Lions Lions’ Jon Kay and Josh Herzer chat about new album “To Carve Our Names”

Post-hardcore band Lions Lions are back with a brand new full length release titled “To Carve Our Names” and Media Mikes caught up with bassist/vocalist Jon Kay and lead vocalist Josh Herzer to talk about the new album while the band was playing in Rochester, NY this past month.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little background on the formation of the group?
Jon Kay: Lions Lions formed after bands we were previously in broke up. Josh had gotten a hold of me through AIM when that was still popular and told me that I was going to be in his new band. I knew Josh’s work and what he was about so I said ok right away. I knew for me that this would be a good direction to go in. Josh had already been working with one of the bands previous guitarists writing songs but we couldn’t decide if we were going to have a lead singer or not. We almost started out as a 3 guitar piece band. Things started to fizzle and one of the guitarists left so we started looking for our original lead singer Danny. It seemed like people in the band started dropping left and right at that time. We went through a bunch of lineup changes and toured out to the west coast. We were playing in Reno which is where Josh is from and he had been a fan of our band and knew about us when we were playing out there. He found out we were looking for a singer and just sent us some tracks he sang on with his old band. We asked him to fly out to Boston and try out. He came out and we wrote 2 songs right away. Josh didn’t even have a return ticket when he came out. Our newest guitarist Isaac was the second guy we tried out after we started looking for someone new. He was a huge fan boy in the beginning but he was something we could shape. When he gets on stage he knows what we are all about and he just gets it. He has been right there with us as soon as things got going.

AL: How would you describe the band’s new album “To Carve Our Names”?
Josh Herzer: The new album to me is sort of a culmination of everything the band has done prior. The first album was sort of post-hardcore minus the screaming vocals. The following album was much more breakdown oriented and heavier. My first EP in the band was essentially a pop-punk album. This record was literally whatever we felt like doing at the time. There are dark almost metal type songs on there as well as acoustic songs. This album has all of our influences and everything we have done in the past combined in to it.

AL: What was the writing process like this time around?
JH: Long.
JK: It was very, very long. When we started working on songs everyone was doing separate things on their own. I wrote a few songs with a friend of mine and presented them through email. This was before we all lived together. We wrote quite a bit away from each other as it was kind of tough to hook up with each of us living in a different part of New England. Most of us have the gear to work on songs that way so it was basically an email thing back and forth. When it came time to send stuff to the label they asked us for some things with a little better quality. We ended up going in and working collectively on songs with a friend of ours from the band Our Last Night. He helped us critique the songs. We did a couple different versions of pre-production with one being live and the other two differing in quality.
JH: Pretty much from the time that we finished our EP in late 2010 to the time we recorded this album in October of 2011 we had been writing. There are still probably 5 or 6 tracks that were recorded that didn’t make it on the album. We wrote a lot and had to re-write a lot. The initial batch of songs the label didn’t like so we re-worked those and also wrote a new batch. It was pretty nuts but we are very happy with the end result.

AL: With having so much material how did you choose what was going to be included on the album?
JH: A lot of it had to do with our producers Shep Goodman and Aaron Accetta. They looked at everything we had and used their experience to decide which songs had the strongest qualities. We just laid everything out and said what we thought about each track. We all had input on which songs we liked the best. We also wrote/recorded two new songs while we were in the studio.

AL: Do you think you will ever release the tracks that weren’t included on the album?
JH: It’s possible. One of the tracks is actually out on ITunes as an exclusive. That song is called “Drifting”. We may look to do a 7 inch as we want to do something on vinyl.

AL: What was the idea of ending the album with a softer song as opposed to the more traditional idea of closing with a more upbeat song?
JK: It’s sort of a past experience thing but also our producers suggested it. We figured it would be a safe choice as our record “From What We Believe” included an acoustic track that was placed I think two tracks before the closing song. People made quite a few comments asking why we did things that way. We have never really been strong on how a record should be laid out. We always talk about it but how do you figure out an exact formula?
JH: Ending with a song like that is sort of a typical thing in our genre. We really liked that song and I felt starting the album off very high energy and ending very relaxed was a cool thing.

AL: What do you feel makes Lions Lions stand out from other in the same genre?
JH: I feel as though the stuff we play is sort of throwback and nostalgic to the early 2000’s Victory Records type stuff. That’s the stuff we like a lot. I guess our take is sort of a newer version of what that stuff was. I guess we are sort of old in that sense. Those were the glory days for us that have just withered away.

AL: What are the bands plans for the rest of the year?
JH: We have most of July off and have actually started writing our next full-length album. We are going to relax for a little while until our next tour starts in August. We will be playing with Day Trader, Such Gold and Silverstein.
JK: We want to be out there touring.

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