BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
Austin Dickinson is usually one articulate fella when it comes to discussing his music. But when the questions are pointedly geared towards his inner persona, the vocalist becomes noticeably hesitant.
“What do I offer as a vocalist…what makes me different? Hmmm…well, I’ve never dyed my hair,” he stated helpfully. “I pretty much play whatever I can get my hands on, which has proven to be quite annoying to other people. You need me to go on? Um…I don’t write about girls, partying, the rock lifestyle…that’s never been really me. I just love making music, really. You know, thanks for making me demonstrate that I’m an incredibly boring person!”
Fortunately, Dickinson is enthusiastically more eloquent when talking about As Lions, a band based out of London, England, which is currently tearing its way through the United States to appreciative audiences. In addition to Dickinson, As Lions features guitarist/keyboardist Conor O’Keefe, guitarist Will Homer, bassist Stefan Whiting, and drummer Dave Fee.
RISING FROM THE REMAINS
As Lions came to be around 2015 when Dickinson’s former band, Rise to Remain, dissolved. In a prepared statement, Dickinson said that the decision was due mostly to the departure of drummer Adam Lewin and guitarist Ben Tovey.
“We traveled the world with this band, and, because of the people who supported us, managed to achieve so many things we never thought possible,” Dickinson said at the time of the band’s demise. “Living the dream, in many cases, is not enough to hold it all together when the band is not stable, and after putting together the second record, Adam told us he was in a place where he felt the pressure of the album and the upcoming cycle and couldn’t continue, leading Ben to quit music altogether. To continue the band at this point, with as many lineup changes as it’s had, with the two original members being Will and myself, seems pointless.”
Dickinson, however, knew that staying with O’Keefe and Homer was “a no-brainer.”
“So much of it came down to trust,” Dickinson said, “the trust we have for each other, and a lot of that is the friendship. I’ve always loved them as brothers, but they are fantastic writers and musicians, too. We’ve had this symbiosis between us that yielded something that was different and characteristic. And with Stefan and Dave aboard, we made this commitment to do this together, and we did. I’m very proud of us!”
Signing with Better Noise Records, a label with Eleven Seven Music Group, As Lions released an EP, Aftermath, in 2016. The four songs, “Aftermath,” “White Flags,” “Deathless,” and “World on Fire” would also be showcased on the band’s debut album, Selfish Age.
AT A SELFISH AGE
“The EP was really an entry-point that people would have into our music,” Dickinson explained. “We were on the Shinedown tour and we wanted to make sure that people could check us out further, have sort of a reference into what we sounded like, a prelude to the album. And Aftermath did that fantastically – four songs that really defined us as a band.”
Selfish Age was issued this past January and was recorded in part at the House of Loud, an East Coast studio based in Elmwood Park, NJ, with award-winning producer David Bendeth. As Lions then headed to Las Vegas, NV to finish the remaining tracks with Kane Churko.
“I know it’s so cliché,” Dickinson said, “but there’s something so exciting about being in the studio with the whole creation process. I absolutely LOVE writing…most of the time it’s what I’m doing. It’s like a puzzle: you put down one piece and then you’ve got to finish it. Once it’s done, it’s one of the most awesome feelings on the planet, because you then get to play it back and go ‘COOL! EXCELLENT! GREAT! GOOD JOB DONE!’”
Selfish Age in itself is a very diverse album that showcases an eclectic and driving assortment of hard rock songs that somehow manages to tie together what is the core talent of As Lions.
“I think the songs really blend into each other very, very well,” Dickinson stated. “But each song has its own character. Each and every song can stand on its own two feet, which was very important to us in making this album.”
Dickinson said that the band wants people to find solace in the music, or to at least welcome As Lions into their lives.
“When I’m happy, I listen to one particular band. When I’m sad, I listen to another,” Dickinson said, “and when I feel like raging, it’s another. I would love to have that honest connection with people. I would love to – even in some small way – to contribute change to people. That would be such an honor, if our music truly helped someone in some way.”
Dickinson said that As Lions, however, really stands out in its live shows.
“It’s the best rock show you’ve seen in your life!” Dickinson said. “If you’ve heard our music, you’ll love it 10-times more live. We put everything we’ve got into it. It’s brighter and more dynamic, and you can see our passions come alive.”
As noted, As Lions is currently touring the United States until the end of May before heading back to Europe. And don’t expect to encounter a road-weary band if by chance the listener has the opportunity to see As Lions live.
“We always try to make sure that the last show we’ve played has been our favorite,” Dickinson said. “We’re always trying to be on an upwards trajectory, kind of trying to out-do ourselves. It’s guaranteed that people will not forget us or our music any time soon!”
UPCOMING TOUR DATES: