Singer/guitarist Torsten Steel – Laced In Lust
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Roberto at Rockshots Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Rockshots Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Live pictures of the band taken by: Outback Bob Photography and Rock Tsar Photography
From Adelaide, Australia comes Laced In Lust which released their debut album FIRST BITE this year (2021). I had the pleasure to talk to the band’s singer/guitarist Torsten Steel about their past and present, the recording process of the album, and what it was like to tour with bands like Crashdiet, Gloryhammer, Tygers Of Pan Tang, and Status Quo. We also touched on the band’s work with Rockshots Records. If you are a fan of bands like Airbourne, Scorpions, and Status Quo, this might appeal to you. Read on to see what Steel had to say…..
Hi Torsten, thanks for taking this interview. I hope both you and the rest of the band are doing well and feeling healthy.
Thanks for having me.
Before we kick off anything, what’s the status regarding the pandemic in Australia right now?
It’s frustrating at best over here. You probably have seen things in the news over in Europe about what’s happening in Australia, especially with countries like Poland having their Ministers condemning our government and it’s treatment of people. Pretty much how it stands is, every state has its own rules, so we have one state that’s locked itself out to everyone, our state has a select few states that can come in, and if we leave, we can’t get back in from those selected states, and others have been locked down for the longest in the world such as Melbourne (VIC). In Adelaide (SA) we have had no cases in the community for such a long time, but yet we still have to wear masks everywhere, we are not allowed to consume alcohol standing up and we are not allowed to dance, as apparently you get COVID if you dance.
They are making vaccines mandatory for certain sectors which is causing major loss of jobs, fear, uncertainty, fines and segregation of people, which in history we have been trying to fight. Venues and small businesses are dying or are closed, making shows and tours very hard or impossible, and every week rules keep changing with new directions because our ministers keep resigning as the Government’s Anti-Corruption Department keep finding evidence of the Australian state governments being corrupt. We lock down over one case of COVID and pretend like it’s worse than Europe had to deal with. Not to mention, we have not been able to leave the country in almost 2 years and so many Australians have been stuck overseas that could never come home as the Australian Government locked its citizens out.
Lets take it back to the beginning, when and where and by whom was Laced In Lust formed?
September 2011 in Adelaide, SA. It was started by myself (Torsten), Russell and Vivian.
I read that the band entered a competition called Rocking Angel Bourbon, what was that?
It was Battle of the Bands that was supported by an Australian Liquor Company. We won that and it’s helped fund our first single, “Fire”.
How did the media respond to “Fire” back in 2012?
We were quite underground then haha, but for the little independent effort we put in, quite a bit. We got a few reviews that rated it 3.5/5 and 4/5. We got rated the best new sleaze rock band of 2012 from Sleaze Roxx and got 2 distribution deals with one being in Australia and one in Japan.
Did the single gain fans and live show opportunities to the band?
Yes. We started getting sold out shows in our home town and then we started touring Australia very hard. By 2013 we were already being asked to headline shows or be a part of festivals in other states.
Laced In Lust is described as a sleazy/status quo rock band, how do you feel about that?
We do have a lot of ’70’s glam influence in the music and we play a lot of blues/boogie rock in some of our songs. So, I do agree with that BUT, only Quo from 1972-76 when they played really hard rock. Also, Quo and D-A-D are my favorite bands so I’m guessing that has relayed into the songs too.
Would you like to describe what kind of music the band plays?
Unadulterated Hard Glam Rock
Where does the band name come from and who came up with it?
From myself, Russell and Vivian. We pretty much had the “Laced In” part and then Lust stuck as it was kind of the views/lifestyle of us at that time with girls and experiences. It also captures the dirty sleazy side of the music.
In 2014 the EP, FIRING LINES, came out and was followed by the 2016’s three-track single “Party’s Over”. How did critics and media respond?
FIRING LINES didn’t do that great. It was our worst rated so far but the song “Firing Lines” spent 2 weeks in the Charts at No.8 here. That EP was us really getting into the ’70’s Glam instead of the ’80’s. It also showed a great growth in song writing with structures, time changes everywhere and also showed the dynamics of the band having blues, hard rock, punk and even a power ballad on it. The EP got us a lot of new followers but the glam supporters still liked it but wanted “Fire Part 2”, haha. It still was not a failure though as we toured Europe for the first time with it, toured Australia another 3 times and were pulling 250 people in our home town shows too. With 2016’s PARTY’S OVER EP, we went straight back to hard glam rock. It straight away got rated better and got us to Europe the 2nd time, but this time playing arenas.
