Guitarist and composer Lanes Laire has been working on what has become his debut album Resurrection Of Black for many, many years. In a brand new interview for Rocking Charts, Laire is telling about this adventurous journey and how Resurrection Of Black took its final shape. He also looks forward to future and tells about his plans.
Describe the meaning behind the title Resurrection Of Black.
The beginnings of Resurrection Of Black actually started when I was still in high school. Most of the songs were written around that time. I performed them in various bands but eventually they got shelved as I pursued other musical ventures. However, what goes around comes around and I decided to return to my musical roots and bring these songs back, hence “resurrecting” them. “Black” basically refers to the subject matter of the album. The subject matter is bit on the darker side.
What evolution as a guitarist and composer does this album represent for you?
In a sense, I think Resurrection Of Black represents the birth of my core musical style. I’ve gone through several phases of writing and playing different genres of music. Maybe it wasn’t until now that I realized what I did back in the day is what I should have been doing all along. Yes, the experience was worth the musical journey but the road has taken me back to my musical roots. That’s where I feel most comfortable. However, I’m glad that I was now able to apply all that experience to this album. I think the songs have never sounded better and I was finally able to record them exactly how I heard them in my head.
What made the Bissonette brothers ideal collaborators for Resurrection Of Black?
The Bissonette boys rock! Both are world-class musicians. Plus, the added bonus was getting both brothers together for the sessions. You can’t beat having two guys who have been playing together since they were kids, right? They know each other inside and out and it comes across in their performances.
Gregg Bissonette is a great drummer because he’s a smart drummer. He understands and absorbs what you are going for musically. Most importantly, he is dead on solid. Even on the slow songs, he locks them in exactly the way I wanted them to be played. The same goes for bassist Matt Bissonette. He’s a solid pro who not only gives you what you want, but cares about every aspect of his performance. If he’s not satisfied, even if I think it was great, he will do it again because he knows he can do it better. Their work ethic is top notch and both Gregg and Matt are really cool guys who are a joy to work with. It’s not only about being technical. They brought that emotional intangible to the music. They were the right choice for the album.
Tell me about your approach as a bandleader. How do you direct musicians in order to get the best work out of them?
Since I was working with great session guys, I had bass and drum charts made for all the songs. The recording process basically went like this – we’d first listen to the song so they could take notes and mark their charts. Then we’d go in to record. We would do a take, I’d give them some notes and adjustments, then do another take or two. Finally, I told them we’re going to do the “fun take” and my instructions were to “just do your thing.” They already knew what I was going for so I wanted to give them the freedom to deviate from the charts and just play. I would say roughly 85% of the album were the “fun takes.” I believe when you let go of the reigns and allow your musicians to have some freedom you can get some really great performances…and they did.
Detail the creative process that drove the songs on Resurrection Of Black.
As I mentioned earlier, these songs were written a long time ago. At that time, I was very observant of what was going on around me and how people were affected by it, myself included. Usually, I’ll get an idea for a song and I start writing the music first. I may get some ideas for lyrics but I flesh those out after the music is written.
The World Around Us was the first song completed. Making a statement about how dreams are shattered when you grow up was a good start. Influential Deception seemed like a logical follow-up, composing a song about how violence in media affects young minds. At first this song wasn’t considered for the album as I had another song called Misfired Emotion chosen but when I listened to the final track order, Misfired Emotion just didn’t fit. That was a wise swap.
Suicidal Intentions was spawned while I was riding the bus to school one day. The main riff was playing in my head. Luckily I was able to keep in in my brain all day so once I got home I figured it out and recorded it. Eventually the rest of the instrumental was worked out. Then came Greedy Disregard, a song about corporate greed and Pleasures Of War, a cynical look at political wars.
I remember introducing The Struggle Within to the band I was playing with at the time and they looked at me funny and said “we’re not doing that, but it’s a great song to get high to.” Needless to say, the song never saw the light of day until now.
Probably the most personal song is Justifiable Condemnation. It’s about my experiences with high school cliques and the abuse for not being the cool kid or part of the “in” crowd. I guess you can equate that to bullying nowadays. Hell If I Know is just a short instrumental to set the stage for the rest of the album.
The key to making Resurrection Of Black work was the overall flow. It’s not necessarily a concept album but there is a common underlying theme that ties it all together. In addition to the music itself, I wanted to create audio soundscapes to enhance the musical journey. Incorporation of sound effects and experimenting with altered sounds enhanced the overall mood.
How does improvisation inform your composition process?
I feel I am more of a craftsman than improvisator. I will try different things when I am composing and recording but once I find what I’m looking for, it’s pretty much set. I studied jazz guitar growing up and my improvisation skills were a bit lacking. I like working out parts and molding them, whether instrumentally or creating soundscapes. Sometimes I’ll jam to a chord progression when working out solos but I make sure to record it because I’ll play something great and then forget how I played it… now that’s frustrating.
How has your guitar technique evolved during the creative process of Resurrection Of Black?
I look at how I played these songs back in the day and how I play them now and thank God my playing has evolved! Experience has been a key factor. Even through the process of recording the album, I made some major changes to some of the solos and other parts of the songs. I’ve learned to be a smarter player…to know when to play, when to lay out and to focus on getting the emotion across. Again, technique is important but soulful emotion is what really makes a part great. I’d rather listen to a David Gilmour solo than a guy who has the “runs” and plays a million notes per bar.
Tell me about the instruments you focused on for this album?
My main guitar is a 1979 Fender 25th Anniversary Strat. I bought that guitar brand new and it’s been my mainstay ever since. Love that guitar. I also played a 1981 Gibson Flying V2 that I’ve had for many years. I always thought flying V’s were cool. In fact, my first guitar was a no-name flying V copy.
I do like my vintage gear so I used the original Moog Taurus pedals all over the album. Such a great sound. I also used a Prophet 600 keyboard which was another piece of gear I bought when it came out and kept it ever since. I also used Reason for some of the string and choir sounds.
Keeping with vintage gear, my effects pedals include a Peavey Deltafex, Boss OD-1 Over Drive, Boss CS-1 Compression Sustainer and a Roland RSP-550 multi-effect processor. However, I did add a Fulltone Plimsoul for some distortion boost, which for me is a modern piece of gear.
How did you go about tracking the album?
Everything was recorded in Pro Tools. Bass and drums were recorded first. My approach was to record the foundation and build on top of that. The next step was recording the rhythm guitars and some of the keyboard parts. I worked on both the guitar solos and vocals simultaneously, though the harmony vocals were done after the lead vocals.
The meticulous part of the album was creating the overall soundscape. I’d listen to what was recorded and go back and redo or change parts until I was satisfied. We are our own toughest critics.
What does it mean for you to have Resurrection Of Black self-released? Have you been in touch with any labels?
What it means is having complete creative control over my work. That is really important. I wanted to create this album without any restrictions and have the freedom to experiment. I’m very pleased with the end result. The way the music industry is now, many artists have been successful doing their own independent releases. I haven’t spoken with labels yet, but if a label was interested in distribution and tour support, then I’d be happy to talk with them.
How will 2016 unfold for you?
I’m in the process of putting together a few shows and taking Resurrection Of Black on the road. Hopefully, I’ll be able to travel not only in the United States but in other parts of the world as well. Also, work has started on the next album. I have my concept together and am in the process of deciding which songs will make it on the album. 2016 will be another busy year but I am absolutely looking forward to it!