Louisville, Kentucky natives A Lion Named Roar, are a quartet of four unique gentleman creating their own music, while being compared to such prolific artists as The Eagles and The Jayhawks, and even as broad as The Killers. Their recent EP was released on November 27, 2012, which was their debut release and titled “A Foreign Land”. Their vocals and sound led them to Nigel Lythgow’s “America’s Next Greatest Band.” The band played the WFPK Port Stage at Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, near the Waterfront. We chatted with A Lion Named Roar’s bassist, Michael and vocals and guitarist, Tyler about comparisons with their music and other notable musicians, the differences between performing at a festival and a stripped down gig, their beloved Louisville and much more. Check out what they had to say:
So, are you guys excited to play the festival?
Tyler and Michael: Oh yeah, yeah!
We look forward to seeing you guys play and my photographer looks forward to shooting your show.
Tyler and Michael: Awesome yeah!
How has Kentucky’s music scene, since you’re from Louisville, shape the music you make and create?
Tyler: You know I love our music scene here. It’s interesting just being 2 1/2 hours away from Nashville because there such an intense, furious rivalry down there expanding so many genres. Here in Louisville, it’s cool to be in a smaller music scene, and also doing stuff that’s also harder to associate with the other acts here. You know for us, we stick out a little bit better here. That’s both a good and a bad thing sometimes. Sometimes it’s tougher to find shows to play, simply because our style doesn’t meld perfectly with some other acts. But, in the same light, we don’t have that intense competition that’s from Nashville. We just kind of do our thing, and hope to play music; it seems to be working out pretty well. I definitely think the Kentucky music scene has shaped our songs, simply from the fact that we grew up here, born and raised in Kentucky. We were listening to James Taylor and The Eagles on vinyl growing up, or cassettes (laughs). Or even country music, like Buck Owens or Garth Brooks. That stuff kind of carries over into what we’re doing now, in some way, shape or form.
With the recent release of A Foreign Land, what was the inspiration behind it?
Michael: I would say the inspiration behind was just to do something different (laughs). Just to really push ourselves to create the music we feel needs to be made, and kind of like pushing ourselves to our own musical limits.
Tyler: We really wanted to take the listener on a bit of a journey and to paint a very vivid and scenic landscape for all of our songs; to put someone in an atmosphere with the music and it’s a very intentional act on our behalf to do that. Again, similar to what Michael was saying, we were kind of challenging ourselves to “Can we write songs that are going to take you on a journey?” and in order to do we had to have a lot of intentionality, if you will, in the guitar parts and vocal harmonies, and instrumentation that we used in the songs, based on the theme of that song. Whether it was “Desert Wind” and needing people to feel like they were out in the middle of the desert at nighttime, in kind of a sultry, saloon, if you will, during the bridge of that song. It was a very intentional process, and it was good to push ourselves during that time too.
Knowing this is your hometown gig, what’s the differences between preparing for a festival gig, and a more intimate show, say at a club or a bar? Which one do you prefer?
Michael: Well, we love both. We love big shows, as well as small, intimate settings where we can just kind of draw the crowd in. Where as, a festival show is going to have to be more high energy and a lot more intensity. To where you have a more intimate setting, like a club or a bar, sometimes we do stripped down acoustic shows, where we pull the audience in and really make them feel what we’re feeling. You can’t really compare our bigger shows to our smaller shows, because they both have that distinct feel about each one. We want to make sure the crowd is feeling and they’re involved. We also have to tackle that situation in both ways, differently.
Tyler: I think Michael nailed it. They’re both completely different, but we love them both equally. I mean you’re not going to get a one-on-one personal show at a festival, and you’re also not going to get a high energy off of a rock show at a small acoustic gig (laughs). If we had to choose one over the other, honestly, it would be an insanely tough decision, because we love the stripped down, deeper harmonies, acoustic guitar thing, as much as we love plugging into big ol’ electric guitar amplifiers, and jamming out to thousands.
I’ve read and heard your music compared to the sounds of bands like The Eagles. Does it flatter you to be compared to them, or would you rather be compared to your own style of music?
