HRH6 Preview : Interview with Lionsex

Ahead of their long overdue appearance at Hard Rock Hell, Els caught up with Lionsex to get the feline lowdown on the new album, playing HRH6 and why the X Factor isn’t really their thing.

What have you been up to for the last 6 months?

JJ: we started recording GET EVOLVED in March and that has been the main focus of our lives since then. Its taken us 6 months to record the album and while its being mixed and mastered we’re busy preparing for the launch and lives shows.

JEF: Well…the last six months have been fun…. I have been working every hour god sends and then pitching up at the den to only to hear the word “Again!!” shouted repeatedly at me. JJ grew a beard…. And Davy cowered downstairs in fear of his life from the bearded monster that was once his brother. But out of that….we managed to piece together “Get Evolved”.

DAVY: It’s true, I’m pretty cowardly like the lion in Wizard of Oz.

Do you have a favourite song from the new album?

JJ: I think the whole collection of songs are a step up from the debut, but I guess I’m particularly fond of the first single “(Not) What You Need” and a tune that will probably close the album “Kind of Scene”

JEF: Hmmmm…. It’s hard to say really… I am sure my favourite would be different to JJ’s or Davy’s but I love the last song on the album… A little ditty called “Kind Of Scene” … It’s a bit of an epic tune and personally I love it cos of the irony between how it sounds and the actual lyrics and because I get to sing real sweet and soft but then really go for it. Just take my word for it… It’s good.

DAVY: I’m gonna differ here and say “Be your Gun” – its got a pretty cool bassline and a real kind of classic British goth/new wave feel so it gets me everytime.

Is there any sort of theme to the new album?

JJ: Our songs have always been a reflection of the stuff going on around the band and that’s the case with Get Evolved. I wouldn’t say there’s a particular theme, but I’d hope there’s a feeling of Independence and honesty to the album as a whole.

JEF: Well I dunno really… I’m gonna say no… The theme for this album was to make the album we wanna make. Some of the songs were written sometime ago and never brought forward and others are brand spankers but all of it is straight up… No holds barred… LIONSEX.

DAVY: I think that all sums it up. A feeling of independence and doing what you want, and seeing if other people dig it too.

JJ produced your latest album himself; do you think that helped to put your own personal stamp on it?

JJ: Definitely – our first album was recorded in the days and we relied a lot on producer Matt Bond (also guitarist in The Dirty Youth) to see us through on time and in budget. Matt did an amazing job and showed us how important a producer is to the whole process. Hopefully we’ve taken what we learnt from him and used it to put a bigger chunk of ourselves into the songs.

JEF: “Get it” was produced by the incredibly talented Mr Bond in a mere 10 days and in that short amount of time the brief was to make an album that didn’t sound like a demo… I.e. if u pulled it out of ur mates cd rack and whacked it on it would sound comparable to albums made with much bigger budgets and much more studio time. And all credit to everyone involved we did a pretty good job. In that though obviously there were compromises. With this album… Produced by jj in the loft of the den…. We had no budget… But what we did have is time and the fact that no one knows our stuff or gets where we are coming from more than us… So that was a definite improvement. I’m sure jj will tell u it’s not easy to produce a record and there was much stressing going on at times particularly when I have messed up the same line for the millionth time… But I think having the freedom to take ur time and get it right can only be a good thing.

DAVY: Yeh I think the producer needs to stamp his mark on the album for it to ascend beyond just a bunch of songs played by a band. Matt taught us that and we felt JJ would be good at it, and he was, so it really is a true, pure LIONSEX album.

How does it compare to working with an outside producer, did it make life easier or harder?

JJ: A bit of both! We had a lot to learn about the production process and we had to make our own studio in the attic of the Den. It took a bit of trial and error but in the long run I really think it helped the process develop.- 6 months is an eternity of recording time compared to 10 days, and we’re quick learners 🙂

JEF: When ur working with a producer with a deadline u haven’t got time to re do everything so the line “that’ll do… Lets move on” is heard a lot. Where as when u are producing it urself it’s really easy to get caught up in being ur own worst critic and keep going over and over something that probably only u will ever notice. But I would like to add…. Given the budget of literally about a hundred quid I think JJ has done an amazing job. Nice work buddy.

DAVY: I think its easier to think creatively, play by your own rules and produce what you want, and that’s what we are about ultimately, but there is a lot to be said from having the outside influence as well, which if done right, as Matt does, brings a whole new perspective to the process. That’s why we chose to work with Gary Lloyd in the mixing and mastering. He’s an experienced and talented guy and brings a lot to the end product.

You’ve had some changes in the line-up, which must have caused a lot of stress; do you feel the band has come out stronger because of it?

JJ: It’s never great when guys leave the band, but it’s something of an occupational hazard. The album was actually quite a therapeutic process and now we’re back in business live.

JEF: We’ve had more changes in the line up…. It’s becoming a bit boring now. When we lost Jakk and Pete back in December we were really thrown partly ‘cos we felt it was all going sweet but partly ‘cos it happened so out of the blue. It took us a while to decide if we could even be arsed with the whole band or whether we just say f**k it and walk away, but then…. after much thought… We concluded that we had to at least record the songs we already had written even if we did nothing there after. As time went on we felt it would be more criminal than my chequered past to not bring these songs out onto the stage and truly do them justice. I dunno whether we are stronger but it has shown us that no matter what we are LIONSEX and we will never just roll over and die.

