The Defiants

It’s always a pleasure interviewing Paul Laine, as he has many exciting stories to tell. So, this time Grande Rock caught up with the gifted vocalist and songwriter Paul to talk about The Defiants’ new album, Danger Danger and many other interesting things that came along the way…
The Defiants band pic
Hi Paul, I’m glad to get the chance to talk with you again about the new album “Zokusho”. Once again you’ve nailed it! The new album rocks big time dude! Congrats!
P: Thank you. We did the best we could with the time we had to write and record it. I think both Bruno and I put a lot of pressure on ourselves to write an album that we could be proud of, and stand on its own separate from the first release.
Well, why was there a 3-year gap between the two albums? Was there any chance not to release a follow up to the debut?
P: When it comes to timing of releases, it’s up to the record label, not us. We had a 2 album deal with Frontiers, and they have a schedule on when they want to pull the trigger on new releases. That contract has now been fulfilled.
Back in 2016, you told me that you had around 33 ideas for your debut and that it would have been sad for you not to release a second album. Well, did you use any of those ideas or what? Did you work with Bruno in the same way you did on the debut?
P: Bruno and I always work the same way. Bruno sends me a riff and a drum beat, and I get to work writing melodies and lyrics. When it came to writing the second record, we both felt the need to start fresh, so no ideas left over from the first album were used. Not that they weren’t good ideas? It’s just that sometimes you have a new sound in your head. And we both did…
Hence, how did the whole “Japanese anime” idea for the cover artwork come about?
P: Since I came up with the concept of an old spaghetti western poster for the first album, it was Bruno’s turn for this record. I took a lot of heat for the first album cover idea. I love the old Sergio Leone movies with Clint Eastwood. Always have... that’s why I’m wearing Clint Eastwood’s poncho in my very first music video for “Dorianna” all the way back in 1990. I wasn’t into how the wardrobe person in L.A. wanted to dress me for the video, so I grabbed that off the rack and said “I’m wearing this… I don’t want to be like everybody else”. I guess for me, the first Defiants record felt like a nod to the past with its feet firmly standing in the future. I like the idea Bruno had for the “Zokusho” album cover... I think Stanis W - Decker did a fantastic job on the artwork.
And how did you come up with the album title “Zokusho”, which means “sequel” in Japanese?
P: Bruno was having a conversation with one of his friends in Japan, and that’s how it came about.
What are the changes that you made on the songwriting part on the new album? Did you feel freer and cooler this time? You do have a few more modern touches and several Shugaazer influences at parts, if I may say so, right?
P: All I have is my instinct. I don’t really try to do anything? I just do it, if that makes sense. All of the music that comes out of me, lives inside me. I believe that every writer has their own sense of melody and timing. A mix of all of your influences growing up, followed by the new sounds that you hear in your head. I was born with a brain that has its own radio built into it. That’s about the best way for me to describe it. Some days its set to hearing Rock stations, other days Country music, and sometimes Pop or Orchestral… whenever I think about The Defiants, I hear a certain sound, that can only be us.
Once again Bruno and you again took care of the album’s mixing and production and the result is amazing. Did you have in mind to make it sound fuller than your debut?
P: The only real thought was to make a great album, and to have it feel like it was building on the sound of the first album.
Moreover you have Steve West behind the drum kit this time. Is this like a D2 feast or what?!
P: Absolutely not. Steve came in after all the songs were written and filled in on the drum chair. It really could’ve been anybody, and I say that with all love and respect about Steve, who is a fantastic drummer and songwriter in his own right. Danger Danger is a completely different affair, with Steve and Bruno being the primary writers. This, The Defiants, is not that.
Part of the reason I left D2 back in the day, was for creative reasons. Although I wrote on the records, and contributed my own songs, they were always different than where D2 was going with their writing. We wrote one album as a unit – the “Dawn” album, and then decided to never write another record that way again. A relief to me… and probably to them as well. From then on, Steve and Bruno wrote together and I handed in my 3rd of the records on my own. I loved my time in D2, but when it was time to go, it was time to go. I left and was happy with my part in it.
Some fans are wondering… why don’t you just call it Danger Danger and go on? I mean there are a few differences from the 80s D2 style, but still none would complaint about it. Have you talked it over with Bruno at some point? Personally I think that’s always better to try out new things.
P: Yeah… when I walk away from something that my heart tells me to, I tend to do it for life. I would never make another D2 album, because there is no point in doing so. I think the fans of Danger Danger have a good body of work to enjoy, and it’s awesome to see Ted out there rocking it up! I would join D2 on some shows if it featured Ted and myself doing songs from our respective albums, but that’s as far as I would ever go.
Well, after the second album, can you say that The Defiants are a proper band and it’s time to give some live shows as well? The fans would love that idea!
P: We have been offered quite a few shows and are looking at doing some. I think of The Defiants as a proper band. It was never my or Bruno’s intention for this to just be a “project”.
After the raving reviews of your debut and of the new album, do you think that The Defiants should have gained more reputation among the rock fans? Obviously you deserve more praise by all the fans and media, who also made D2 big back in the 80s and 90s.
P: I have no idea. None of this is up to me. I’m just a guy that writes songs that I like. I have given up on dreaming about any sort of real career as a recording artist of global importance or popularity. I make records for me, first. Praise, although a very nice and appreciated thing, has no place in my motivation to create art. In this world, I read equal amounts of opinions from people who say terrible and mean things as they do great and kind things. So that’s it. I remove myself from the expectations, and therefore, I am happy.
What about your personal music plans? Is there any chance to release a new Shugaazer album, or this was a one thing only?
P: I would love to make another Shugaazer record. I’ve been slowly remixing the first one for a limited release at some point.
I think it’s time for our “Weird Questions”!!! Which music kind can’t you bear to listen to at all?
P: Hmmmm… that’s tough. Anything that feels like they didn’t put enough effort into it. I really appreciate all music, as long as it feels good.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words:
P: Rockstar: Mockstar…
Metal God: Avoid the rain, once you start to rust it’s over…
Pornstar: Interesting life choice…
Eurovision: 5 mins of fame….
Music Realities: Do it for love or not at all…
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
P: “Born to Run” by Springsteen. Pure emotion, great story telling, and poetry and music in a perfect marriage.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
P: The Eagles – “Hotel California” era.
Which is the musician/songwriter who influenced rock music the most?
P: Probably McCartney and Lennon.
If you had the opportunity to invite any musician, living or dead, to play on your album whom would you choose and why?
P: Brian Wilson. Because he is the sole reason I wanted to play music and write. Still heavily influenced by him.
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in rock/metal history?
P: I love way too many to say. An impossible question for me.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
P: The future. I can read about the past any day of the week.
Which are those albums that took hard rock music one step further during the 80s and influenced the whole movement too?
P: I would argue that producers such as Mutt Lange, Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock and Bob Clearmountain (to name a few) are more responsible for pushing the ball forward than any particular artist or album. Look up those guys and the records they made, along with the timelines, and you’ll soon see how much their sound changed everybody’s approach to making records.
It’s always great to have you on Grande Rock Paul. I can’t thank you enough for the music dude! Hope to see you live at some point as well. Wish you the best for the future. Keep on rockin’ us… and take care!
P: Thank you and your readers so much!