It’s rare, but once in a while a band comes along that holds the band trifecta, melody, charm and talent, the holy grail of ingredients that separates the wheat from the chaff, the great from the incredibly average and you never know where the elements might just line up in perfect harmony with the stars to create such a band.
Just a thing may have happened in New York City, in the form of Lion In The Mane. Though formed in 2009, LITM sounds like a band that has been around forever… honing and perfecting their craft, an amalgam of altrock and pop grafted onto an indie rock format. They have an e.p. out and are hitting the road…
Skope: First, Lion In The Mane is an interesting name for a band, does it have an particular meaning to you?
Lion In The Mane: We used to be called “The Atlas”. Lot’s of changes happened in the band and we were taking a more direct approach to the sound we wanted and we decided it was best for a name change. After a year or so without a name, we decided “Lion in The Mane” may be a more proper fit. To us it means that there is a person under whatever clothes they are rocking, wherever they came from, whatever language they speak and so on. It’s kind of a foundation for the human existence really. If you treat people as a person, we could really get away from ignorance and hate and learn to grow and learn from one another.
Skope: I read that you are playing the Florida Music Festival April 20th, how did that come about and are there any bands on the bill you are looking forward to seeing?
LITM: We are super stoked on all of the Special Guests/ TBA artist. June Divided, Mental Giant are great friends of ours. Make sure you check out those bands! The Silent Majority showcase should be fun. I opened for Mason when I was in another band way back in the day, so it will be interesting to see what those dudes are up to. The Supervillans were a big name growing up in Florida, so it will be cool to catch up with them. FMF was always something we wanted to do when we lived in Florida as kids. It’s crazy we had to move so far away to be a part of it, but we did it last year and all of our friends and fans from other bands came to check it out, so it was a good time. One of our biggest shows last year. We are really excited and thankful to be apart of it again this year.
Skope: Being based in NYC, do you have any favorite venues there? What is the scene like for you guys?
LITM: NYC is such a cool place to play because if you can successfully do it here, you can successfully do it anywhere. The NYC listener may not be immediately drawn to our genre. There are so many artist here and so many shows going on every night, so we are so thankful that our shows are successful. There is a big rap crowd here and a huge club and DJ thing going on right now. We have actually started sharing the stage with these acts and it has gone really well. Our favorite places to play in New York are Arlene’s Grocery, The Bitter End, Sullivan Hall, Spike Hill and The Music Hall of Williamsburg. We have Madison Square Garden and Radio CIty Music Hall on our radar. Wait till the next album and we will catch you guys soon. No worries!
“The Way We’re Wired”
Skope: Your e.p. “The Way We’re Wired”, to the uninitiated, what can listeners expect? What type of rock would you classify your music as?
LITM: The listener should expect that no matter what kind of music they are into, we are actually saying something. I am really lucky to have a super talented guitar player, bass player and drummer doing the damn thing with me, so they can expect to hear some tasty treats in their ears. Other than that, it’s up to your personal taste. We play a ton of cross genre bills and get a ton of great feedback from various listeners, so we hope that it hits home with as many people as it can. We classify ourself as a rock band. We hear everything from Alternative, to 90’s, Pop Punk, Rock and Adult Alternative. Seriously though, it’s just rock once you have heard all that.
Skope: Do you have a chief songwriter or are you more of a collaborative group?
LITM: Dmitry and I (Jon) do about 90 percent of the writing. The other ten percent is Henry and Johnny filling in the gaps and little changes here and there. At the end of every song, it’s something that we all agree on though. The music is usually all Dmitry or I. Sometimes we do it together. Sometimes we do it separately. I can tell you that the process on every song is never the same.
