There is a quiet self-assurance in the manner in which New York melodic rock outfit Lazy Lions approach their music. Certainly, a band has to be if it decides to play in the 60s/70s pop-rock sandbox. The pop-rock of the 80s to be more precise, as the band lays claim to the influences of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, The Cars and Crowded House. The tunes have an easy charm about them – on songs like “Tiny Little Cracks” and “Diane”, it’s not difficult for the unwary listener to begin humming to the refrains. Quirky numbers like “Let the Bad Times Roll” and “Scientific” help to keep thing somewhat interesting. Songs tend to be mid-tempo as a rule and a change in pace now and then would not have hurt. That all said, the slinky “You Can Run” and the smoky “Creep Across the Night” offer enough of a variation to demonstrate promising versatility. But if it’s straight-ahead rocking pop songs you want then “February” and most of When Dreaming Lets You Down, will not… erm… let you down. Jim Allen shared with us a couple of his thoughts about the band and their music.
Why did the four of you come together as Lazy Lions?
We had all done a lot of different things individually. I put out three records as a solo singer/songwriter, Rob had been a classical French horn player (who just happened to also be a killer guitarist), Anne-Marie had been in a band that ended up on a major label and did a ton of touring, and Sean had played with Richard Lloyd of Television besides being a singer/songwriter himself with solo albums out. To be totally honest, I just heard somebody say the words “lazy lions” one day and thought “What a great band name, I’m gonna start a band and call it that!” So I did. That’s really how it started!
What is it about melodic pop-rock that makes you wanna write and record in that style?
Like I mentioned, we all have pretty eclectic backgrounds. For myself, I’ve played folk, rock, country, and I love more kinds of music than I could even list. But that kind of hooky, melodic power-pop style is something I’ve loved since I was a kid but had never really gotten around to doing myself before Lazy Lions. And in terms of the other members of the band, I think it just ended up being a kind of common music language between us all. I don’t think we ever specifically sat down and said “This is the kind of music we’re gonna play,” but that’s the way it worked out.
If the band had to agree on just five desert island discs, which ones would you take?
OK, I actually polled the band about this, and here’s what we came up with, in no particular order:
The Beatles – Revolver
Elliott Murphy – Aquashow
The Finn Brothers – Everyone Is Here
XTC – Skylarking
The Police – Regatta de Blanc
(Good choices – KM)
What is the song writing process like for the band? Is it democratic?
It’s beyond democratic, it’s often chaotic! I write all the lyrics since I’m the one that has to sing them, but the music is always up for grabs. Sometimes one of us will write all the music for a song, or it can be any combination of us working together and going back and forth. When we’re working out a new tune there’s a long process of push and pull, and a lot of tweaking can go on before we finally call it finished. We just try not to kill each other along the way! And I think one of the cool things about us that’s not so common is having a drummer who’s also a multi-instrumentalist and composer who really contributes to the melodic content of the songs.
What is the prime consideration when selecting songs for recording? Why?
We deliberated for quite a while trying to figure out which songs to include on When Dreaming Lets You Down… but I think it finally came down to not only which ones we thought were the best but also which ones would make the most sense sitting next to each other on an album. The interesting thing is that there were a couple of sort of X factor songs, as I call them, which really just came together kind of spontaneously while we were figuring this all out, and unexpectedly ended up on the album. Those were “Freezing” and “Creep Across the Night.”
What do you hope to achieve with your debut album?
Well, my running joke has been that I hope to fail spectacularly! But I’m only half-joking, because what I really mean by that is that in the current musical climate a band playing our kind of music, especially a band that’s doing everything totally DIY from production to pressing to promotion, has to take obscurity as a given. But I think that’s OK, a lot of my very favorite artists and albums were obscurities. If anything, maybe that adds a level of charm — who wants to hear something so ubiquitous that you can’t get away from it? Sure, it’d be nice to be handsomely compensated for our labors of love, but even stars don’t make much money off albums these days. And at the end of the day I think the most important thing to all of us is that we’ve made something we’re proud of. The biggest thing we can hope for is that people like you appreciate it enough to write about it and that somebody out there might be able to connect to it as deeply as we do with the music we love. Come to think of it, that’s actually a lot to ask!