The NWOBHM legends return, with dates in November/December.
Hailed at birth as a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal supergroup, Lionheart reunited last year following three decades away. Guitarist Steve Mann previews their co-headline tour with fellow 1980s refugees Airrace.
After so long apart, how was the mood in the dressing room before playing at the Rockingham Festival last year? Rehearsals had gone so well that it was amazing. We felt as though we had never even stopped.
And then your keyboard was out of tune in the first song! [Laughs] Yeah, that was a shock, but it didn’t ruin the show. We were having such a good time it just made us laugh.
So who said: “Let’s carry on”? [Japan’s] Burrn! magazine interviewed us afterwards, and although the thought hadn’t even occurred to us we were asked right away, followed by Facebook comments and fan requests. In the end it wasn’t really a band decision as such, more that so many people told us we should do it. The new album, Second Nature, is a mix of leftovers, re-recordings, newly written tunes and covers. Was it easy to make?
Yes, and once the ball began rolling, it became easier still. Lee Small [Lionheart’s new lead singer] is a very creative guy, and the ideas almost poured out. But for the cutoff point for Japan [where it was released first], there would have been even more new songs.
The response has been positive. Yeah. We knew it was a good record, but of course it’s all subjective. You’re about to co-headline a tour across Britain with Airrace, another band that dropped out of the limelight for aeons, only to return.
Rocky [Newton, bassist] is on double duty and both bands know one another very well. Together it’s a great package – take Lionheart and double it. They’re just as vibed up about everything as we are.
Having been a part of the McAuley Schenker Group, you’re now working with Michael again. What changes have you seen in him?
Michael was always very, very shy, but meeting him again last year he was a completely transformed man. He’s now – and a better guitar player than he ever was. And if he makes a mistake then he smiles and says sorry [laughs]. Basically he’s a lovely, lovely guy.
An album featuring Michael Schenker Group’s multiple lead singers – Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley – and their best-known back-up players is currently being recorded. What’s it like? Doogie White is on it now too, and it’s going to be brilliant.
The album is being mixed by Michael Voss. I wish we could play some of its songs on Michael’s UK tour [in November] but it’s a bit too soon for that. DL
“The tour is a great package – take Lionheart and double it.”
The tour ends on December 6.