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Chris Kinnon (of Lions in the Street) Interview

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , , .

Lions in the Street are one of those bands that you can’t help but enjoy. There is a great divide between groups who dabble as a full blown rock n’ roll machine and those who live it, Lions in the Street is the latter. Presenting a ying to the Toronto art-band scene’s yang, this Vancouver quartet deliver a strong set with the recent release of the band’s five track EP, Cat Got Your Tongue. In this interview singer and guitarist Chris Kinnon discusses the band’s birth, the Vancouver scene and touring.

Where did the name “Lions in the Street” come from?

Chris Kinnon: From that Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton song… “Lions in the Street, that is what we are; no one in between, how can we be wrong.” No, it just kind of came to us. We liked ‘Lions’, and then a friend suggested the ‘In The Street’. We found out it’s a Doors song (poem?), which we didn’t know because we’re not huge Doors fans, but apparently it’s an older expression than that—like Hebrew old; means something about fear.

How and when did the band get together?

CK: We got together a couple years ago, as a different band with the same dudes, (we) met as brothers and friends from the block. Became Lions In The Street in January of this year. We started again from scratch: set up shop in mom and dad’s basement in Vancouver. With grandma’s organ and an 8-track we wrote and recorded the “Cat Got Your Tongue” EP and about 15 other songs that we dig a whole lot. Lots of cool songs no one’s heard yet: some wicked rock and roll songs, and a couple of Everly Brothers-like ballads.

What constitutes a solid Lions in the Street show? Do you have one or two memorable moments from shows that stick out in your mind above the rest?

CK: It’s always a good show because we care enough to make sure we bring it every night. We’re very grateful for the people who come to see us live, and we know they deserve a good rock and roll show. Plus, there aren’t very many bands that play our kind of rock and roll anymore; so there are usually lots of pretty girls at the front, dancing and smiling. As long as the train stays on the tracks, and the people are drinking and dancing, it’s a good show. It’s always on the edge a bit and the train could fall off the track, that’s the allure of good rock and roll, it’s not too polished. Memorable moments: one time a guitar came unplugged, mid-rock, and someone called off the song…oops, misfire.

Who have been some of the most electric bands you’ve played with?

Chris Kinnon: The Dirtbombs were awesome, Kings of Leon were cool; Zutons and Ponys were also great.

What are some of the most interesting opportunities you’ve had that have come from you being from Vancouver, or Canada for that matter?

Chris Kinnon: 40 days of rain, straight, last year in Van-city. That’s a unique opportunity for settling down in a basement to play rock and roll without any distractions. We recorded once in Bryan Adams’ studio, but that didn’t work out very well…too nice a joint for us. Canadian perks: hockey, plus every day we can eat bacon and smoked salmon smothered in maple syrup on a cedar plank…yes, it’s that good to be Canadian.

What other bands are there in Vancouver right now that we need to hear?

Chris Kinnon: Everyone knows Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops, but now there’s a few good bands around: Pride Tiger, Bend Sinister, Ladyhawk, Blood Meridian. They’re all good, they all like the blues in one way or another, and many of them are not afraid of a jam, just like us, not in the Phish way, but in the Humble Pie way. It’s great to have a bunch of bands in town like this, makes up for all the bad commercial hard-rock bands with soul patches and board shorts.

Will the band be releasing a full-length studio album in the near future?

Chris Kinnon: Yeah, but lots of touring and recording first.

Who were the first bands that inspired you to rock?

Chris Kinnon: Lots, especially The Band. Stones, Zeppelin, Faces, Humble Pie, and all that. But also Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Little Richard…

The video for “Lady Blue” has sort of on the road/tour feel to it. What do you do to spend time while on tour?

Chris Kinnon: Amusement parks, Mexican joints, and a game we like to call “I spy with my little eye.”

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]