ROX Radio


Saturday, May 16, 2020

ROX Interview: Lisa Mann on her new project White Crone

1. So, Lisa. Tell us a bit about your latest project White Crone?

First, let me say thanks for this opportunity to share this labor of love with your audience!  White Crone is a traditional metal recording project, hearkening back to the glory days of metal.  At first, I thought I might do it anonymously, like Tobias Forge or KISS, but after recording the first album, I thought, naw, I want to take ownership of this!  I'm not a young woman, let's just say, and I have very pale skin. So I came up with the name White Crone as an alter-ego for myself.  White Crone is a story-teller, like a village wise-woman of old.

2. And you've done an album "Poisoner". Tell us about that. Who's
involved and what's the music all about?

I play bass and sing, but for this project, I taught myself how to play guitar as well.  I wrote all but one song, and could hear parts in my head as I wrote them. I watched YouTube instructional videos so I could execute those parts in the studio. So I played almost all of the guitar parts, but former Glacier guitarist Mehdi Farjami laid down super smoking solos on two songs.  Master drum instructor Larry London played drums on most of the tracks, but former Dio/Black sabbath drummer Vinny Appice guests on a song as well. Percussionist Caton Lyles guests on a middle-eastern sounding song.  It was recorded over nearly a two year period at Opal Studio by engineer Kevin Hahn.
The music is a love letter to all the metal I grew up with in the 80's.  Lyrical subject matter includes ancient curses, zombies, immortal assassins, schlocky and fantastical stuff.  Although there are a few serious songs, one about the historical abuse of young girls, and one about a mentally ill homeless person.  Musically it's inspired by classic melodic metal, but there are traces of First Wave Black, prog, and doom.

3. You're best known though for being a blues bassist and vocalist. Why
did you decide to do a metal album?

I had always wanted to create a metal album, but I can't "try" to write songs.  I need to wait until I'm inspired. A few years ago, I heard the band Ghost during the Recording Academy nomination process.  I swear, I remember the very moment I heard the opening guitars on Cirice, which went on to win the Grammy.  I was instantly hooked!  I started listening to Ghost, they were just so weird and retro, and had so many different influences.  And one day it just occurred to me, "Oh, so you can just do whatever the fuck you want?"  Soon after I started hearing metal melodies in my head, when I was walking, showering, driving...  I would record them on a phone app, but soon it was apparent that entire songs were coming out.  My husband Allen Markel, who is also a bass player, set me up with a recording program.  I taught myself how to use that software, bought a 7-string guitar and an electronic drum kit, and did pre-production for the entire album at home.  After I'd collected a full album's worth, I booked with my old friend Kevin Hahn and started recording it for real. 

4. Are you a metal-head at heart then? Or do you still have one foot in
the blues?

Oddly enough, it was proto-metal bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath that were "gateway drugs" to the blues.  Sabbath was even a blues cover band when they first started!  I make my living as a blues artist, and that's still my plan for the future.  I have a blues-Americana release due to come out this summer. But I'm so enjoying this foray into metal, and I've made so many wonderful friends and industry connections.  I have found that it's as much a big family as the blues scene is. 

5. Any live shows planned?

I don't have any plans for live performances for White Crone, but who knows?  But I'm also working with an existing band called Splintered Throne, and we are definitely looking forward to a time when it's safe to play live. It's a very high energy stage band.

6. What's next then for Lisa and White Crone? Are you going to keep both
aspects of your music going or is "Poisoner" a one-off?

I already have a bunch of new White Crone material in my back pocket that didn't make the first CD, plus Splintered Throne is cooking up some badass original material, even during this lockdown!  I don't have a "day job" or kids, so music is all I do.  And artistically, I feel a new freedom to do whatever my heart desires.  There will definitely be another White Crone album.

7. You're metal stuff has some obvious influences but who would you say
was your biggest inspiration for this album?

Yeah, Iron Maiden is probably one of the most obvious influences!  I used to play and sing along with their first five albums over and over.  But also Ronnie James Dio, Mercyful Fate/ King Diamond, Judas Priest, Manowar, a smidgen of thrash from Exodus and Megadeth, and some prog from Rush.  I love Venom too, and I re-tooled "Seven Gates of Hell" as if Ronnie James Dio sang it.  That's the one cover song on the album.

8. Favourite album?

Boy that is really hard to say, however I might just go with Iron Maiden's Powerslave.  Dio's Holy Diver being a close second.

9. Who would you love to work with on another project given the chance?

There are just so many!  I love super melodic guitar players, so working with someone like Tony MacAlpine or Larry Mitchell would be great.

10. Any advice for a musician or band just starting out?

First, learn your craft.  You can do so by imitation, following in the musical footsteps of those you admire.  Never think you're so good at what you do that you can't learn something new.  Also, just keep at it.  Don't get discouraged, because there is plenty of shit out there to discourage you, like difficult relationships with people in the industry, or lack of income.  And don't edit yourself!  Follow your muse.  An' ye harm none, do what thou wilt!


Lisa Mann
2015/ 2016 Blues Music Awards: Instrumentalist- Bass
2014 Blues Blast Awards Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame

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