Jericho, the third album from Last In Line, is released next Friday, and MetalTalk’s Steve Ritchie caught up with Andrew Freeman to discuss the release and find out more about Andrew’s plans for the rest of the year. You can read part one of our interview here.
Not Today Satan is the first track of the impressive Jericho. Built around a simple riff, but the timing change in the song works really well. Vinnie’s immense, obviously and Phil is wonderfully solid, with some really cool octave bass playing going on. But I really love the way Andrew’s voice and Vivian’s guitar match so well in the chorus in particular.
It’s a journalistic weakness choosing swear words in one’s descriptions, given the huge number of alternatives, but I can only suggest to Andrew that it is a ‘truly fucking superb opening’.
“Yeah, that song was interesting when I first heard it. They’re doing the main verses like this kind of stomp boogie, like an old Van Halen song, or something Joe Satriani might do back off his first record. I’m not big on that stuff. I mean, I love Van Halen, but I’m not big on it in my world. So I was like, what am I gonna do with this? And then we put it together with that trippy Alice In Chains…”
At this point, the conversation was interrupted as Phil Soussan was calling. “He just got back. He was away for a couple of days,” smiles Andrew. “Where was I? Oh yeah, we put it together with this trippy, what I would call Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, old Black Sabbath, even like a Genesis sort of a thing. We mixed these two styles that shouldn’t mesh, and I think it makes a unique-sounding song.”
And he is right. The first listen to Not Today Satan, you wonder what is going on, but the second listen, it is something which really cements in your mind. “It’s one of those, what the hell just happened,” Andrew says.
Jericho then runs into Ghost Town, which was the first single. There is a perfectly classic Vivian Campbell solo in there, which flows over a riff that was not apparent earlier in the song. This early into the album, you know that Campbell is totally on fire, and this is so pleasing to hear.
“I agree,” Andrew says. “Sitting home for a while really helped. We went out and did gigs. He was, and everybody was super happy. Before we first started up again, you felt like am I gonna do this again? As a musician, there’s a lull, and there are really busy times. You learn to adapt. So when everything happened, I know there are a lot of memes online, saying, ‘I haven’t worked in three months’ and there’s the musician asking ‘your first time?’”
When Andrew sings, ‘leave this place like a ghost town,’ there is a wonderfully atmospheric pause before the solo kicks in. Here, Andrew’s lyrics were inspired by the music Last In Line were creating.
“I had a really close friend die last year that I’ve known since I was four years old, three years old,” he says. “It morphed into a story about him, but it also has implications about, or just hints at what’s going on in the world today. Just problems getting ignored, and we just keep jumping on this cycle, and we follow this thing around. You know what? I’m done. I’m out of here. I’m blowing this town, and I’m out of here.”
Ghost Town is one of the many songs on this album that will sound so cool live. “I think so, too,” Andrew says. “We played it a couple of times at the sound check and just messed around with it. But I think once we figure out what we’re doing off the record, it’s going to be a good time. That will definitely be one of them.”
Then you are into Bastard Son and epic six-minute territory. That riff, that solo, and keyboards towards the end, Bastard Son, show Andrew’s tremendous vocal talents to the best, and he sounds like he was having such great fun singing over these tracks. “I feel like that song, and I’m not saying it’s better or even comparable, but to me, that’s our Kashmir. That’s how we approached it. Phil and I had to get working on the string parts at the end. That was around the time we were working on The Day In A Life song, too.”
In my notes, I had written about hearing a Zeppelin influence. “It’s the Beatles and Zeppelin just meshed together with a little bit of Alice In Chains harmonies, too, to screw things up. That first Alice In Chains album just completely fucked me up.”
After such an immense, powerful oping trio of songs, the rest of the album keeps the momentum going wonderfully. Burning Bridges is another goosebump moment. You can understand Viv playing with Def Leppard for all those years, one of the biggest bands in the world, but those fans who miss his unique style and sound from the ’80s, are going to have so much fun listening to Burning Bridges.
“Yea. That outro solo, I think, is epic,” Andrew says. “That note that he overbends. He does a really cool overbend thing, like an old Hendrix thing. He starts that solo, and it’s like, whoa. But yeah, I think that’s a really special song. I don’t know when that’s going to see the light of day as a single. I hope it becomes a single.”
Do The Work was released as a single, and this is yet another track that will sound awesome when played live. When writing, is there an emphasis on if it is possible to play songs live? “I don’t really worry about it,” Andrew says. “I’m of the school that it doesn’t have to sound exactly like the record when you go play live. I like listening to Queen play Bohemian Rhapsody live, and it does not sound like the album at all. I never liked going to see a band that sounded just like the record. I would rather sit at home and listen to the record. I like jams in the middle of songs. I like extended endings or intros into stuff.
“With music, everything is so organic, and it just grows, and you seem like you never stopped writing a song. You add things to it, little embellishments, and that’s what makes it unique. We don’t play to a click track or anything. It’s just the four of us going for it. So it’s never gonna be the same. So I don’t really worry about it. I just want to make the best-sounding record possible and go for it because a lot of times, we’re only gonna play two or three songs from it anyway. I wish we could do more, but I want to make it sound as best as possible, and its art in itself, of making it interesting, is appealing to me.”
