Born Lion is the kind of band that epitomises what punk rock is all about. They’re the right amount of edgy, they’re in your face and above all – they’re a lot of fun.
Having just released their sophomore album Celebrate The Lie, lead singer John Bowker took the time to speak with Lunchbox – telling us what the four-piece has been up to since the release of their debut album, Final Words.
Bowker reflected positively on the addition of drummer Andres Hyde to the band’s lineup.
“Our original drummer departed and we got Andres on board and we pretty much started writing straight away. We spent a lot of time working on the songs. I’d say it’s the most energy and time we’ve put into anything so far.”
There is often an immense pressure on band’s when it comes to releasing a follow-up to an acclaimed album. Hype can be an extremely difficult thing to live up to. Bowker however, vouched that for Born Lion, these pressures in no way hinder the band’s progress and creative output.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a significant amount of pressure on us really – In terms of where we’re at in the landscape of the scene. We just took it as an opportunity to try some different stuff. We had a set formula originally – but we spent the time seeing what else we could come up – It was a bit of a challenge but we ended up coming up with more songs than the first one.”
He went on to express what he perceives to be some of the highlights of the new album.
“I think the opening track’s really good – Slowly Sinking. It’s like the older Born Lion style. It’s super high energy, heavy – screamy sort of stuff.”
“Evil K is probably one of my favourites… It’s a bit special because it’s sort of the first song we wrote as a band as this new line-up. There was a heap of excitement and good vibes going on at that time.”
We also discussed the thought process behind the creation of their latest music video for the single Drag. A video that depicts the band’s lead singer being decapitated by a gang of violent man-sized chickens.
“It was Red our guitarist that came up with that. He’s actually a psychologist by day which is a little concerning,” he joked, “He said ‘Look – I’ve got this idea. You’ve got to hear me out. Basically, we’ll be in chicken suits.'”
“We just spent the day running around Sydney in chicken suits. It was pretty funny.”
On what it is the attracts him to punk rock as a whole, with a good sense of humour Bowker explained, “I guess it’s just an attitude… it’s dirty. I can swear a lot.”
But where does this attitude come from? Perhaps, from some of the band’s musical influences, which according to Bowker are extremely extensive and broad.
“Throughout the band there’s heaps of differences. Our new drummer’s into doom metal… Nathan is right into that pop-punk stuff. There’s a big mix.”
For the frontman however, it’s bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, The Cure, You Am I and finally Nirvana that have personally affected him. He reflected with fondness the impact that the legendary Seattle grunge band had on his musical tastes.
“I got into them post his death [Kurt Cobain’s]. I remember walking over to school and singing Smells Like Teen Spirit in my head. That would have been when he was still alive – but with me not having any context to who it was or what they were about. It wasn’t until I saw MTV Unplugged and thought ‘that was the coolest thing that I’d ever seen.'”
Bowker also explained his creative processes when it comes to Born Lion’s lyrical content. It became immediately clear to me that he very much thinks outside the box when looking for inspiration for his songwriting. He also shared a couple of funny anecdotes that eventually turned into songs.
“Lyrically it’s just about shit that’s happening around me – reflecting on childhood. There’s a song on their called Shadows that’s just about where I live. There’s a guy that just used to sit at the bus stop every night – long after the buses had finished for the day and he’d just sort of sit there for hours. I’d see him there a few nights a week and I found myself keeping track of what nights he was there…
That sounded really weird,” he laughed, “I just found it interesting.”
“Evil K was about a documentary I was watching about these ageing stuntmen that sort of passed their prime but they were continuing to organise these big stunts. A small crowd would turn up and watch them. It was all these old overweight dudes. I thought that was pretty interesting.”
If the band’s second album is any indication, then perhaps one day we’ll be lucky enough to see a documentary about them in the same vane. One can only hope!
Born Lion’s new album is out now.
23 February, Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
24 February, Ed Castle, Adelaide
2 March, The Flamin’ Galah, Brisbane
3 March, The Chippo Hotel