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Chris (from The Lions)
Simply, a pride that should be full of pride.
Phillip Hong
June 12, 2010
When you're named after a confident, important animal, there is clearly a reputation to maintain. But this pride of musicians should be gleaming with pride, because they definitely have some great chemistry and a sound that provides similar amazement to a lion's roar.
For your information, I'm speaking of The Lions, a band out of this great nation that has a uniquely perfected form of rock. Now, I'm not going to speak of how the band is related to its namesake, but they do have quite a few similar qualities. Let's just hope one of them isn't an abundance of facial hair.
In this interview, we talk to Chris, rumoured to be the non-mute member of the band. It's also the first time that my signature "completely ridiculous" question seems... remotely possible!
PHIL: How did music become a major part of your life?
CHRIS: I don't really know how it did, I just know when it did. I'd always listened to The Beatles and Stones because that's what was usually on in the house. For me it was in the 90s and that's when bands were real and we didn't have the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana nonsense. I would've made fun of Nickleback but everyone knows they're excrement so I thought I'd say something else.
I used to listen to all the American bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, et cetera. It was when Oasis came along I really started to make music a major part of my life. I was writing songs at the time and as soon as I heard them I knew I wanted to write songs like theirs and be in a band.
PHIL: How was "The Lions" formed? Do you believe you have a winning formula?
CHRIS: The Lions was formed after a member of Black Ocean left, what we were originally called. I took my two favourite bands at the time, BRMC and Oasis and somehow turned it into that. I also think I named it after a pint of Guinness because it looked like it came from a black ocean. We needed a new name because Black Ocean was a bit to... well you know... and I saw the Scottish flag and dubbed us The Lions back in 2003. I'd known Liz for years and years and asked her if she'd like to play drums, and I knew Justin from another band and asked him if he wanted to be in ours. Luckily for me they both said yes and we've been friends ever since.
As far as a winning formula goes, according to me anyway... I don't think so. But it depends on what you mean. Some people think a band's good if they're on television and other people think a band's excrement if they're on TV. You know?
I think all our albums are quite different so I don't think we make the same songs every time or the same album. I like lots of different music so we could be a hard rock band one night or a 60s rock n roll band the next or both in one night. If you listen to all our albums like "The Lions (2004)," "Sounds Familiar (2008)," "Rock N Roll Lounge (2008)," "Live Love Laugh (2009)," "Live at MacEwan Hall (2009)" to "New Rise Of The Footsoldier (2010)", they all sound like us but they're all different. On "Sounds Familiar" we have songs like "Something To Do" (Zepplin/Hendrix) and "She Looks Lonely" (Beatles/Oasis) on the same album. So no I don't think we have a winning formula because otherwise we'd be rich and famous and popular and on TV... ha ha ha...
PHIL: What is the most exhausting song your band has ever recorded, in your perspective?
CHRIS: None. I love recording, I think we all do, it usually goes quick, "Sounds Familiar" was recorded and mixed in 15 hours. "Live Love Laugh" was done in two days and "New Rise" took a couple of weeks. Getting in the studio with Brad ( is a riot and we really enjoy it. I think that's why we've made so many albums in a short time.
PHIL: Did any artists play an influence in your unique style of rock?
CHRIS: For me it was all about Hendrix, Oasis, The Beatles, Stones, Pistols, and stuff like that. I'm not sure what it was for Liz and Justin. Liz likes horrible music though all heavy, heavy stuff and Justin likes good music like me. But if Liz didn't listen to that stuff there is NO WAY our drum beats would be as cool as they are. Her drumming is like the lifeblood of this band, she's no Meg White, but she'll do.
PHIL: If you weren't completely passionate about music, what do you see yourself doing?
CHRIS: Probably just playing guitar and being an Electrician and going back to the trades, which is probably what will end up happening if we decided not to do the band. If we can make money off the band though I'd be happy playing bars and recording albums the rest of my life, if not it'll be back to the trades.
PHIL: Say you have a concert promoter that takes "The Lions" too seriously, and provides you with a fake mane for one of your performances. Within your band, who would step up to wear such a ridiculous item?
CHRIS: Are you having a laugh? I can't believe you'd ask that, it's so weird. Who have you been speaking with? That's already happened!
We used to have 5 members in the band and two of them got in a big argument over it. Euan and John used to play guitar and keyboards in the band and one time a promoter asked them to wear these Lion-mained costumes. None of us wanted to. They looked like something out of The Lion King! Problem was, is that there was only one because they were on a tight budget. So a big sigh of relief swept over the band.
However, Euan and John both wanted to wear it. They both asked me to step in and make a call on who gets to wear it and I just thought they were kidding around. Well... funnily enough it ended up in a fight and instead of playing the show they fought over the costume. I couldn't break it up. When it was time to play the show we went on stage as a three piece and played one of the worst shows of our lives. John and Euan never made up and I haven't seen them since.
When we went back to the dressing room I found the costume... I knew they weren't coming back. I took it home that night and hid it in the back of my amp so Liz and Justin couldn't see. Sometimes when I want to remember the good old days, I'll wear it and remember what it used to be like with those two in the band.
Euan and John, you'll be forever missed, I hope you guys found what you were looking for.
Phillip Hong is a presenter on AMPM, combining some great indie music with quotes and interviews.
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