LAST IN LINE singer Andrew Freeman spoke to the "Ouch You're On My Hair" podcast about the band's upcoming sophomore album, tentatively due in early 2019. Asked if the new LAST IN LINE material represents a musical progression from the group's 2016 debut, "Heavy Crown", Freeman said: "There's a progression, for sure. Jimmy's [Bain, bass] not there now, which is a big change for us. He was a big contributor. There was stuff that we wrote with him and stuff that we wrote without him; some of the song ideas were his. And we worked really well as a four-piece writing these songs together; it was really cohesive, so everything worked really well together. And now we have Phil [Soussan as Jimmy's replacement]. And Phil's been great too. Phil's a little more of a noodler than Jimmy was, where Jimmy was a little more of a just sit-in-the-pocket, solid bass player. But Phil is an accomplished audio engineer, which is really nice to have, because he's really good with his tone. So it's definitely an asset; it's just a little different."
Bain, drummer Vinny Appice and guitarist Vivian Campbell were part of the original DIO lineup which reunited in 2012 alongside Freeman to launch LAST IN LINE.
When LAST IN LINE formed, the intent was to celebrate Ronnie James Dio's early work by reuniting the members of the original DIO lineup. After playing shows that featured a setlist composed exclusively of material from the first three DIO albums, the band decided to move forward and create new music in a similar vein.
According to Freeman, some of the songs that will appear on LAST IN LINE's next album will be "a little more progressive" than those on the band's first effort. "Some of 'em are right in the vein of the 'Heavy Crown' record, but it's definitely evolving into our own thing, where it's not really 'what would Ronnie do?' sort of thing. Honestly, I'm trying to step away from that a little bit. We have an audience that wants to hear the 'Stand Up And Shout's and the 'Holy Diver's and all that stuff. But I think it comes to a point where, is it imitation or is it really what you're feeling? So some of the songs are… they're barnburners and they're really good, rocking songs, but there's some stuff on there that's a little more progressive. Some of it's a little too progressive for my taste, honestly, but we're not done yet, so I'll still get my licks in there [laughs] and try to make it a little different."
After playing sporadic live shows, including a couple of short tours, over the course of the last two years, LAST IN LINE has established "a broad audience now," according to Freeman, which includes more than "just the former DIO fans. We have our own fans now, and we also draw from the whole DEF LEPPARD thing as well," he said. "The LEPPARD fans who came over from there to see us, a lot of them don't even know what DIO was; they just know Vivian from LEPPARD."
But Freeman acknowledges that a certain segment of the DIO fanbase will never fully embrace him as the new voice of the songs that, to some extent, defined the hard rock scene of the 1980s.
"Some people really dug it and some people hated it, because I'm not Ronnie, and I'm not gonna be and I don't try to be," he said. "And the [other] guys [in LAST IN LINE] don't want that. It's not so much, 'Oh, it's these three legendary musicians and this new guy,' it's more just like… We work together; it's a band."
Andrew admitted that the DIO comparisons will likely always be there for LAST IN LINE, which isn't entirely a bad thing. "We're never gonna get out of the shadow of that — and I don't really want to, because it's nice to have that back catalogue of songs [to perform live]," he said. "These guys wrote some fantastic songs [while in DIO]. But now it's becoming to where everybody's a little more interested in the material we're working on now, because the new material's great, and we love doing it. There's gotta be a balance, I guess."
Once the second LAST IN LINE album is released, fans should expect to hear more non-DIO material performed live, although Freeman understands that there are classic tracks that he and his bandmates will always have to play.
"We really tried to, with the first album, to really just kind of… The songs needed to stand up to the back catalogue," he said. "You can't expect for people to just jump onboard; it has to be a good song. And I don't love the whole album, but I do love a lot of it. And there's songs that we don't play live that I wish we did that I really, really like. But a lot of times, with a band like this, you're only gonna be able to play two or three songs from a new record live, and I think we have two or three pretty decent songs that we do live and we can swap out as well. But it's becoming songs like 'Starmarker' and 'Devil In Me', they're becoming staples — we have to do those songs; we can't not do those songs. And I love that. I'm playing a song I wrote — 'Devil In Me' — next to 'Holy Diver'. It's kind of mindblowing for me. And to see people singing [the newer] songs with as much aggression as they would sing the DIO stuff, it's pretty crazy."
LAST IN LINE's sophomore album is once again being produced by former DIO and current FOREIGNER bassist Jeff Pilson.
In addition to Campbell, Soussan, Appice and Freeman, LAST IN LINE's current lineup includes keyboardist Erik Norlander (ASIA FEATURING JOHN PAYNE, DUKES OF THE ORIENT).
Bain passed away in January 2016 at the age of 68. He was reportedly suffering from lung cancer at the time of his death.