The Sonic Roar of Lionize

Lionize know how to challenge music conventions and deliver an exhilarating performance for all who venture out to give a listen.  One of the most rewarding discoveries on last year’s edition of the Vans Warped Tour, Lionize present a mix of rock and reggae that is staggering to behold.  Their fifth album to date, Superczar And The Vulture has been unleashed courtesy of Pentimento Music Group and is well worth checking into.  At present, Lionize is roaring across the country, touring with Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster.  We caught up with Lionize to find out more about their visionary work of sheer sonic artistry.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Lionize, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Nathan, I play guitar and sing. The band has been together almost 8 years.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
The band is based out of Silver Spring, Maryland. It’s a suburb-city of Washington, DC and about 25 smiles south of Baltimore. D.C. has a very strong Hip Hop, Go-Go, Lounge and Indie-Rock scene. Some singer songwriter stuff and Jazz. Baltimore has a great heavy scene for Rock and Metal and also Jam Band kind of acts. There’s a real eclectic feel to both Cities. I’m not sure we fit in too well in either place. I think we do better in Tempe, AZ or Grand Rapids, MI to be honest.

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Superczar and The Vulture?
I think the general theme came from a good amount of Lyrics Henry wrote, and some things I was writing about in content were based on Larger than life evil characters. Takers, Greedy super-villain types. Comic book style in nature. Everything we write could be loosely based on fact, but is usual fiction, some sort of story.

Select any two songs from Superczar and The Vulture and what inspired the lyrical content?
The songs are really up to the listener to interpret. I think explaining the “meanings” or purpose of lyrical content and theme take away from the fun part of listening, which is letting the listeners imagination find purpose.

How is the tour with Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster going and what have been some of the highlights?
The tour has been great. The guys in Maylenes are really nice and they put on a good show every night for their fans. We are winning over some of their crowd, and I think the highlights would be the amount of new and old fans coming out in good numbers to support us and check out the set each night. I guess sometimes we’re surprised that people actually are into the band to the point of traveling several nights to see us play. Can’t think of a better highlight than that.

What was the experience like on Warped Tour last summer? You definitely had a different sound that many of the other bands. Any unusual reaction from Warped attendees?
Warped Tour was incredible. We really felt embraced by the whole culture and everyone running the program. I think Warped thickens your skin on so many levels. It breaks a lot of bands down and can easily crush your spirit. It’s hot and uncomfortable and the days are long. However, we’ve been touring so long and in such garbage conditions, that Warped was more like summer camp for us. 3 hot meals and a place to sleep, it wasn’t one of the harder tours we’ve done, that’s for sure. Being different is usually our bread and butter, so all it did was help us stick out like a sore thumb. We made a slew of new fans and met other like-minded artists like Lucero, Foxy Shazam, Larry and His Flask, The Aggrolites, Against Me, Grieves and Budo. There was a whole diverse vibe to the line-up, so it was enriching. There was the usual bored- 14-year old -girl-on -the-barricade waiting for Simple Plan to start, and then the kid with the A Day To Remember Shirt who loved what we did. I don’t think we ever get a typical reaction, although often the parents that brought their kids to the ampitheatre to sit in the shade, they often enjoyed our set. That’s a good feeling.

What advice would you give a band about to attempt Warped Tour for the very first time?
I can’t really give advice like that. Everyone’s perspective is so unique. We are a band that just gets on stage and plays our set. There’s no pandering, or colorful scrims or banners, there’s not stage clothing. Just our instruments and songs. There is a whole element to the Warped culture that is flashy and neon and “shticky” and it works. A lot of kids eat that stuff up. A ton of bands had bull-horns and bunny costumes and all sorts of tricks to get people to pay attention to them, and we really just went and played our set and made a lot of new fans and friends. We didn’t blow up or become millionaires, but we made the impact the best way we could. We woke up early and helped our stage load, we stayed out of productions hair. We laid low and did our thing and that worked for us.

What could one expect from a live Lionize show?
We take turns writing a different set list every night. It goes in alphabetical order and could be anything from any of our 5 albums. This keeps it fresh for us and the crowd. We’re also a band that loves, even thrives of improvising. I would say you can’t really expect anything from the show consistently aside from that I promise it will be louder than the other bands we’re playing with.

Does Tim Sult of Clutch still play in Lionize and how did he become involved with the band? ‘
Tim plays and records with us schedule permitting. Clutch is one of the busiest and most prolific bands out there. We toured with them a bunch and have been guided through the demo process several times by Jean Paul Gaster at his home studio, and I think Jean Paul played Tim some stuff early on and he liked it. The next thing you know we brought him with us down to Jamaica to make the Space Pope album. He’s recorded with us ever since, and when we get to play live together and jam it’s pretty great.

What was it like working with J. Robbins and what did he contribute to the overall recording process?
J. Robbins is the best producer/engineer we’ve ever worked with. He’s brilliant at finding sounds and getting the best takes out of the band. Pretty much every idea he’s ever had pertaining to the songs or the production is dead-on right. He’s probably the most under-rated producer and engineer in the world. We can’t imagine working with anyone else at this point. He has a knack for arrangements, melody and over-all taste that is priceless.

If Lionize could open for any band either now or in the past, what band would it be and why?
Zeppelin, Sabbath, ZZ Top, Parliment, The Meters. We’ve been lucky enough to already have opened for Clutch, Bad Brains, Steel Pulse, The Wailers and a few more that were on that list.

What’s up next for Lionize?
We’re going to go on another tour again in April which we will announce soon. Then a rad summer will be announced after that, then Europe, and another incredible tour to round out ’12. Stay tuned, it’s going to be an amazing year.

Any final words of wisdom?
Please keep buying music.

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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