with Chris Brooks (Keys)
1st May, 2014
@The Forum, London
Interview by Anna Dumpe
Interview photos by Michelle Murphy
In December of 2013 American blues rockers Clutch announced that they will be going on their biggest UK tour to this day and to make the shows even more appealing, they will be bringing along an exciting new band called Lionize that appear to be on Clutch record label Weathermaker.
Just few hours before the shows kicks off at The Forum in London, Metal-Rules.com UK team sat down with Chris Brooks, the keyboard player in Lionize, to talk about their band, their long-lasting friendship with Clutch, their first impressions of UK and music. Lots of good music.
Hello and welcome to London! It’s really nice to meet you just before you guys hit the stage at The Forum. Your music sounds heavily influenced by blues and reggae, yet still has a great rock n roll drive. How would you define your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
I mean, what you just said is a pretty good description!
We’re very influenced by jazz, soul and R&B music, but we also listen to tons of rock, like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Clutch who we’ve been touring with for years. We just get influenced by pretty much everything happening around us.
You guys have been on tour with Clutch before. How long you’ve known these guys for and would you say that by now you’re all real good mates touring together?
Oh yeah, absolutely! The atmosphere on tour is really laid back and cool.
We showed up on the first day of this tour and knew everyone from the crew to the band, as we go way back with those guys.
When I was just interviewing Jean-Paul from Clutch few minutes ago, he told me a story of how he first met you guys hanging out at Walter’s house. Can you fill us in a little bit more on that?
Oh yeah, that’s true!
Our old drummer way back when we were about 18 was taking lessons from this guy Walter. I remember him telling me once of how wild of a character this Walter guy was, but also what an awesome drum teacher he is.
All the good drummers in the area really went to practice with him, although he was this totally mean dude. And I mean, super mean..! I think that his nickname for me might have been ‘the long haired faggot’ or something like that! (Laughs)
So anything went with Walter… And he had this strange and outspoken vibe about him.
So Walter used to play for this big band that would practice in his basement and he had a big grand piano in the living room, so I’d just sit there and mess around with the piano for hours while my drummer was taking lessons. Different musicians would just always walk in and out if his house and Jean-Paul was one of those guys. Walter introduced me to him and turned out he was in this really cool band!
That’s one hell of a story, indeed!
I guess it’s your fist time playing in UK, so what are your first impressions of this country and being in London?
London’s been pretty cool so far. We literally just drove through the city to the venue, but we drove across the Thames, so we saw the Parliament building with Big Ben and stuff, as our driver decided to take us on a little tour on our way here.
The city itself seems very busy like New York in USA, as I’ve noticed the streets are always super busy and full of people.
You’ve done a few shows already on this tour. Have the UK crowds been welcoming so far and has the feedback been positive?
Europe has been really good to us! The crowds seem really big as we hang out by our merch desk after the show, so we can meet a lot of cool and stoked people, which is always pleasant for us.
All the reviews that we’ve been getting out here in the UK have so far been really great as well.
On you Facebook page I noticed that you managed to play a surprise show in Bradford few days ago. How did that come about and what was the turnout?
The turn out was… Imagine a very built0in crowd. (Laughs)
Few people that we knew from Clutch shows actually came down as well, which was surprisingly cool.
It was just that Clutch had four days to go to Germany and Belgium and we were not on those shows with them, as they were doing Desertfest over there.
So we just had four days of sitting around and doing nothing. As our driver lives in Leeds and the cheapest suburb to get a hotel round there is Bradford, we just ended up there. So if you’re ever looking for a cheap hotel room in Leeds… Now you know where to go! (Laughs)
So our driver’s friend, who’s a local promoter, booked us in on this show at this place for us and it was a truly awesome experience. It was this underground venue and the crowd was really young as well. When we first went down there to do the load-in, there were children coming outside and down the stairs wearing all sorts of weird costumes, like bumblebees and crazy things like that. Weird stuff, man!
Then we also went to Morrisons grocery store a couple of times and that was pretty much all the fun we had in Bradford! (Laughs)
You’re now signed with Weathermaker Music, which is a label run by guys of Clutch. How did they approach you with such offer and how has it changed your development as a band?
They approached us through our ‘shared’ management, as our manager also happens to own the label.
So Clutch guys pretty much said that they want to do a record with us and we wanted Jean-Paul Gaster to produce it, as we’ve been talking about that previously already, so I guess that’s where the whole idea started.
We talked to Jean-Paul about him producing our record as we’ve done a lot of pre-production of our albums in his own studio, so we just thought we’d like to do the whole thing with him.
He agreed to do it, but he also wanted to co-produce it with Machine, who was just producing Earth Rocker for Clutch.
Are you guys getting a bit more recognized now that you’re under the same label as Clutch?
Yeah, our latest album Jetpack Soundtrack released under Weathermaker is definitely a lot more noticed than our previous records, so we can only thank the guys for being so generous and welcoming to us.
How do you guys write songs? Do you just get together and jam or write stuff separately and then present it to each other?
We pretty much always get together and jam. Most of the stuff that we’ve been doing lately is pretty much us getting together in a room, recording everything on a computer and then listening back to our tracks from rehearsal and deciding what sounds cool and what can be taken out and replaced by something else.
We always work together and pretty much everyone in the band writes stuff.
As a keyboard player, who was the band or the artist that inspired you to pick up this instrument and made you decide that this is what you want to do on a professional level?
To play piano in the first place wasn’t really my choice, as I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, but artists that inspired me to do this on a professional level were many different jazz musicians, like Bill Evans, Jimmy Smith different quartet pianists, John Lord… Obviously!
To be honest, I’ve been listening to a lot of Deep Purple lately, as it just seems like something you’ve not heard for a long time and then you just keep going back to their music from time to time. It never gets old.
What about the other guys? What do you normally tend to listen on the tour bus?
In our VAN..! (Laughs)
In our van we like to listen to whole lot of different stuff. We listen to a ton of James Brown, Herbie Hancock and a lot of other ‘70s soul and funk records.
There’s definitely a lot of jazz being played and we also love and used to and still do listen to them a lot Captain Beyond, although they only have like 3 records out.
The most played record in our van at the moment would be Deep Purple “Live in Tokyo”. It’s just great.
After this tour is over, what’s next for you guys? Are you planning to do some summer festivals or more tours?
We’re doing the Warped tour in the States, which is going to be really cool.
We did it already in 2011 and first of all, it’s nice as we’re all on an actual tour bus for the Warped tour, which is always great fun! (Laughs)
Warped tour is unique in a way that there are so many bands and people involved. It gives us great opportunity to go out and meet great musicians and make friends, which is priceless! After we did The Warped tour last time, we spent a year and a half straight on the road just touring with bands that we met at The Warped Tour, which was crazy!
What’s the best thing about being on the road with such legendary band as Clutch?
The coolest thing for us really is that we can just be on the road with our good friends and gave a good time while travelling the world!
Thanks for your time and we’re looking forward to hearing more about you guys in the future!
Thank you and I hope you enjoy the show tonight!
Check out our Clutch + Lionize @The Fourm review HERE!