A CONVERSATION WITH: Acres of Lions
Acres of Lions have had pretty busy last few months with a cross Canada tour and dip over to the UK. Playing Edgefest with familiar faces feels like a vacation for them. We sat down and talked about their favourite things about Toronto, how they survive touring and their rather interesting playlists while driving around in their tour van.
How are you guys doing today?
Dan: The heat is ok, it’s the humidity that gets to us.
Jeff: My face is on fire. I don’t know about you guys.
Your face? Dan’s got a beard over here!
Dan: It just blocks out all the sun and covers my acne.
Jeff: This guy. I’ve never seen this guy sweat. It’s amazing. I don’t think it’s healthy at all.
Tyson: He doesn’t have sweat glands.
Dan: Last couple shows this summer I wore full jeans, big denim jacket, big beard just hanging out whatever. It’s too hot today though.
Jeff: Everyone started calling him Denim Jesus.
Dan: I brought two jackets, and three pairs of pants and like two shirts in my bag to Toronto. I’m an idiot. I’m an idiot. I don’t know why I didn’t bring my toque as well.
Your summer schedule is looking pretty busy. Is there anything you guys do to either mentally or physically to prepare yourselves for such a long haul?
Jeff: It’s mostly off the seat of your pants, but we’ve got a few jewels…
Dan: Yeah, you’ve got to quit your job and you have to move out of your apartment and you have to make sure you have two toothbrushes because you’re going to lose one.
Jeff: Or you’re going to drop one on the men’s room floor in some bar somewhere and you won’t want it back.
Tyson: The summer schedule is a lot more relaxed than what we’ve been doing; we’ve been on tour for the last four months – toured across Canada, flew over to London and did a few shows then back across Canada through Northern BC. The provincial government hired us for this tour to get kids excited about potential careers. So we’ve spent the last few months playing every town that exists in Northern British Columbia.
Jeff: We actually went to the Queen Charlotte Islands too, it was amazing.
Tyson: We’ve been to a lot of incredible places, so now that we’re in summer mode within civilization just hanging out with friends, it’s just a dream.
Since you’ve played everywhere, how do Toronto audiences compare to everywhere else?
Jeff: Pretty incredible actually.
Tyson: Yeah, pretty good.
Dan: We really are fond of Toronto. We love street meat, we love the Blue Jays, what else do we love?
Are we known for our street meat?
Jeff: We don’t love street meat.
Dan: We don’t like The Leafs, but nobody really does. What else do we like about Toronto? I like the Horseshoe, I like hanging out at The Rivoli, The Bovine. I love going to Sneaky Dee’s and ordering the King’s Crown nachos.
Jeff: It’s interesting because we’ve been here quite a bit and it’s nice to come back and see people that you’ve connected with; fans, friends, media, it’s nice to see everyone come out and maintain those relationships and connections. The crowd today was awesome. Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect because it was so early. We bought thousands of ice cream bars and had our friends throw them out into the crowd to try to get them closer to the stage. We also had a Facebook contests telling people that if they ‘liked’ the post we could get a couple backstage passes for a little bit. Anything to kind of make it work, it was great.
You mentioned a few venues when you were talking about what you love about Toronto. Do you have a favourite venue to play at?
Dan: I love playing Sneaky Dee’s, I love playing the Horseshoe too.
Jeff: Last time we were here for Canadian Music Week, we played The Rivoli for the musicfest showcase, and I think that topped my favourite venues in Toronto. We’d love to play there again. It was nice. A classic.
You guys have a great website, and you’re all pretty active on Twitter and Facebook etc. Do you feel that that stuff is hard to maintain? And also, do you feel that it’s important?
Tyson: It’s definitely important. These new robot phones we all have makes it a lot easier. We did these ‘Countdown to Edgefest’ posts, and I could literally shoot HD video on my phone of Dan doing something stupid for a minute; like mailing his mom a post card inviting her to the show, even though she lives in Nelson, BC, and within 5 minutes I can have it edited with titles that are bouncing across the screen and post it to YouTube and then tweet about it right after. So it is still a lot of work, but I feel like the tools are getting better and better to make it easier to connect more with people. It’s definitely important. You think that people aren’t necessarily following what you’re saying, but as we’re going on tour, everyone knows where we’re going, anyone who follows us knows all the goofy things that Dan is doing.
Jeff: Absolutely. I find that when you’re doing your Twitter or your Facebook you’re reaching out to people in that sense. You’re doing blogs. You have to keep yourself in check and make sure there isn’t a disconnect with that kind of thing. I find, especially in this day in age all the crazy stuff that’s available to you and at your disposal with social media, you kind of lose touch with the actual humanity with keeping connected with people. Especially through that, you mean everything you say, but sometimes you have to check yourself and actually have a ten minute conversation with someone today so you don’t get lost in it. It’s important to stay in touch, not just tweet at them.
