By Patrick Prince
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother 40 whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father 41.
A grisly tale. One that caught the attention of young vocalist Greg Harges in 1983. Harges took the name of the famed murderer to represent a band he formed with drummer — and younger brother — Joey Scott. After altering the spelling of the name to Lizzy Borden, Harges also took the moniker as his stage persona. The purpose of the name’s use was not to connect the band with the woman charged with the 1892 murder, but instead to capture the spectacle of that gruesome murder case. Splatter films were popular, so to Harges in ‘83, a theatrical horror rock show seemed an interesting concept. It was an opportunity to fill a space that Alice Cooper had — for the time — left abandoned.
After appearing on the Metal Blade Records compilation Metal Massacre IV, it wasn’t long before Lizzy Borden put out their debut EP in 1984, Give ‘Em The Axe, on the same label. Following the EP, the band continued to put out quality metal albums until 2007.
Only recently, after more than a decade without a studio album, did Borden decide to revive the classic heavy sound of the band in a return to recording. The outcome is My Midnight Things, released in June.
GOLDMINE: The obvious question is, why the wait for a studio album?
LIZZY BORDEN: We were touring and released Deal with the Devil (2000) and Appointment With Death (2007) and the music industry kind of collapsed, and those albums kind of just went out there… a lot of people don’t even know they exist. It seemed like what’s the point, you know, if I’m making a record and it’s not finding the audience that might like it. So, without marketing, without any system in place — which at that point there wasn’t any — I said there’s no point in making a record. I just concentrated on touring, finding new fans touring all around the world. That’s what I’ve been doing.
But I missed being a recording artist and Brian Slagel from Metal Blade convinced me that the business is different now and that they have systems in place to properly market a record and get it out there.
GM: Now, you produced the album with drummer Joey Scott. You said you had doubts that you could find a producer who could understand the material. Why is that?
LB: Because my influences are from the ‘70s and that’s what I grew up on. And (with) this album especially, I wanted to make sure that I stayed true to that. Doing that, you look around and there were great producers who I’d love to work with but most of them are retired or are on the verge of it. And all the young ones are not influenced by the ‘70s, so I didn’t want to take a chance of finding a producer who’s gonna try to do some updating to my thoughts, because I already knew what I wanted to do.
GM: Is it hard to take on a persona? Because you kind of become (Lizzy Borden) offstage too, when fans recognize you… It’s a different dynamic.
LB: It was easy for me. The ‘80s was an easy time to do anything you wanted, and I lived in Hollywood, so… (laughs). I’ve been Lizzy longer than I’ve been anything else.
GM: The ‘90s came and metal fell out of favor. The hair bands, they claim, killed it. But you guys were never glam. If you guys were glam, then I see the Alice Cooper Band as being glam, and that’s not really the case.
LB: My influences were Cooper, Bowie and KISS — all those who were part of the glitter rock movement of the ‘70s. Glitter rock was a little different. It was more street. Glam rock was all the really pretty boys. Someone like Bowie was able to go on both sides of that fence but KISS, obviously, was more about the glitter rock aspect and that’s what I grew up on. I love the glam stuff in England… with some of the greatest songs ever written. Even Queen fell under that moniker. People have no idea what category to put us in and I’m fine with that. I don’t mind that confusion.