Alaska Highway News - July 5, 2012

The Metal Queen returns

Nearly 20 years ago, Lee Aaron exploded on the music scene with the release of her hit single "Metal Queen."

"I can't even believe it sometimes," said Aaron. "Where does the time go?" The Canadian said her love performing is what keeps her going after all these years.

"I still enjoy it just as much," Aaron said. "For me, there's no greater joy than standing up there and delivering - when a performance is great, it's almost like you're just a vessel - it's great and there's a real connection with the audience."

Although her love of the stage has not changed, she said touring is different now than it used to be.

"I would travel from city to city, I would be exhausted; we'd drink too much, we'd just get up to stuff," she continued. "It was more about the whole lifestyle.

"Now it's more about the music and just putting your whole heart and soul into it." She noted that she toured for Body Rock, her 1989 smash hit album, for 14 months straight.

"After you've played the same song 500 times night after night, it loses its luster for you," she said. "It really does."

She said there was a point in her career that she'd refuse to play Metal Queen, arguably her biggest hit. She has now come to terms with her early material.

"My daughter is now at an age, she's in Grade 2, she came home a few weeks ago and she's like, 'Mom, my friend... at school said that you have this really super cool video with this giant robot thing in it,'" said Aaron. "I realized she was talking about Metal Queen and this stupid aluminum spider that shoots out a laser beam circa 1984.

"In the early part of my career, I suffered from embarrassingly bad marketing," said Aaron. "I was sold as a pinup kitten."

"At a certain point a few years later, that was a big hurdle to overcome because I really did want to be taken seriously," she said.

"People didn't know that I wrote my own songs even.

"I worked very hard at being taken more seriously as an artist," said Aaron. "I was sort of in this little bubble of Lee Aaron only does metal music, which is not true.

"I've experimented and done forays into various types of music in my career," she continued.

In addition to her metal show, Aaron sometimes with a jazz set with songs right out of the "great American songbook."

In 1992, inspired by the Seattle movement away from major music companies, Aaron left her label.

"I made that move a few years ahead of a lot of other artists," she said. "I saw what was coming and it was the best thing that I ever did for my career.

"While I may not be in the forefront of television and radio and print media the way that I used to be, I have a healthier career in terms of being a micro-industry," she continued.

She's thankful for the creative freedom she's able to have in comparison to when she was on a major label.

Though the Internet was in its infancy in 1992, and no one could forecast the impact it was to have on the music industry, Aaron knew it was the best thing she could have done.

"Obviously the advent of digital technology changed the face of everything," she said. "The corporate record industry and the music story - it's fallen apart basically, but it's the best time ever to be an independent artist."

As an independent artist, Aaron has more control over what her touring schedule looks like.

"I go out for little micro-tours," she said. "I mean, I have young children as well; touring full time is not an option for me."

She said that having a six and seven year old at home and these short tours keep her grounded.

"When you're touring for that many consecutive months like I did when I was younger, it's like you're living in a fishbowl," she said. "It's not really reality."

This has made touring much more enjoyable for her.

Because she's not playing the same song 500 nights in a row anymore, she also has come to terms with her older material.

"It's almost at a point where - you know Metal Queen, it just represented - I was sort of this icon of feminine strength," she said. "The great thing is that people never stop loving music, and so it's really great to be able to still travel around and visit these places and bring those memories back for people and share that and meet the people that enjoy your music."

She said it's been about 10 years since she played in Fort St. John, and she's looking forward to coming back.

"I can't remember where I played exactly, but I'm pretty sure it was a large night club and I remember being backstage... and this lady came out and she had every CD I'd ever put out, not just in North America, she had European singles... I was overwhelmed," she said. "I don't even have this in my collection."

Aaron said meeting the people who enjoy her music is the best part of performing.

She will be in Fort St. John at the Lido next Thursday.

"I'm just really excited to come back to Fort St. John," she said. "It's great."

Katelin Dean
Alaska Highway News ©