Living With Lions

author PP date 14/09/11

"Holy Shit" is one of the best records this year, and so when Living With Lions were announced as a support band to the Comeback Kid show in Denmark, we were quick to arrange an interview with the guys. Chase and new vocalist Stu (from Misery Signals) were kind to sit down with me and answer a few questions about the band, the change of vocalists, the controversy of their artwork, and much more. Read on to find out what they had to say. What's new in Living With Lions?
Chase: Coming over to Europe [laughs]

Stu: Yeah, this tour pretty much.

Chase: First time over in Europe, first time trying good beer. It's been probably one of the funnest tours so far. We've had lots of cool adventures. It's always fun going to a new place that you've never been, because you don't really know what to expect. Stu's been here a million times, but it's a fresh group of people so. You played at Hevy Music Fest last Sunday. That was your first show in Europe, ever?
Stu: Second technically.

Chase: The first real show, really. So did the response over there surprise you at all, and how have the rest of the European crowds been treating you so far?

Chase: Yeah, it was surprising. We've never been here before, so you don't really know what to expect. We were hoping that Hevy Fest would be a fun time, we heard it was a cool festival and there are lots of cool bands playing that day. It just ended up being really fun, and it was a sweet way of kicking everything off.

Stu: Yeah, definitely. Being a sort of young band that doesn't have any releases over here really, our new record's not out here yet. It was a really positive surprise for the festival to go over that well.

Chase: We had tons of friends there, too, so that was cool. Hanging out with friends on the other side of the world, and the rest of the UK was really good as well. London was really cool, and Leeds was really, really fun. The rioting was a little insane. We caught the butt end of it. That was a little insane. You guys have a new album out called "Holy Shit". And the title and the artwork had some controversy over in Canada, and I know you guys have talked about this a lot already, but if you could still talk us through here, the Danish readers probably don't know much about it.
Chase: Well, basically there's an arts funding program called Factor, and they supply Canadian artists with funding to help make their records and make their artwork, and stuff like that. We received some money from them, pretty much every Canadian band does when you get to a certain point. We made our record, and the subject matter was maybe a little touchy for some people, and certain members of our parliament found out about it, and were offended by it, and they chose to make an example of us. So yeah, that was kind of it. Once the government gets a hold of it, and makes a big deal out of it, it kind of blows up. So it became a big issue.

Stu: They just asked us to change the artwork, and we basically refused. So in turn they asked us to return the money that had been put forth to the record, earlier than it would've been. And we recalled the records that we released in Canada, to be released without the Factor acknowledgement on them. What's the inspiration behind the title? The record itself doesn't really sound like it's dealing with religion at all?
Chase: It isn't at all like that. That was kind of the whole point of it, it was a joke. We thought it was just a funny little joke.

Stu: We're not trying to make a statement by any means, it's just funny to us.

Chase: Yeah, that's exactly it. The funny part to us was how nobody bothered to read into our lyrics and read into the content of our album or other prior albums for that matter. It's just funny to us that a program - although I do think that Factor is a really good thing for our country - it's funny how a so-called arts funding program can call themselves that when they allow the government to censor the so-called artists through their program, which was something that was a little bit frustrating for us to see. Would you say that your musical style has changed ever so slightly since the release of, say, "Dude Manor", or "Make Your Mark"? To me, when I listen to the records in a row, the new one sounds a bit more...melancholy maybe, or perhaps having a sadder sound compared to the bright pop punk of the earlier albums. Do you notice that yourselves at all?
Chase: I think so. We definitely were kind of trying to do that a little bit with the new record. It didn't really come out as...I think we intended it to be much darker than it actually was. It just came out the way it came out. And obviously having Stu step in as our vocalist for that record helped change things as well. For the better. We're so glad that we made those changes and everything turned out the way that it did. Stu is obviously a new member in the band, together with the bass player. You came from Misery Signals, replacing the old singer. Why was the singer changed, first of all?
Chase: The old singer basically just didn't want to do it anymore. And how do you feel like your voice fits Living With Lions versus the old singer, Stu?

