Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blog Exchange: Austin Sound Interviews Lions

Here is another installment of Blog Swap, a monthly feature in which we exchange articles with two other great Texas music blogs, Austinsound and Skyline. This month, Austinsound sent us the following interview with Lions, and we'll be sending one of our pieces to Skyline. Anyway, check it out:

Last month, the Lions rereleased their 2007 onslaught, No Generation. We took the opportunity to speak with head Lion Matt Drenik about their success in 2008, which included opening tours with the Toadies, signing with management firm Uppercut, and getting songs placed in everything from the TV shows "Californication" and "Sons of Anarchy" to "Guitar Hero." Latter in January the quartet, which now features brand new bass player Mike Sellman, will head to LA to record their next album with Matt Hyde, and are planning to finally hit a European tour in the Spring.

Austin Sound: Did you guys just get back from doing a European tour?

Matt Drenik: No, we just signed with a European agency group called Helter Skelter, and they kept trying to get us to go over there but every tour that was coming up, there was always something conflicting over here. So we're kind of here until we finish the new record.

AS: But y'all are planning on heading over there in the Spring, right?

MD: Yeah. Pretty much we're on call at this point. Whenever it comes up, they're going to bring us over to London right away. Which is cool; I've never been over there. I have no idea what to expect.

AS: How did the deal with Helter Skelter come about?

MD: Well, as I recall, we were in New York City and we belonged to a local agency at the time. We played in Brooklyn and a bunch of labels came out to see us, and one of them was Columbia. Columbia was pretty hot the band for a while, and the A&R rep that was kind of scouting us was friends with the guy that owns Helter Skelter, so he kind of turned him on to us.

AS: Are there any labels interested now?

MD: Well, first there was the Road Runner thing and that kind of fell apart, but as of right now, no. But we're also not really that interested in doing anything right now. It's a bad time to do something, especially with a big label. We've got these friends that were on Warner Brothers for a couple of years, and now they're on Reprise, and their record hasn't even come out yet. We're nervous about shit like that happening.

AS: You guys have had a lot of success in getting your songs placed on TV and in video games, so I was just wondering y'all's take on if licensing was a big part of the new musical economy.

MD: I do. I think it's one of the only ways that you can actually make money, besides playing live. The main thing about TV is it's so diverse. The "Sons of Anarchy" thing came up, and that is such a niche program about a motorcycle gang, that our music kind of fit well with it. I think for us, it gives us a lot of exposure, and for them, they get to kind of try out new bands that either production guys or musical directors like, and that's how we got hooked up with a lot of that stuff, the music directors would come out and see our band.

AS: As some advice for other bands, how do you recommend getting those deals and getting the directors out?

MD: Get a manager. We signed with a guy named Steve Hutton [of Uppercut Management] over SXSW. We already had a manager in New York at the time that was doing a lot of day to day stuff, and then once Steve kind of came on board, he had a huge roster at the time and we were kind of his baby band. I mean, he was Kid Rock's old manager. But he's managed a lot bands before, big bands and indie bands, and he's gotten us a lot of things. "Sons of Anarchy" actually contacted us about doing the theme song for the show, so we took a shot at it and didn't get it. I mean, we were doing it, but then all of the sudden they were calling us up and said "You know, Slash wants to do a version. What would you guys say about playing with Slash?" So for that two hour period, at least, we thought we were going to play a track with Slash, but then they were like "Slash doesn't want to do it. You guys aren't big enough." [Laughs] Whatever.

AS: Do y'all have a lot of control or say over what your songs get used in?

MD: We get final say on everything. If a show wants to license it, they come to us and we approve. Now, however they want to do it in the show, we don't get any approval over that. Like "Californication" used one of our songs during some blowjob scene. It works I guess. I haven't seen it yet.

AS: Do you think that in the music industry, more of the emphasis and control is tilting towards managers and figures like that?

MD: What's really weird is that all of the sudden there are these 360 deals that have been going on, and to me it's a total conflict of interests. You want your manager to fight for you. Your manager's supposed to go out there and if they offer you 2 grand, he's supposed to go, "No, 4 grand." That's his role, to just kind of be the dog. These 360 deals totally take that out, because the manager is working for the label and what's the incentive? They're basically just taking cuts out of everything, and a lot of labels are kind of going in that route. So some labels won't even touch us because we already have a management team. I think that having a good manager is as strong as anything else. You don't need a major label to get placement in television shows if your songs are good enough, or to put on a great tour. We've been touring over the past year without label support and selling everything out of our van. I don't know, if your band is good, people will probably pick up on it.

