(PCM) Hopefully you are just as excited as we are for the upcoming release of “Selfish Age”, the debut album from rockers As Lions. The album will drop on January 20 via Better Noise Records. “Selfish Age” is a follow-up to the band’s successful EP “Aftermath” which dropped back in October of this year. The album is definitely one that is quite fitting for the times in which we live, as a main thread that runs throughout it’s entirety is the internet culture’s obsession with image and the ways in which we have become a self-centered society. However, rest assured that the album is not one of only negativity, it is also important to point out that As Lions lyrically sheds some light on the hope for some positivity in this world of our as well.
We recently caught up with the band out on the road opening up for Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and Sixx:A.M. and were absolutely amazed by the sheer amount of energy and bombast that poured forth from the stage. As Lions are surely a force to be reckoned with well into the future! Check out our interview with As Lions front man Austin Dickinson below:
Q: How has the tour being going? You have such amazing energy on stage!
AUSTIN DICKINSON: It’s been a wicked tour so far! We’ve had a lot of fun and I think with Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown getting together to do a tour in and of itself a huge happening for rock n’ roll. For them to take us out is amazing and we have mad respect for those guys. The fans have been fantastic. Whether we’re playing to less people or more people the reaction has been the same and it’s been one of positivity and that’s the most important thing. We want to make sure that people are having a good time.
Q: How excited are you to get the upcoming new album “Selfish Age” in the hands of fans this January?
AD: It will be released on January 20th and I’m really excited. It’s been so cool on this tour playing stuff off the EP, which is also on the album, and gauging people’s reactions. It’s been a great way for us to kind of see what goes down, what works and what people really respond to. I’m really looking forward to the release and hearing what people think.
Q: Is it ever surprising to you to discover which songs fans tend to gravitate towards?
AD: For all of us, we kind of know the kind of people we want our music to speak to and I think that when we wrote the album we were kind of thinking of the live setting and live arena and how people our age and younger and older would respond to the songs. We had a little bit of a safe bet with certain songs thinking ‘yes, yes, this is definitely going to suit the bill!’ and there are other ones that we play where it was a bit of gamble, but we really like it. It’s really come together well and it’s cool!
Q: What can you share with me about the mindset of the band during the recording process?
AD: To be honest, it was really fun. I think for us, working with Kane Churko was unbelievable. It was a really, really cool process where I think the old adage there’s no such thing as a bad idea very much rang true. We tried literally everything that we wanted to try to make the songs what they are, even if we didn’t end up using it. Quite often that idea would be a window into the next idea, so it was lots and lots of coffee and lots and lots of creativity and of course a sh*t-ton of Monster along with a lot of late nights and early mornings. It was a sh*t-ton of fun!
Q: Is there anything that didn’t make the cut? Do you guys ever go back and revisit any older material?
AD: Oh, yeah! Absolutely! We had about 30 songs written, maybe even more than that, but I only count the songs with finalized vocals and lyrics, as we probably had about 50 instrumentals. So, yeah, we ended up with about 30 finished songs that we had to pick from so it was really cool. We certainly have enough for the next couple years! (laughs)
Q: Would you say there is a main vein or theme that ties the album together?
AD: There is not really just one certain theme, but I would say, “Selfish Age” is about consumerism and the world in which we live. I think it’s a very reactive record in the way that the world we live in has quite literally gone to hell and things are strange right now and there’s a lot of negativity. I think that this is quite a reactive record for that, but I think it is one that also tries to address the positivity and the light and the goodness that we can also bring to the world. I think that if there were to be a theme it would be that with finding the goodness and the positivity while addressing the negativity.
Q: We know you did the video for “Aftermath” and there is a lyric video for “White Flags”, are there plans for any additional videos?
AD: Oh, hell yeah! Absolutely! For me, I get these sensations and see colors when I listen to music , so we’ve got a sh*t-ton of ideas for some very colorful stuff for future videos. I think the visual side is very important. So many people find out about music through YouTube anyway and having the both of them is incredibly important.
Q: Being that you have been in the music industry for quite some time and seeing the ways that fans are able to consume music and they way that they discover new artists, what has that been like for you from a creative approach?