With Story Of My Life, We Don’t Run, House Party At The End Of The World, Jericho is just full of top-quality tracks. My original plan was to talk about the live tracks on the EP and persuade Andrew that they should do a full live album. But with the quality of Jericho, there were more pressing things to chat about. This is just so exciting.
“I appreciate it. I agree. I think we should do a full live record as well, but it’s a matter of the powers that be. This probably is going to be as close to a live record with the Day In A Life EP, but you never know, never say never.”
Watching some of the Last In Line live stream chats over the last couple of years, you could see that Freeman was just chomping at the bit to get the new music out. One evening, he played 20 seconds of a track, much to the surprise of Phil Soussan.
“I was very excited,” Andrew says. “We had finished songs three years ago. 2020, we had finished songs. When we submitted for the deal, I think Steve Strange was still alive. This is going back to September 2020, I think, when we finalized the deal. So to wait around for three years for that to happen. I’m not good at that, you know. I like to work, as you can tell from my resume. But I understand that this is a special project, and I understand we have to get it right, and if they want to do it a certain way, that’s fine with me. I know it will eventually come out, but just I’m not getting any younger.”
As a band, Last In Line have some interesting conundrums. When you cherry-pick favourite live songs from the first two albums, then, with a good helping of Jericho, you have a fantastic live set. This would be an incredible live show and something I would love to experience. But you can’t please everyone, and I am sure people would complain that they did not play Straight Through The Heart.
“That would be Vinny complaining that we were not doing Straight Through The Heart,” Andrew laughs. Can he see a point where Viv and Vinnie’s material from the earlier band is reduced or even totally removed from the set?
“I can’t say we would ever totally remove it,” Andrew says. “I wouldn’t want to do that. When we did Download in 2019, we did a full Last In Line set and then played Rainbow In The Dark. So I could see that happening maybe on more opening sets, but I would rather see the set get longer. I know people want to hear that [Dio] stuff and I like to make them happy.
“I have no issue playing any of the Dio material. But I do think some stuff is gonna get weeded out as we go on. We do some epic stuff. We do Egypt (The Chains Are On) and it’s got this epic extended solo section at the end of the song, and it’s a big part of the show. I wouldn’t want to see that go away.”
If you are not in America, it’s certain you will not get to see the band this year. “It’s only looking like April and September, because of the ego tour, the stadium tour,” Andrew says. “I don’t know if Europe is going to be in the mix until 2024, because we don’t have a European agent right now. He passed away.”
There was some talk of doing some festivals with Def Leppard, but that’s probably not happening now. “It’s not their show,” Andrew says. “It’s the festival’s show.”
For Andrew and the future, there is solo material to look out for. “I think I’m just gonna write songs and release them one at a time,” he says. “My girlfriend Sarah, during the pandemic, got very popular on social media, and she is just killing it. Talking millions of streams, and 2.5 million followers. She owns it all and does it all herself. So I’m gonna try that route because nobody’s knocking down the door to give me a deal, so I gotta get out there and do it myself.
“Honestly, the way the music business works now, I see so many of these younger kids empowering themselves and becoming these moguls of their industries. It’s really impressive. I’ve been DIY for a really long time. I wasn’t blessed with the background that the rest of my band has. I work out of my studio, I can work every day, so I’ll work on something, make it release it and get it done. I think that’s where that’s going.
“I did talk to a couple of people, but anytime anybody really contacts me about doing a solo album, it’s because they’re trying to get at Vinny and Vivian. You see it coming from a mile away every time.”
There is the finished project titled Dance Of The Damned due for release featuring Andrew, Mike Orlando and W.A.S.P drummer Achilles Priester. “That’s another one that’s been done since 2020 as well,” Andrew says. “We’ve been at two different labels, we pulled it from one and we left the other one, decided not to go through with it or whatever the problem was. We just got a guy named Reb jones playing bass for us. He’s redoing the bass tracks right now. But it’s a really great record. I think you’ll dig it.
“When I said I don’t really like to live in a progressive world, that is a very Metal sort of a thing. But the songs are just great and Mike is such a virtuoso guitar player. It’s just great to listen to.”
I say to Andrew that we are missing the band in UK and Europe. “I would love to come back over to the UK and Europe as well and just do it,” he says. “I miss the UK. I love being there. I was in Australia two weeks ago and it’s like England by the beach, except for the accent.”
Does he miss our curries? “Yeah, miss the curries. I miss the people. I miss the hustle and bustle of the cities and I miss the culture. It’s always a good time. We were blessed to have an agent who was a big UK guy, and he had us there every year.
“I gotta get back because I got to exchange my pounds, I have a stack of pounds left.” Following our chat, I did send Andrew the webpage of the Bank Of England that shows which pound notes are expired and out of circulation. I hope he remembers to check.