Six things you need to know about Lionize
They like sci-fi, they’re a rock’roll band with reggae cred, and they hope new album Nuclear Soul will make them less niche
The video for Lionize’s new track Blindness To Danger features frontman Nate Bergman being mercilessly destroyed by a professional wrestler. It’s just the kind of daring you’d expect from a man who performs in head-to-toe gold.
“It’s a metaphor for clawing your way to the top,” Bergman tells us, “and it’s not always about winning the fight, but living it the next day.”
There’s certainly a lot of fight in this Maryland four-piece, and it was displayed in their recent London show. An almighty blast of fiery grooves, Deep Purple-infused organ and Bergman’s soul-charged vocals (informed by the likes of Sam Cooke, OV Wright and Joe Cocker), their live set has won over a lot of naysayers and finds the band on tremendous form.
Their latest album, Nuclear Soul, merges sci-fi with reality.
Where their previous albums have surfed fantastical worlds (drawing lyrically from the likes of Philip K Dick and Star Wars), their sixth is more centred on current events. Not that they’ve lost their sense of the science-fictional.
“We’ve arrived at this dystopian world that we were fantasising about for years,” Bergman reasons. “Donald Trump is president. We’re here, it’s now. This is Back To The Future. These are really emotionally raw stories that we’re telling about ourselves experiencing this stuff, but through the scope of a sci-fi world.”
They’re a rock’n’roll band, with vibrant roots.
As a freshman in high school, Bergman was listening to bands such as Clutch, Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top. Soon after a friend played him a tape of go-go music – a DC-born hybrid of funk, Latin and hip-hop –he went to an all-ages go-go show at a nearby school.
“I’ll never forget seeing the rickety stage, where a high-school marching band might perform,” he remembers, “and these guys from inner-city DC playing to what was seemingly a predominantly African-American crowd. I was mesmerised, thinking: ‘This is cooler than punk rock’, because no one was trying to hurt me. It was this real organic natural energy.”