Last In Line will release their third album, Jericho, at the end of the month. This is an absolute beast of an album that finds Vinnie Appice, Phil Soussan and Andrew Freeman in exceptional form. But more importantly, we finally hear Vivian Campbell back to the very high standards of inspired genius that we first heard in the ’80s. MetalTalk’s Steve Ritchie spoke to the king of vocal pipes, Andrew Freeman, to dig deeper. Here is part one.
Hurricane Orlagh, which featured on the A Day In The Life EP, is included in Jericho. “That was a leftover from II,” Andrew says, “but it didn’t have any lyrics to it. It was just a music bed.” The EP was the first Last In Line release through earMUSIC, which looks like a good partnership already. “It seems to be,” Andrew says. “They’re pretty excited about working with us and it’s been a nice change for us. We were with Frontiers for a while, and they’re great, too, you know. It’s like a new girlfriend, a new relationship. We’re in the honeymoon phase still.”
With the new album release imminent, Andrew is thrilled it is finally seeing the light of day. Jericho is just so outstanding all the way through. It seems there’s a lot more of everything in there, absolutely full of really great songs and really great performances. “It took a long time to come together,” he says. “We started writing it in the summer of 2019 when Vivian was out in Vegas. Phil and I live in Las Vegas. Viv was here for a residency with Def Leppard for about a month. II had just come out at the beginning of the year, so I said we should really get on this now.
“We have very limited time together, and we like to write together instead of being remote. So it was like, we should really capitalize on this. So we did. We started working in 2019, but what we didn’t expect was 2020. We had half the record recorded by January 2020. We had about six songs done, and then the other six took a while.”
Jericho is a jump in class. Not that the first two albums were sub-standard, but the emotions you feel in Jericho are inspiring. For example, on first listen, you end up repeating tracks in the excitement of picking out bits of ear candy. Comparing Jericho to the two previous albums, Andrew says it is “just an evolution” of the band.
“On the first album, it was basically trying to get the Dio band back together,” he says. “I think there were expectations from that. Not that we have to write this type of song, or we have to write that type of song. I think we all approached it as those guys are back in business, and we’re gonna try to make it like they used to make them. So that was number one.
“Number two, we did without Jimmy [Bain]. Phil brought a different influence in, and I felt like the record was a little more progressive. Certain songs were more progressive rock, which I’m not a big fan of. Nothing against it. It’s just not where I want to live. But there were a couple of songs on there that were, in my eyes, a little bit nerdy, in a sense, but interesting. But there was some more mainstream stuff on there too. But Give Up The Ghost, I think, was one of the best things we’ve ever recorded. It sounds contemporary, but you know, throws back, and that’s always what we want to put out. We want to feel like we’re breaking new ground but, of course, not forgetting about the past.
“Then, when you add a songwriter like Phil after what he’s done for so many years, that adds a lot to the mix as well. And now, with this one [Jericho], we had some time. Well, we didn’t have time, but we kind of took our time [smiles]. I had been working on a couple of different projects over those years that fell through, so I had this abundance of song and lyric ideas.”
The process for writing Jericho was the same as the previous albums. “We’ll start with a jam,” Andrew says. “Everybody gets together in a room and throws ideas at each other. I know Viv’s not a big fan of coming in with ideas, you know, ‘don’t bring your song ideas in here’, but I don’t give a shit about that one bit because everybody does things their own way.
“I work really well remotely, I work really well in a room with people because I just adapt to things personally. But for them, Vinny and Vivian, mostly Vivian, they like to get in a room together because they feed off each other. Viv feeds off Vinny. He plays differently, you know. He says he plays differently when Vinny plays, and it’s true. Vinny is Mob Rules. He’s the Mob Rules album. He’s Holy Diver. I can go to him, ‘hey, play something like this song’, and he does, but a different variation with the same idea.”
“Vinny is just a very unorthodox drummer. He’s probably the loudest drummer I have ever played with. When you get into the room, you get that vibe. You start playing more aggressively instantly. So I think Vivian, he doesn’t play that aggressively with Leppard, not that it’s better or worse, it’s just that he plays differently with Rick than he does with Vinny. Vinnie and Vivian kind of grew up together. They were the young guys in this band with this older singer, veteran singer, and they learned their way together, in a sense. It’s like a high school reunion for them when they get together, and it’s magical to be in a room with that.
“When Jimmy was alive, it was funny to watch. But Phil fits right into that in a different way. Because they all have that history, they just jam, but sometimes they’ll jam some obscure Gary Moore song just for fun, and it’ll trigger something else.
“I think what’s different about those guys and how they write is that they have this wealth of music to pull from that guys that I would play with in the US don’t. They don’t have Thin Lizzy in their DNA. They’re not into Rod Stewart and the Faces and Humble Pie. All that stuff is relative. Whereas a lot of guys here don’t have that because it wasn’t as popular here.
“So they’ll start jamming, and we record everything, and I’ll start just writing stuff down. I rarely get up and start singing on the mic right away. I like to get the ideas together first and then go into it because I don’t want to listen to bad vocals when I’m trying to write songs. I just like clean tracks. I can come and sit here and just work it out and get some lyrics because I have stacks and stacks of lyrics and my phone, and on paper that would work. So if I have a melody idea, I’ll throw it down, but I will make them record it again, just the music, so I can spend a couple of weeks on it.”
Later we talk about some of the songs on Jericho, how Bastard Son is their Kashmir, and the future of Last In Line. In the meantime, you can feast your ears on the three singles Ghost Town, House Party At The End Of The World and Do The Work.
“Do The Work was going to be a solo song I was working on,” Andrew says. “I had this great idea. I just hadn’t sat down and written the lyrics. We were in the studio when this thing came up, and I was like, god damn it, there goes another one of my songs, you know?”
Andrew says the process of writing the album was a lot easier than previous albums. “Everything flowed really quickly. I remember I had a week and a half to do the rest of the album. It was no rush, no rush, no rush, and then rush. I banged it all out, and usually, I start panicking, but I didn’t because everything just fell into place very easily. With the working demos, I think I had an idea of exactly what I wanted to do, and I just kind of banged it out.”
Jericho is available from https://lastinline.lnk.to/Jericho.