Ash Lee Blade with Loudness and Warmachine at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Wednesday (March 29). $25. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
A few years ago I saw Ash Lee Blade play with his then band, Cloven Blade, and it was all about power metal, wind-whipped hair and wailing guitars. It was all fishnets, black leather, smoke and writhing around onstage, and I was all, what the fuck is this, a joke?
"Yeah," laughs Blade. "I remember. You thought we were satire. We were dead serious."
Blade used to be Eric Tchort, founder of that popular local metal band of the same name that opened for folks like Kyuss and Yngwie Malmsteen. Other members of Tchort went on to form everyone's favourite metal boogie rock outfit, the Illuminati.
Blade stayed closer to his power metal roots and formed Cloven Blade, which is now no more. He switched the band name to his own stage name, not necessarily because of an overpowering ego, but because it was just easier.
"To me, a band means this guy, this guy and this guy, but because I had such a revolving lineup for a while, it made more sense to call it Ash Lee Blade, because I'm always there. But I still have some old members. There's Ryann Tunn, who departed to pursue a prog metal career but is back now. The bass player, Necrohippie, is our longest-standing continuous member, and our drummer, Brad McNeice, is a new guy. I've done a lot of drummer juggling, but we're really happy to have him. Since he's joined, it feels like a band again."
And though he still lives by the metal, Blade is less about the serious power stuff than about the old school and the anthem rock, "where the crowd sings stuff back to you," the charm of the old school with a new edge.
"It's fist-pumping stuff, and I like bad lyrics. They're the cornerstone of a good metal tune."
And there's less of the smoke and hair and rolling-about-in-leather stuff.
"We've toned it down a little bit these days because it was hard to find three other guys willing to strap on all kinds of leather and thigh-high boots. I wanted a little more uniformity in the band, so I took it down a notch, but sometimes, depending on the gig, I'll take it up a notch."
Cloven Blade recorded an album that never saw the light of day, and now Ash Lee Blade has finished another completely new soon-to-be-released effort produced, at the suggestion of Blade's new managers, by none other than the Boomtang Boys.
"They thought they could offer a new element to the project and did exactly that. They took my songs and added some bells and whistles, made them sound fresher and less dated. It worked really well. This is the first time I've had people get behind me and look out for my best interests."
"And I'm really looking forward to this gig," he says.
He and his band have been fans of Japan's Loudness for a long time.
"It's really cool being able to support bands you grew up listening to."
Last year they opened for WASP. They're all total WASP fanatics, but what Blade really took away from that show was sound check shorts.
"Blackie Lawless comes out for sound check in these tiny little shorts, tennis shoes with no socks and a mesh football jersey. He's in a foul mood, of course, and we were actually told not to look directly at him, but it was hard to keep your eyes off him in those shorts. So I got a pair of sound check shorts myself. They have a Confederate flag on them.
"You can't really hang out with Blackie Lawless. It doesn't work that way. So we're hoping to make some new friends in Loudness."