Skope: Your bio says 30 Seconds to Mars and Angels and Airwaves are bands you’ve been compared to, is that pretty accurate? Who are some of your main influences? I hear alot of a 90’s sound, like The Goo Goo Dolls for instance…
LITM: We hear the craziest things ever in terms of comparisons. We all listen to totally different music. I can say that the only time I have heard the Goo Goo Dolls besides the radio is when they have opened for The Counting Crows on tour. I do listen to a ton of the Counting Crows, but not so much the Goo Goo Dolls. Dmitry listens to a lot of ambient music and harder music. His favorite band is Glassjaw. Johnny listens to hip hop, reggae and screamo. Henry listens to a lot of punk and metal. I listen to everything they do since we live in the same van most of the time, but when I drive, I play a lot of singer song writer stuff. Just to keep the boys asleep and my brain awake.
Skope: So you’ve been hitting the road to promote “The Way We’re Wired”, where are you off to and do you have any road stories to share?
LITM: We have done the United States twice now. We haven’t made it to California yet, so we can’t say we have done the whole country; but we have played almost everywhere else. I think we are 4 or 5 cities away from becoming a national act. Whatever that means. We play Florida twice, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and we are home to hopefully finally record our full length. We have so many road stories. We usually party really hard with everyone, everywhere we go. In some places in the country that can turn out to be really scary. We have been in the middle of frat fights, redneck gun threats, bad weather driving/ almost wrecks, being creeped out by larger women and strange fans. If you really want to experience us on the road, get in your car and follow us from one town to the next. Pack a ton of energy drinks, because it’s hard to keep up!
Skope: You have your own loft studio, which gives you plenty of time for details. On the downside, it can take away the immediacy of the music. How has it been beneficial to the band?
LITM: Three of us live in an apartment together. So that gives us a lot of time to really dig into new ideas and see where they end up…although the songs are never done until we hit the real studio and lay everything down. But the apartment is big enough to where we don’t really get on each others nerves. The studio really gives us the freedom to experiment and really explore different sounds. It’s definitely a lot different than writing in a room at practice. When we write together in a room it’s really exciting because it’s fun to get loud and play hard. We all feed off of each other and it’s a lot more raw in that type of setting. Not to say it’s not exciting when we record in our studio but there definitely is a different feel. The best thing about having our own studio is being able to really think everything through. We’ll write out the skeleton of the song and listen to it for days to see how we can make it better. When you write songs together in a room you don’t have the luxury of being able to critique the track as much as you would when they are recorded properly and everyone is heard clearly. I think that’s a part of our unique song writing process and may be what separates us from other bands.
Skope: When should fans expect a full length album from Lion In The Mane?
LITM: We are trying to push for the full length to drop late summer. It’s so hard when the industry says things like, “the EP never really got much feedback from commercials or movies” “maybe you should tour this EP a bit more” “you need to write more songs before we decide what songs sound like they belong on the same record”. All that gets frustrating because there was never any goals for commercial success. We do know that we have made a ton of friends who are excited to hear the new material. That’s a good enough reason alone to put out the full length. I can say that we have written about 50-60 new songs and we have it narrowed down to about 20 right now. We have no immediate plans when we come home from this tour in a few weeks so I think that might be the time we officially hit the real studio. Our manager said it’s time to do the new record. We were holding out for label interest to release a full length just to kind of give the record a chance to hit more ears, but so many great bands are doing albums without labels now. I hope that ours catches on and labels not only figure out how to do proper business again, but also look at themselves like “why have we slept on this band for so long?” But yes, full length ASAP, and expect it to be great. We have put a whole lot of the blood sweat and tears of the past two years into what you are about to hear, and I personally feel that it is pretty epic.
Skope: Do you peform any covers live?
LITM: No, we have played a Christmas cover once. We did, Father Christmas from “The Kinks” for a holiday show, but we usually stray from covers. Our friends in Music From Another Room do a ton of rad covers. We have recorded a few covers for fun. We are working on “You Better, Your Bet” from “The Who” and “The Heart of The Matter” by “Don Henley”. We covered “Anna Begins” by “The Counting Crows” for an online contest and we recorded “Without You” by “David Guetta” just for fun. Last year we recorded a Christmas album with one original and the rest were songs from other artist.
Skope: Where can the curious find your music?
LITM: iTunes, Spotify, Facebook, Youtube, Soundcloud. If you have a proper search engine, you can find our music for free everywhere. Dig in!