Tyler: You know that’s a great question! I think you grow up and you start playing music, and instantly you start to have this foresight of what people are going to compare us to. I think the nostalgic part in us is absolutely flattered to be associated with those acts, because we grew up listening to them. I think it’s tough too in the average music listener’s own right to try to categorize what we’re doing. That’s so tough. We’ve heard so many things and we’ve laughed at a lot of them, and have been like “Okay, I can maybe get that” on a few others, but it’s insanely tough for this band to be put aside someone. The Eagles are all over the place. Don Henley and Glenn Frey, those guys were some of the most incredible songwriters, and started out playing with Ronstadt and her band, and then branched out into their own project. Whether it was “Take It Easy” or “One of These Nights,” just right there, how did they go from country to straight up disco-era, falsetto chorus in that song. They were definitely not a one-trick pony, and I think there’s that part of it that is very flattering for us because we definitely don’t want to be a band that does one thing well. We want to be a band that capitalizes on all of strengths. So, if The Eagles are a band that we can be associated with, then great; we love the harmonies, we love the guitar parts, and we love storytelling in our songs, so I’m definitely cool with that.
Michael: I mean, Tyler pretty much took the words out of my mouth (laughs).
What is the prototype concert bill for you? Dead or alive, you have free reign!
Michael: Oh gosh, hmm…there’s so many names going through my head right now. Personally, newer bands nowadays, there are bands that I would love to be on the bill with. Then there’s the iconic bands, like The Eagles and what-not that I would love to have on there as well. I’m trying to think here…That’s a tough question. We’ve always joked and kind of dreamed about playing with The Killers, or Mutemath (they’re one of my all-time favorite bands). I would love that.
Tyler: Maybe like Scissor Sisters or something (laughs). You know, Manson, he’s always good or GWAR (laughs). No, I’m just kidding. I think The Killers would be awesome. We all dig that band and of course. Dead or alive, there’s no question, Springsteen or McCartney. As far as my line-up that would make sense, I think The Killers or The Eagles are some pretty good examples of someone that we would like to be out doing some shows with. You know, maybe one day.
What are five bands or albums you wouldn’t want to live without?
Tyler: Oooh man, five albums or bands I wouldn’t want to live without. I can think of a few off the top of my head, so I’ll go first, then let Michael go back and pick his. For sure, I would have to put a Garth Brooks record in there. Probably like, “Rope in the Wind,” or something a little bit older. I grew up listening to Garth Brooks all the time, so he’s definitely in my top five albums that’s not leaving my possession. Then, I would probably put that Hot Fuss record by The Killers in there. It’s very good. High Violet by The National, who’s in my top ten for sure, but I’ll probably push them to the top 5. I’m trying to think of some other stuff that’s undeniably amazing. What do you got, Michael?
Michael: My number one would have to be any Elton John record. Got to keep Elton in the list.
Tyler: Oooh, good one! I would probably do “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.
Michael: The only thing bad about that is that Levon isn’t on that record. All of my favorite songs are scattered amongst records, so you can’t just pick only one.
Tyler: Yep, I agree.
Michael: So, there’s Elton John and Tyler said Hot Fuss; that’s one of my all time favorite records as well, and this might be a little bit different, but Coheed and Cambria’s “In Keeping Secrets” album; it’s like a guilty pleasure of mine. I kind of grew up with it.
Tyler: I don’t think Elton John and Coheed and Cambria should be said in the same sentence (both laugh).
Michael: Well boom, there it is! Then I would also have to have The Strokes “This Is It”.
Tyler: Michael, we’re going to get some backlash from the guys if we don’t mention this record and it’s “Grace” by Jeff Buckley.
Michael: That would be in my Top 6 (laughs).
What is your guilty entertainment pleasure?
Tyler: Oh man, me and Michael actually started watching this show called “House of Cards.” It stars Kevin Spacey and it’s a Netflix series, and it’s pretty much like a majority house flip in Congress; it’s incredible. I don’t know if that’s a guilty pleasure, though. A guilty pleasure is probably like every morning I wake up and jam out to Taylor Swifts “Fearless” record. Just kidding; I really don’t do that. Maybe…Game of Thrones is pretty good. I don’t really know. We don’t really have a lot of time. We’re just guys, that when we’re not practicing or recording, we’re at coffee shops talking…
Michael: Just hanging out…
Tyler: Yeah, we don’t really absorb stuff that we don’t absolutely love. And, if there’s anything that we love that’s absolutely embarrassing, I can’t really think of it right now. It’s probably something that we’re passing off as totally normal, but I don’t know.
Honestly, I wish I could help you out in this category, but I don’t know if we watch anything that’s embarrassing, or read any books that are weird, or any of that. I mean, maybe we need to pick that up. Maybe we need to add a little more weird into our lifestyle ;)
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