Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
It is a somewhat daunting task to tackle the story of the long-running Los Angeles metal band LIZZY BORDEN, which is now in its 35th year of activity.
That story starts in the City Of Angels, Hollywood to be precise, circa 1983 with two brothers, singer Gregory Charles Harges and his drumming sibling, Joey Scott Harges. Gregory, taking the stage name Lizzy Borden – obviously inspired by the infamous alleged ax murderess – and his brother launches the band bearing that same name.
Hollywood was the ideal location for LIZZY BORDEN too as the band relied heavily on make-up, imagery, and theatrics right from their start. Adorned in greasepaint or masks, spewing venom and mock blood, creating, and then bringing stage-specific characters to life, LIZZY BORDEN quickly made their mark.
Following a 1983 ‘Demo’, LIZZY BORDEN the band, by that time including bassist Mike Davis and guitarists Gene Allen & Tony Matuzak, released the ‘Give’em The Axe‘ EP via Metal Blade Records in ’84. The EP showcased the band’s NWOBHM influences within a highly alluring, melodic-tinged metal delivery, topped off with Lizzy’s higher register vocals.
The quintet, now well upon their way so to speak, released their milestone full-length album ‘Love You To Pieces‘ through Metal Blade in 1985. The record was a unique, interesting contrast to that era’s burgeoning thrash and death metal genres. Now, all these years later it remains a fan favorite, achieving landmark status as one of the Eighties’ premiere debuts.
Late ’85 saw the first line-up change within LIZZY BORDEN as late guitarist Alex Nelson (R.I.P.) replaced original guitarist Tony Matuzak. Nelson made his recorded debut on the band’s only live album to date – and subsequent VHS video release – ‘The Murderess Metal Road Show‘.
Throughout the remainder of that decade, LIZZY BORDEN continued to release one powerhouse album after another, including 1986’s ‘Menace To Society‘ and the ‘Terror Rising‘ EP in ’87. That would be the year that they would begin to reach their true commercial peak in some people’s minds, with the full-length ‘Visual Lies‘. The album marked the debut of a new guitarist, Joe Holmes, who would later go on to jam with Ozzy Osbourne.
The first single from the album, ‘Me Against The World‘, was featured in the cult film Black Roses, performed by the demonic band in the movie. In 1988, LIZZY BORDEN appeared in the Penelope Spheeris-directed rockumentary The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.
Now a household name with metalheads the world over, LIZZY BORDEN would release their fourth studio album, ‘Master Of Disguise’, via Metal Blade in 1989. Considered one of the band’s absolute best studio works, the album yielded several great, cult classic type songs that the band has frequently played live over the years.
Things would begin to slow down for LIZZY BORDEN during the Nineties due to the changing metal scene and of course, the rise of grunge. The band would go on a brief hiatus in 1996 after the departure of their two guitarists, David Philips and Corey James. Before they did so, two compilations were issued, the first was 1994’s ‘Best Of Lizzy Borden’. The other was a pairing of their two earlier EP releases as ‘Terror Rising/Give’emTheAxe’, both from Metal Blade Records.
Lizzy was not inactive during the hiatus though as he, alongside bassist Marten Andersson and drummer Joey Scott, went on to play in the band Diamond Dogs (later renamed Starwood).
1999 would see the reactivation of LIZZY BORDEN as a quartet that included the trio of Lizzy, Marten, and Joey along with guitarist Alex Nelson. This lineup returned to Metal Blade for the release of ‘Deal With The Devil‘ in 2000, previewing the music in front of 35,000 people at Wacken Open Air, followed by a worldwide tour.
Longtime fan of the band, artist and multimedia entrepreneur Todd McFarlane (best known for his creation of Spawn and stylistic revision of Spider-Man) was enlisted to capture the essence of LIZZY BORDEN for the stage show and the CD cover art.
Tragically, guitarist Alex Nelson was killed in a vehicular head-on collision in May of 2004, something the band never fully recovered from. LIZZY BORDEN would soon disband that same year. Lizzy would later comment about Nelson in a 2008 interview: “He had a connection to everybody. I’m usually very business like, and don’t like to screw around too much when we’re working. He felt it was his job to break that down, and try to have more fun. He was the only one that could break down the wall; for some reason, he had that ability with everyone. Even though I always told him he was the most talented musician I’ve ever worked with in every way, He never really thought he was all that talented. People would ask him who his influences are, and he would say ‘everything I’ve ever seen or heard.’ I used to love that quote as it was so true of all of us.”
Two years after Alex Nelson’s death, LIZZY BORDEN regrouped with new guitarist Ira Black, with whom they would release ‘Appointment With Death’ in 2007. The album also features guest appearances by George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob, KXM), Dave Meniketti (Y&T), and Corey Beaulieu (Trivium), among others. Official videos from the album would be released with “Tomorrow Never Comes” being nominated for Video Of The Year and inclusion on the Top 25 Metal Videos Of 2008 on MTV’s Headbangers Ball. Another visualizer from the album, “Under Your Skin“, premiered in April that same year, 2008.
2008 continued to be a stellar year for LIZZY BORDEN, they delivered show-stopping performances at several festivals including Sweden Rock Festival (Sweden), Kobetasonik Festival (Spain), and Bang Your Head Festival (Germany). November of that year saw them successfully tour the U.S. with Lordi and they continued the momentum on into 2009 with a European headlining trek. They headlined Day 1 of the two-day Keep It True XII Festival then returned to the U.S. for that year’s Rocklahoma and Rock Gone Wild fests, among others.
Tragedy would strike the band again in 2009 as former guitarist Corey James died in a car accident yet LIZZY BORDEN the band continued their meteoric performances at one prestigious festival after another in the ongoing years. In 2013, LIZZY BORDEN premiered its “30 Years Of American Metal” touring show, created from the ground up at that year’s 70000 Tons Of Metal, followed by a string of North American shows and European Festivals.
Now, it is 2018, of course, and we have up-to-the-minute news concerning LIZZY BORDEN! The band is poised to return with their first new studio album in 11 years, ‘My Midnight Things‘, through Metal Blade Records (Duh!) on June 15th.
With the recent premiere of an official lyric visualizer (streaming below) for the new opus’ title track, clearly, LIZZY BORDEN has created a modern album possessing the band’s classic, signature sound. Lizzy and his brother Joey co-produced ‘My Midnight Things‘ together, it was mixed by Greg Fidelman (Metallica, Black Sabbath, Adele, U2) and mastered by Tom Baker (David Bowie, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Tom Petty).
Pre-order for ‘My Midnight Things‘ is active now HERE where the record will be available in these formats:
– limited 1st edition Digipak-CD (includes bonus tracks)
– jewel case-CD
– 180g black vinyl
– clear pacific blue marbled vinyl (EU excl. – ltd. to 300 copies)
– clear burgundy marbled vinyl (EU excl. – ltd. to 200 copies)
– olive/black marbled vinyl (US excl. – ltd. to 300 copies)
– opaque cool gray marbled vinyl (US excl. – ltd. to 200 copies)
* exclusive bundles with a shirt, plus digital options are also available!