I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE ALBUM “SELFISH AGE” AFTER LISTENING TO IT JUST ONCE. I LOVED THE BAND AS LIONS AS SOON AS IT HIT THE STAGE. THEY ARE ONE OF THE BEST NEWCOMERS IN SEVERAL YEARS. THE NOISE IS MADE BY FIVE GUYS FROM LONDON, WHO STOPPED TO CHAT A BIT WITH THEIR FANS AFTER A SOLD-OUT SHOW IN WARSAW. AS LIONS’ VOCALIST, AUSTIN DICKINSON, TOLD US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE BAND’S PLANS. HAVE A LOOK!
The first question, that comes to my mind after seeing you live, is where do you get so much energy from?
If that’s the thing, my coffee works wrong.
I have no idea. I’m just a weirdo. I get a lot of energy from nowhere. I probably have a terrible ADHD or something. I’ve always been full of energy.
Your teachers at school must have loved you!
Yes! (laughs) I was very bad at school.
What do all members of As Lions have in common? I mean, where do your musical influences, interests and personalities meet?
I think we are all pretty similar. We come from the same scene. At the same time, we all are individuals. When it comes to music, Connor loves all kind of stuff like Tool, Stefan likes more rap stuff, I love metalcore. We all love pop music, we all love different kind of things. This band is what we all bond over and I think it’s cool.
Three of you were in the same band earlier, before forming As Lions. Now with this band, what did you want and did not want to do as a new band?
First and foremost, I wanted us to focus on writing really fucking great songs. Before we used to say: “this is metal” or “this is rock” or “this is something”. I wanted us to be like, “oh, this is a fucking great song!”. Let’s just try to do that. I think this is what I still want our band to be known for: great songs. I don’t want to be like, “oh, this is the band that has the biggest circle pit ever”, or anything like that. I want to be known for great songs. I don’t want us to be known as forgetful or any kind of “scene” thing. Memorable songs are the number one for me.
Your album is called “Selfish Age”. Is it inspired by what we see around us?
Oh yes, in 100 percent. I think that the world we live in is getting pretty close to be fucked. On the other hand, now more than ever before, many people are raising their hands and speaking out. I think that’s amazing that so many people want to support different cases, issues and other things. The world is still the same size but we see more behaviour we don’t want to see: people become more paranoid, people become more jealous, more selfish and that’s upsetting. And that was an inspiration for this album.
Do you remember any acts of being selfish from your childhood?
Absolutely! I think we all do it. It’s kind of human beings thing, our nature to be that way. The key is just to recognize it, recognize when you do wrong and next time not to do that. We all do it sometimes but that’s the reason why there is differentiation between good and evil.
Whose advice was most important to you when you were a kid? Who taught you the most about being good vs. being bad?
I struggled with role models as a kid. I don’t know… I didn’t look at anyone in particular. I think it comes when you’re older, when you realize what you had done as a kid and who you want to be: more like mom or more like dad, or like other musicians I grew up around. So I definitely had some influences. But when you’re a kid, you mostly go like “no, no!” − you deny most of the things adults tell you. Anyway, I think that my biggest heroes or people I looked up to were Chino Moreno from Deftones or fucking Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage or Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington… Linkin Park was the first band that made me really want to be in a band. Their music had huge influence on me. Yes, Linkin Park and Killswitch Engage made me wanna do this.
You mention Chester and Chris − two grievous losses, still fresh wounds… Did you know them personally? Can you tell a little bit more about their influence on you?
I got much later into Chris Cornell. I wasn’t really into Soundgarden when I was a kid. I think their music was way too sophisticated for me. When I was a kid, I saw their music as a music for older people. When I heard Soundgarden a little bit later, as a more mature person, I was “oh, this is fucking amazing! What the fuck was wrong with me?”. I literally wanted to turn back the clock and begin my music fascination again, no wasting my time and listening to Soundgarden. Chris Cornell became my favourite vocalist at that time. I got chills when I was listening to his voice. I was lucky enough to do some festivals with Soundgarden, I think it was Northern Invasion. Couple days later Chris was dead… I couldn’t believe it. I had seen him just a few days before that. I never got to meet him but he was a huge influence on me. I never got to meet Chester either. However, when you listen to a band for such a long time, you feel like you know the people anyway. Chester was a huge part of my life.
Do you put any pressure on yourselves while opening for such big bands as Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, SIXX:A.M. or now Alter Bridge?
I’m trying not to think that way. If I did that, I would end up in sort of too much ego or something. I chose to just go and have fun and also make people who come to the shows have fun too. These guys pay a lot of money to come and enjoy the evening. They don’t want to have a shit time. What I want to do is to give them an opportunity to warm up before their favourite band and have fun. To make sure that before the headliner hits the stage, people are well prepared to scream, jump etc. This is our job here. Supporting band is to get people excited and also to spread the word about us because, of course, we want to be a headlining band soon. Crowd is the boss. We want to make sure the boss is happy. Otherwise, we may lose our job. We want to help people be happy. That’s a good start, I guess.
So what is your attitude concerning your next album? You have one under your belt, successful one. Should the second one prove anything or have you proved something already?
Hell, no! No! We are nowhere close to what we want to be. I think no musician can ever say “I’m just good enough I can’t get better”. You’ve got to be like: who you want to be and what you want to be should be still like four, five or six steps ahead of you. You’ve got to keep wanting to be better. You’ve got to keep practising. You’ve got to keep writing. You’ve got to keep becoming better and better and better! So I see our album as a perfect beginning for this so-much-more-to-come story.
What emotions does playing live evoke in you?
It makes me happy. Really, really happy. It makes me feel I’ve done something good. I’ve always dreamed about being good at something. When I was a kid I struggled how to hold a guitar, how to play drums, how to sing. And it still confuses me somehow. We are on tour and it happens to me. I’m still learning how to play the guitar. So it makes me very happy and very proud that we made it to the place where we are now.
What makes a song perfect to sing for you?
“Perfect” is such a big, scary word. I think that what makes me fucking committed to a song is honestly believing in it. Believing in lyrics, believing in a melody. Believing in music. I think that it’s got to be authentic. It’s got to be real. It’s got to also raise hair on your arms when you first hear it. We start writing everything on piano and vocals. Each of our songs is pretty much written with piano and vocals. Guitars, bass, drums and stuff is not the core of our songs. The core is melodic structure and the lyrics. And if we are satisfied with them, we are adding guitars, drums and bass. This is when we know our song may become real, has a certain character and brings the truth.
What is your earliest memory of music?
Lullabies. When I was a kid my mom and my dad sang me them to sleep. I think that is my earliest music memory.
Best memories! And I guess, a lot of people would love to hear your dad singing lullabies!
They were so flat, he was never in tune because he can’t sing! (laughs).
Of course 🙂 Please, share with us a little bit more of you: for example is music all-encompassing in your life or do you have any time for other interests or hobbies?
Music keeps me very very busy. When I’m at home, there are a couple of different things I’m working on with my friends. Many friends of mine are filmmakers, that’s because of my film studies. I have no idea if I end up writing film scripts, anyway. I thought it would be my job, my thing. I had no idea I would be doing music. It seemed too obvious to me. So when I’m not involved in music, I’m mostly into film-making.
Sometimes the most obvious though maybe not the easiest solutions are the best.
Yes, that’s surprising, isn’t it?