Lions — “No Generation” from the album No Generation
Based out of the badass music heaven of Austin, Texas, rock act Lions are eager to raise a fist and raise some hell. The hirsute foursome — singer/guitarist Matt Drenik, drummer Jake Perlman, bassist Trevor “T-Rev” Sutcliffe, and lead guitarist and Austin Kalman — return to Charleston for their third show at their favorite downtown haunt this Saturday. They’re back on the road in support of an independent, newly-released album titled No Generation — a well-produced follow-up to last year’s appropriately scuzzy EP, Volume One.
“The first record was really young and spirited,” says frontman Drenik. “It was recorded above a bar in Austin. We didn’t have any expectations. There was no label financing or anything like that. It was just whatever we wanted to do. The band just put it out. With this new one, it was more intense. It was an eight-month process.”
Drenik and Perlman previously played in an Austin band called The Good Looks. After hooking up with Kalman and Sutcliffe in mid-2005, Lions quickly earned a reputation for their chaotic, high-energy live shows and fuzzed-out, groove-oriented songwriting. Banging out rock riffs in the vein of the first wave of heavy metal — Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, Zep — with a home state dash of ZZ Top, the band earned a reputation around the South for their high-octane gigs.
“When we started, it was really loud and chaotic,” Drenik says. “Now, it’s a little more defined. The players each came into their own. We formed with kind of a ‘fuck you’ mentality. We put three songs together in three weeks and played our first show, opening for Fu Manchu. We gradually got to know each other’s likes and dislikes — and there’s a very wide variety.”
Earlier this year, the band considered working officially with Roadrunner Records. They traveled up to N.Y, did some showcases, and went into the studio with engineer Mark Hutchins (he worked with The Jesus Lizard, Jon Spencer, and others) for some preliminary demos. After collaborating on song and studio ideas in the first half of 2007, Roadrunner decided they didn’t hear a single. The label and band amicably parted ways, and Drenik and his gang got on with recording No Generation.
“Hutchins was kind of pushing us to write more songs that were a little more mature and a little less stoner-rock,” remembers the frontman. “We always kind of got billed in with the stoner-rock scene, anyway … we never set out to be a part of it.”
So what sets Lions apart from what the music biz experts call “stoner-rock?”
“Every stoner-rock band that I’ve seen is actually pretty low energy live on stage,” Drenik says. “That’s one of the things that I never really got. We kind of got pigeonholed into that for some reason … maybe because we started playing with those bands. We just always wanted a really big guitar sound, so we threw Big Muffs on everything. We suddenly got comparisons to Mudhoney, Queens of the Stone Age, or Fu Manchu … I’d never even seen Fu Manchu before we actually opened for them. It wasn’t something that was in my head. I grew up on the Stones and the Dead and all the classic ’70s rock bands and some of the ’80s rock bands — I was never drawn toward that specific genre. Whatever, man. It’s rock music.”