Has the band toured a lot in Australia?
We have toured Australia 5 times since 2012, with the last of those tours being in 2014. Afterwards we focused on the European market.
In Europe you played with Crashdiet, Fear Factory, Gloryhammer and Tygers of Pan Tang. What was it like to perform with those acts? Do you have any favorite shows?
Actually, the Crashdiet, Fear Factory and Gloryhammer shows were in Australia so I can’t really rate them then, haha. But out of those bands I would still put Tygers of Pan Tang as our favorite. We had a sold-out show with them in Belgium. Not only are they already a great band, but so down-to-earth and really easy to get on with. I really hope we get a chance to jump back on with them again someday.
How was it to open for the legendary Status Quo in Switzerland? What did the Status Quo fans think of Laced In Lust?
I think I felt every emotion possible, haha. I mean at first, we still thought it was a joke, haha. When we started this band, we never thought we’d play with someone like Quo and again, they’re my favorite band so I’m even more shocked. We played a pretty hard rocking set, a little on the faster side too but had great response from the crowd. Some of Quo even watched us and gave us good feedback too. The stadium also had this “Clap O-Meter” and we got a very high noise level, something like 8.5/10. Quo ended up getting a 9/10 but Rossi spent half the night telling people to be louder, haha. Also, we had a pretty good write-up after the show, so I was happy.
What do you think of touring in Europe? Do you like it over here?
YES!!! Big time. I mean apart from the best food, beer, culture, girls, scenery, and history, we’re also all European citizens with family over there, so it’s also a great time to see family. I’m German, Oopie’s Scottish and Nick’s Latvian.
What was the best part with touring Europe?
I think it’s meeting new people and fans. We have some people to this day that are still so close to us.
Do the members have any artists or bands in common that you’re inspired by?
So many. Pretty much everything from the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s. But to name some: D-A-D, The Helicopters, Rolling Stones, Motley Crue, Led Zeppelin, Status Quo, Scorpions, The Casanovas…the list goes on and on.
Do all of the members live in Adelaide today?
Is the band big in Australia, do you have a strong fanbase in your country?
Back when we were touring, yes. These days we’re big in our home city of Adelaide and known in other states but in no way a heavy weight. But when we tour the other states again I’ll let you know. 😉
In 2018 the band opened for Swedish act Hardcore Superstar in Adelaide. How was that, did you meet the guys in HCSS?
Oh this story is a difficult one for Laced In Lust…So yes, we were the main support for HCSS in Adelaide. Unfortunately, our ex-lead guitarist never showed up for the show! So I happened to be bass player for a pirate metal group called Lagerstein, from Brisbane, Australia. We were on tour and Laced In Lust and Lagerstein had just played the night before in Adelaide and were hanging out for a day off at my parent’s house and were going to come down later and watch us and HCSS. Well, with Laced In Lust without a guitarist I was forced to replace Laced In Lust on the bill with Lagerstein. At the end of the day, I was the only one to play and meet them, but it wasn’t much more than a “hello” and “great show guys” type of thing. It was a wicked show but was not the best night for Laced In Lust, who then took some time away from each other after that show.
Debut album FIRST BITE
When did the band start to work on material to FIRST BITE?
The first new single was written and recorded in late 2017 and was due to come out in 2018 sometime, but after the drama with the HCSS show, it never did. Otherwise, late 2018 is when I wrote all the new songs. I then got the band back together, replaced the lead guitarist with Nick Robinson and then flew back to Adelaide as I wasn’t living there at the time and we recorded the album in 2 weeks all together in 2019.
Who writes the music and who writes the lyrics? What are the lyrics about on FIRST BITE?
Mostly written by myself but on some of the older songs, Vivian, the original guitarist wrote a couple and collaborated with me. It’s no concept album, so every song is completely its own. Some are about girls and/or relationships, some about touring, money and lies. Others about losing close friends or loved ones to drugs or alcohol, some just about rocking out or being in trouble with the police. So overall just the basic things that happen or around people every day
Have you used any of the songs on the previously released singles on FIRST BITE?
Yes, we have. We felt like we had some good tunes on the first couple of releases that people have never heard before. Now with a record label behind us that are putting the music out there, we saw that as a good opportunity to get those songs out there to new listeners
Have you done any work on the older songs you used, like remixed them or something?
