||NATE FROM LIONIZE ON WHY CLUTCH, CAMDEN AND CRISPS ROCK
Lionize: Roundhouse, London
15th December 2016
Words: Philip Welford, Pictures: Tim Finch
Nate Bergman from Lionize, one of the support acts on this amazing Clutch gig at the Roundhouse, Camden is happy to be at this iconic venue.
Nate says: "It's hard to describe how it feels to play here without sounding cheesy and clichéd. But for a band like us with a deep appreciation of rock and blues music, it's an honour, I mean how else do you put it? There's very few venues in America like this. You know the Roundhouse, Royal Albert Hall and to be here supporting Clutch? I mean, c'mon, its fucking ridiculous!"
Talking about the relationship the band has with Neil and the guys, Nate echoes the sentiment that a lot of bands take for granted:
"That the vans uncomfortable or the riders not fulfilled, bullshit. Man, we just played in Pampaloma, Spain, with Clutch, you know? They're taking an open and enthusiastic rock'n'roll audience and saying, 'Hey, show up and if you're fucking awesome, they're going to be into it!' So we're very lucky."
The gig is being treated as something as a sounding board for the new album and Lionize are playing all new songs. Nate says:
"We've had fans going either way, some want to hear 'Jetpack Soundtrack' and that's cool but in a thirty minute set? We've changed the songs, 'this part's too slow, this part's really got hands clapping'. We really stripped back the writing starting with guitar and piano and took the riffs and grooves around it and built around it.
"On this record there's a lot of influence from Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and The Beatles and stuff where, you know, I think there's a lot of bands who think they invented the wheel and they need to realise it's been done so well; before that all you can do is put your own stamp on it and by going back and listening to 'Rubber Soul', 'Abbey Road' or 'Fighting' by Thin Lizzy, we have to learn those things before we can go crazy. We did our homework on this one."
Going on to talk influences and the whole science trip he explains:
"We've always had an interest in science, space, travel and math, I mean can you write a better love song than Stevie Wonder? I guess not but if you do it in an interstellar kind of way..."
Nate admits to realising, with a sardonic grin, that America isn't the centre of the universe, that through touring there are in fact many centres of the universe:
"We've realised that there's so many things going on out there that conceptually... that we want to write more love songs but maybe use space and time as a metaphor; we want to be emotional and fun."
The new album will be recorded in Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster's place in Baltimore, where Clutch and a plethora of others have made music:
"We're gonna produce this record," says the frontman. "We're gonna do this as a band, I don't know if we're ready for it but we want it to be representing what we hear as a band. We've learnt a lot about recording and have some great ideas and we want to delve into it."
The conversation turns back to band riders as Nate reveals a more humble side, rare to see sometimes, just water, beer and towels, but...
"Sometimes we get lucky, we get snacks and chocolate. We're really self sufficient," he laughs. "We don't need to be fed! We like to go out and see what's out there, I mean, how many potato chips can you really eat? It's fucking endless. I like potato chips, and the crisps here in the UK are fucking awesome."
It's been a big few years for Lionize, with undoubtably big years ahead:
"We're the luckiest band in the world, I never, ever take it for granted. There are a million other bands out there, some better than us, some not. I get to travel the world, meet people like you. I'm in London. We get to play songs and the fact that people give a shit about the band is awesome!"
The gig itself starts rocking out of the speakers with a heavy dub bass fanfare and I already know I've got my work cut out capturing the pure essence of this unpredictable band.
To soaring Hammondesque chords courtesy of keyboard player Chris Brooks, Lionize begin. Soaring tempo changes and an even faster paced bass funk from Henry Upton prove that Lionize 'Have The Funk'!
With a booming tom tom intro the Roundhouse is coming to life as Nate and the boys hurl us into some kind of Redneck, tub thumping tailgate party. Fists are pumping and heads a'banging as Chase Lapp's single bass drum pedal goes into warp drive and the powerhouse, deep vocals and roaring guitars are as tight as Mark Taylor at the Christmas Party.
The 60s heavy, space age vibe leads into some seriously down and out stoner rock, a ballad that holds the crowd by the curlies, the keyboards providing a beautiful balance to this dirty blues feel. Damn, am I enjoying some weird modern salute to Prog?
The space reggae and southern rock continue as the sound continues to raise the Roundhouse roof and with the ankle breaking wah-wah-tastic sound of Nate and the interstellar organ, drums and funktastic bass still tripping round my head, I'm left with the exciting thought: 'We've got a new album coming!'