Many people were surprised when Lionheart declared their next Canadian and European Tour to be their last ones late May this year. Luckily Mo and Lukas managed to interview, Jay, Lionhearts drummer, during their tour in February. They talked about DIY, touring with your family, their style over time and Limp Bizkit. Check it out!
Thanks for taking the time, dude. This is your first headline tour in Europe, how have you been?
What’s up, this is Jay, after a souldout show, having beers and cigarettes in Stuttgart on a tuesday day 15 or 16 into the tour. Thank you too man. We are very gratefull for this tour, we have a great lineup, with great atmosphere and everything goes well. It is also the first time we take care of everything like the nightliner.
Your latest release “Love Don’t Live Here” was released on your own record label.
Yes that is right, LHHC Records. For us it’s not about the money, not for Lionheart at least but I feel like for everybody else it is about money. That is exactly why we started it. We produced everything ourselves, we distribute everything theirselves. That way we have control over what we do. Nick Jet from legendary Terror did lot on “Undisputed“, so that means a lot to us but we wanted to do what we want, so we went into the studio and just vibed. Having someones opinion is great and it is awesome to have great people trying to help and support you. But it’s you on the stage who has to play the songs. “Love Don’t Live Here” is our best release because it is the most of “us”. We get great reactions from the crowds.
Do you plan on releasing other stuff on the label?
That is a good question, LHHC Records wasn’t necessarily meant to be a label. We just wanted to do things on our own. But maybe we put out something from friends from home. Keep a look out! Since we already built it, we can use it to help friends, nothing is official yet but maybe we might release Drowning from Chicago or These Streets from California, just maybe. For us it is not about the money in the pocket but to promote bands that we think deserve it.
In Europe, you distribute via BDHW.
Toni is a great dude, much love. He is down and he helped us a lot. He also has a lot of connections and can do things we could’t from the US. We couldnt be more appreciative of him and his work. It’s a small world in hardcore and it’s hard to find someone who is motivated enough to it.
You just finished your set here in Stuttgart. There was a dude in the crowd with “Lionheart” and “The Will To Survive” tattooed on his forearms. What do you think about that?
We have some of the most dedicated fans and an awesome fanbase. It feels like if you have seen us once, we have a 100% return rate. People seem to come back cause they have fun. Lionheart had a lot of great tours since 2009, but it feels like the Taste Of Anarchy Tour with Nasty really opened us up to this huge crowds in Europe. Our shows are a great mix from people that saw us six years ago and people that didn’t know about us until last summer. I just like to hit 2 and 4 on kick and snare and I can’t believe people are coming back for this (laughs).
There was a time around 2011 were it was silent around Lionheart.
Yep. Everybody tried to do the life thing instead of the band thing. We were not sure where to go with Lionheart and it is not easy to manage your band and everyday life all the time. The Taste Of Anarchy Tour brought us back and we realized the potential. So we went all in, played great shows, festivals and tours and haven’t stopped or regretted it since.
How is it being locked in a van with your brother for a the most part of a month? We both have brothers ourselves, and we don’t think it would be a good idea , you get on your nerves easily.
Back in the day, when we hit the streets hard and were 9 months per year on tour, you get onto each other but end of the day we love each other to death. We see it as a possibility to get to experience this awesome tour life as a family and its an opportunity for us.
So can you make a living of touring?
Definetely not! I work in Chicago. I am from Cali but we moved up there, long story. I am a sous chef at a restaurant there and bust my ass of 6 days a week just to pay for my bills and get to tour. There is a huge missconception that you make millions as soon as you tour on another continent or in a nightliner. We just tour to party and hang with our friends from all over the world.
How does your rider look like?
Haha, we are simple. We like 3 Turkey sandwiches in the morning, hot meal in the night and beer. It’s insane, we just play our music and get food and shelter for it.
There are stories that bands often get kicked out after a show in the states.
I love America but it happens that you get some pizza and a water and then you have to leave, it’s an “interesting dynamic”, let’s call it that way. Europe has a higher respect level for touring bands. It’s different but somehow its all the same.
After the first two albums, your music style changed a little, especially the drumming. It feels slower, more groovy, I don’t want to say less sophisticated but different.
But thats the truth. In the beginning, as a new band, we made 1000 CD copies of a band that no one gave fuck about, and the music style back then, that’s just how we felt at that time. We wanted to be the fastest and hardest band around. Between “Undisputed” and “Welcome To The Westcoast” writing was a little more organic. We tried to do more things ourselves. After many years in a band and on tour you grow as a person and our newer releases show this progression. It is better than trying to be someone you’re not. I want to write music that people can like and don’t need to pretend to like. Somehow this seems to be standard in todays music scene.
Do you think that parts of your success comes from not trying to be the hardest and fastest anymore?
I think so. People see that we don’t want to be something we are not. I am not on stage to be Tommy Lee or some kind of rockstar. But that doesn’t mean I prefer our new stuff exclusively. I still like playing all the new and old songs.
For many well known bands older songs from early releases don’t get recognized by the audience, but somehow for you, everyone knows every song.
It’s insane! I am super grateful that it is like that but we would play our old songs anyway. Still it’s amazing. There are some times where you just play your setlist down like nothing but sometimes your old songs hit you with their meaning again like on the first day. We don’t take it for granted. Insane.
Now that you got a little faster on the newest release, will you cover “Break Stuff” again?
(Laughs) If we could cover it every day we would, I love Limp Bizkit. We try to incorporate a little fun in the set. Sometimes either Limp Bizkit or Metallica cause we like it. We covered“Break Stuff” absolutely just to piss tryhard people off cause it comes across super rockstar-ish. It just gives a fresh thing to the setlist. If you dont like Limp Bizkit, get fucked and suck my dick haha.
So it would be adequate to cover the song again since your lyrics on “Love Don’t Live Here” got a little more “bad”.
“Keep Talking” is a song to tell all the internet jerkoffs to go suck some dick. Figure out your life and find something better to do than commenting on shitty bands videos. That’s not what you wanna do with your life. If you don’t like it, change the YouTube channel, like start a band and go to China with it. Just chill out bro. Do something positive with the life you have. I guess there is still a little punkrock left in us haha.
We have seen your band quite a few times now live and Lionheart doesn’t seem to wear a lot of merch on stage or in general.
My brother basicly just listens to 90s R’n’B. Its not a weird thing but people would just lose their minds if i would play in a Tool shirt. I wear what I like cause I like it, but there is no particular reason behind it.
When we are on tour, most of the time we don’t listen to Hardcore in the van at all. How do you handle that?
Absolutely right. I love Hardcore and I play shows every night so the last thing I want to hear is “Punishment” after a set. Put on some fucking N’Sync and i’ll get down haha. I mean look at Scott Vogel, this dude is real as fuck and he is Hardcore. He is a maniac but a good person, some people live and breathe it but I can’t do it. It just comes down to personal preference in the end. Find out after all that breakdown stuff what kind of music you also like. Don’t take it too seriously, don’t yell at me for listening to Taylor Swift.
Want to give any shoutout, or do you have some bands to check out?
Thanks Fastbreak Records, BDHW, LHHC Records, My brother Rob for looking good on stage, Cameron on guitar who plays in These Streets, Drowning, all homies from Ohio, Chicago, California, so many people that kept this band alive and going. Also thanks a lot to Between The Lines Zine for putting out all free issues for all the kids and doing this interview with us. Thank you all for everything. Its an amazing experience to be able to play music every night. And with that, cheers.