AD: We definitely have more to play with and it makes a lot less money. I think a lot of bands tend to get lost and I think the incentive to get out there and be creative and really utilize tools to leave a lasting impression. I think that we’re kind of in a bit of a “golden age” as there’s so many ways to do it and so many ways people don’t want to do it because it’s a gamble as well. It can be exciting, but there’s an awful lot of risks involved as well where the conventional business model would go ‘what the f*ck, why did we do that?’ but I truly believe that all the best people are taking those risks right now and being very progressive. Growing and adapting to it is pretty much life or death because you have to accept it, but also you as an artist and you with your artistic team get to find new ways to be creative, so I think it’s kind of a positive.
Q: Do you feel like there is more pressure for bands to stay on the road longer? We feel that the model has changed, where the record used to support the tour, but now the tour supports the record.
AD: 100%, absolutely! I always used to be under the impression that you would tour an album, as the album is the body of work that you sort of bring out. I would say that the model absolutely has changed and there is a lot of pressure to stay on the road, so it’s a good thing we love being on the road. We absolutely love it and this is pretty much what we live for!
Q: Do you guys get antsy when you are home and you are not on the road?
AD: I’ve got my girlfriend and she is just the most wonderful and magnificent human being in my life, so it’s hard because I get incredibly happy and then incredibly sad when I have to leave. You have to do what you have to do and go out there and share your music with people and in turn they share their enthusiasm. We love being on the road.
Q: What are your plans for 2017? I know this tour is wrapping up soon and we see that you have a couple of festivals scheduled for next year.
AD: We have a lot more where that came from in Europe and in the U.S. and we have a bunch more tours to announce as well. I can’t really talk about them at the moment … I really want to f*cking say it but I know I can’t (laughs)
Q: Your previous band Rise To Remain which was definitely in a different vein musically than As Lions, what led to your decision to change direction genre-wise?
AD: Rise To Remain ended back in 2014 and we announced it a bit later and I think we needed to let the decision rest for a little bit, but really that sort of stemmed from our guitarist Ben just wanting … well we still don’t exactly know what happened, but .. he just one day woke up and quite literally it seemed like he woke up and said ‘I don’t want to do music anymore’. We went ‘Okay, fine’ and then it was kind of a case of do we really continue and kind of have “franken-band” because it was him and I that wrote majority of everything. I was like ‘No’, I’d kind of like to go do something different and let this band kind of rest and be its’ own thing that happened. I’m very proud of what Rise To Remain did, but I think for me I wanted to make music where there weren’t so many restrictions. We didn’t have to have 60% screaming and 40% singing and you didn’t have to have a guitar solo and you didn’t have to go as fast as possible. You didn’t constantly have to have this pissing contest with your own ambition to go fast or scream or anything.
I wanted to create something that had a lot more groove dynamics that sonically we can play with a lot more, you know something where you can actually tell a story and really kind of get those hair-standing on end moments in there as well. I’m not saying I will never do screamo ever again at all, but I think it’s got its’ place in my mind. If you’re going to do it, do it in a part where it calls for it and I think I got kind of sick of hiding lyrically behind it, you know, kind of using it instead of singing kind of felt like I was short-changing myself and possibly the person listening to it because maybe they couldn’t understand or there was a lot of background melody as a result, so yeah, singing is important.
Q: We really love the new material! Are there any big plans for release day?
AD: Oh, yeah … but f*ck I can’t announce that either! (laughs) Bollucks! Yes, we do! We have some really cool stuff planned that we will announce soon.
Q: We see that you guys are doing Rock On The Range this year.
AD: Yes, and I’m super excited about that! I’m really excited to see the other festivals that we’re doing as well.
Q: You guys did Download Festival as well
AD: That was really wicked! We opened up the second stage and it was kind of trip to just show and see it all. It is people literally as far back as the eye can see, all the way back to the disgusting hot dog stands (laughs) We were really thankful for that, it was a pretty cool way to sort of kick off this year.
Q: Absolutely! I can’t even imagine what it look like from the artists perspective, as we see it from the fan perspective.
AD: If I had to pick words I’d say really, really cool! (laughs) It was amazing and it wasn’t our show, it was their show and we walked out and were like ‘holy sh*t guys!’ Thank you!
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