Hi Lee, this is Woody from Midlands Rocks, hoping your keeping well and ready for some questions!
You’re currently the front man of one of the UK’s most successful and popular AOR band’s SHY – How did you land the vocalist job in the band and were you a fan of the band prior to joining them?
Hi Woody, I heard Shy were looking for a new vocalist, so I emailed them regarding the position, I had no idea if it had been taken or not at the time, I had met Roy a couple of times in the past when I used to sing for Budgie guitarist John Thomas, he remembered me & so Shy asked me to audition & so on …
I had always been a fan & used to see then on tour during the Excess/ Misspent Youth days, I remember watching them at the Original JB’s club back in the late 80’s & saying I would love to be in this band, so better late than never!
The new album from SHY has been a long time coming, and you replace a very popular vocalist in Tony Mills, have you felt much pressure with your vocal performance and song writing on the new album?
Yes, without a doubt, Tony is a fantastic singer & to many he will be regarded as the voice of Shy, I really rate him & respect him, but the band didn’t want a T.M clone & that is why I think I got the job, we are so different in our vocal styles but for some reason both our voices gel nicely with the trade mark Shy sound & I think compliment it.
As like Tony & Shy did during his time fronting the band, I think we both bring out the best in each other.
Also how did you approach the song writing? Was it constantly in your mind to write like Tony or SHY? Or did it flow more naturally than that?
No, not really, from day one, I struck a natural & wonderful relationship with Steve Harris, I have always rated him as one of the best Guitarist/songwriters that Rock Music & England has ever produced & we have so much in common in our hobbies & interests
(we both are lovers of all old movies etc) & get on like a house on fire, this naturally came out in the songwriting for the new album, everything came together so easy, nothing forced what so ever.
However, I am a very soulful singer at times, everything I do comes from the heart, but I knew I did have to set myself a personal challenge of finding a voice that was still 100% honest & represented me but a different side of me that would work better with the band’s sound, as a constant soulful Stevie Wonder/Glenn Hughes style vocal (which is a big part of my make up!) would not be right for a band like Shy, so I re-visited my early days & my melodic vocal style from back in my Pride days in the late 80’s early 90’s & by doing this, combining the two sides of me became a new voice for Shy.
What songs are you most proud of from the upcoming SHY album and any reasons why?
I am really proud of everything on the album.
Everyone has put in a magical performance on this record, we were all so vibed, a re- vitalised Shy, “ a union of Souls” - We have all been on a long personal journey together & through many ups & downs, It all shows in everyone’s efforts & I think the chemistry will be there for all to hear, I am personally fond of the song Pray, as It is all about a long wonderful conversation I had in London with a 97 year old ex A lister who was a Variety performer during the Second World War, an amazing woman who was so honest with me & bluntly said she had lived her life to the full, had no regrets & desperately wanted to “float away” .. a quite remarkable lady indeed.
I know as things stand the band have no plans to perform at the moment – do you like performing and what have you thought’s been on the few show’s you have done - were you nervous at all facing long time SHY fans?
That is an understatement I think I worried the rest of the guys, I was so nervous, I also had both Tony Mills & Wardi in the audience at my first show to add to the pressure!, I move around a bit too when I am up there, arms everywhere & I kept bumping in to Roy, on the first night, he was everywhere! But seriously, I love performing live; it is great to be up on stage with all these guys.
What were your favourite SHY songs that you have sung live?
I love the Excess classics & also Sky Diving, what a fantastic song that is.
To many you’re a new name, although I know you have been around the music biz for some years. Can you give us a quick rundown of things we may know you from and albums you’d recommend we check out?
Native Cain – The Primitive Soul (1997)
(Later re-released as Surveillance – Angelstation - 2006)
Phenomena – Psychofantasy (2006)
Lee Small – Through the eyes of Robert Lees (2008)
Ginger – Market Harbour (2009)
Tom Galley – Blind Faith II (2011)
Omega – Journey to the far side of the sun (2011)
Skyscraper – (TBC)
Are there any plans to film a video for any of the songs on the upcoming album? And if yes can you give us any details?
At the moment, I am not sure what’s planned, hopefully we can do something.
Your also front a new British band called OMEGA along with Vince O’Regan (Legion/Eden) & Ged Rylands (Ten). The band’s debut album is set to drop in September, how did the band get together?
I got a call from a good friend of mine to see if I would be interested, we went for a meet, I got a rough copy of the original musical demos to go away & listen to, I played them a few times in my car to see if I got a feel for them before agreeing & melodies came to parts instantly so I did it, ( I got a vibe & theme & wrote & recorded the album in two weeks!) the quickest project I have ever been involved with!.
What can we expect from the album, what sort of style and sound?
The album is a concept story about the end of the world, this album is dark & the music has cool de-tuned heavy riff s & nice musical passageways.
What are your favourite songs from the album and any reasons why?
Pandora is quite special, it has an epic feel to that one, I also like Witching Time, & Night train to Cairo (was really based on an incident that happened) when on an Egyptian train I was travelling on through the night from Luxor to Giza a few years back.
Who are the principal songwriters in Omega and what was it like working with the insanely busy Vince O’Regan? And ex Ten keyboardist Ged Rylands?
Vince Oregan wrote 98% of the music & I penned all the lyrics.
If I am honest, we all worked separately on this project, we only got together a couple of times, I knew Vince from when we were 16 or so in various bands at the time, but we had never played together till now, he is a busy bee, he works on a lot of things these days.
Is there any chance we will ever see Omega live? And in the midlands *cough* hint *cough*!
Who knows! Lol , never say never!
I know you have worked on solo material for a long time; will it ever see the light of the day? And what should we expect from your solo songs?
I have recorded a brand new solo album called Jamaica Inn.
It is a real roots/Earthly album with an old school classic Rock feel to it, my first influences in Rock Music were bands like Free, Led Zep, Kansas & Trapeze so this brings out that other side to me, It should be available around November fingers Crossed.
What have been your highlights in your musical life?
I have been lucky to meet, work, know & knew some of the biggest names in Rock who have influenced me over the years & also proud to be classed as friends with some, so that to me is a great honour indeed, but I would say my biggest highlight to do with music was watching my daughter play her first gig in her school band, a proud & priceless feeling.
And have there been any lowlights?
Losing my friend & band mate Mel Galley
What band’s or albums are you currently listening too?
I am currently listening to Victory by Rob Moratti, that is a great album by a really under rated Vocalist, he has a wonderful talent , go check him out if you haven’t already!
Good luck with the new SHY album, I’m very excited about hearing it! I’ve heard two demo tracks and they sound great! Thanks for your time and is there anything else you would like to say to Midlands Rocks readers?
Thank you, you are so welcome, we are blessed to come from the Midlands, a place that has bought us a wealth of talent, so many riches in the Rock world, unfortunately so many live music venues are closing due to the current climate, the latest out beloved Jb’s Dudley, This will only do one thing, stop young talented people from the area being the next Robert Plant Or Rob Halford or Glenn Hughes
Please help keep music alive & kicking by supporting the great venues left like The Asylum in Birmingham or the Robin 2 in Bilston,
“ Long live Rock n’ Roll!”