In what may be 2014's most inspirational interview, Aaron Hurtado and Damian Fisher of Lion House teach us how to give it 100%, provide details on their upcoming EP and inform us of the Year of Versace.
Lion House is one of the youngest bands in a growing Kansas City scene. What was it like starting to play shows and beginning to record together?
Aaron: Well we all grew up going to the same highschool, so we were already pretty close friends. I was in a band with Austin my freshman year and then a band called Summer Handjob my sophomore year of highschool with Damian. So when things with Lion House started coming together, it was a pretty smooth ride.
Damian: It was really cool getting to go from being someone that watched to being a part of it, and it really helped like the idea of DIY because it used to be just a big thing. You just gotta go out and give a hundred percent everyday ;*
Where's the coolest place you've played a show? What's it like for the touring DIY band?
Aaron: The Lemp Neighborhoods Art Center in St. Louis, MO is without a doubt my favorite venue that we have played. I think in 2013 we made the trip up there either on tour or just for a misc. show 4 times. We have made a lot of good friends and heard a lot of good music at that place. And the owner Mark Sarich knows how to hold together his community. He makes sure to feed every band, and provide a place for them to sleep, as well as giving them the money that is made at the door. Touring DIY is almost never financially easy.
Damian: The coolest place has to be The Lemp Neighborhood Art Center in St. Louis. You walk in and there are all these couches and there is this huge St. Louis flag just on the wall, and Mark, the man who runs Lemp, is so welcoming it's crazy. Touring as a DIY band kind of sucks when you're a tiny band that no one knows about because it's supposed to be "Do It Yourself" or "Do It Together", but when half the people in this scene don't respond to you trying to book a show or help you book shows it becomes a stressful burden booking a simple four day tour, but it's still a lot of fun getting to be with your close friends all day erryday for however long you're on tour. Just gotta go out there and give a hundred percent ;*
Your list of tags on bandcamp includes 'shoegaze' and 'midwestern emo'. How do you combine the two genres? What bands do you consider influences?
Aaron: We kind of have found a happy medium between ambient noises and minor scales. I mean all four of us have way different influences musically, I think we can agree on one or two, but if we got into a real deep discussion about it, I'm sure someone would get injured. We've come close to that before. As for my influences, The Smiths, Joy Division, Foxing, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Elvis, Deafheaven, and Cloakroom have all provided little attributes musically that I have really taken and added to my own style.
Damian: I don't know how we combined them, but for me it's all about the "feeling" of the song when you're playing it, and I think the shoegaze/emo thing allows the song to feel intimate more so than it would if we were a poppy bubblegum emo band. Some influences for me are Joie De Vivre, Pianos Become The Teeth, Funeral Diner, Funeral Advantage, Bon Iver, Explosions in the Sky, I Hate Myself, Mineral, Sore Eyelids, Suis La Lune, and Two Bicycles.
You have a proper debut release in the works, how is that coming along? What's your recording process like?
Aaron: We are currently getting material together and it is a lot of fun. Today was -21 degrees outside and Damian was persistent to get us to practice at 9 am to work on the new song. As for recording, we have not gotten that far yet. A studio will probably be our best bet when it comes to getting a final product that we will be proud to present to people.
Damian: It's coming along, we have really been dragging our feet awhile, but we're getting back into the groove of practicing at least once a week. Recording so far in Lion House has been us using like one microphone placed in the room and all of us playing our parts and hoping it doesn't sound too bad, so for this release we've all decided to actually go somewhere and have it recorded for us.
Besides music, what do you enjoy doing?
Aaron: Shit. I like to read, and write. I really enjoy J.D. Salinger. I eat a lot and work a lot. Oh and I do hang out with my beautiful girlfriend. The life of Aaron Hurtado is pretty boring.
Damian: I really enjoy reading J.D. Salinger. As for me, I don't have time for a beautiful girlfriend man. I just smoke cigarettes like a grandpa, in hopes that one day I will just become a cigarette. Just hanging out with friends, and lastly; sleeping forever (5ever). You just gotta go out there and give a hundred percent when you're trying to sleep
You guys are both in another band called Sex Groove, right? What's the story behind that?
Aaron: So I have this really rad friend Seth. Him and I have a few Highschool classes together, so like we get to walk around school and act too cool. Well Seth has this incredible voice, and like we were talking about making some music. One night, a bunch of us were hanging at Seth's house and I picked up the guitar, and Damian picked up the guitar, Seth started singing, and our friend brad grabbed the back of a computer chair and started smacking the shit out of that. Thus, Sex Groove was born, and by the looks of it, we are taking this band pretty serious!
Damian: I mean what he said. Aaron and I live together so it's really easy to just be in bands together because we cuddle at night for warmth, but no because we know how the other person writes, so it's a breeze
Any future plans for that project?
Aaron: Ya, Sex Groove is writing some songs, and then a split with some pretty cool bands. After that we will see where the wind blows us. I can see Sex Groove touring and dancing all summer
Damian: Yeah what he said. I'm just in it for the Versace shirts
Back to Lion House, which of the songs on your bandcamp are you most happy with? Will any of them be on the upcoming release?
Aaron: Culo Sweatshirt is my favorite that we have on the bandcamp site. Mostly because one of my bestfriends was our drummer at that time. He passed away this past August so that song holds a lot of weight. Agape will definitely be on the new EP. I am not sure about the other demo honestly.
Damian: I think our demos of Agape and DJ will be on the new EP, but for me I'm most proud of Agape because it broke a little rut that Lion House was in with writing, and it just has a lot of emotion for me. But you just gotta go out there and give a hundred percent. Leave it all on the field. Honestly, I think the songs we're writing now are better than ever before so if you like those demos just wait till you hear the new stuff. ;*
What was your favorite LP of 2013? Who do you predict will drop 2014's best album?
Aaron: I have like a little tie. MBV - My Bloody Valentine, The Albatross - Foxing, and Deafheaven - Sunbather. As for 2014, that new 17 years album Teased Hair coming out in like 2 days is going to be too good.
Damian: I think other than Deafheaven's Sunbather, this was a year of just really good songs, but not incredible albums. For me Foxing's The Medic and Bit By a Bee pt. 2 are the jams, and the last half of Caravels Lacuna. Then Capsule dropped [A] and that thing is a hot little release. The internet has been saying Pianos Become the Teeth are recording, so if they release something that is probably going to be the best thing, but Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) is finally releasing a follow up to What It Takes To Move Forward, so hopefully that takes the cake.
Aaron: Jude is the coolest kid. He makes my heart melt with his cute smile. Thanks for giving support to the small bands, what you're doing is helping out more than you know.
Damian: Thank you for asking us to do this, and dealing with our goofy responses. I went out there and gave a hundred percent, but Jude out there giving a 1000 percent, and everyone needs to know this the year of Versace