The German band LEE Z has a long history behind them, with a lot of records, some very AOR/Melodic Rock based, but their recent comeback album 'Shadowland' marked a more progressive metal approach without losing the strong melodies. In fact, this new CD is their strongest album so far, a pure VANDENPLAS type of record, so quite sensational. Time to interview the band...

The history of LEE Z goes a long way back, can you tell me about the start of the band?

We started in 1987 in Greven, a small town near Munster. Tommy and me are the only both, who are still in the band. In 1988 we got a record deal with ex-MadMax-drummer Uwe Starck. He produced our first vinyl-LP “Primetime”. This record is sold out. Lately I bought some at ebay. Otherwise I couldnīt get any of these Lps any more.

The first couple of albums were more in the AOR/Melodic Rock corner; can you tell me more about them?

We worked more with keyboards and I have the feeling we were a bit softer. We still like these great melodies. The right melodie is the most important in our music. If we have a nice melodie, we build the rest of the music around this melodie. The early songs are more composed with “sounds”. This means, we worked a lot with the keyboards. “Shadowland” is the first Album after a long time and we decided to produce a bit more modern and used a less keyboards. I think thatīs the reason, why we are sounding a bit different than the older albums.

It took a long time to release this new CD I believe, what happened in the new decade with your band?

We worked since 1987 as a band. In 1999, after 12 years, we made a break. We did not have have a record deal and step by step we lost the energy, to go on with the band and everybody went his own way. We never lost the contact to each other. I tried to keep the bands spirit together. On new years day I stood with our producer ‘Michael Voss’ on a bar in Tunisia and we talked about a new LeeZ demo. Back in Germany I called the guys from the band. And LeeZ was back again. We tried to get a deal with the demo. It took two years. Then we found escapi and escapi found Lee Z.

Back to the present, the new CD '"Shadowland' is a very progressive metal orientated record with still very melodic AOR-ish choruses, so I was curious in hearing what your influences are musically?

Wow, there of course a million influences. I think the most important influences are bands like Genesis, Dream Theater and Miles Davis.  There two hearts beating in this bands. all of us loves all these good stuff like Dream Theatre. Queensryche and so on. I am on Jazz as well. I think this is a very explosive mixture.

With a bit of luck you might actually attract to fans of JOURNEY but also VANDENPLAS, due to the prog and aor influences

Oh yes. This is great to be compared with bands like JOURNEY or VANDENPLAS. This a big compliment. This is a big compliment for us, because we donīt look, what other bands are doin. We try to do our own stuff. And if we can attract a lot of fans. Great  we compose ‘melody-wise’. When we are composing, we do not compose like: ”Oh we need anything complicated. Letīs write a 13/8th song.” If a melodie needs an 13/8th bar… ok. We use it. And I think because of all these influences we have, we canb compose songs like ‘shadowland’.

How are the reactions so far, because I think its a very strong album...

A lot of people like ‘shadowland’. Even if they donīt like the music, a lot of people react like: ‘Jesus, wow, thatīs wonderful’. For me it is a pleasure to be in this band and to produce music like this.

Are there any touring plans?

There were touring plans. We were asked to support a famous guitarist in germany. The guitarist cancelled the whole tour. We are working now for some other gigs. I hope there will be soon some nice gigs. We will see what happens.

Finally what are the future plans?

The future plans are of course the next album and loads of gigs. I hope we can record in summer a new album.

Thank you for the interview. I wish you and all your readers a good, successful and healthy year.