Interview with BASS LIONS

By Kristie

BSW - First and foremost, please introduce yourselves and where you are from.

BL - We are Bass Lions: James Vanderzaag, Nathan Stretch, Anthony James, and Charlie Murray. We’re mostly country folk who have moved into larger urban centers [Hamilton, Guelph] to attend university. Anthony, however, is—and always has been—from Brampton.

BSW - Bass Lions….tell us how you came up with that name.

BL - It’s a terrible pun on ‘bass lines’. There is also some ambiguity around the correct pronunciation of ‘bass’. I tend to believe that it should be pronounced with a hard ‘a’, although Charlie once published a watercolour of a half-fish-half-lion entitled ‘Bass Lion’ in a local paper in a bid to shroud the entire subject in perpetual controversy.

BSW - I see that you are all family members. (WOW!) Did your parents play? Are you all from musical families? How did you all get involved in the music scene?

BL - If you read our bio carefully, you’ll see that we are actually three cousins and one ‘brutha’… and if you look closely at our pictures, you will see what we mean.

We cousins are part of a larger contingent of [mostly male] cousins who are interested in music. We’re the type of family that has family jams at holiday gatherings where we improvise on prog-rock and jazz. In that sense we ARE a musical family, and we are gradually starting to COME FROM a musical family as our parents and Aunts and Uncles become retroactively interested in music through their kids. It’s the trickle-down-effect. For instance, my dad picked up his first instrument [saxophone] at the age of 50 and has since started playing with us--asking questions and developing his own musical theories. My Uncle’s old acoustic guitar became attractive to him again after his children began playing and recording it in new and exciting ways.

Anthony’s family is more traditionally musical. His dad is a talented keyboard player and he has a strong musical bond with his brothers. I’ve witnessed his mother clap in time and sing I tune to music on the radio. Anthony and his brothers can form a crack trio at anytime [drums, bass, keys] and crank out tight, pleasing music with ease. Our family suffers from the lack of a natural drummer. We tend to try and fill in holes of our musical tapestry like this [there are others] with clever [too-clever?] ideas, which, in turn, render our natural output inaccessible to the casual listener.

Bass Lions is a good hybrid.

BSW - How would you describe your music?

BL - Our music tends to describe itself. If pressed, I would say that our music is a lot like a car crash: people tend to rubberneck.

BSW - I noticed in your bio it states that you are all veterans of the music and art scene. Do you combine the two on stage?

BL - We’ve talked about this but it hasn’t come to fruition yet—in the sense that we have yet to set up projectors and screens-flashing-interesting-doodles at a gig. The art for of our poster and t-shirts, however, is all in-house.

BSW - What can one expect to see at one of your shows?

BL - In an effort to remain interesting [and interested] there is a penchant for improvisation amongst certain members. There’s also a lot of instrument switching mid-song with our bass player doubling on keys, our guitarist doubling on drums, our drummer doubling on samples and sound manipulation, and our singer tripling on guitar and bass, and everyone pitching in on vocals and percussion. We keep in seamless though: we don’t want he audience waiting around while we switch up.

BSW - You released an EP “More Than Islands” and will be releasing a full length cd. When do you think this will happen? And what can your fans expect from this c.d.?

BL - I imagine we’ll release the full-length in and around the New Year. We’ve already started working on it and I have been surprised at how full and forward the songs have been sounding. We made the last record while we were forming the band—our CD release party was our second show ever. So it’s a different process with everyone’s musical voice more informed than ever.

BSW - Thanks so much for your time guys! Please keep me posted!

BL - Thank you!


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