DAVY: It’s a shame when you miss someone ‘cos you had fun and it felt good onstage, and sad when you fall out, but shit happens. There’s no hard feelings in the long term, bands do that to people, and after time away from it all you find you still get on as people ultimately, so life moves on.

You’ve got a slot playing Hard Rock Hell, how did that come about, who are you looking forward to seeing?

DAVY: I’d been trying to get us on it for a while, and we tried via managers and record labels and ultimately failed, then the guys behind it just offered us a slot this year, which is really fucking cool of them. We can’t wait its something we’ve always wanted to play, and felt would suit us. I’m just happy to be part of it. Buckcherry will be amazing though, they always are.

JJ: It’ll be great to see bands we’ve played with before like Sons of Icarus on a bigger stage.

JEF: I can’t lie… I am fucking excited!!! I’m not entirely sure how it came about…. As well as rattling his bass Davy is the brains behind the day to day running of LIONSEX so all credit to him and his persuasive tones… Although… I fear I may have been sold to an Arab or possibly promised to some kind of lab for medical research to seal the deal for us. Small price to pay though really. As for who I am looking forward to seeing….. Good king Sebastian of Bach that’s who!!! That man is a god…. I watch the YouTube video of him having a proper rant at Wembley in 1991 before nearly every gig we do to get me fired up… And it works. So yeah… For me… To see Sebastian…. That’ll be fantastic.

Do you think it’s important to always keep the band moving in a new direction or are you happy to still play crowd pleasers from your back catalogue?

JJ: There’ll be some old favourites for sure, we’re very proud of the debut and the songs mean a lot to us but the new album reflects where we are now so we’re looking forward to playing them live.

JEF: I dunno whether it’s important but it’s only natural that u wanna play new stuff. That said when u play new material people don’t know it and so can’t really rock out like they would to something like “smokin'” that we’ve been ramming down their necks for a few years now.

DAVY: yeh I love rocking out to those tunes, so there will definitely be a few in the set.

What have we got to look forward to from Lionsex in the near future?

JEF: HRH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then….. I’m not gonna give u any exclusives here I’m afraid but we are certainly planning on touring come the spring and we may have put down the electrics and recorded a couple of acoustic numbers during Davy’s cowering… My being shouted at… And JJ’s beard growing. Uh oh…. I’ve said too much!

JJ: who knows – we’re planning to tour in the New Year, and from there it depends on where the album goes. We made Get Evolved for ourselves as much as anyone and just getting it made is a big achievement for us. I guess if people like it, we’ll play it for them.

DAVY: well it’s 2012, weird shit is happening so we might turn out to save the world yet.

The X-factor is current at the moment, do you think it’s harmless Saturday night entertainment or do you think it’s strangling independent music?

JEF: I’m pretty opinionated and the x-factor is something I don’t like…. Not because it is harming independent music…. Tribute bands don’t need any help doing that…. But ‘cos of the muppets that go on it. “I’ve wanted to be a singer my entire life”….. Go out and sing then!!!!! It’s a joke. Sure there have been some talented people come out of that show but for every one talented person that goes on the x-factor (who hasn’t attended Brit school… Or been personally invited by mr cowel to apply) there is a hundred talented people out there grafting their arse off to get somewhere in this racket of an industry with too much self respect and genuine want for success to ever dream of pitching up at the x-factor.

JJ: I think the X-Factor is about as far away from independent music as you can get. People watch it and then go and listen to something with actual substance, so it’s perfectly possible for both things to exist. X-Factor isn’t competing with us at your local music venue – it’s the Rolling Stoned or the Spicey Girls or Briansex that make it harder to scratch a living from independent music.

DAVY: I agree with JJ basically. The two things exist separately, like mid-80s pop existed alongside the Jesus and Mary Chain or Iron Maiden. What didn’t exist then was a dying grass roots live scene, with all the tribute acts and restrictions on live shows and bands in general. Venues can only afford to pay the tribute acts, real bands can’t get paid, and tribute acts are often made up of musicians trying to make a few quid on the side, so maybe it’s the punters fault for opting for a counterfeit version of rock music, or maybe it’s our fault for not being entertaining enough. Who knows, but you can’t blame a mindless pop programme on Saturday night prime time TV.

Silly question! It’s Halloween (ish), the time of ghosties, ghoulies and long-leggedy beasties – (sounds like Jef) … what makes the three of you scared?

JEF: Is that a compliment??? Should I take that as a compliment??? I couldn’t say what JJ and Davy are scared of other than I know Davy shares my fear of the bearded mid production JJ…. But personally…. I am terrified of heights… I don’t mind flying but even something as silly as the escalators on the tube make me get a little.. U know. I had a go at beating this fear by doing a stupidly high bungee jump earlier this year and although it was good…. I doubt I’ll be doing it again.

JJ: Psychopaths and call centres.

DAVY: haha i dunno, I’m like a cowardly Wizard of Oz lion. Everything terrifies me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these, do you want to remind us of any important dates and information?

The album’s out in November, and the single is out now, so check us out on facebook to hear some of the new stuff and you can buy it online from all record stores now. Also we’re delighted to have Ryan Goodger playing guitar for us, and a real hard hitting drummer who we call Chopsy, so there’s HRH and maybe a couple of surprise shows before next year. But Hard Rock Hell is our main focus right now – don’t forget to check us out on Stage 2 at 7:30 on Saturday night 😉