Yes. “Fire” and “On Parole” were completely re-recorded from scratch again as the original recordings weren’t up to standard. Any other songs we used e.g., “Lipservice” were all completely remastered. They were also tinkered with as I re-sung some parts or we added new guitar parts in that we play live but never recorded or took parts out that weren’t mixed right or thought just didn’t need to be there.
Since you used songs that date back to the first single, could FIRST BITE be considered as a soundtrack to the band’s history until today?
Actually…yes. Technically it’s a best of, haha But yeah, there’s tracks from 2012 to 2021 on there.
Why did you choose “Save Me (L.I.L Woman)” as the first single/lyric video?
“Save Me (L.I.L.Woman)” actually was meant to be the single that was to be released in 2018. So, it made sense to launch that first and get momentum first to get more hype on the real singles we really wanted to focus on which were “Hard In This Town” and “Hot Tonight”. But also, as we had video clips to shoot for “Hard In This Town” and “Hot Tonight” but couldn’t as I was stuck in another state not able to come back due to COVID. So, it made it the only viable way to launch a single with a lyric video till I could get through the border.
Save Me (L.I.L. Woman) – Official Lyric Video
The album contains 14 songs and clocks in on around 60 minutes which is pretty long. Was it your intention to make a long album or was it just a coincidence?
At the time of recording, I was the only official member of Laced In Lust; everyone had left 6 months after that HCSS show and I took a break. So when I got the record deal, I called up the old guys and Nick and asked if they could help me record the album and they said yes. At that stage I thought that once I had got it complete, I would finish Laced In Lust up, so I wanted to put everything we had recorded into this album as a kind of best of/memory thing as if there was going to be no more. Our fans and ourselves would then have something to hold on to. Plus, we thought bands like Led Zeppelin with PHYSICAL GRAFFITI, had 15 songs and many gatefolds did too. So, if we released it vinyl at some stage, we could do the same. Too bad that so many reviews have given us a hard time about it obviously showing that they don’t understand the story behind it or even album histories in general. I mean you don’t complain when you get a 24 pack of toilet paper for the same price as a 12 now do you? haha.
Hard in this Town (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
What are the longest songs “Hot Tonight” (5.32) and “Black Heart Murder” (5.21) about?
“Hot Tonight” was about the time I was in Lagerstein. One of the members came home drunk one night and had a very drunken talk with me at 4am about this girl he was seeing…but he was also seeing about 6 other girls at the same time too, haha. This girl had packed up and left her home, which I think was France or Spain or something to live with him in Australia. Well, he felt bad about the other 6 girls so I told him “it’s not about you mate, it’s about her, you can’t ruin her life”. So, when I had left Lagerstein to get Laced In Lust back on road again I was sitting there one day having a beer in the sun and just started laughing about that time, thinking about everything. The song was done in about 30 mins.
“Black Heart Murder” was actually about my fiancé. She had like a fake reddish/purple hair back then. I was in a long-term relationship that wasn’t going well and then I came across this girl. I fell for her and it pretty much was about all the feelings you feel, plus what you want but still trying to keep a moral compass intact.
Was the order of the songs anything you had in mind? You put a ballad as fourth song and the album also ends with a ballad.
Haha, I didn’t even think number 4 (“Your Name”) was even a ballad, I thought it was more of a rock n’ roll style song that Dogs D’Amour or Michael Monroe do. We put it in 4th just to break up the album a bit so you just don’t have one song the whole album like so many band’s sound like these days. With track 14 (“Sun Song”) at the end, it was a last-minute addition so it slotted in there, plus most people skip the power ballad so now you can skip back to the first song again, haha. But really, we felt like the mood and everything of the album that it slotted in really nicely there.
Why the title FIRST BITE and who came up with it?
Nick was the one who named it and I accepted it. Nick was in a band called Love Cream; they were Steel Panther but better…check them out! But their first and only album was FIRST TASTE, so he thought of FIRST BITE as 50% joke, 50% being real. The bite works for our snake logo too. I just laughed at it and thought it would be an internal band joke to keep the theme running, haha.
Who did the cover artwork to the album? Are you happy with it?
My fiancé Emma made it and yes, everyone always compliments it. I mean it gets rated in reviews higher than the music does half the time, hahaha
What do you think of the following words which can be read in the info sheet – “With some major sleaze elements to hold true to the genre, but also have some just good old Aussie rock n roll tones with a slice of dirty blues” – does that reflect the essence of the band?
