Lana Lane Brings Sweeping New Vistas to Symphonic Rock on ‘Neptune Blue’ (Q&A)

Rock Cellar Magazine

Prog-rock and symphonic rock may seem at times largely ossified and outdated, almost like relics of the past — but Lana Lane has helped revitalize those musical genres throughout her career.  Now she’s returned with a majestic, sweeping oeuvre called Neptune Blue that injects new energy in those genres and others after a 10-year hiatus from performing and recording.

Clearly, she swims against trendy tides.    

Sometimes, it’s unfathomable why certain musicians fail to receive the exposure and acclaim they deserve. That is certainly the case with Lane, a powerful and versatile rock singer originally from Northern California who remains largely under the radar in the U.S. despite achieving considerable success in Europe and Japan. Lane has been fronting her own band since 1995, when she released Love Is an Illusion.

She has also done considerable back up singing on other albums. In fact, since 1993 she has sung backup for Rocket Scientists, a progressive rock band co-founded by her husband and producer Erik Norlander. He’s also keyboardist on Lane’s albums.

Neptune Blue showcases Lane’s astonishing vocal range, power, and control. It boasts a wide array of tunes, ranging from the symphonic masterpiece of “Remember Me” to the bluesy “Someone Like You,” the hard rocker “Bring It On Home,” and power ballad “Come Lift Me Up.”  Some of these songs illustrate again why comparisons are often made between Lane’s voice and that of Ann Wilson of Heart, though Lane’s voice has many different dimensions.

We spoke to Lane recently about Neptune Blue and her career in a highly engaging conversation.

Rock Cellar:  How and when did the Lana Lane band come together?

Lana Lane:  I’m from Northern California, and moved to L.A. in 1985, where I met my husband [Erik Norlander]. I was singing in a girl band, and was the rock singer in the band. My husband advised me to leave the band, and was like a (male) Yoko Ono! 

He thought I was a much better singer, and convinced me to leave the band. We started collaborating on songs together — I was just starting to write songs at the time, and soon we started my band.  

Click here to pick up Neptune Blue on CD from our Rock Cellar Store

Rock Cellar: Neptune Blue seems to have a greater variety of music than many of your previous albums. Would that be fair to say?

Lana Lane: Well, Frontier Records wanted me to do an album for several years. A few years ago, it didn’t feel like the right time to do an album, and I didn’t feel I had the right material for such an album. I did miss singing and recording at the time, though. I was determined that the new album would be more organic than the previous ones, which sounded more like 70’s and blues music.  

I didn’t want to be forced into a specific music genre. I also wanted listeners to take a journey on the new album, and enjoy themselves, away from the anger that is common these days. I’d call the album “sunflowery.”

Rock Cellar: Frequent comparisons have been made between your vocal style and that of Ann Wilson. Do you think that’s a good comparison?

Lana Lane: Actually, Ann Wilson made me want to sing as a girl from the beginning. When I first heard Heart albums my brother listened to, I wondered, “What is this?”  I really liked Heart’s melodic rock style, and still have their Dreamboat Annie album.

Rock Cellar: What is your songwriting style like?

Lana Lane: My husband Erik Norlander is very prolific. He can write 10 songs in a month. It takes me a long time to write songs. My husband’s musical style is more progressive and structured, and mine is more symphonic and feeling-oriented.

Rock Cellar: It seems as if you have a real affinity for concept albums. What draws you to those albums?

Lana Lane: I like concept albums, they help me write songs. I tend to write music inspired by short stores and other works. Concept albums allow you to tell a story throughout the same album.

Rock Cellar: What are your favorite types of music besides rock?

Lana Lane: I love big band and swing music. I love the intricate lyrics of that type of music. There aren’t any lyricists now like that now. Big band and swing music produced beautiful and uplifting songs that just take you away.

Rock Cellar: What has it been like working with your husband for so many years?

Lana Lane: We’ve grown to trust each other more. I trust him as a producer and writer. We’re like a well-oiled machine.

Rock Cellar:  The DVD Storybook: Tales from Europe and Japan, which you released in 2004, covers many of your shows there earlier in your career. Did that accurately reflect your music and shows at the time?

Lana Lane: Yes, it was a good representation of our work at the time and the response we received from our audience. It covered three tours we did in Japan, and tours we did in Russia, Sweden, and Spain. We were able to establish a base in some of the European countries from the beginning, as we used musicians from Holland and Sweden, for example.

Rock Cellar: Why do you think you’ve achieved much more success in Europe and Japan than in the U.S.?

Lana Lane: I’m not sure. The Japanese fans seem very song-oriented, and like artists that are different. When I first had success there, I was already 26 or 27, and that made me different just by itself.

Also, Japanese fans like to discover artists first, and they’re not as jaded as some music fans. I’ve tried to make a niche for myself, and not sound like other artists. I’ve tended to do longer songs.  

Everybody’s attention span here is so short, and they don’t appreciate as much the whole music experience. I grew up with music as a total experience — I loved album artwork and liner notes. 

That has disappeared, though vinyl is enjoying a resurgence. 

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