50 Lions have gone from being a band that started as a bit of a joke and some fun to one of Australia’s premier hardcore bands.
Originating from the small coastal town of Byron Bay, home to juggernauts Parkway Drive (whose singer is the older brother of 50 Lions vocalist Oscar), the band is about to release their sophomore album on Resist Records.
Vocalist Oscar McCall took some time out to chat about their new album, upcoming tours and pokie machines…
You guys are about to release your new album "Where Life Expires". Tell us a bit about the new album.
The album is going to be our 2nd real full length. We’ve had a few member changes since “Time Is The Enemy”(Mickey has been drumming for us for almost 2 years, Elmsy and Baina have been more recent additions). We’ve also 2 other releases and a lot of touring so I think the band in general has matured a lot and so has the 50L sound on this record. The album itself is a lot heavier and darker as a whole with a wider range of influences than any release we’ve put out in the past.
You chose to record with Sam Johnson again at Three Phase Studios in Melbourne. I’ve recorded with Sam before and he is a great guy who is also an amazing live mixer. What were your reasons for recording with him again?
When we were looking for someone to record the pre album 7-inch, we wanted someone who could pull off a rawer feel, especially being a vinyl only release.Sam came widely recommended from a few of the older Melbourne guys and after doing the 7-inch with him we did some searching around and decided that he was still going to be the best option for the record for both engineering and helping to produce the album.
How does the album sound compared to your previous album ‘Time Is The Enemy’?
Well it’s been over 2 years since then, We’ve done a lot of shows, line up changes so it was never going to be anything like the previous album. On a whole it’s a lot more mature on a lot of different levels. Song writing wise, the songs have a defined structure which they never really used to have; more choruses and hooks etc. The music itself is a lot heavier and has a darker feel and the lyrical content Is more varied but I think it still have the 50L sound to it and grove that We’ve carried across all of our releases since day one.
Her Nightmare vocalist Baina is now playing guitar for you guys. How does that work considering he lives in Melbourne and the rest of the band is based in Byron Bay?
The band started in Byron but as of 2007 we have always had one or more member living interstate. Domestic flights are so cheap and we don’t really practice unless we have a need to either write or prepare for touring.
Baina, Mickey and myself all live in Melbourne while Boz and Elmsy live on the North Coast so it still works out the same as it used to.
What kind of input has Baina had on the new material? Has the dynamic of the band changed since he joined?
Baina joined the band just after Her Nightmare broke up and We were recording the pre album 7-inch. He’s always been a good mate of ours and has been playing guitar, bass and whatever he plays for a number of years. I think initially he was just helping out on the 7-inch to produce and have an outside opinion on the recording and everything goes with it. We were a 4 piece looking for a 2nd guitarist at the time and I guess the offer to play guitar and tour on an international level was something he was keen to take up.
He was the main input on the new record on every level when it comes down to the music side of things, riffs, song writing, vocals etc. Things have definitely changed within 50L as a whole since he joined but more so once we started writing the new record and adding in elements we’ve never used before and different approaches to the way we play and function as a band.
You guys hit the road in November to promote the album with Trapped Under Ice. What are you looking forward to the most about the tour?
Personally I’m just looking forward to playing in general. It’s been the longest break between shows the band as ever had. I know that the rest of the band as well as myself are really keen to start playing the new songs live. Being on the tour is also a great feeling, hanging out with 4 mates, not having to work and catching up with friends in every city.
Do you have a favourite city/town to play in?
Not particularly, I think it depends on the show and the vibe. The scene in Australia is so up and down that one year Perth AA shows might be amazing then you come back a year later and its average. If I had to pick anywhere it would have to be Byron, for a small town shows are the most consistent and kids are.
They are less caught up in any bullshit on the internet or current hype that’s going on and just stoked to be at a show. Also it’s both Boz and My hometown so there’s always going to be some sentimental feel to it as well.
Do you think being Winston from PWD’s brother has helped the band in any way? People might be more inclined to check out the band if they know that one of you guys are related to the band?
I think initially it may have but we were never given a free ride. We worked really hard for the first few years playing as much as we could. Trying to tour at any chance and put out fresh material. We’ve only played a handful of shows with PWD which is shame because they’re still some of our close friends and an amazing band but in general the genre’s of our music are pretty far apart that I don’t think too many people care now that we are an established band. People might actually be put off if they’re a random kid thinking that because we are related we are going to be in similar style bands or even sound anything alike.
Did Winston inspire you to sing in a hardcore band in any way? Has he been supportive in your musical endeavors?
I wouldn’t say inspire at all, We’ve both been singing in bands since 2001, mainly because we never learnt any actual musical instrument growing up. When it comes to support I think family will always look after each other. We might not get to play together but he’s always want to wear our merch and always helps us out when he can promoting us or helping us out with advice or opinions from his experiences in PWD. We both have similar musical tastes as well, PWD is a metal band for the most part of things but they’re all hardcore kids from a hardcore background not metal heads that grew up on Iron Maiden and Metallica.
The Boys Of Summer 2010 lineup was also announced today. Are you guys excited to be part of this lineup (Every Time I Die, 50 Lions, Trap Them, Mary Jane Kelly)?
Yeah for sure, it’s a really diverse line up which is cool and the tour itself is always really well promoted and attended. I think promoters and kids in general are so used to pigeon holing bands that should be touring together based on their sound instead of trying to mix things up. Every band on the tour has a different sound and we would have to be the most straight forward band on the bill this year.
Was part of the reason you decided to do this tour to play in front of ETID fans that might not have heard of you guys?
Yes and no. It’s a good package tour and always will be, ETID being on the tour is definitely a bonus because touring with a band you like and respect is always a good thing.
As I said earlier it’s more also that it’s a well promoted and attended tour every year so there will definitely be a group of kids at every show that hasn’t seen or heard 50L before, so hopefully they like our sound and pick up our record and start coming to our shows aswell.
So after these two tours what’s on the horizon for 50 Lions? Do you guys have any more plans to head overseas?
Of course, I think you being a hardcore band there is a certain level you can reach in Australia and might not ever progress past playing the same towns over and over again which is fine but, there is a whole world out there with hardcore scenes so being able to travel as a band and play shows in unfamiliar places is an awesome feeling. We have a US label doing our release aswell and a lot more US contacts so that’s definitely in the plans as well as Asia and Europe. When it comes down to it touring is a great way of seeing the world with your friends.
You guys apparently got your band name from the pokie machine of the same name. Is this true?
Hahahaha, yeah it is. When we started the band it was a bit of a joke and we didn’t really care. We were looking for a name and we always used to play this poker machine (and win) so we thought why not?
Is 50 Lions your favouritre pokie machine? What’s the most you have ever won?
I haven’t played the pokies for a while but I remember winning about $400 on it at Crafterfest in Adelaide whichever year that was.I’d rather know the odds I’m better on so I’ve swapped to blackjack and roulette.
Who are some local bands that kids should be checking out these days?
Word up! who were are taking on the album tour are definitely worth checking out. Blkout from Perth are definitely a great band as well. Any band that is young and has their act together putting out releases and touring is worth checking out in my books. I’ve heard good things about the new Persist record and also a young band from Sydney called Legions.
What gets you excited about hardcore these days?
The same thing that has always gotten me excited, going to see bands I love and hanging out with my friends.
Any parting words for the kids?
See the world while your young. You have your whole life to sit in the suburbs with a house and wife.
50 Lions‘ new record "Where Life Expires" is out on October 23rd via Resist Records. The band embark on a national tour in November with Trapped Under Ice (USA). For all the dates and venues click here.