Interview: Lionize

Interview: Lionize

Rocking the scene since 2005, Lionize has built a substantial fan base across the world. Better yet, their musical talent only seems to expand. Hailing from the East Coast in Maryland, Lionize has had no problem gaining recognition from both East to West coast with their constant touring. Combining musical elements of rock, funk, and reggae has led to their success in an exploration for new and groundbreaking sound. The release of their album Space Pope and the Glass Machine (2008) caught the attention of rockers and dubbers across the nation with hits such as Remedy as well as Space Pope and the Glass Machine. On February 8th, 2011, Lionize will release their third album titled Destruction Manual. In the midst of a nationwide tour with Authority Zero and Streetlight Manifesto , Lionize has a lot to tell about their success and the release of their highly anticipated album.

The Pier: Give us your thoughts on the new album, How does this release define your group and what do you expect fans to get out Destruction Manual?
Lionize: I don’t think a release can really define our group as a band, but sort of capture a moment in time where the band is at when writing and recording. I think music, at least in a band perspective is constantly changing and evolving thing. If it’s not I think you’re most likely re-hashing what you or someone else has already done. With that said, I think our fans will find a growth in writing and playing, and the recording process was more of a live feel. We didn’t try to do anything different on purpose, but the album is definitely the result of being exposed to some really heavy and funky bands while on tour in 2009/2010. We emphasized our strengths and tried to play as much stuff together as possible, in regards to not using a horn section or back up singers like in space pope. It’s all us on this.

The Pier: Through constant touring of the country, how did you find time to prepare for the release of Destruction Manual? Would you say that this tour is dedicated to promoting it?
Lionize: When we are off tour, which is usually for a few weeks at a time, we deal with rehearsal like a nine to five job, Monday through Friday. It’s more like noon to 5, but in the same regards we never stop writing and practicing. The material came pretty much right after the recording of space pope. Six months of prep, 4 weeks of recording. I’d say from now until September we’ll spend touring and promoting it. Then on to the next one. Our goal is to put out about 1 full length LP a year, peppered with several other recordings and footage throughout.

The Pier: You’re prior releases don’t rock out as hard as your newest release. Was the album title Destruction Manual meant to exemplify this? What should fans expect from this new release?
Lionize: When we wanted to record the album to replicate more of a live feeling, and since we don’t tour with an extra key player or horn section, we wanted to replace horn and synth lines with riffs. The heavy riffs have always been a part of the band, but we started playing them all together more, unify the sound a bit, and it became a really powerful way to play together. Spacepope, Strange, Remedy…we’ve always had those riffs. We just focused more on what worked live, and so the record got a bit heavier. Touring so much with Clutch, Wino, Bad Brains and the Bakerton Group certainly has had an effect on the band too. We have never made it a secret of our love of both reggae and classic rock, like Sabbath or zeppelin. So whatever you’re listening to night after night or in the van…that’s what will hopefully get absorbed in the music.

The Pier: On the new album you have a track featuring David Hinds and Selwyn Brown of Steel Pulse, reggae legends. How was working with them? How did Steel Pulse and you come together for the song Killers and Crooks?
Lionize: They are one of the first national/international acts to take us on tour, and that was back in 2005. We have a really great relationship with those guys professionally, and as friends. Pulse is a huge influence on our band, we make no bones about letting people know they are our favorite reggae band. Live and on record they’re the best. So working with them was fun and easy, and a bit surreal. Working with people you look up to so much is one of the reassuring parts of being in a touring band. We had the song written and when listening in the studio we said to ourselves, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get david and Selwyn on this? Then we asked them to do it and then set up a studio in a few hotel rooms when we were on tour with them. It was awesome watching those two work the song over. They make it look easy.

The Pier: Who are your motivations? Listening to such a diverse album makes me wonder about your individual idols!
Chris – McCoy Tiner, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Jackie Mitoo, Jimi Smith
Hank – Flea, Bootsie Collins, John Paul Jones, Sly and Robbie, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder
Mel – John Bonham, James Brown, Bill Ward
Nate – Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Tim Sult, Tony Iommi, Robert Plant, Howlin’ Wolf

The Pier: 2011 proves to be a busy year for you guys. Already hit the road with Authority Zero w/another tour alongside Streetlight Manifesto and then you guys recently announced that you’d be joining The 2011 Vans Warped Tour! How did this come to fruition and are there any groups on the tour you guys are looking forward to seeing live?
Lionize: Kevin Lyman asked us to do the tour and we said hell yeah. It’s a real honor to be a part of atour with such history to it. We are honored and blown away that we are apart of the biggest punk and reggae/ska tour going. I’m looking forward to seeing the sharks, the aggrolites, The expendables, Big D and Kids table, Lucero. There are too many to name.

The Pier: Over 200 live shows per year?! When do you find time to sleep, eat, and make music?
Lionize: What? I’m pretty sure that’s all we do at this point. Eat, Sleep and Make music. Sounds like the life for me.

The Pier: What advice would you give a young group looking to hit the road for their first tour? What’s made Lionize so successful in the ability to network & tour so consistently?
Lionize:I don’t think we really have a solid piece of advice for anyone. We’ve struggled for like 7 years and the only thing we’ve done is worked hard and tried to make honest music and tour. We don’t really network much, we really just play our tunes and hope people like them. So far it seems like they do.

Thanks again so much for having LIONIZE as part of The Pier family. We really appreciate it!

Lionize Links:
Lionize Website
Lionize Facebook
Lionize Twitter
— [Read Matt Emodi’s album review of Destruction Manual by clicking HERE]

Interview by: Matt Emodi
– Lionize Photos by: Dave Norris