Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: May 28th, 2005
It was a special day for the fans of Carnival of Souls as Lead Singer Lee Cee stopped by the neighborhood to greet fans and friends. Checkout the thumbnail photos to see the enjoyment during his visit. Lee, your visit to the neighborhood was a great pleasure for us and to the fans in this area. We had a blast!!!
Nice to meet the family of Rockeyez, great looking bunch we have here.
What was the first album you bought?
It’s pretty embarrassing REO Speedwagon. This is when I was young. The next album I bought was Def Leppard. Then Queensryche "The Warning". They are the three that stand out, but Queensryche is one of my favorite bands of all times.
What was the first concert you attended?
I was never big on concerts. I mainly went to locals shows. I was in bands since I was a kid. So my first big show was Van Halen with Sammy Hagar.
What kind of kid were you in school?
Believe it or not, I was a little bit of everything. I was the captain of the soccer team. I also played on the basketball team. I was sort of a jock but at the same time I had long hair, and when I was not playing sports I had my metal gear on. It was a wired mixture. I was a 'rock ‘n’ jock'.
Were you in church or school chorus?
Yeah. The funny story is that just to keep learning about things I joined the chorus. It was like in a vocal class in high school. I just learned a little more around music. The director of arts was also the director of the city, Mr. Nelson. He heard me sing in my senior year. That is the only year I took that class. He rushed me to the theater and he wanted me to try out for a play. I never even wanted to. I got the lead over all these kids busting their ass for four years trying to get the lead part. They were all actors and whatever and I got the lead.
Did you ever play an instrument?
Yeah, I play piano, bass, and guitar.
What song sticks in your head that you played over and over again as a child?
It has to be Queensryche “Take Hold of the Flame”
What was the last CD you listen to?
A contemporary Italian singer named Andrea Bocelli.
What musician do you admire?
Jon Bon Jovi . He hung around even after his musical pretty boy rock image. He transformed himself into businessman and actor. He still is a rockin’ guy. He can still fill concerts and packs Giant stadium. He can be in a movie; he owns a football team. He can do anything he wants and that is very honorable to me.
Why the name change from Lee Cancela to Lee Cee?
Just something simple. One of the things to me... it separates people. I don’t like that even in music, the whole death metal, black metal, speed metal, rock, hard rock that’s bullshit. It’s just rock. So what, one is a little harder than the other. I hate all the categorizing. Same thing with people; people categorize everything… Black people, Spanish people, Italian, American, and Irish that’s all bullshit. Hey, man we are all just one. Lee Cee is very simple, if you like our music and you like me it’s cool.
Tell me about the band The Right that you were in during your early music career?
The Right, man... that, dude, is an interesting bunch. It was me, my boy “The Machine,” Rex Eisen (changed name to Tripp Eisen) who was the guitar player for Static-X and Kevin O’Brien (Changed name to Nash Preston) who played in Dope. It was really excellent music, great bunch of guys. Rex now came in to some legal problems and found himself behind bars. But I and The Machine have been rockin’ ever since.
Were you in any bands before The Right?
Yeah, but nothing that really stands out; a lot of amazing musicians, sometimes it’s not how good you are but how much drive you have. I am a work horse in my personal life. I am always working. The Right is where my musical career started. Becoming more focused… started playing with 'the right' kind of people.
Tell me about Savior Servant the next band you were in…
The CD is out of print and not easy to get. I got a couple copies. It’s actually a good CD. We got good reviews. I read at least 100 review and they all were excellent. We just did not have focus and the right people to move us. The Machine and I wrote all the songs and I did all the vocals. Looking back on it, one thing with Gene Hunter, he is an amazing orchestrator. He has a great ear and a great vision and if we had Gene as a producer on that album and a manager, we could have done something there.
How did you meet Gene?
In the circle of New York/New Jersey, everyone knows each other. Gene approached The Machine. They needed a guitar player at the time. So he joined the band and they needed a singer. One thing leads to another and I became the singer.
What was the first song you worked on in COS?
“Grey” was the first song we worked on. It was amazing. We had great chemistry.
Why is the CD taking so long to put out?
Basically, we had it out. We had many options. We just happen to choose this path. Simply you think you can just sign on the dotted line. You think you have a good deal it takes longer than that. We have to just sit back and wait until the decision makers, make their decision and the papers get drawn up. Like I said, we had other options and we just said this is the best for us right now. If for whatever reason comes to a point where we think it’s taking longer than we think. We will take another avenue.
Are you tired yet of people asking the Vin Diesel comparison?
Ha, I have been getting that comparison. The funny thing is that I have been shaving my head for the last ten years before Vin Diesel even became famous. So when he started to become popular like five years ago. People would say you look like that guy from the racing movie. I would say who. Then he did a lawyer movie. I still would say “who?”, then Pitch Black. I didn’t even know who he was. Then slowly but surely he became more popular. It doesn’t bother me.
Tell me about the filming of the song “Grey?”
“Grey” took us a couple of days. We did a couple different locations, one full day in a sound studio and two more days in different locations.
What is your favorite song to perform off the new CD?
“Grey” and “Break Free,” I lean more to “Break Free.”
When will the CD come out?
You know what. What month are we in?... By the end of the year. Everything has to be done. The funny thing is that the album was supposed to come out last November. I am a very impatient person, very impatient.
If you check our guestbook on rockeyez.com People are waiting to get it.
And you know what you have to strike when the coal is hot. We have a lot of fans that have been waiting patiently for this CD, and we appreciate that.
Tell me what is your feeling about each member of the COS?
The Machine: The Machine and I have a special relationship. We’ve known each other for over ten years. He is a special guy. He’s very calm, very smart, and very loyal and he is one of my best friends. I love the guy. He is the reason why I am in this band. It just shows the respect that we have mutual for each other. I would have done the same thing if I was in a band and they needed a guitar player. He would be the one. I am honored that he feels the same way. Believe it or not, when I left The Right with the issues I had. The Machine said, “If he leaves I’m gone too.” Hopefully we will write music for a long time.
Bobby Rock: He is a character. He is one of the most unique special people I ever met. He is just special from his whole life style. He is one of the cleanest people in every sense of the word you can ever meet. He is extreme from food to being spiritual. He is considerate to everything. As a drummer, he is one of the top drummers in the last fifteen years.
Damien: You know what. Damien is in the background. He is like a city that holds the glue together. Behind the scenes, he is a very intrinsical part of the band. More so than people would realize. As a person, I love the demon to death. He’s good.
Gene: The maestro. Gene is like a mad scientist. He is out of control. You have to put a leash on him. He is the master mind behind COS. He put the whole thing together. He wrote all the songs. Hopefully in the future on the second album we will all have a chance to collaborate. Actually, Gene and I have been working on some things already for future projects. The guy is a genius from the studio to musically to the business. He is the center point for the band. As a person, the guy is just great.
How often do you work out?
I work out as often as I can. My life style is so busy I just can’t work out as much as I want to. I am not a madman. I am not in the gym five days a week. One time a week, I might make it. Bobby he is insane. Bobby is deeply in to the whole body building thing.
What microphone do you use?
I use Shure. But I love Sennheiser.
Tell me what are the expectations when the CD is released?
You know what. I really don’t have any. That is not what it is about. I’m not thinking we are going to be the next whatever when we break. I know we have a great band, good bunch of people, and a great bunch of musicians. Musically you can’t ask for more. The unity and glue is there and hopefully people will see that. As long as we can sell enough copies to keep it going; Not to buy mansions or a Ferrari - just to keep it going. The music business just needs a kick in the ass because rock is dying.
Tell us what it was like playing down in Texas?
Oh man, that was the show. So far, this was the best show we’ve done. There were thousands of people all going nuts. We were co-headlining with a southern rock band Molly Hatchet and we thought man, we are out of our element here in Texas. It was a southern crowd. We were playing with a huge southern rock band Molly Hatchet. I said I hope we don’t get beer can thrown at us. Gene said, let’s just do this and rock and blow them away, and that’s the attitude we had. Actually, we blew the other band away. You had to see the reaction they got and the reaction we got wasn’t even comparable. It was just amazing. People were just nuts.
When will COS be playing live again?
We have a couple shows in mind. We do have to start playing soon because we just have to. Where itching for it and that’s what were all about playing live. So I am sure very, very soon.
All the fans in the New Jersey area want to know how come you don’t play NJ.
I know we have not played here yet. The only show we played in this area was the Tribeca Theater which was an invitation only show for industry people.
What was your feeling when 9-11 took place?
I was at work only about ten miles from the towers. It was a clear sunny day. Someone came over and said a plane ran in to the tower. I thought to myself. What an idiot the pilot must have been, how could you get that lost and confused? Then they said a second one hit the other building. Then the light went on in my head. So I looked out and saw all the smoke. I turned the TV on and the whole thing started. My whole ride home all I could see is the smoke. It was very intense. What can you feel about the people who lost their life? It is so sad it hits the heart.
What is your feeling about fan mail and autographs?
Autographs and fan mail are the way you keep in touch with people. It’s a way of giving a part of yourself to the person who loves your music. I can’t give my phone number out to 100,000 people. So fan mail is like having a conversation with a person. I like it.
What was your feeling about the exit of Stet (Howland)?
I personally like Stet a lot. Stet and I were cool. My relationship with Stet was simple. He had other commitments and we had to make our choices. It was nothing personal. He is a cool guy and a madman.
How is Bobby (Rock) fitting in with the Band?
Bobby can fit in anywhere. He could play in a symphony with a tux or play in the heaviest of rock bands. I think if we were on the road, I could workout more with him. Bobby has it down to a ‘T.’ I would just follow in his footsteps. Tell me what to do in the morning, tell me what to eat. I’m excited he is in the band.
Can you give us any background on that masked man Damien?
That’s national security!!!
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
The first two would be personal with family and friends. My third would move forward with COS. Giving rock what it needs right now. Because it needs some help. It needs COS.
I'm going to mention a word and tell me what comes to mind:
Image - Important
Ego - unnecessary
Touring - necessary
Past - New
COS - The Future
Contract - Satan
Woman - Everything
Thank you Lee, would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Yeah, I just want to thank you for doing what you’re doing. It’s very important for people like you spreading the word. Especially nowadays. I don’t like preaching, but in the last ten years, rock just died.
There is nothing exciting going on. It’s this very thing. I am not going to put down punk bands, grunge bands - because I like some of it. Basically, the problem with that is it should have been mixed in with everything that was.
For the last ten years the thing this nation does, which is wrong, is it spits out the old and brings in the new. It does not pay respect to where it originally came from. That includes the people as well. It all should have been integrated.
I hope COS can bring back the right attitude to music that’s been lost.