In the summer of 2013, four new friends trekked from their homes in New Jersey to the rural mountains of western Massachusetts. For months they would be isolated, nurturing their vision with the aid of untouched nature, hours of practice, and countless pots of fresh coffee. There, American Lions was born, and there would begin the fruition of their debut album, “Peru.”
With the framework of the album in place, the band moved to New Brunswick, NJ and found solace in the thriving basement scene of the area. There they prepared for yet another journey, this time to The Panda Studios in Fremont, California. With the help of producer Sam Pura, American Lions would evolve into their truest form yet. ‘Peru’ roars with monstrous guitar tones, an earth shaking rhythm section, and two minute songs filled to their brims with hooks and harmonies.
Joshua Claps – bass guitar/vocals
Justin Calaycay – guitar/vocals
James Bauman – guitar
Pat Moran – drums
*All answers provided by Joshua*
Every band has to start somewhere. Go back to the very beginning, what/when was the first time you all met each other?
The first time we all met each other together was in Peru, Massachusetts at Justin’s house. It was a night back in August 2013 when James and I had just pulled up to what we thought was a dead end forest. Long story short, we found Pat and Justin right where they were supposed to be… there they were, on the second floor of the two-story garage we titled ‘The Den.’ We all jammed there together for the first time and ended up writing our first couple of songs.
How long after getting together did you play your first show? Did you have pre-show jitters or were you all just super stoked to get out and play?
It took a few months after recording and finishing up the EP to play our first show. Nerves were definitely high, but the atmosphere kind of made things feel like a new era. New beginnings, new vibes.
Do any of you guys play instruments other than those played in the band? Would you consider bringing that talent into the band in the future?
Justin and Pat played in various ensembles throughout high school. Jazz showed them how to create melodies and grooves, while marching band preached discipline and tightness. Sax and timpani on the next record? I don’t know man.
Favorite songs? Do you cover any of your favorite songs live, or play any covers period?
We all listen to somewhat similar tunes, whether that’s a record that just came out last week or the classics. We did cover a Nirvana song at our first show, it was fun but it probably won’t happen again anytime soon.
Planning any upcoming tours or shows? Who are you playing with?
We’re planning to hit the road on a few tours starting in the spring. We’ll be going out with a few different bands, but everything is still in the works.
What about a dream tour, if you could play with any bands in any venues, in any country of your choosing, where and who would you play with?
This one’s a toughie for sure. I’d love to say that we’d be very much into touring with all the bands we listen to and admire but when it comes down to it we’d probably tour with whoever we can hang well with, vibe well with. As far as where to play, we’d love to get out to the west coast, the UK, Europe, Japan, etc.
What about new music? Did you guys recently release anything new or are you planning to release some new tunes soon?
-We have a two-song acoustic release titled “Soft” coming out soon. We’re planning to announce that as soon as possible.
As for your hometown, do you guys have a favorite place to play at home? Whither it’s a small venue or a practice space or even a garage or basement?
Being from New Brunswick, there are a ton of cool basements to play shows. We operate a basement venue called “The Bomb Shelter” with a bunch of our friends, but there are a lot of other places like Paradise Lost, The Banana Stand, The Candy Barrel, The Pussy Pad, etc.
Any crazy show stories to share with us? Crazy fans or crazy experiences you’ve had through playing shows or touring?
This one time last September we had our merch dude come up on stage during our last song when we played the Palladium in Massachusetts. He was in a green man suit, just like the one you’d see Charlie wearing in that one episode from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. We had him come up on stage and just do some interpretive dancing. That was cool, it acted as a nice ‘morale booster’ for us and seemed to get some kids stoked.
When we played Philly, during that same September tour, we met this dude who lived right next to the venue. He was really stoked that night because apparently he just found out that shows were being thrown right next to his house. We ended up hanging with him the whole night. It was funny because he had to be the loudest, most out of place dude present (or not present) that night.
What is your favorite part of being a band? What have you learned from your experiences?
Meeting new people and seeing new places are definitely some of the coolest things about playing music. After touring for a while, you learn what to do and what not to do. You realize the sense of community that’s incorporated into the music scene and just how advantageous that can be if utilized correctly.