To a tee!
The info sheet also say that fans of Airbourne, Scorpions and Status Quo are going to like your music. Do you agree with that?
I’d say yes. I would only put D-A-D in there as I feel out of all the bands, we are most like D-A-D with sound and writing.
Hot Tonight (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)
Which type of fan represents the majority of your fanbase? Is it the general rocker, the party metal fan, or hard rockers?
Mmm, very hard to say. I have to say we have one of the most open fanbases I’ve seen from any bands going around these days. We played a show about 6 weeks ago in Adelaide and the fans are from 50-70 year old’s who just love the old school rock and kids all the way down to 18 and younger if an all ages is allowed. The style of our music is open and friendly to all. We had trash metal show up, grunge, rock, glam and hip hop. So, if I had to say the common interest was just hard rock.
Its been a while since FIRST BITE was released. Have you read any reviews of it yet and what have critics and media have to say about it?
Yes, we’ve had heaps! Overall, 7.5/10 is the score. We had some give 10/10 and say best band in the last 20 years, we had some 6/10 and say great background noise, haha. I mean its subjective like anything, and some people who reviewed us openly say they hate glam rock and it should die, but they review us and of course it isn’t going to be good. We also had some report things that aren’t even true on the album like, one guy said 2 songs don’t have electric guitar on the album and thought it was stupid and gave us a bad score, hahaha. I can tell you there’s electric guitar on all tracks. So, you also have the element of some people who don’t even know what they’re talking about living in mummies’ basement, jerking off every day give an opinion on something they don’t care for, just there quick easy 50 Euros and a free CD they toss up on eBay, haha. Overall, we have had really great feedback from fans, great media support and a No.8 Chart in America with “Hard In This Town” for us that speaks more than most of these reviews.
Does the band care about what critics are writing and saying about you?
Some members yes and some members no. No one likes to see someone say something not nice about you, but the truth is not everyone will like your music and they will have an opinion. I’ve been an executive chef for some of the biggest hotel chains in the world and everyday one person out of your 150 customers will say “the food’s too salty or the steak was too chewy”. They were the only ones out of 150 so no, you don’t listen and you treat it like water off a duck’s back. We only had really about 4 bad reviews, 30 7.5/10 roughly and about another 5 10/10’s. Only about 4 or 5 people actually really gave proper feedback that explained in detail there break down in a professional way. Those ones you do take a little from. Otherwise, the only thing that pretty much stopped everyone from giving 8.5 which we do take something from is the album was too long, but I explained that part earlier.
Studio and production
Where did you record the album and how long did it take to get the album fully ready?
At Against the Grain Studios in Adelaide with Andy Kite as our main man behind the desk. It took roughly 2.5 weeks to be recorded and fully mixed.
You used that studio before, what makes it special?
Yes and no. We have used Andy Kite since day one. He’s done every release to date. He is Adelaide’s Best Metal engineer and we’re one of his lightest bands, haha. We have had this special bond right from the start, he had been so helpful with ideas, support and knowledge and the trust between both parties is just next level, not to mention he does an amazing job with everything. The original place he had was an old Furnace that used to burn the old medical waste from the hospitals here. It’s been defunct for over 50 years and he turned the basement into a recording studio, it really was unique. The album was recorded in his brand-new studio which was our first time somewhere new. It still was really good, but it’s always hard to work with a new room, finding the new room sounds and understanding the vocals again in different sounding booths.
Can you tell me a little more about Andy Kite?
Well, in 2012 we wanted to do our first single “Fire” and we were on the hunt for an engineer. We have some pretty good engineers down here, let me say. We asked a lot of others bands looked around and researched and this guy keep popping up being a specialist of metal music, and also was a singer in a metal band too. We thought he might be the guy to help with the hair metal idea. We hit him up and since then we’ve been with him ever since.
Were any of the members part of the mixing and mastering process?
Myself and Andy were the two most involved in the mixing process, but Nick and Oopie put quite a bit of effort in also. With the mastering we had a huge guy lined up but just couldn’t afford it at the last minute and had to make deadlines, so Andy also mastered it for us.
Label and management
When did you first get in contact with Rockshots Records?
I think it was 2019.
Were there many labels that showed interest in the band and wanted to sign a deal?
Yes, there was three interested; some big ones too.
What made you ink a deal with RR?
The contract was far better than the others and the manager there was far more approachable than the others.
Do you see any difficulties in the fact that the band are in Australia and RR in Italy?
Before COVID, no. Now a little, but it’s no one’s fault. We had planned to be over in Europe touring hardcore with RR support. But we’ve now spent that time stuck here and not being able to use that resource. Also, most labels in Europe don’t cover Australia as there’s no really support for rock industry down here for them to invest in, so again we haven’t been able to utilized RR to its fullest as a band as were stuck in COVID prison down here.
Are you happy with the work RR have put into the band and FIRST BITE so far?
Yes very, and we hope that a 2nd album can be on the cards with them too.
Beside CD and download is the album going to be released on vinyl as well?
I would love for that to happen, but that is something I haven’t spoke to the label about and or vice versa.
Way more than CD, yes.
Is RR releasing the album worldwide or only in Europe?
They have released it worldwide. I know digitally it’s worldwide and physically I think Japan, UK, Europe and I think maybe US. Not sure with the last one.
What are the pros with working with a smaller label like RR?
Having a great learning curve, this is all new to us so there’ve been quite helpful, RR have also got us noticed and have put Laced In Lust on a professional level with a lot of focus on us, which I feel a larger label would just send you off with some ultra-heavy work load with silly time limits and if you fall well…next! This pandemic has also been a real burden for labels and bands alike, so I feel with RR it was easier to adjust timelines with them as so much was changing from our country to Europe. The biggest one for me also was we still own the rights to our music which some of the bigger labels what to take that from you.
Does the band currently work with any booking agency?
Now and then
It can be read that Oopie plays bass but that you also got a touring bass player in Caleb Wynne. Why cant Oopie play live?
Oopie’s conditions on coming back to Laced In Lust was that he’ll always be here to help us but can’t commit to tours any more, especially leaving Australia for tours, so we had to go and find someone to fill that boat.
The band’s website looks really great, who runs it?
Oh, thank you! That’s me, haha.
The band is also active on Facebook and Instagram, who runs those accounts?
Currently, the band has about 2,300 followers on Facebook. Do you think the release of FIRST BITE is going to increase that amount?
Yes, I mean it can only go up and it has by about 150 since then.
The band haven’t added any tour dates at the moment, is it the pandemic holding you back?
Completely. We’ve had one show in 2 years. Everything just gets canceled, and the only show we have done you had to be seated with reduced capacities. Also, we can’t leave Adelaide, as all the other cities close by are locked down and we can’t leave the country to play in Europe. We’re screwed from both sides.
How has the pandemic affected you guys?
Not as bad as others that’s for sure but still affected. The band can’t tour and the business can’t make money to live on. I’m a chef, and hospitality has taken a dreadful hit too. At one stage I was working interstate and the borders got shut so I was stuck with no job in another state from family, band and home for 6 months, so that was rough!
The band shot a video to “Hand In This Town”. How was it to shoot a video in these days? The video’s got 80,000 hits so far, congrats!
We found it quite easy. I mean it’s a bloody work out and you sweat profusely. After every song you’re out of breath but it’s fun. Again, Andy Kite is the director of the videos from Against the Grain Studios. Andy’s wife Beck is the video and media arm of Against the Grain Studios. Beck’s worked on some major films like CATS, the Broadway DVD. She knows what’s she’s doing. So, between them and us it all goes pretty smoothly. Beck does all the editing which is the hardest and we just say yes or no to videos she sends across afterwards. Not much is actually needed from the band except the rock up and give it all you got. Yeah cheers up to 87k on “Hard In This Town” and 73k on “Hot Tonight”.
What can I expect to experience if I go and see Laced In Lust live in action?
Live we are one of the most energetic bands on stage and its always a huge party!
How eager is the band to head out on the road, meet the fans, and play the new songs live?
Majorly! It’s sometimes hard to keep the morale up as it seems there’s no end in sight over the last 2 years but we really want to bust that can open and get back out there.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy FIRST BITE?
1) You need party music? Look no further
2) You’re a lover of hard/glam rock
3) To learn the words for when we come to a town near you
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Laced In Lust yet?
If you’re a lover of classic hard rock, but like your essence of Glam/Sleaze rock with a novel touch of Australia, then look no further than 14 tracks for bang for your buck that creates nothing but a good time!