FOR FANS OF: THE WONDER YEARS, CRIME IN STEREO
Canadian pop-punkers LIVING WITH LIONS are no strangers to the scene, having existed in some form or another since 2007, but after going through line up changes and financial hardships they’ve bounced back stronger than ever, forming their own label and recording a brand new record.
We spoke with drummer Loren Legare (who of course, also plays drums with Comeback Kid) about the band’s recording process and their upcoming plans for the future…
SO YOUR NEW RECORD ‘ISLAND’ COMES OUT LATER THIS MONTH. HOW DID YOU FIND THE WRITING AND RECORDING PROCESS FOR THE RECORD?
“The writing and recording process of this record was a huge marathon for us. We were plagued with members leaving the band and financial strains…We decided that we wanted to make the album and put it out even if it meant releasing it DIY…I feel like we used the frustration of all the obstacles to motivate us… We’re insanely stubborn people. As things progressed we had our longtime friend Craig Spelliscy join the group and slowly the full record took shape.
As for recording, it was a slightly easier process but not without its setbacks. We recorded with longtime friend Stu Mackillop at Greenhouse studios in Vancouver. He’s an amazing guy to work with. Very relaxed and easy going and knows how to coax a great take out of you. I feel like I’ve done my best drumming with Stu behind the controls because he seems to take all the pressure off. As for Chase [Brenneman] and the vocals, things took a rough turn when he suffered a hernia while demoing his vocal tracks…Impressively enough he toughed it out by synching the hernia with a belt and a crushed beer can and was able to sing without much pain while sitting in a chair! Haha So we’d literally wheel him into the vocal both in an office chair…! I’m really proud of how well he did considering how weird it must have been to sing sitting down.”
WHAT KIND OF BANDS WERE YOU LISTENING TO WHEN YOU WERE WRITING ‘ISLAND’? WERE THERE ANY DIRECT INFLUENCES THAT MADE THEIR MARK ON THE RECORD?
“The writing of ‘Island’ spanned over the course of probably 3 years in total so there were lots of bands that I was into during that time. I tend to listen to bands that I’ve gotten the chance to tour with whether its The Flatliners or Culture Abuse or Madball. I’m sure they all had their influences subconsciously but nothing on purpose.”
‘TIDAL WAVE’ WAS THE FIRST SINGLE YOU RELEASED FROM THE RECORD. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THAT TRACK THAT MADE YOU WANT TO HAVE IT AS YOUR FANS’ FIRST TASTE OF ‘ISLAND’?
“‘Tidal Wave’ was our first pick because we felt like it was not only the best musical representation of Living With Lions today but its one of the strongest songs on the record. Oddly enough Chase and I wrote it as a bit of a ‘fuck you,” after being denied a recording grant for the second time…When we went back and listened to it the next day we were like, “Hey this is kind of good,” haha. It’s funny what you can come up with when you’re not trying too hard.”
“I FEEL LIKE IT’S IMPORTANT TO SHARE THE MESSAGE THAT THINGS CAN GET BETTER AND YOU’RE NOT ALONE….”
WHAT’S THE VIBE OF ‘ISLAND’ LIKE AND HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO YOUR PREVIOUS WORK?
“‘Island’ is a return to the fun, catchiness I’d say “Make your Mark” had, without sacrificing the maturity we obtained as songwriters. I think it’s easily our best music to date and hopefully, people will think so too. We put a lot of thought into the overall feel of the record, how everything ran together and the vibe of the songs. It’s just a better version of what we’ve been doing for a while now.”
CAN YOU GIVE US AN IDEA OF SOME OF THE THEMES AND CONCEPTS COVERED LYRICALLY ON THE NEW RECORD?
“Lyrically, for the most part, Chase seemed to write about personal experiences he had with people, friends or family members. Sometimes its bad stuff, sometimes it’s really positive. ‘Island’, the title track probably deals with some of the heavier subject matter – drug addiction and mental illness and just talks about how it affects people. The song has a real positive undertone and ending though – we’ve been really lucky to see our friends deal with their problems and overcome their issues. It’s a constant struggle but I feel like its important to share the message that things can get better and you’re not alone. Hope is important. That song also became really important to us and that’s why we ended up calling the record ‘Island’.”
HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE BACK IN THE STUDIO, FOUR YEARS AFTER YOU DROPPED YOUR LAST RECORD?
“For me personally, I’d kept busy in between records with other projects. My friend and guitarist for Comeback Kid, Stu Ross and I started a side project called Youth Decay and we’d recorded and released an EP and full length. I was feeling more confident in the studio than ever before. With Youth Decay I was helping shape all parts of the record as opposed to just the drums. I think I found a new confidence in those experiences and I was stoked to bring them to the Lions’ record.”
“WE FEEL LIKE WE STILL HAVE ENDLESS MUSIC TO CREATE AND SHARE..”
WHEN IT COMES TO DECIDING WHAT SONGS MAKE THE CUT ON THE NEW RECORD, HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE ALL-IMPORTANT CHOICES OF WHAT MAKES UP THE TRACKLIST?
“We’d never written extra songs for a record before, we’ve always just shown up with about 70% of a record and had to wing the last 30% in the studio haha…so it was weird to have extra material afterwards and the luxury to decide what stays and what goes. Before it was all “well maybe its not our best song ever but we can’t have a 9 song album…” As for what ones to cut, I think we kind of just knew…We chose the songs we knew would keep people engaged from front to back but also trying to give the record a good mix of style.”
YOU RECENTLY STARTED UP YOUR OWN RECORD LABEL ‘BLOOM’ IN CANADA, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
“There are a bunch of cool labels in Canada but I think after all we’ve learned over the years we wanted to take a crack at releasing our own album…We kind of thought if we’re not happy with the way people are doing things, then let’s just do it ourselves. Obviously its a TON of work, way more than we’d anticipated, but as things went along we learned so much on the business side of things…In retrospect, it was the best move we could have made.”
WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE RUNNING YOUR OWN LABEL? WHAT INSPIRED THIS MOVE?
“So far, we’ve been solely focused on the release of ‘Island’, the idea being to see how everything goes with this album. Obviously we’ll make some mistakes along the way but hopefully learn from them until we feel like we’re experienced enough to start searching for other bands. I feel MUCH more comfortable screwing up with my own band as opposed to someone else’s.”
HAVING BEEN GOING SOLIDLY FOR OVER A DECADE NOW, WHAT SPURS YOU ON TO KEEP MAKING MUSIC?
“I feel like creativity never really leaves you. We all still get that high when an idea is played and it makes you go “Fuck ya, what was that? Play that again!” Or when someone compliments something you’re playing and it sounds like they were meant to be! I love it. I’m not sure its something I’ll ever get tired of. We feel like we still have endless music to create and share. As long as people are interested in hearing it we’re going to keep going. And after that, we’ll probably still be writing tunes for ourselves. We just love making music together.”
“IT WAS A REALLY LONG, HARD PROCESS BUT WE MADE IT HAPPEN, AND I THINK WE’RE BETTER FOR IT..”
WITHIN THAT TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AS A GROUP?
“This record came with so many hurdles and setbacks, that it is by far, in my mind, our greatest achievement to date. I’m incredibly proud of ourselves for seeing it through and coming out the other side with something I think people will really be into! We really had to do this whole thing on our own with no one to guide us. We had to really trust ourselves that we would be able to see this through to the end. It was a really long, hard process but we made it happen, and I think we’re better for it.”
WITH YOUR EAST COAST TOUR COMING UP NEXT MONTH, HOW DO YOU GUYS PREPARE BEFORE HITTING THE ROAD?
“Haha well, both Chase and I will prepare by touring across Canada with another band, Comeback Kid. By the time the CBK tour ends we’ll have 3 days to brush up on some of the new songs before we fly out for the East coast. Landon will fly in and we’ll just jam for 3 days straight basically. It wouldn’t be Living With Lions without leaving everything until the last minute. Either way though, we’ll bust our asses to bring the live show to a level the east coast deserves.”
FOR US FANS HERE IN THE UK, WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO HAVE YOU PLAYING SHOWS ON OUR SHORES?
“Living With Lions will be bringing ‘Island’ to the UK in 2019, that’s a promise! We’re not 100% sure yet but hopefully we’ll get over in the late spring. We can’t wait, it’s been way too long. Until then, fans will have some time to pick up the new record on September 21st and learn every word before we get there!”
‘Island’ is out 21st September via Redfield Records