AS: Well, we hope anyway. Tell me about the re-release of No Generation. What's new with it, and why are y'all re-releasing it?

MD: Well, we knew that we were going to go in and do a new record with Matt Hyde in January, and the record had come out in October of last year and we didn't really do much with it in the sense that it was kind of getting shopped around. When we lost the deal with Road Runner, we kind of didn't know what to do with it and waited till SXSW. Then we signed the management contract, and then the UK thing happened, and then the "Guitar Hero" thing happened, and by the time everything started happening, we really hadn't done anything with the record. We thought that that there were some good things about it and some good songs, but nobody had really heard it. So we got a pretty big national PR team behind it to do the re-release. There's new artwork, and we have a new member in the band.

AS: Mike Sellman, right?

MD: Yeah, Mike. He's awesome. Basically we had a pretty bad break up with our old bass player, but it was all for the best. But we wanted to keep the band rolling full steam, and we called up our friend from Kansas City to do this Toadies run on the west coast with us. And then Mike called us up and he was a guy that I had known for a little while. He's from Cleveland and I'm from Cincinnati. He had read that we had lost a bass player and he wanted to come down and join the band, full steam! He had seen one of our songs on some show, and said, "Dude, I want to join your band right now." And he nailed the audition, so we gave him the gig. So he went up to Cleveland, packed up a U-Haul and put his motorcycle in it and he's on his way right now. It wasn't the ideal time to do what we did, what with writing the new record, but sometimes things happen and you just got to roll with it. He sings too, he's a great singer, so he'll be doing a lot of back up vocals and adding a lot more to the band than we thought.

AS: What can you tell me about the new record? When are y'all heading out to LA?

MD: We're heading out there in January, leaving on the 26th and are out there until the first week in March. We were playing the Roxy with the Toadies and we had a great show, the turnout was excellent. So Matt Hyde comes up to me back stage and says "Hey, I love your band. Come in the studio and let's do a track!" So we went to the studio on Sunset Boulevard, and it totally worked out. I mean, that guy's got a Grammy on his console! That's fucking crazy!

AS:: What would y'all say y'all are trying to do with this record?

MD: It's definitely more song oriented. We've been writing a lot quieter, if that makes sense. And then we turn it up loud. So in essence, it feels a little bit more structured and balanced than the other one. I don't know, probably like growing up a little bit, getting out of southside Trophy's hangouts, and move up a little bit. But [Hyde's] going to give a big production type sound. He's done some pretty cool shit, so I imagine it's going to be pretty pumpin'.

AS: About No Generation, to me that album really felt like a kind of call against a generational apathy or malaise.

MD: Yes! That's exactly what it's meant to be and nobody got that. It's always been disheartening to me when I would like pick up a review and somebody would talk about it being like KISS or some dumb Seventies rock thing. I really felt that all of us, in a conscious effort, were trying to speak something a little more loudly than "I want to rock and roll all night, party everyday." We're not like that, really, as guys. We're pretty mellow dudes. We get up and go to work and watch MSNBC. I'm not like sitting there partying at strip clubs or something.

AS: So with the election, do you feel like there was that kind of awakening, especially among younger people?

MD: Yeah, it was great to see a candidate come out and offer something to kind of believe in. It felt nice to kind of wake up and watch a magnificent orator inspire people to do something better. In the end, they all seem kind of the same, but that's just how it kind of works.

AS: Well with that change, is there still that kind of urgency or edge to your songwriting?

MD: Well, I think once you say something once, you don't really need to say it again. I'm kind of into that philosophy. So we said what we wanted to say, and the record was more that we felt left behind. When the Road Runner thing happened and it took two years for that to kind of play out, there were these bands that came up and all of the sudden it was like I was too old to be in the bands that were coming up. I don't know, it felt like there was this kind of generation of music that got left behind, that was like, "Where are the bands that are speaking for me?" At the time, I think a lot of bands were referencing stuff like the Stones, and our influences were like Jane's Addiction and bands we grew up listening too, and I felt that that kind of voice in music got lost a little bit. First the emo thing came about and then the modern rock radio agenda with squashed guitars and really bad vocals.

But I like pretty much everything, and I kind of have to because I book a club, and I've watched a lot of these great bands grow up. Like Trophy's was the first club to have the Black Angels, and White Denim, that was their first gig. So in that sense, I really just like to see bands be happy doing something that they really dig. But there are also some other bands that kind of just ride coat tails a little bit and don't really have a vision of their own.

40 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

these guys are some touring motherfuckers, great dudes.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most "y'all"s in any piece of journalism ever.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous samhain said...

