Ottawa four-piece The Lionyls talk connection and collaboration
Standing on the shoulders of their forefathers of funk and rock & roll, the Lionyls, an R&B-rock outfit from Ottawa have worked their way up over the last few years, opening for such artists as The Trews, Sam Roberts, Serena Ryder, The Strumbellas and July Talk along the way.
With a lead singer that can only happen when swallowing an extra large dose of Marvin Gaye funk, Zach Raynor knows how to manage the perfect amount of falsettos and “ooh-ahs” to tip the band’s soulful funk-rock flavour into another level.
Touring their new album Cocaine Stars, the four-piece are bringing a new drum player with them on tour and a collage of styles that come from each member’s own favourites.
“Our bass player really likes Rush, our guitarist, Robbie Rigg really likes Jimi Hendrix,” Raynor says. “I love MJ; I love Freddie Mercury from Queen, and you can hear those influences in the music we play.”
The four-piece also make a point of building their name with vlogs that bulk up their brand, using tags like #lionyllivin’ and #lionylland. Raynor and his bandmates feel it’s important for fans to feel a connection to the band off the stage too.
“It’s cool for them to be able to see that behind the scenes, personal element where we aren’t up on stage and we might be just in the van, taking a cool picture of some scenery or going grocery shopping,” he says.
“When I think about my favourite artists, I mean, I would like to know what Michael Jackson ate at the grocery store, what games he played on Xbox.”
“We’re just regular people doing cool stuff at night,” bassist Alex Jee says.
The Lionyls also bring a form of collaboration to their song production that’s rare in the industry. They find that each member will bring an idea, a riff or a word sequence to the table and they’ll work together to jam on it until they work out where the refining needs to happen.
“We’re all after the same goal of really building these songs that really convey emotion honestly to the listener,” says Raynor. “But we all go about that I think, in a little bit of a different way.”
When it comes down to it, Raynor says that one person will take whatever section needs work and work on it alone for a month or so. For example, if the chords aren’t lining up, Rigg will go home and work out the kinks and bring it to the group. But as far as throwing the concepts together, the four of them often work collaboratively to decide the next step.
“Because we’re all after the same goal, it’s not criticism, like to hurt anybodiess feelings. You just have to be very open and listen to what someone else thinks about your idea, which may be very personal and hard to hear but you still have to be able to do that.
“In the end, we just want the music to be the best that it can be.”
The troupe are hitting up Edmonton thrice this month at both the Needle and Blues on Whyte too.
Fri., Sept. 22 (5:30 pm)
The Needle Vinyl Tavern (Free)