Interview: Lionize

The album is a really, nice leap for us. We approached this one only focusing on the melody and song form, and all the riffs and grooves and funk came second, which really helped bring the songs to life. It sounds futuristic but classic.

Maryland USA rockers Lionize release their 6th album Nuclear Soul on a new record label (The End) and it is a supercharged, concentrated, focus of riffy hooks streamlined into concise classic rock hum along melodies (read our review here). Tapping into the current political and social anxieties gripping both their home country and further abroad to make it a very modern rock album. Vocalist/guitarist Nate Bergman informs Echoes and Dust about the influences, ideas, making of the said record, and taking on a professional wrestler.

E&D: Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions for Echoes and Dust. It is much appreciated. I’m really enjoying the new album. It has been pretty much a constant on my sound system between plenty of listening tributes to the great Walter Becker (Steely Dan) who sadly left us on the 3rd September 2017.

Nate: Absolute loss. ‘Dirty Work’ is one of my favourite songs ever written. Thanks for asking the questions – always nice to talk to you.

E&D: You’ve just played the Ramblin’ Man and Bloodstock festivals in the U.K. It says a lot about the band that you can play both to a classic rock and metal audience. How did they go?

Nate: This band thrives on diversity. It’s all rock & roll to us. Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy – These are all funky, heavy bands and they are our heroes. We want to take the music into future and not rely on gimmicks. These two festivals were simply some of the best sets and receptions we’ve ever had as a band. It was an honour and privilege to perform at both – and humbling to receive such a warm welcome.

E&D: You have a new album released on 8th September titled Nuclear Soul. Can you tell us more about its creation?

Nate: The album is a really, nice leap for us. We approached this one only focusing on the melody and song form, and all the riffs and grooves and funk came second, which really helped bring the songs to life. The idea was to get into a room together and perform live – like all of our favourite bands did. It’s done all in the same room to 2” tape and an analogue board. But it doesn’t sound retro or dated. It sounds futuristic but classic. We love the way it sounds and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

E&D: Nuclear Soul is loaded with Hammond keyboards and guitar riffs in equal measure. How did the song writing take shape for the album?

Nate: Well in this band the organ is the 2nd guitar in a sense. It’s the lead guitar in the band.  We have no rules for writing songs. Sometimes it’s a bass line, riff, lyric, melody, or it comes from an improvised jam. There’s no rules and no shortage of ideas. We are a point now where we just listen to each other and can bring the ideas to life without much fuss.

E&D: Can you tell us a bit more about the production behind Nuclear Soul?

Nate: The production is about a year and half of writing and arranging with Jean Paul Gaster helping us mould the tunes and trim the fat. Once we had all the ideas down we knew wanted to bring it to J. Robbins to engineer and mix, he is the master of capturing what the band actually sounds like – and can capture that energy more than anyone else we know. The overall idea was simple. Make a real sounding, beautiful and true rock and roll album. And we did.

 

E&D: On Nuclear Soul lyrically, there is a sense of it reflecting current USA and world affairs, a lot of references of despair, distrust, and uncertain times but without necessarily pinpointing any names. Were, how to describe a worrying social climate, your intention?

Nate: You nailed it. I’d rather not expand on it because we want the listener to form their own opinion on it. But those themes you mentioned are very accurate to the intention of the lyrics.

E&D: You are now with The End record label? Can you tell us why and how of this change of record label?

Nate: We wanted to branch out and try something new – and they have a really great team in place to bring the band to where we want to be. They do everything from a very realistic but ambitious stand point. Right up our alley.

E&D: Who would you say are the band’s main influences? What are you all currently listening to? What do you listen to whilst touring?

Nate: I think a standard for us is Parliament Funkadelic, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Van Morrison, Sabbath. These things we are always listening to. The most current thing we’ve been listening to is an album called Sounds of Siam Volume 1, which is an all Thai funk band compilation from the 70’s. It’s incredible. Touring we tend to listen to anything from heavy metal to jazz to country. And often we’ll listen to a lot of music the headliner or other bands share with us.

E&D: You have been quite closely associated with fellow Maryland rockers Clutch. What have you learned or taken from this friendship?

Nate: We’ve learned almost everything about touring and being a professional band from these guys. They are simply the best – on all fronts – at being great people and an even better band.

E&D: The video for the song ‘Blindness To Danger’ includes professional wrestler The Almighty Sheik. It looked like Nate got the short straw. How did this all happen?

Nate: Well, I have a big mouth and was a bit too eager to say I could probably handle the wrestling aspect. I will say this: The Sheik went very easy on me – and I was in severe pain for several days after the shoot. Achey, bruised and battered. I have a massive respect for what wrestlers go through on a daily basis. It’s excruciating. The vibe of the video is to show the trauma and danger of touring – in a very funny and hyperbolic way.

E&D: You have been dressing in gold lamé, are there any desire for the rest of the band to participate with any glitter and gold costumes?

Nate: I wanted to spice things up a bit and we coordinate as a group. There’s enough glitter on this body for everyone.

E&D: Once again, thanks for taking time out to answer the above questions for Echoes and Dust. Good luck with the new album.

Nate: Thank you for taking the time to listen and ask. We love you and we’ll see you soon!

 

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