to Europe for a better life. Even 2 years later this story is still making headlines….
Can you give me a bit of insight into particular songs on the new album – how they started, ideas – really like the title track, Call The Captain, Little Man, Passengers,
John: CALL THE CAPTAIN is based on recent stories again in the news about mental heath issues and how younger people are being manipulated by social media, wanting to be like the celebrity’s they see in magazines. The title is just about trying to reach parts of the brain (the captain and pilot) for the right direction….🙂🙂
LITTLE MAN relates to my 2 grandsons and watching the grow up. PASSENGERS is written to open people’s eyes to the shit we are doing to the world….
BLACK MOON – Really just about those days when everything seems doomed to failure but you struggle through….
Any others that you’re particularly happy with?
John: I’m happy with all of them, they all have meanings hopefully not only to me but also to the listener…..
There’s a number of guests on this album, really dig the horn solo on Black Moon – classic LF touch. Can you comment on how some these (or this one) come up?
John: On BLACK MOON Peter and I were talking about a particular solo part and we tossed around a few ideas until Stephan (drummer) suggested a trumpet player who was with the James Last Orchestra (Chuck Findley). He lives in LA but very kindly went in the studio and put down (I think) a blistering solo…
On FREEDOM Peter new Stephan (violin player) from studio days and again asked him to put something together….and he did and I think it’s one of the highlights of this album….
What can you tell me about Simon Hesslein and his involvement with the band?
John: Simon runs a very successful music business in New York and has hits under different names, he has always wanted to produce a Lucifer’s Friend album so we said hey go for it. Unfortunately, it was at the wrong time as he was also very busy so that’s why the delay in the release. Simon is very accomplished at what he does and we are very proud of the final mix….
How is everyone’s health?
John: Not so good actually. Peter really needs an operation on his shoulder as he is in pain daily. The only drawback is that the operation is very complicated and the recovery time is long…at least a year and the surgeons have told him there is no guarantee of a complete recovery…it’s very sad that it happened to Peter but we hold out for him to get back to playing ASAP ….
Dieter Horns has recovered well from his problems, which is a great relief and I’m getting there slowly….oh the joys of getting older 🤪🤪🤪🕺🕺
Will we see many LF shows this year and will there be plenty from Black Moon in the set?
John: For the foreseeable future we won’t be performing live, some people have said “we could get another guitarist to stand in for Peter or another bass player for Dieter” – but we couldn’t go out as LF without those 2. I am hopeful that one day we could be on stage again together….
We still have one more new album to release….I still need to do the vocals etc. but that looks like 2020 release…..
You’ve used Jogi [Wichmann] on keyboards over several LF projects, but he’s only a guest on BM. Was it just easier for Peter to do keyboards or something else?
John: Jogi was very busy doing studio work around that time and he was playing keyboards in the musical CATS…..
Peter had put down most of the keyboard parts that he wanted Jogi to play but his were really good, so we stuck with it….
One thing – there is no vinyl edition of Black Moon (or previous few releases). Any chance this can be fixed ? 🙂
John: At the moment I don’t think so, unless we sell quite a bunch of CD’s the company is a bit reluctant to go vinyl…..There was talk of TOO LATE TO HATE on vinyl but nothing concrete yet….
Next year Mark’s the 50th anniversary of the first Lucifers Friend album. (A couple of things) – do you have any long outstanding g memory or stories fro. Making that album?
Will there be any anniversary reissue or show to celebrate it?
John: Wow – is it that long [?]….it has stood the test of time, I think 🥳🥳
It was a strange time for me, coming off the back of doing vocals on Asterix and then going straight to something really heavy was a bit of a kick but a good one…..
Looking back, it was a great time and when I think that there was no rehearsal time, I was it in at the deep end with heavy lyrics 👹👹👹
The guys were looking for an English singer and I happened to be there at that time….
I don’t think there will be a re-issue as the there have been so many bootleg copies etc. down the years but it’s not such a bad idea….
From the Album’s Cover Artist – Damian Bydlinski :
“I am a big fan of Lucifer’s Friend. The proposal to make a cover was a great honor for me.
I love all their albums. But for the best, I think – two albums: “Banquet” and “… Where the Groupies Killed the Blues”.
With favorite songs – it’s harder because there’s a lot of them and a derivation from different albums. But the most important ones are:
Hobo, Burning Ships, Ride the Sky, Groovin Stone, Spanish Galleon, Dirty Old Town, Fugitive ….
However – there is a song – at which time since I heard it for the first time – I always have shivers and I am overcome with emotion –
“Thus Spoke Oberon” – amazing melody, arrangement and brilliant singing of John.
The history of the cover is quite simple. Two years ago – LF and my band Lizard – we played three concerts in Poland. For this occasion, I designed a poster and tickets – the project appealed to John and asked if they could use it for the new LF album. After introducing some changes in the color scheme – this cover was created.”
For more on Damian’s art [he does most of the art for Lizard albums] and to check out his band, visit – http://lizard-band.com/index.html
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