At the end of last month London rockers As Lions released their debut album and in April they will go on tour in America.
The new record, Selfish Age, blends hard-hitting rock with melodic vocals that comment on everyday issues in life and society.
(Photo by John McMurtrie)
The band is made up of Will Homer and Conor O’Keefe on guitar, drummer Dave Fee and Stefan Whiting, who lives in Walthamstow and works in Rock 'n' Roll Tattoos in Lea Bridge Road, on the bass. On vocals is Austin Dickinson, son of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson.
Despite this musical heritage and sharing the same heavy rock genre, Will, who lives in Muswell Hill and went to Fortismere School in Tetherdown, says of the Iron Maiden connection: “It’s something we try to distance ourselves from.
“It was circumstance that Austin ended up doing music. When I met him he was planning to become a screen writer and so studied English Literature and film. We’ve taken as little help from his father as possible with no disrespect, but we want Bruce to just be his dad.”
He admits that his bandmate is quite the metal head and so I have to assume growing up in the household of a metal rock ‘n’ roller has had its influence but while Iron Maiden are heavy metal, As Lions are a little less intense, better described as radio rock or hard rock.
Austin is one of the main writers in the band along with Connor, while Will describes himself as “critical thinker who ends up helping them construct ideas.”
I wondered if the other band members had similar influences and was rather taken aback my Will’s answer.
“We’re a completely mixed bag. Connor grew up with classic rock, Fleetwood Mac being one of his favourite bands and U2 being the reason he plays guitar, Dave loves post-hardcore which is angsty music with a lot of nice singing, Stef is straight hip-hop head and I, for some unknown reason, love pop music.”
“We’re not really rock ‘n’ roll kind of people. On tour there’s no throwing stuff out of hotels. We’re normally pretty relaxed, anything we get up to is just us being stupid on a night out after one too many shandys.”
The album Selfish Age was released on January 20 and Will describes their sound as being “similar to an angry Muse”.
Lyrically it draws from current matters, speaking to consumerism and the world’s image-obsessed culture, letting go of life’s burdens, and navigating the way out of disaster.
Austin explains: “I was thinking about the idea of where we’re at in the world—where I sit and where my generation sits.
“Take, for instance, the electro-tinged title track Selfish Age, to me it’s a song about consumerism and this relentless taking and taking, until you realise you’ve taken so much that you’ve lost sight of what you originally set out for.
“There’s a very powerful sense in the world right now that something went wrong. We don’t know quite when or where it went wrong, but we have no idea how to turn back the clock and fix it. And I think a lot of people placate that feeling by just consuming—plugging the hole, so to speak.”
Despite being British the record has had a warmer reception in the USA, perhaps due to their two month arena tour with Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown at the end of last year. They will cross the pond once again to support Shinedown, followed by festival appearances at Rock On The Range, Welcome To Rockville, and Northern Invasion, in April this year.
Preceding this they will play The Boston Arms in Tufnell Park. “It’s like a small get together for a send-off before we go to the States again,” Will explains.
Boston Music Room, 178 Junction Road, Tufnell Park, N19 5QQ, Wednesday, March 22. Details: 020 7272 8153