Man. The lions are about the most generic band I can think of. Their attitude is just so... forced. I don't know. I don't dig 'em.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous samhain said...

Man. The lions are about the most generic band I can think of. Their attitude is just so... forced. I don't know. I don't dig 'em. I accidentally saw them at the Wreck Room and in TULSA once. That was weird. Like my friend/bandmate remarked "Its like watching a Zeppelin tribute band...but they're not playing any song you know..."

8:53 AM  
Anonymous samhain said...

woah. how did that happen? sorry.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish i could hear zeppelin songs that i havent heard.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lions suck.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Count how many times he says "kind of"

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm really sick of all this long-winded bullshit.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for great Zeppelin songs you havent heard, check out their album PRESENCE. Nobody gives it the credit it deserves.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous defensive listening said...

Sorry that you're tired of all this long-winded bullshit, 9:23 am. Just because you're at an all-you-can-eat buffet, doesn't mean you have to keep eating.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lost lost lost lost lost

2:14 PM  
Anonymous john locke said...

lost lost lost lost lost

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dislike every wit of your social contract theory mr. locke every wit of it!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Sir Thomas Hobbes said...

I wouldn't whipe my ass with a parchment from Locke.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i second presence. or you can wait another month or so, zoso...

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i second presence. or you can wait another month or so, zoso...

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, i haight when that happens...............................

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG U guyz new bon iver just dropped!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous daivd corti said...

where you from?

4:20 PM  
Anonymous total tool said...

maynard is doing an all-acoustic set with eyehategod, ella minnow, and the rocket summer.

@ THE DOOR (ftw)

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ total tool

OMGLAWLZ

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys gotta get some "after the jump" type business going on soon.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they sound like mix between seether and wooden shjips
it's terrible, really

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well if they toured with the toadies they must be great.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that band is pretty generric for sure. I dunno if it's the guy interviewed, but one of 'em tends bar at the Trophy Room in Austin (or did a few years ago) which is a cash-only dive bar that I like. Last time I was there they had Chuck and Buck rolling on the tv so that was nice. More interesting than the band anyway

6:47 PM  
Anonymous le chauffeur said...

big time record deals and major label signings and a&r and distro and industry speak seems to be coming back in vogue as if a "business" knowledge of the industry is indication of a successful and legitimate music group. fuck that pro sports agenda. listen up kiddos if this decade taught us anything musically: do it your fucking self and let the fucking corporate music industry fucking sink... do you really want your song to be remembered as a jingle in that horrible joke-guitar hero?

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

right on, 6:03

what a stupid interview. like anybody cares about any of that shit.

"Well, Kid Rock's really manager likes us..."

Please.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous numnuts said...

damn gurl, you gotta stinky diaper

9:07 PM  
Anonymous numnuts said...

damn gurl, you gotta stinky diaper

10:54 PM  
Anonymous numnuts said...

damn gurl, you gotta stinky diaper

10:54 PM  
Anonymous numnuts said...

damn gurl, you gotta stinky diaper

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck yeah, andrew michael. i always liked you better than your gross friends.

11:21 PM  
Anonymous grand buffet said...

hey, DL: just because you keep asking doesn't mean he has to keep answering.

seriously, just because you're all "wrapped up in the moment" doesn't mean we are.

get a volunteer editor up in this bitch.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Kid Crotch said...

Just cut to the chase - most bands named after animals suck. Zebra, Ratt, Modest Mouse, American Horse, Hairy Apes BMX, Skinny Puppy, Whitesnake, Laughing Hyenas, Eels ... we could do this all day.

Same goes for bands named after places. Asia, Kansas, Europe, Texas, Chicago, Boston, UK, Berlin, Japan, etc... they are all invited to provide suction in and around my crotch and ass-ball connection.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous samhain said...

Don't for get HORSE THE BAND. What about Animal Collective? They aren't named after any animal specific, but rather, all of them.... collectively. So they SUPER SUCK.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous samhain said...

PS. Boston rules.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous twin cheeks said...

chicago is awesome.
what about japanther? half place/half animal, pretty fucking good. it's just that most bands suck, regardless of their name.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think bands named after their lead singer suck. like michael bolton, or kenny loggins, or william hung, or tobey keith. i also don't like pretzels.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous FWuPpsshAST said...

J7L7K8 dhofmgbrkiqy, [url=http://qqxqcwsnnwit.com/]qqxqcwsnnwit[/url], [link=http://xaqafxteonkr.com/]xaqafxteonkr[/link], http://lcqpgaccdvrc.com/

12:57 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home