Dan: I just use it to get feedback on things. Like if Tyson bought a new pair of shoes and we asked everyone who follows us if they look great, it’s instant feedback. Or hey, where should we go for dinner in Winnipeg, or does anyone want to come down and meet us for a beer wherever we are. Sometimes people just show up and that’s rad. We like making friends and social media helps us meet friends.
Is there any band in particular that is playing today that you are excited to see here at Edgefest?
Jeff: Well, we already saw The Balconies at the side stage, they’re amazing.
Dan: I’ve never seen Death from Above so I’m definitely going to watch them.
Jeff: Yeah me too.
Tyson: I’m really excited to see Billy Talent. I was playing in a band called Against Me! for a while there and we did a tour with Billy Talent, Alexisonfire and Cancer Bats so it’ll be fun to see those guys backstage and to see them rocking out again. Bit of a flashback.
Jeff: Bit of a flashback. The golden days.
What motivated you guys to “Cover Song Tuesdays”?
Jeff: It’s just a way for us to connect to fans. Some got kind of boring, I mean, we’re just in a hotel room or something and we thought why not play some songs for our fans. It’s not top 40 songs or anything, not yet anyway. Just like our favourite old punk songs to stay in touch with our fans. It’s fun to do different versions of old songs that we love.
Dan: Yeah, it’s so great.
Tyson: It’s just a new spin on what other bands have done in the past. In the 80’s bands would do covers in bars and throw in a couple of their own originals. So the covers were like promotion to get people to come and hang out with them. Same vibe. That Carley Rae Jepson cover we just did it was a big song right now or whatever.
Jeff: I was late on that one though. To be honest. There were already over a thousand covers out there. I figured I should do this now because I love that song, and I don’t want to miss the boat.
Tyson: Yeah, and it still got like ten thousand views.
Jeff: It did, which is great.
Dan: I love that song. I love that singer. We listen to that full album in the van all the time. It’s that one, Ke$ha…
Tyson: Katy Perry.
Dan: One Direction! I love One Direction!
Jeff: It’s weird. You have to admit that that’s kind of weird!
Tyson: Yeah, but on the flip side of that the only other bands we listen to are Tenacious D and Steel Panther. Steel Panther is the real winner. That’s number one on our list.
Jeff: On our first run of the tour we wore out all our regular favourites, Get Up Kids, Jimmy, because we listened to them so much, so we thought let’s try something different.
Dan: I just got Street Sounds by Rick James. That’s a good one. We only have a cassette player in the van. So we have to plug in what we call the ‘music rope’ that plugs into the ipods. But Tyson has his favourite Deep Purple tape that he likes to play.
Tyson: Yeah, I love that Deep Purple tape.
Jeff: We inherited a bunch of mix tapes from Dan’s dad.
Tyson: Yeah, but they’re not like regular mixed tapes, it’s just stuff taped off the radio stations in like the 70’s.
Dan: You never know what you’re going to find because all the cases are broken, and the tapes aren’t labeled. So you can put a tape in and it’s like, ‘Yes! Def Leopard!”
Tyson: It’s like traveling in a time machine.
Can you offer any advice to any bands that are trying to do what you’re doing?
Dan: Love it.
Jeff: Go all or nothing.
Tyson: Do it because you love it. I think the biggest part of being in a band is finding the people that want the same things as you.
Jeff: It’s always better when everyone is like minded.
Tyson: If what you want to do is play once a week in your garage with some dudes that want to play some ACDC covers, then find some dudes that want to do that. If what you want to do is be on the road full time like we’re doing, then you have to find some dudes that want to do that because it makes it incredibly difficult if you’re not all on the same page with what you want to do.
Dan: And you can always get better as musicians, so find your best friends. If you play with your best friends it doesn’t matter what you do, because you’re with your best friends. I don’t care; I love hanging out with you guys everyday. It’s been 140 days that we’ve been hanging out and we love each other.
Jeff: We sure do.
Tyson: Replace the word love with hate and you’ll have nailed it.
Jeff: Hate’s a strong word.
Dan: Whatever, I’m still stoked.
Tyson: A sincere disdain…sometimes. Is that better?
I feel like that answer might change day to day. What can fans expect from you guys in the near future?
Tyson: A new record.
Jeff: Pyrotechnics. T-shirt cannons.
Tyson: Yeah, maybe a row of flames between the guitars and the drummer.
Jeff: Yeah, totally over the top pyrotechnics.
Tyson: Let’s shoot Dan out of a cannon!
Dan: I don’t think I’m weighted properly.
Tyson: Yeah, you are kind of misshapen.
Jeff: I think what fans can expect next is definitely some new material in the fall. We’re going to get in a cabin…
Tyson: Yeah, just get up to the cabin and write some songs about canoes, and loneliness.
Dan: Beers and beards.
Jeff: How bears grow beards? That’s a great name for it. We don’t know if it’ll be an EP or an Album or just an online release but we’re definitely sorting that out right now.
Tyson: We’re excited to continue touring into the fall and get over to the UK to promote our last album over there too. Good times. Good times all around.
Great note to end on!
Tyson: High fives all around!