Monday, October 09, 2006

Austin Artist: LIONS

"They drop the pedal and provide a full-frontal assault with psychedelic-tinged rock that will blow you away." That's what the Austinist had to say about LIONS, the four-piece rock and roll group from Austin, TX. What I remember thinking after seeing them live for the first time was that it felt like someone had punched me in the face. For the past year and a half LIONS have been taking their brand of rock and roll to clubs all over the state of Texas and beyond, while also releasing their debut EP titled Volume One and performing at the SXSX music conference. Formed from the sudden breakup of former Austin band The Good Looks, LIONS are quickly planting their own seed and stomping into new territory.

I recently sat down with Matt (vocals, guitar) and Trev (bass) to get a better idea of what LIONS is all about..

I have seen the term 'metal' used a few times to describe the band, is that accurate?

M: No, we're a very spirited rock & roll band that has infuences in the 70's, as well as current music. Some people throw the term 'metal' around with us, but that's kind of shaming to metal music because we don't sound like Slayer or Mastadon or similar bands, because we're rock & roll and not metal. Our guitars are heavy and distorted, and that's probably why that term pops up to describe our sound.

How was the band formed?

T: Matt and I have been friends for a while. When he was in The Good Looks I met Mark of The Rockland Eagles and I told him that I was a bass player, soon after that we played a few shows just as a side project, with Matt Mark and I. Soon after The Good Looks broke up Matt called me, and said that he and Jake, the drummer of The Good Looks, were starting something new. I hadn't met Austin, our guitarist, prior to that.

M: Austin's girlfriend had worked with my previous band, and all I really knew about him at the time was that he was this weirdo guitar player.

T: Yeah his approach is very mathy and avant-guard, which is great for the band because he comes from a perspective that is really out there and he brings it into a rock context, which works really well.

So how did you go about forming your sound?

M: It all came together really quickly. We had this show with Fu Manchu, and that was our first show, and it was within a three-week period when we had formed the band to when we had the show. So we didn't have much time to evaluate the songs we had created, so at that point we all just said "Fuck it. This sounds cool, let's do it." In fact we got into SXSW on the strength of our live show, we didn't even have a record out at that point. We recorded a live show that we did and sent that into them, and they accepted us just on the strength of that. That was awesome, we gained a lot of momentum as a band from that experience.

You seemed to gain a following in Austin pretty quickly..

M: It's a good thing if you can keep your ground and not try to be more than what you are. There are many bands in town that do well, but they're not pretending to be living some posh rock & roll cliché lifestyle. We go on tours and stuff but we're regular people with normal jobs, and we don't try to be any bigger than what we are which is a local band that's doing well and are able to go on tour and play good shows with good bands.

What has touring been like?

T: It's a lot of fun but also a lot of work. There's always long stretches of road and rough moments, but it's always a rush to go to a new city and perform in front of a bunch of new people and have them get off on it.

M: There's always ups and downs out on the road, for any band. Like once we played a great show in Boston to a big crowd and sold a bunch of CDs and merch, and then drove through to Ohio to play a gig and the there was hardly a crowd there. We went to Jackson, Mississippi and played a crazy show at a really cool venue that was jam-packed, and the crowd was really intense. Some guy from Jackson saw us at SXSW and he was apparently like a town crier or something, and he brought out all these crazy rockers who were screaming in our faces throughout the entire show and it was completely insane. They had booze everywhere out on the bar and they had all these weird couches and we ended up just crashing in the club. It was nuts. Shows like that really make it worthwhile. We have some cool video from that show that we might put out at some point.

What are your thoughts on the music scene in Austin?

T: I've only been here for a few years, but my perception of the scene is that people who are involved in it, both fans and artists, these people get a lot of excitement and inspiration from it. Musicians can go out pretty much any night of the week and see another band or artist perform and then take those influences and experiences and think about them and gain inspiration from that. All of the good things that are happening musically just continue to push the scene forward.

M: There has been an influx of great musicians and bands in Austin over the past few years, and people here don't really care what the print press has to say about music, because there is so much going on in Austin that people can go find themselves. Ghostland Observatory is a good example. They haven't gotten much written exposure, not even locally, but the other night I had to wait in line for 45 minutes to get in the door, and I was on the guest list. I'm telling you man, I've been here for six years and I've never seen such pandemonium at Emo's. There were people walking up and down the sidewalk holding their fingers in the air trying to score tickets like it was a fucking Grateful Dead concert or something. Eventually the big print press in town like The Chronicle are going to have to come to terms with the fact that there are many good bands around who are working hard and being successful because the people of Austin who are into the music scene have a strong voice, and are discovering other ways of finding out what's really happening. The ease of finding bands and music through the internet has been great for local artists and the Austin music scene in general. First because it's so much easier to find than it used to be, and also because now people can make their own decision about a band without having deal with any organization's agenda, be it political or pressure from advertisers or whatever.

What's in store for the band over the next few months?

M: We're doing a tour in California and the pacific northwest pretty soon and then we'll be working on the new album between doing a few regional dates, and then a big New Year's eve show in Austin. It feels great to be able to tour right now, because we're doing well enough to be able to finance everything and people really embrace us as a live band. It's important for us right now to get out there and just do it, as opposed to being in a studio writing songs.

mp3: Movement
mp3: Come Around

LIONS will be doing a live recording this Saturday October 14th at the Red Eyed Fly, and fellow Austin bands White Denim and the Highdivers will be opening the show. If you're in or near Austin and are looking to find a good show this weekend, look no further.

LIONS on tour:
Oct 14 2006 - Red Eyed Fly Austin, TX
Oct 17 2006 - Albuquerque, NM
Oct 18 2006 - Tucson, AZ
Oct 20 2006 - Los Angeles, CA
Oct 21 2006 - San Diego, CA
Oct 22 2006 - Santa Cruz, CA
Oct 23 2006 - San Francisco, CA
Oct 25 2006 - Reno, NV
Oct 26 2006 - Sacramento, CA
Oct 27 2006 - San Francisco, CA
Oct 28 2006 - Portland, OR
Oct 30 2006 - Seattle, WA
Nov 2 2006 - Denver, CO
Nov 4 2006 - Wichita, KS
Nov 16 2006 - Dallas, TX
Nov 17 2006 - OKC, OK
Dec 16 2006 - Houston, TX
Dec 31 2006 - Austin, TX

LIONS on MySpace:


stiggity said...

I have seen LIONS a few times and am fortunate enough to own their EP and must say that they are BY FAR, one of the best bands I have heard/seen in a long time. And this is coming from someone in Austin, where theres about a thousand differnet bands perfoming weekly and has definitely seen his fair share. LIONS puts on a GREAT live show, and if anyone is remotely close to one of the cities where they are touring and doesn't go to their show, you're an idiot. serisouly.

Ekko said...

Interesting post.

Mr. Curiosity said...

Thanks for the feedback. Always appreciated.