Stu: I think it sits fine with the music. I think Matt and I definitely sound different and we sing differently, but the style of music that Living With Lions play, I don't think it changed it up too much. I don't think the formula is out of whack or anything. It's still the same band writing the same kind of songs, just a different voice. I read on the internet that you left Misery Signals because you were tired of playing heavy metal, is that true?

Stu: More or less. I've never been a huge metal fan in the first place. When I joined Misery Signals, I was like 19 years old and I just wanted to tour and play in a full-time band. That was the opportunity that was there. In turn, I became really good friends with the guys in the band, and I did it for seven years. But you can only go so far doing something that you don't really feel that passionate about, you know? I love writing music and I love playing with those dudes, but at the end of the day when I'm touring and being away from regular life, it's gotta be for something that I really feel passionate and excited about. Punk music is something I've loved since I was a kid, and that's something that I've always wanted to play. So yeah, I was tired of it. Just wanted to do something different. You guys are on some fairly high-profile tours here this fall, obviously now with Comeback Kid, and then A Day To Remember tour that's coming. Do you think that you have this momentum going for the band right now with the new album receiving such good reviews as well, and everything?
Chase: It's always been a slow build for us. We never really intended on starting this band to begin with, but it just eventually kind of happened, and we've always just loved touring, so that's our philosophy. We just like to stay on the road, and have fun, and write the music that we like to write. Obviously releasing a new record, you'll see a lot of stuff happening, around that time, or hopefully happening. It's a natural thing. But obviously the A Day To Remember thing was a sweet little surprise, not something we were really expecting at all. But there's been growth, and it's been good, and Stu's brought a lot to the table with all his experience of touring and stuff.

And like he said before, it's all about passion, and really loving what you're doing. And the dudes that were in the band previously, they loved it, but eventually fell out of love with it. And having five people in the band that really really like what we're doing, so everything's going along really well.

Stu: Yeah, it definitely allows us to keep busy, and to stay on the road. And like you said, there's definitely some growth, and getting some larger opportunities like A Day To Remember is great, so hopefully it continues on! So which bands have inspired your sound? You probably have different backgrounds for that.
Stu: I can't speak for the band musically, but I think we share a lot of influences in bands like Hot Water Music and Face To Face.

Chase: Saves The Day. Anything...we all pretty much love the same records. We don't have to fight a lot about whatever we want to listen to in the band. Green Day, Blink and all those bands were always things that we were into...or certain records by them. Have you already written some new songs, are you working on the next record yet?
Chase: We've been pretty busy, so we haven't written much lately. But we do plan on writing.

Stu: There's a couple of riffs kicking around.

Chase: There are some riffs. Stu's got a plethora of backed up riffage.

Stu: You guys are always jamming things in the space, too.

Chase: We're constantly jamming and doing stuff like that. But we definitely plan on...I mean there's such a huge gap of time in between "Make Your Mark" and "Holy Shit". We definitely realized when this record came out, that we don't ever want that to happen again. We all love writing music. We just kind of got lazy, and so we just want to keep on releasing as much as we can, and that's why we're definitely going to be writing this winter. We'll be home for a few months.

Stu: I kind of feel like that when you tour that much, it's hard not to lose sight of the fact that the reason you started this band is to write music. And create stuff with your friends, and be able to put out music. You spend all your time trying to push a record, and you just kind of lose touch with the reason you started the band. Like Chase said, it's really important that, probably within the beginning of the year, we're already starting to work on new stuff, so that we can be in the studio by next summer.

Chase: And it's really fun to do that. Stu and Bill kind of came in after a lot of the record was finished, and Stu obviously played guitar, and Bill plays bass, so it's gonna add a lot of different things to our music. Not like it's going to exponentially, but it's just gonna be a lot more interesting. That was my last question. Do you have anything to add?
Chase: Come check us out on this tour and on the Eastpak Antidote Tour in October, and check us out with that group of bands!

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